Welcome to Dragon Talk: Inspiring Conversations About Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Love to Play It By Shelly Mazzanoble and Greg Tito University of Iowa Press, December 2022
If you have any D&D fans on your holiday gift lists, then Welcome to Dragon Talk is exactly what you are looking for! Hosts of the official D&D podcast, Shelly Mazzanoble and Greg Tito and their surprising guests show how this beloved pastime has amassed a diverse, tight-knit following of players who defy stereotypes. The authors recount some of their most inspiring interviews and illuminate how their guests use the core tenets of the game in everyday life. An A-list actor defends D&D by baring his soul (and his muscles) on social media. A teacher in a disadvantaged district in Houston creates a D&D club that motivates students to want to read and think analytically. A writer and live-streamer demonstrates how D&D–inspired communication breaks barriers and empowers people of color. Readers will see why Dungeons & Dragons has remained such a pop culture phenomenon and how it has given this disparate and growing community the inspiration to flourish and spread some in-game magic into the real world.
All This Thinking: The Correspondence of Bernadetter Mayer and Clark Coolidge Edited by Stephanie Anderson and Kristen Tapson University of New Mexico Press, December 2022
All This Thinking explores the deep friendship and the critical and creative thinking between Bernadette Mayer and Clark Coolidge, focusing on an intense three-year period in their three decades of correspondence. These fiercely independent American avant-garde poets have influenced and shaped poets and poetic movements by looking for radical poetics in the everyday. This collection of letters provides insight into the poetic scenes that followed World War II while showcasing the artistic practices of Mayer and Coolidge themselves. A fascinating look at both the poets and the world surrounding them, All This Thinking will appeal to all readers interested in post-World War II poetry.
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An Audible Blue: Selected Poems 1963-2016 Poetry by Klaus Merz, Trans. by Marc Vincenz White Pine Press, November 2022
Throughout his career, Swiss Poet Klaus Merz has been praised as an artisan of the understatement, and it is precisely in these smallest of details that the great unexpected has the potential to be illuminated. As Merz himself has said: “The poetry nudges toward a secret, hopefully without ostentation, rather through the power of its own alphabet.” This seminal volume brings together selections from Merz’s fifteen collections of poetry (1963-2016). Marc Vincenz is a poet, translator, fiction writer, editor, musician and artist. He has published over 30 books of poetry, fiction and translation. His newest books are There Might Be a Moon or a Dog (Gazebo, Australia, 2022) and The Pearl Diver of Irunmani (White Pine Press, forthcoming 2023).
Hajar Hussaini’s poems in Disbound scrutinize the social, political, and historical traces inherited from one’s language. The traces she finds—the flow of international commodities implied in a plosive consonant, an image of the world’s nations convening to reject the full stop—retrieve a personal history between countries (Afghanistan and the United States) and languages (Persian and English) that has been constantly disrupted and distorted by war, governments, and media. Hussaini sees the subjectivity emerging out of these traces as mirroring the governments to whom she has been subject, blurring the line between her identity and her legal identification. The poems of Disbound seek beauty and understanding in sadness and confusion, and find the chance for love in displacement, even as the space for reconciliation in politics and thought seems to get narrower.
Goddess of Water by Jeannette L. Clariond Trans. Samantha Schnee World Poetry Books, September 2022
Mexican poet Jeannette L. Clariond’s Goddess of Water draws upon Mesoamerican cosmogony to lament the present-day epidemic of femicides in Mexico. The author’s sixth book in English translation reconstructs the myth of the moon goddess Coyolxauhqui, employing the lyricism of Nahuatl philosophy and investigating gender construction and fluidity in Aztec mythology. Printed in a bilingual edition, the cycle of poems is accompanied by a glossary of the Nahuatl words and Aztec concepts critical to its comprehension. In Samantha Schnee’s keen and urgent translation, this collection of poems presents a surprising window on an invisible war waged against thousands of Mexican women. Clariond astounds us with her ability to painstakingly analyze a phenomenon that has drawn attention around the globe. Translator Samantha Schnee is the founding editor of Words Without Borders. Her translation of Carmen Boullosa’s El libro de Eva, a finalist for the Mario Vargas Llosa Biennial Novel Prize, will be published by Deep Vellum in 2023.
The Morning You Saw a Train of Stars Streaking Across the Sky by CooXooEii Black Rattle Poetry, November 2022
CooXooEii Black is an Afro-Indigenous writer and a member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe. He is an MFA creative writing candidate at the University of Memphis and a poetry reader for The Pinch Journal. His poetry has appeared in Eco Theo Review, Palette Poetry, and Carve Magazine. His creative nonfiction has appeared in The Tusculum Review. This collection of sixteen poems came bundled with the December issue of Rattle poetry magazine. Subscribers to Rattle are treated to bonus chapbooks and anthologies with each issue, but each issue and each bonus publication can also be purchased separately from the Rattle website.
NewPages receives many wonderful titles each month to share with our readers. You can read more about some of these titles by clicking on “New Books” under the NewPages Blog or Books tab on the menu. If you are a publisher or author looking to be listed here or featured on our blog and social media, please contact us!
