Stillhouse Press Publishes Latif Askia Ba’s Poetry Collection The Machine Code of a Bleeding Moon

A Meditation on Human Capability and the Extraordinary in The Machine Code of a Bleeding Moon

by Esther Goldberg

Stillhouse Press Publishes Latif Askia Ba’s Poetry Collection The Machine Code of a Bleeding Moon

     We are all capable of extraordinary things. This message, conveyed brilliantly in Latif Askia Ba’s collection of poetry, The Machine Code of a Bleeding Moon, touches on more than just human ambition. Built upon his own lived experience with Choreic Cerebral Palsy, Ba explores topics such as self-identity, disability, multi-ethnic roots, and insecurity through his love for art, music, coding, video games, and poetry. His collection serves as a testament to human resistance, illustrating the endless potential of imagination and exploration regardless of the abilities one is born with.  The Machine Code of a Bleeding Moon, published by Stillhouse Press in September of 2022, beautifully demonstrates both the struggle to understand one’s place in an ever-changing world and the ceaseless wonder of human capability.

     As a disabled person of color and talented poet, Latif Askia Ba has a unique insight to share with the world, one which deeply moved Tommy Sheffield, MFA’21, the managing editor of the collection. Sheffield is the current Poetry Editor for Stillhouse Press, a title he’s maintained since working as an M.F.A candidate and Graduate Professional Assistant (GPA) at George Mason University. “This project was interesting, and definitely a challenge that brought me into new poetic arenas. Latif is great at engaging with language, identity, disability, cultural constructs in his poetry - and I loved being able to help him shape his lines and phrases. George Mason's Creative Writing MFA did wonders in helping me understand the importance of poet-centered editing. I try to prioritize the poet's intentions and try to bring those intentions to life by giving them the perspective of an impartial reader who is attempting to understand.”

     Seeing Ba grow and develop as a writer throughout the project continually excited Sheffield, who describes the collection as a testament to Ba’s abilities as a poet and a philosopher. “I think the reader will be wowed and devastated by Latif's writing, by the loneliness and heartbreak and celebration and humor, and will long to talk with him, maybe even give him a hug. Latif is the sweetest person, and his writing is so powerful and intelligent and funny that one can't help but doubt his age: but yes, he is 24, and yes, he was only just recently accepted in Columbia University's Creative Writing MFA program, and yes, he's incredible. I think everyone who reads his work will be impressed.”

     The Machine Code of a Bleeding Moon is a cherished feature of Stillhouse Press’s 2022 releases, perfectly encapsulating their passion for work that grapples with and battles against hopelessness and isolation through art. Stillhouse Press continues to work to promote titles that transcend genre, push the boundaries of narrative and lyric, and nurture captivating and distinctive voices like Ba’s. Stillhouse Press is George Mason University’s teaching press, one of the few literary presses in the country designed to give students the keys to the publishing house, offering experiential education in the field of publishing to undergraduate and graduate students alike. The Machine Code of a Bleeding Moon is their sixteenth published book.