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An Ocean of Static

J.R. Carpenter

"A marvellous firework of a book ... a Moby Dick and Ancient Mariner for our times"

Ian McMillan
published in paperback with silver-foiled cover and french flaps

An Ocean of Static transforms the dense, fragmented archive of the North Atlantic into an astonishing sea of fresh new text.

From the late 15th century onwards, a flurry of voyages were made into the North Atlantic in search of fish, the fabled Northwest Passage, and beyond into the territories purely imaginary. Today, this vast expanse is crisscrossed with ocean and wind currents, submarine cables and wireless signals, seabirds and passengers, static and cargo ships.

In this long-awaited poetry debut by award-winning digital writer and artist J.R. Carpenter, cartographic and maritime vernaculars inflected with the syntax and grammar of ships logs and code languages splinter and pulse across the page. Haunting, politically charged and formally innovative, An Ocean of Static presents an ever-shifting array of variables. Amid global currents of melting sea ice and changing ocean currents Carpenter charts the elusive passages of women and of animals, of indigenous people and of migrants, of strange noises and of phantom islands.

Our price £12.00
RRP £12.00
Please note: due to the recent change in tax regulations, we are currently unable to ship to EU countries.
160 pages
ISBN 9781908058461
Published 24 April 2018
Cover design: Zigmunds Lapsa


What surfaces in An Ocean of Static are arrays of language, "arguments" that can be read as a chorus of subtle alternatives or sometimes like confused cries in a nautical crisis, along with records of journeys from centuries apart. J.R. Carpenter draws language through the icy passage of code's style, gripping the rigging with a performative voice developed in many presentations of this work. The book that results is in the ancient form of the cento (literally, a patchwork), but one that fits together like whole cloth, functioning as a sail, allowing air, human effort, and machinery to work together to carry us along.
Nick Montfort, Author of The Truelist

J.R. Carpenter's amazing exploration of the language of the sea, An Ocean of Static, is a Moby Dick and Ancient Mariner for our times. A marvellous firework of a book! Highly recommended.
Ian McMillan

A bravura piece of writing ... stupendous, a fully realised work of art ... it's ultimately about not just the physical world, and how it has made us, but how we have worked to create the end of it.
Katy Evans-Bush, Poetry London

The pearl of poetic endeavor completely unlike any other. An Ocean of Static is the debut collection by digital writer J.R. Carpenter, whose cryptic stream of ever-shifting code spectacularly reinvents the seascape.... It's a sure fact that seasickness has never been so thrilling.
Jade Cuttle, The Poetry School

The mixing of writing from the historical record (diary notes from voyages/descriptive writings) with more imaginative pieces (The Owl and the Pussycat, for example) and lists makes for an intriguing blend of textures, sometimes clashing, often in balance, suggesting at one point a stormy sea, at another a becalmed environment, or an underwater medley of sounds which can either clash and cause confusion or represent a harmonious whole. [...] A very impressive and intriguing debut.
Steve Spence, Litter

The difficulty of the in-between Carpenter captures and constantly grapples with in An Ocean of Static makes for an important feminist mapping of being, migration, and digital technology in the Anthropocene and exalting poetics.
Deanna Radford, Arc Poetry Magazine

[Carpenter] makes us look again at language and at the way digital interfaces operate. An Ocean of Static is ruthless in its plundering and relentless in its desire to expose process. She wants us to listen through the static, to try to connect.
Barbara Bridger, Tears in the Fence

This is a book not about ocean depths but about ocean surfaces ... and of course by extension it is about those scraps and fragments, partially hidden, random, and drifting, that are visible because they have floated up from the metaphorical blackness below [...] I would recommend An Ocean of Static to anyone who is interested in questioning what a book of poems is and can be.
Chris Edgoose

About the author

J.R. Carpenter is a Canadian-born, UK-based artist, writer, performer, researcher, and maker of maps, zines, books, poetry, short fiction, long fiction, non-fiction, and non-linear, intertextual, hypermedia, and computer-generated narratives. Her pioneering works of digital literature have been exhibited, published, performed, and presented in journals, galleries, museums and festivals around the world. She is a winner of the CBC Quebec Writing Competition, the QWF Carte Blanche Quebec Award, the Expozine Alternative Press Award for Best English Book, the Dot Award for Digital Literature, and the New Media Writing Prize.

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