After Ward, Wendell Hawken, Cherry Grove Collections Alone in the House of My Heart, Kari Gunter-Seymour, Swallow Press Born Under the Influence, Andrena Zawinski, Word Poetry The Day Gives Us So Many Ways to Eat, Lindsay Wilson, WordTech Editions Disbound, Hajar Hussaini, University of Iowa Press Edgewood, Mark Belair, Turning Point Books Goddess of Water, Jeannette L. Clariond, World Poetry Books In the Plague Year, W.H. New, Rock’s Mills Press It’s About Time, J.R. Solonche, Deerbook Editions John Scotus Eriugena at Laon and Other Poems, Jacques Darras, World Poetry Books Leaving the Base Camp at Dawn, Daniel Thomas, Cherry Grove Collections Little Disruptions, Biljana D. Obradovic, WordTech Editions Little Wife: The Story of Gold, Nuova Wright, The Calliope Group Lords of Misrule, ed. Henry Israeli and Rebecca Lauren, Saturnalia Books
Dancing on the Sun Stone is a uniquely transdisciplinary work that fuses modern Latin American history and literature to explore women’s lives and gendered politics in Mexico. In this important work, scholar Marjorie Becker focuses on the complex Mexican women of rural Michoacán who performed an illicit revolutionary dance and places it in dialogue with Nobel Prize winner Octavio Paz’s signature poem, “Sun Stone”–allowing a new gendered history to emerge. Through this dialogue, the women reveal intimate and intellectual complexities of Mexican women’s gendered voices, their histories, and their intimate and public lives. The work further demonstrates the ways these women, in dialogue with Paz, transformed history itself. Becker’s multigenre work reconstructs Mexican history through the temporal experiences of crucial Michoacán females, experiences that culminate in their complex revolutionary dance, which itself emerges as a transformative revolutionary language.
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John Scotus Eriugena at Laon and Other Poems Poetry by Jacques Darras, Trans. Richard Sieburth World Poetry Books, September 2022
John Scotus Eriugena at Laon is the “long overdue volume” of Jacques Darras, celebrated French poet of place and nature, and prolific translator and scholar of American and British poetry. The title poem recounts the journey of a ninth-century Irish monk to the cathedral city of Laon in the heart of Picardy to translate a recently discovered Byzantine manuscript into Latin—the first such transmission of ancient Greek thought northward into Carolingian Europe. Eriugena’s pithy formulation of neo-Platonism—omnia quae sunt lumina sunt—echoes forth in Pound’s Pisan Cantos as “all things that are are lights.” This is the radiance that pulses through the theophanic nature poetry of Jacques Darras, celebrant of northern rivers, islands, seas, and bard of Picardy. His lifelong commerce with the English language as the translator of Shakespeare, Blake, Whitman, Pound, Bunting and MacDiarmid is here met by Richard Sieburth’s wide-ranging and award-winning forays into French. Richard Sieburth is the translator from the French of works by Nostradamus, Scève, Labé, Nerval, Baudelaire, Artaud, Leiris, and Michaux. His translations from the German include Hölderlin, Büchner, Benjamin, and Scholem. In addition, he is the editor of a number of Ezra Pound’s works.
Until She Goes No More Fiction by Beatriz García-Huidobro, Trans. by Jacqueline Nanfito White Pine Press, November 2022
In Until She Goes No More, Beatriz García-Huidobro simultaneously maps the coordinates of the intimate story of a female teenager and the broader historical and socioeconomic reality of Chile in the early 70’s. The story is narrated in the form of a monologue, through the eyes of a young female protagonist who resides in desolate town in the mountainous region where the landscape is bleak and barren, and men futilely toil in unproductive fields. The aridness of the land mirrors the hopeless and hapless lives of the characters whose dreams are futile and futures are compromised. Like silhouettes in sepia, the protagonist and others are sketched as characters that live out a wearisome, tenuous existence, shrouded in ambiguity, in a circular time that is based upon the repetition of daily chores and the changing of the seasons, marked by the events in the life cycle.
In this poetry collection, Sunu P. Chandy includes stories about her experiences as a woman, civil rights attorney, parent, partner, daughter of South Asian immigrants, and member of the LGBTQ community with themes ranging from immigration, social justice activism, friendship loss, fertility challenges, adoption, caregiving, and life during a pandemic. Amidst the competing notions of how we are expected to be in the world, especially when facing a range of barriers, Sunu’s poems provide company for many who may be experiencing isolation through any one of these experiences and remind us that we are not, in fact, going it alone. Whether the experience is being disregarded as a woman of color attorney, being rejected for being queer, losing a most treasured friendship, doubting one’s romantic partner or any other form of heartbreak, Sunu highlights the human requirement of continually starting anew. These poems remind us that we can, and we will, rebuild. They remind us that whether or not we know it, there are comrades who are on parallel roads too, and that as a collective, we are, undoubtedly, cheering each other on.
To find more great books from small, independent, and university presses, visit the NewPages Guide to Publishers as well as the New Books category on our blog. Click here to sign up for our weekly newsletter to stay up to date!
Urbanshee is Siaara Freeman’s retelling of fairy tales and mythological stories through a modern and urban lens. This collection discusses the weight of being Black in America, Freeman’s relationships to lovers and family, and how the physical place you grew up can become part of your identity. Urbanshee expertly combines humor, fantasy, and raw emotion to create this astonishing reinvention of classic fables. Freeman’s poems are ventrously unique and are sure to enchant anyone who reads them. Siaara Freeman is from Cleveland Ohio, where she is the current Lake Erie Siren and a teaching artist for Center For Arts Inspired Learning and The Sisterhood Project in conjunction with the Anisfieldwolf Foundation.
Best Spiritual Literature, Vol. 7 Edited by Luke Hankin, Nathan Poole, Karen Tucker Orison Books, December 2022
Best Spiritual Literature is the new name of The Orison Anthology, under the same editorship and publisher, and it continues the same mission to collect the finest spiritually engaged writing that appeared in periodicals in the preceding year. In addition to reprinted material, each year the anthology also includes new, previously unpublished works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry by the winners of The Best Spiritual Literature Awards. The award judges for Vol. 7 were SJ Sindu (fiction), Molly McCully Brown (nonfiction), and Leila Chatti (poetry). Contributors to this volume include Ser Álida, Jai Hamid Bashir, Ellen Bass, Jack B. Bedell, Wendy Cheng, Broderick Eaton, B. Tyler Lee, Kenji C. Liu, Nancy Ludmerer, Joy Moore, David Naimon, Darius Simpson, and Gideon Young.
Winner of The John Simmons Short Fiction Award, The Woods explores the lives of people in a small Vermont college town and its surrounding areas—a place at the edge of the bucolic, where the land begins to shift into something untamed. In the tradition of Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge and Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, these stories follow people who carry private griefs but search for contentment. As they try to make sense of their worlds, grappling with problems—worried about their careers, their marriages, their children, their ambitions—they also sift through the happiness they have, and often find deep solace in the landscape.
Simultaneities and Lyric Chemisms Poetry by Ardengo Soffici, Trans. Olivia E. Sears World Poetry Books, September 2022
This publication is being heralded as “a vital reconstruction” of Italian Futurist poet Ardengo Soffici’s visual poetics, presented for the first time in English in Olivia E. Sears’s exacting translations with a foreword by Marjorie Perloff. With unexpected lyricism, buzzing between the entropic and the erotic, Soffici’s unrelenting poems manifest his milieu’s fascination with the metropolis. Guillaume Apollinaire called it “very important work, rich in fresh beauties.” This facsimile-style edition—with a foreword by Marjorie Perloff, helpful annotations, and an informative afterword by the translator—offers a glimpse into the vibrant early avant-garde, when modernity held tremendous promise. Ardengo Soffici (1879-1964) was an Italian painter, poet, and art critic associated with Florentine Futurism. Years spent in Parisian artistic circles spurred Soffici to champion an artistic renewal in Italy, introducing French impressionism and cubism and a vibrant magazine culture. Olivia E. Sears is a translator of Italian poetry and prose, specializing in avant-garde women writers. She founded the Center for the Art of Translation and the journal Two Lines, where she served as editor for twelve years.
For those who love poetry, teach poetry, and who write poetry, add this Plume Poetry 10 anthology to your list. In keeping with the approach used in their previous anthology, Plume invited “’well-known/established’ poets (for lack of better descriptor) to contribute a poem; then each of these poets introduces a poem from a ‘less well-known/established’ poet, whom they have selected and believe merit a brighter spotlight.” The result, says Lawless, “makes for a more diverse reading experience.” Plume Poetry 10 includes new poems from “established” poets ranging from Juan Felipe Herrera to Jane Hirshfield, Kwame Dawes to Rae Armantrout — and so many more, with a Featured Selection including new translations, essays on and photographs of Rimbaud, by Mark Irwin. Visit the Plume website Anthologies page for ordering information for this newest anthology as well as past anthologies.
Islands Apart: Becoming Dominican American YA Memoir by Jasminne Mendez Piñata Books, September 2022
Jasminne Mendez didn’t speak English when she started kindergarten, and her young, white teacher thought the girl was deaf because in Louisiana, you were either black or white. She had no idea that a black girl could be a Spanish speaker. In this memoir for teens about growing up Afro Latina in the Deep South, Jasminne writes about feeling torn between her Dominican, Spanish-speaking culture at home and the American, English-speaking one around her. She desperately wanted to fit in, to be seen as American, and she realized early on that language mattered. Learning to read and write English well was the road to acceptance. Mendez shares typical childhood experiences such as having an imaginary friend, boys and puberty, but she also exposes the anti-black racism within her own family and the conflict created by her family’s conservative traditions.
Collect Call to My Mother: Essays on Love, Grief, and Getting a Good Night’s Sleep Nonfiction by Lori Horvitz New Meridian Arts, February 2023
Collect Call to My Mother follows Lori Horvitz’ experiences as a queer Jewish New Yorker living in the South, looking for love in the internet age. When she teaches a class of queer college students who look to her as a role model, what they don’t know is that she spent her twenties and thirties in the closet, and leapt from one relationship disaster to the next. Each of her turbulent trysts helps unearth the roots of her poor judgment: a chaotic upbringing, compounded by her mother’s emotional distance and early death. In these essays exploring themes of love, family, and grief, Horvitz gradually embraces who she is and finds a healthy, long-term relationship. Horvitz’ first collection of memoir-essays, The Girls of Usually (Truman State UP), won the 2016 Gold Medal IPPY Book Award in Autobiography/Memoir. Her creative nonfiction has appeared in a variety of journals. Professor of English at UNC Asheville, Horvitz holds a Ph.D. in English from SUNY Albany, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College. The book is currently available for pre-order directly from the author who will sign advanced order copies.
Bipolar Bear and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Health Insurance A Fable for Grownups by Kathleen Founds Graphic Mundi, November 2022
Theodore is a bear with wild mood swings. When he is up, he carves epic poetry into tree trunks. When he is down, he paints sad faces on rocks and turtle shells. In search of prescription medications that will bring stability to his life, Theodore finds a job with health insurance benefits. He gets the meds, but when he can’t pay the psychiatrist’s bill, he becomes lost in the Labyrinth of Health Insurance Claims. Featuring 195 color illustrations, this tale follows the comical exploits of Theodore, a loveable and relatable bear, as he copes with bipolar disorder, navigates the inequities of capitalist society, founds a commune, and becomes an activist, all the while accompanied by a memorable cast of characters—fat-cat insurance CEOs, a wrongfully convicted snake, raccoons with tommy guns, and an unemployed old dog who cannot learn new tricks. Entertaining, whimsical, and bitingly satirical, Bipolar Bear is a fable for grownups that manages the delicate balance of addressing society’s ills while simultaneously presenting a hopeful vision for the world.
Zakiya’s Enduring Wounds Roosevelt High School Series Fiction by Gloria L. Velásquez Piñata Books, September 2022
Zakiya, a sophomore at Roosevelt High School, has settled into the new school year. She loves her friends, the volleyball team and her dance class. There’s even a cute guy she has her eye on. But her world falls apart when her dad dies unexpectedly. Zakiya had a special relationship with her father and is completely devastated by his death. After the funeral, her friends and family try to console her, but Zakiya pushes them away. She just wants to be alone. She quits the volleyball team, shuts down the boy she once dreamed of dating and even skips school. When she experiences a frightening episode of anxiety, she discovers that cutting herself helps to relieve the pain. Will she ever learn how to deal with her grief and sense of loss?
Edgewood: A Fictional Memoir in Prose Couplets Poetry by Mark Belair Turning Point Books, August 2022
Edgewood, a sequel to Stonehaven, the author’s previous book, finds that story’s young, small- town, 1950s family in the booming suburbs at the onset of a new era: the Late 1960s. An era-troubled over Civil Rights and the Vietnam War-whose underlying social conflicts remain troublingly current. Edgewood uses formal strategies to create a work of fiction with the intimacy and detail of a memoir set in language looser than poetry, tauter than prose. The narrative again borrows from music the three-movement form of the sonata (exposition of themes; development; recapitulation), while the text, as in film, renders the behavior of the characters without authorial comment, leaving all interpretation to the reader. The story in each book is self-contained, but the ready resonances between the books reward a combined reading. Sample poems can be read on the publisher’s website.
Drawing from Eastern and Western spiritual traditions, Leaving the Base Camp at Dawn explores how a long relationship of love is like a spiritual practice, a challenge to live in true care and compassion with those to whom we are closest. Interspersed throughout this lyric and narrative sequence are 14 poems that travel cliffs, streams and dirt paths and envision climbing a mountain whose peak cannot be reached. This contemplation of the challenge of love makes us think deeply about finding grace and charity in the ordinary moments of our daily life. Sample poems can be read on the publisher’s website.
As a young boy, Otilio Quintero lived with his family in abject poverty in a labor camp in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Later, they moved to a housing project that exposed him to the madness of violence. Despite his difficult childhood, he managed to go to college. But more important to his development was a trip to Mexico in which he was taken in and taught by the Mayan Chol people. In his memoir, The Sign Catcher, Quintero writes he found his calling at an indigenous ceremony during The Longest Walk, a 3,000-mile march across the country—from Alcatraz Island in San Francisco to Washington, DC—in 1978 by Native Americans to protest federal attacks on their way of life. The marchers carried the sacred pipe to the nation’s capital and ultimately legislative bills detrimental to indigenous people were defeated. His life took a dramatic turn when he found himself in a maximum-security prison facing a possible 20-year sentence.
Memorandum from the Iowa Cloud Appreciation Society Fiction by Joseph G. Peterson University of Iowa Press, November 2022
When his girlfriend, Rosemary, asks about his life, Jim Moore, a successful salesman whose territory covers the entire continental United States and parts of Canada, doesn’t think there is anything to say and so he tells her “nothing happened,” or maybe he doesn’t know how to put it all into words or maybe he doesn’t want to. Stuck in an airport because of blizzard conditions, and packed into a crowded terminal with other travelers, Moore has come to believe that his life is not worth reporting about because it has largely been a life lived without incident. However, chance encounters with a yoga instructor, a man traveling to bury his mother, and an enigmatic woodsman reawaken long dormant emotions about his father’s suicide and cause Jim to newly reflect on his own life and on a memorandum that he later discovered in his deceased father’s papers, which lists all the names of the clouds, and which Jim now, from time to time, recants as if it were his own private kaddish to memorialize his lost father.
LaDonna Humphrey gains a new ally in her effort to find justice in the 1994 unsolved murder case of Melissa Ann Witt when Alecia Lockhart reveals a dark and troubling secret from her past. Together, Humphrey and Lockhart must delve inside a dangerous and twisted world known as the “dark web” to unlock a series of mysteries, including Alecia’s haunting connection to Melissa Witt’s murder. Strangled is the shocking and suspenseful account of the war Humphrey and Lockhart wage on a warped and depraved online community set on destruction, murder and mayhem. The stakes are high. Their safety is compromised. Evil lurks with every click. Just how far are they willing to go to find the answers they need?
In Defense of My People Hispanic Civil Rights Series By Alonso S. Perales, Trans. by Emilio Zamora Arte Publico Press, November 2021
Originally published in Spanish in 1936 and 1937, In Defense of My People contains articles, letters and speeches written by Alonso S. Perales, one of the most influential civil rights activists of the early twentieth century. When Mexican-American veterans of World War II were denied service in a South Texas pool hall, even while wearing their uniforms, Perales wrote about the incident for The San Antonio Express. He also exhorted his community to secure an education and participate in civic duties. His form letter, “How to Request School Facilities for Our Children,” helped parents secure schools “equal to those furnished children of Anglo-American descent.”
Watchman, What of the Night Poems by W. Luther Jett CW Books, June 2022
W. Luther Jett’s newest collection, Watchman, What of the Night? bears witness to a world in turmoil, as tyrants rise with the warming seas, while entire generations are displaced by war and catastrophe. The poet asks, what centre can hold in this whirlwind night? Here are poems which speak of past calamities in order to hold up a lamp to pierce the present murk and fog in search of clarity. This book is an alarm-bell, a cry in the night, and above all else, a call to action. Visit the CW Books website to read a sample from the collection.
Alone in the House of My Heart Poetry by Kari Gunter-Seymour Swallow Press, September 2022
Ohio Poet Laureate Kari Gunter-Seymour’s second full-length collection resounds with candid, lyrical poems about Appalachia’s social and geographical afflictions and affirmations. History, culture, and community shape the physical and personal landscapes of Gunter-Seymour’s native southeastern Ohio soil, scarred by Big Coal and fracking, while food insecurity and Big Pharma leave their marks on the region’s people. A musicality of language swaddles each poem in hope and a determination to endure. Alone in the House of My Heart offers what only art can: a series of thought-provoking images that evoke such a clear sense of place that it’s familiar to anyone, regardless of where they call home.
In this brooding and obsessive novel, Ansgar Allen recounts the story of a nameless man who attends a funerary wake with no other distraction than papers that once belonged to the body on display. The deceased considered the papers to be his magnum opus, a text that unraveled everything he had been educated to accept, beginning with the spectre of religion—namely The Church of Christ, Scientist—and ending with the very fabric of educated, civilized thought. Allen’s protagonist thinks he’s above the conclusions drawn in the titular manuscript, but the blurred lines between what he reads and what he sees in himself incite an apocalypse of introspection. The result is a dark, labyrinthine attempt to diminish (and eventually annihilate) the memory of the man who came to rest on the table before him. Literary and existential, The Wake and the Manuscript explores the vagaries of death, identity, desire, and indoctrination as it (un)buries a history of delusion that speaks volumes about the human condition.
Dolore Minimo Poetry by Giovanna Cristina Vivinetto Translated by Gabriella Fee and Dora Malech Saturnalia Books, October 2022
In Dolore Minimo, Giovanna Cristina Vivinetto attends to her own becoming in language both tender and fierce, painful and luminous. This collection, Vivinetto’s first, charts the course of her gender transition in poems that enact a mutually constitutive relationship between self and place, interrogating the foundations of physical, cultural, and emotional landscapes assumed or averred immutable. Her imagination is rooted in the Sicilian landscape of her native Siracusa, even as that ground shifts under foot in response to the poet’s own emotional and physical transformations. Vivinetto engages with classical mythology, Italian feminist theory, and received constructs of family, religion, and gender to explore the terrors and pleasures of a childhood that culminates in a second birth, in which she must be both mother and child. Fee and Malech’s collaborative translations reflect the polyvocal and processual qualities of Vivinetto’s poetry, using language that foregrounds an active liminality and expresses the multiplicities of the self in dynamic conversation over the course of the collection. In Dolore Minimo, the lyric “I” is a chorus, but an intimate one.
A book still timely in its content and as a testament to our shared experience, In the Plague Year is a book about living through the Covid-19 pandemic, when a coronavirus and its variants swept around the globe. In this suite of poems, William New reveals how, from March 2020 to March 2021, people coped with the threat. This is a book about love and death, laughter and loss, the price of isolation, and the cost of staying alive. This pandemic was no minor unease, and this book is no workaday diary: it’s a powerful record of people’s lives as a new pandemic vocabulary became the idiom of the day. In these poems, people prove to be both dismissive and empathetic; officials react both creatively and slowly; institutions adapt or fail; not everyone survives. New’s poems are fresh, witty, serious, and sensitive―a powerful personal documentary that testifies to the strength of community.
The death of Leonard Cohen received media attention across the globe, and this international star remains dear to the hearts of many fans. This book examines the diversity of Cohen’s art in the wake of his death, positioning him as a contemporary, multi-media artist whose career was framed by the twentieth-century and neoliberal contexts of its production. The authors borrow the idea of “the contemporary” especially from philosophy and art history, applying it to Cohen for the first time—not only to the drawings that he included in some of his books but also to his songs, poems, and novels. This idea helps us to understand Cohen’s techniques after his postmodern experiments with poems and novels in the 1960s and 1970s. It also helps us to see how his most recent songs, poems, and drawings developed out of that earlier material, including earlier connections to other writers and musicians.
This We in the Back of the House Poetry by Jacob Sunderlin Saturnalia Books, October 2022
Winner of the Saturnalia Book Editors Prize, Jacob Sunderlin’s first book of poems is measured in long shifts, out of sight of customers, written out in bleach, cigarette butts, and cheers to that we who work in the back of the house. Poems written the way stock pots are scoured with steel wool, the way bricks are laid with violent precision and exhausted resignation. These poems were dreamed by a head stuck inside a cement mixer, drunk on the language of work and the spoken we language creates. This is not the romanticized imaginary “Midwest” exploited by cynical politicians but a lyrical and even occult working-class landscape. Its we is made gentle by listening, by being in garages with apple-juice jugs of antifreeze underneath a sky hazed by contrails in the shape of Randy Savage and bootlegged diamonds of anti-helicopter lights while Appetite for Destruction whispers from a pile of burning leaves. This we is made of brothers, of the teenage bricklayer scamming free nuggets from Mickey Dees. These poems are sharp but loving, spoken in the light of a Coleman lantern from a boombox spread out on a blanket down by a river Monsanto owns. This we rides in a 1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air left parked out in a shed, windows half-down.
Butcher’s Work: True Crime Tales of American Murder and Madness Nonfiction by Harold Schechter University of Iowa Press, November 2022
In Butcher’s Work, Harold Schechter explores the story of a Civil War veteran who perpetrated one of the most ghastly mass slaughters in the annals of U.S. crime. A nineteenth-century female serial killer whose victims included three husbands and six of her own children. A Gilded Age “Bluebeard” who did away with as many as fifty wives throughout the country. A decorated World War I hero who orchestrated a murder that stunned Jazz Age America. While other infamous homicides from the same eras—the Lizzie Borden slayings, for example, or the “thrill killing” committed by Leopold and Loeb—have entered into our cultural mythology, these four equally sensational crimes have largely faded from public memory. A quartet of gripping historical true-crime narratives, Butcher’s Work restores these once-notorious cases to vivid, dramatic life. Harold Schechter is professor emeritus at Queens College, CUNY. Among his more than forty books are a series of historical true-crime narratives about America’s most infamous serial killers, including Hell’s Princess. He is married to the poet, Kimiko Hahn.
In this debut full-length collection, Junious ‘Jay’ Ward dives deep into the formation of self. Composition interrogates the historical perceptions of Blackness and biracial identity as documented through a Southern Lens. Utilizing a variety of poetic forms, Ward showcases to his readers an innovative approach as he unflinchingly explores the way language, generational trauma, loss, and resilience shape us into who we are, the stories we carry, and what we will inevitably pass on. Signed copies are available for preorder now. Jay Ward is a poet living in Charlotte, NC, and the author of Sing Me a Lesser Wound (Bull City Press). He is a National Poetry Slam champion, an Individual World Poetry Slam champion, and Charlotte’s inaugural Poet Laureate. He has attended and/or received support from Breadloaf Writers Conference, Callaloo, The Frost Place, Tin House Winter Workshop, and The Watering Hole, and currently serves as a Program Director for BreatheInk and Vice-Chair for The Watering Hole.
NewPages receives many wonderful titles each month to share with our readers. You can read more about some of these titles by clicking on the “Books” tag under “Popular Blog Topics.” If you are a publisher or author looking to be listed here or featured on our blog and social media, please contact us!
An Adventurous Spirit, ed. Nicholas Litchfield, Lowestoft Chronicle Press At the Ogre’s Table: A Red Ogre Review Anthology
An Audible Blue, Klaus Merz, White Pine Press Around Here, J.R. Solonche, Kelsay Books The Bright Invisible, Michael Robins, Saturnalia Books Common Life, Stéphane Bouquet, Nightboat Books Composition, Junious “Jay” Ward, Button Poetry Defying Extinction, Amy Barone, Broadstone Books Dolore Minimo, Giovanna Cristina Vivinetto, Saturnalia Books Elizabeth/The Story of Drone, Louise Akers, Propeller Books Handling Filth, Jared Schickling, Unlikely Books If This Should Reach You In Time, Justin Marks, Barrelhouse Books In a Few Minutes Before Later, Brenda Hillman, Wesleyan University Press A Life Lived Differently, Kathryn Jacobs & Rachel Jacobs, Better Than Starbucks Publications
A Life Lived Differently offers readers a portrait of autism in verse and prose. The poet speaks in the voice of the autistic child, whose name is Dan. The prosaist speaks in the voice of the parent. Although Dan is fictional, he is based on real people. Kathryn Jacobs, who identifies as autistic, writes his viewpoint in poetry which is both lyrical and down to earth. She is Dan, in writing and sometimes in emotional reality also. Rachel Jacobs writes as the mom and Dan’s primary caregiver. Dan also has a brother, but their father is absent from the narrative. Dan’s parents seem to be divorced, in part due to the pressure of parenting a special-needs child. This portrayal of autism opens a door to the world and experiences of a child who faces the challenges we all do but sees and understands in a different way. At times amusing, sometimes wry, often surprising, this account offers an unparalleled view into living on the spectrum while at the same time celebrating the strength and beauty of a unique individual living with neurodiversity/Autism.
In case you missed the debut of Sydney Vogl’s debut chap collection of poetry, California is Going to Hell (cover art by Claire Morales Design) is still available for purchase from perhappened press. These poems weave themes of family, sexuality, trauma, and healing with nostalgic images meant to immerse the reader “in color and sound.” Teacher/Writer Sydney Vogl was the winner of the 2021 Jane Underwood Poetry Prize, the 2020 AWP Intro Journals Awards, and was chosen as the poetry fellow for Martha’s Vineyard Institute for Creative Writing Teach! Write! Play! Fellowship. Vogl’s work can be found in Iron Horse Literary Review, Hobart, Honey Literary, and Booth among others.
The Bright Invisible, the fifth collection from Michael Robins, investigates domesticity and desire, reenactment and reclamation, as well as the promise of love alongside the certainty of absence. “Sometimes the sun,” Robins writes, “elbows the ordinary, archival cloud” and sometimes we “close our eyes / & describe for each other what colors appear.” These poems are imbued with the “soft collisions” of our dazzling existence, and they offer the possibility for even the darkest season to guide us once more into spring. Michael Robins is the author of four previous collections, including In Memory of Brilliance & Value and People You May Know, both from Saturnalia Books. He lives in the Portage Park neighborhood of Chicago.
A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door: The Dismantling of Public Education and the Future of School Nonfiction by Jack Schneider and Jennifer Berkshire The New Press, February 2023
In A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door, the co-hosts of the popular education podcast Have You Heard expose the potent network of conservative elected officials, advocacy groups, funders, and think tanks that are pushing a radical vision to do away with public education. “Cut[ing] through the rhetorical fog surrounding a host of free-market reforms and innovations” (Mike Rose), Jack Schneider and Jennifer Berkshire lay bare the dogma of privatization and reveal how it fits into the current context of right-wing political movements. A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door “goes above and beyond the typical explanations” (SchoolPolicy.org), giving readers an up-close look at the policies—school vouchers, the war on teachers’ unions, tax credit scholarships, virtual schools, and more—driving the movement’s agenda.
Patterns of Orbit Poetry by Chloe N Clark Baobab Press, April 2023
Available now for pre-order, Chloe N Clark’s Patterns of Orbit spans genres, perspectives, and styles to articulate contemporary uncertainties in a rapidly changing world. Steadily gazing into and across the uncanny valley, Clark examines those jarring or subtle shifts in familiar stories, writing light into dark, and offering slivers of hope despite the longest of odds. Navigating a potent concoction of science fiction, folktale, and horror this collection of literary, character-driven stories combines the accumulated forces and darker natures of those genre elements, unleashing the terrors of alien fungi, forest demons, and interplanetary specters upon her characters. While these characters, capable and intelligent, face off against their prescribed monsters, it is their existential misgivings on the state of their worlds or conditions that will leave an indelible mark on the reader. As a notable contribution to the literary/genre hybrid canon, this collection offers a crossover read to the connoisseurs of both genre and literary fiction.
In Morality Play, Lauren Hilger forges a restless path between the impressionable folly of youth and the boundlessness of individual becoming. A motley bildungsroman of fierce imagination, Morality Play reveals, and revels in, the paradox inherent in its title, angling for a tender virtue in the sensuousness of words. “Raised on a fast pencil, a sound expiring,” Hilger reminds us that “From the world’s first cities, it was always a woman / telling the future.” Like a wild song fluent in, or flung against, awkward self-delusion and constrictive cultural norms, Morality Play offers a vision of womanhood as expansive as lucid dreaming, where all the “wrong words” become our “mother tongue.” Lauren Hilger is the author of Lady Be Good (CCM, 2016). Named a Nadya Aisenberg Fellow in poetry from MacDowell, she has also received fellowships from the Hambidge Center and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her work has appeared in BOMB, Harvard Review, KenyonReview, Pleiades, The Threepenny Review, West Branch, and elsewhere. She serves as a poetry editor for No Tokens.
A brief stop in Missouri to see a buzzworthy dead pig and a local pickler assist a Californian family in avoiding a menacing encounter with drug smugglers. In New York City, a riled, hotshot salesman endeavors to hunt down the brazen thieves who made off with his briefcase and wallet in a crowded subway car. And a subway train driver with a history of fatalities on his service record is on the hunt for another victim. An Adventurous Spirit shimmers with high adventure, comedy, drama, introspection, and intelligent observation. From psychedelic taxi rides and dubious genealogical quests across the United States heartland to farcically troublesome road trips and intense ancestral pinball duels in Europe, this collection features poetry and prose by Linda Ankrah-Dove, Robert Beveridge, Jeff Burt, DeWitt Clinton, DAH, Rob Dinsmoor, Mary Donaldson-Evans, Catherine Dowling, Tim Frank, James Gallant, Bruce Harris, Marc Harshman, Jacqueline Jules, Richard Luftig, Robert Mangeot, George Moore, James B. Nicola, and Robert Wexelblatt. Plus, exclusive interviews with award-winning authors Abby Frucht and Sheldon Russell. Founded in September 2009, Lowestoft Chronicle is an online literary magazine, published quarterly, accepting flash fiction, short stories, poetry, and creative non-fiction with preference given to humorous submissions with an emphasis on travel. An anthology of the best work is published annually. The mission of Lowestoft Chronicle is “to form a global ‘think tank’ of inquisitive, worldly scribblers, collectively striving towards excellence and, if possible, world domination.”
In the early 1990s, in Harmony Valley, a rural, Upstate New York village faded from its 18th and 19th-century heyday, a group of teens engaged in an idiosyncratic role-playing game cross paths with June, a mysterious girl whose family has deep roots in the area, and Clyde Duane, a janitor who makes weekly visits to a strange room – the headquarters of a secret society – opening its door with a golden, serpent-headed key. Meanwhile, an eccentric Utica lawyer pulls his young Vietnamese protégée into their firm’s special case, which stretches back to the 1840s. Decades later, in 2034, as the United States is breaking apart and a new way of life taking shape, June has disappeared. The mystery of her disappearance inspires a journey back to “The Happy Valley,” and a reevaluation of the past that exposes the dark personal and societal secrets betraying our founding myths. Harnett’s debut novel is 412 pages, with 66 full-page b&w illustrations by the author, and includes an Appendix with a Timeline, and a detailed Reading Group Guide.
The poems in Jennifer Reeser’s Strong Feather center on a Native American Indian female character of the author’s creation. She is a poet/prophet/warrior of sorts. All the poems are masterfully deployed in form, but they vary in tone and content. While many of the poems use the Strong Feather character, there are also personal poems, and translations and tales from actual Cherokee and other indigenous traditions. The title poem opens the collection:
End of the winter, middle March, Waking, I find it beneath my quilt Clinging to linens the hue of larch, Softer and whiter than milk when spilt— One petite feather. Its hollow “hilt” Pointing toward me, is curved and long, Slightly translucent, and at a tilt. How has this feather stayed so strong? . . . .
Jennifer Reeser is the author of six collections of poetry, and her poems, reviews, and translations of Russian, French, along with the Cherokee and various Native American Indian languages, have appeared in numerous publications. A biracial writer of European American and Native American Indian ancestry, Reeser was born in Louisiana. She studied English at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana. She now divides her time between Louisiana and her land on the Cherokee Reservation in Indian Country near Tahlequah, Oklahoma, capital of the Cherokee Nation of which her family is a part.
Curious, ruminative, and wry, this literary autobiography tours what Rachel Kushner called “the strange remove that is the life of the writer.” Frank’s essays cover a vast spectrum—from handling dismissive advice, facing the dilemma of thwarted ambition, and copying the generosity that inspires us, to the miraculous catharsis of letter-writing and some of the books that pull us through. Useful for writers at any stage of development, Late Work offers a seasoned artist’s thinking through the exploration of issues, paradoxes, and crises of faith. Like a lively conversation with a close, outspoken friend, each piece tells its experience from the trenches. Joan Frank is the award-winning author of twelve books of literary fiction and essays including Because You Have To: A Writing Life and Try to Get Lost: Essays on Travel and Place (UNM Press).
Elizabeth/The Story of Drone Poetry by Louise Akers Propeller Books, September 2022
In this hybrid poem about militarized drones and militant angels, Elizabeth abandons her career as a physicist to become a museum administrator, finds god in the basement below the galleries, and dies there. But that is not the end. A blend of form and genre, Elizabeth/The Story of Drone takes readers on a journey through terrain in which the personal and the political collide. Louise Akers is a poet living in Brooklyn, New York. They earned their MFA from Brown University in May of 2018, and received the Keith and Rosmarie Waldrop Prize for Innovative Writing in 2017 and the Confrontation Poetry Prize in 2019. Their chapbook, Alien Year, was selected by Brandon Shimoda for the 2020 Oversound Chapbook Prize.
If This Should Reach You In Time Poetry by Justin Marks Barrelhouse Books, December 2022
If This Should Reach You in Time sounds the alarm of climate change and democratic collapse with tender lament and guarded hope from award-winning poet Justin Marks. In “Along for the Ride,” Marks writes, “There’s no way around / not being part // of the problem” and “The best case scenario / is long term disaster.” In this fourth collection of poetry, Marks renders global threats as intimate and personal. As we turn inward, terror and sadness take hold. This is a book of crisis and dread, both human and spiritual. Through these poems, Marks shows readers what could be and what might have been. In the titular poem, he writes, “know / that we didn’t see / the disaster coming / That it wasn’t / imaginable, hadn’t / existed until, gradually / it was, and did / Or that we saw it / and refused to believe / Or saw it and thought / something or someone / else would save us.”
An iconoclastic ecopoet who has led the way for many young and emerging artists, Brenda Hillman continues to re-cast innovative poetic forms as instruments for tracking human and non-human experiences. At times the poet deploys short dialogues, meditations or trance techniques as means of rendering inner states; other times she uses narrative, documentary or scientific materials to record daily events during a time of pandemic, planetary crisis, political and racial turmoil. Hillman proposes that poetry offers courage even in times of existential peril; her work represents what is most necessary and fresh in American poetry.
Douglas Bauer’s newest work, The Beckoning World, is set in the first quarter of the twentieth century and follows Earl Dunham, whose weeks are comprised of six days mining coal followed by Sundays playing baseball. Then, one day, a major-league scout happens on a game, signs Earl, and he begins a life he had no idea he could even dream. But dreams sometimes suffer from a lovely abundance, and in Earl’s case, her name is Emily Marchand. They fall quickly and deeply in love, but with that love comes heartbreaking complications. The Beckoning World gathers a cast of characters that include Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, a huge-hearted Pullman steward offering aphoristic wisdom, and countless others, not least of which is the 1918 Spanish flu taking vivid spectral form. At the center is a relentless love that Earl and Emily are defenseless against, allied as they are “in this business of their hearts.” Douglas Bauer has written several books, including Prairie City, Iowa: Three Seasons at Home (Iowa, 2008). He teaches writing at Bennington College and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.