In The Way Land Breaks, award-winning poet Rebecca Brock uses time—human and geological—as both anchor and engine. These poems are revelation and love song to a faltering world. The Way Land Breaks travels the Idaho foothills of Brock’s childhood, the sky she takes to as a flight attendant, her relationship with her mother and her sons, and the distances between. From diabetes to earthquakes, mushrooms to Mars Rovers, Robin Hood to Vera Bradley—Brock asks questions about the landscape of home, the landscapes we seek within one other. Using tangible imagery and honest language, Brock shows us how love takes hold in the modern blur of disorder and constant change.
Floriography Child: A Memoir in Poems by Lisa C. Krueger Red Hen Press, October 2023
Lisa C. Krueger’s Floriography Child is a book about salvation: what gives people strength in the face of adversity, not just to endure, but to move through and beyond our myriad human sufferings. Through poems, micro-essays, and visual art, Floriography Child addresses fundamental questions about purpose, connection, and resilience. Written in memoir form, this book examines the mother-daughter relationship and its intimacies in the context of a daughter’s developing chronic illness. How to bear another’s suffering—how to find sustenance in a world fraught with uncertainty and pain—is addressed through the language of flowers and the natural world. Ultimately, this book asks us to consider how each of us, whatever our path, is connected.
Frida Kahlo in Fort Lauderdale: Poems by Stephen Gibson Able Muse Press, February 2024
Stephen Gibson’s Frida Kahlo in Fort Lauderdale reimagines the iconic Mexican artist’s life and relationships by exploring Kahlo’s passions and pains through vivid persona poems. Realized entirely in a modified triolet form, the collection is essentially an ekphrastic epic inspired by the paintings, photos, and personal effects on display in a 2015 Fort Lauderdale exhibition. Gibson probes the artist’s inner world, giving voice to Kahlo’s desires, anguish, and defiant spirit. He conjures her crippling injuries from a bus accident, her tumultuous marriage to Diego Rivera, and her affairs with Leon Trotsky and others, all filtered through her fervent art. This innovative collection brings Frida Kahlo’s singular vision to life in visceral contemporary verse.
With heart and insight, the poems in Alise Alousi’s What to Count speak to what it means to come of age as an Iraqi American during the first Gulf War and its continuing aftermath, but also to the joy and complexity of motherhood, daughterhood, and what it means to live a creative life. More than a description of the world, Alousi’s poetry actively lives in and of the world. These poems explore the nuances of memory through the changes wrought by time, conflict, and distance. In “The Ocularist” and “Art,” and others, Alousi’s extraordinary verbal deftness precisely locates the still-tender pains and triumphs of collective being while trying to be an individual in the world. What to Count is a remarkable collection of contemporary poetry—both a lyrical splendor and a contemplative account of lineage, silenced history, and identity.
Ropes by Derrick Harriel was originally published in 2013 as a collection based on the lives of four famous boxers: Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, Joe Frazier, and Mike Tyson. This 10th-anniversary edition contains new poems and a new Introduction by Kiese Laymon. Made up of persona poems about the greatest boxers in American history, Ropes is considered a leading commentary on African American life and culture in the past 100 years. Harriell is an associate professor of African American Studies and English at the University of Mississippi and the new director of the university’s African American Studies program. He is a past winner of the Mississippi Institute of Arts & Letters Prize in Poetry.
These poems arose from the depths of incarceration, from the voice and intellect of Mohsen Mohamed (sentenced to five years of imprisonment after a campus protest in 2014) and went on to win Egypt’s two most significant literary prizes. They speak of dislocation and the wrenching of the heart, of a found (and forged) community, of the bare lineaments of humanity disclosed in the throes of suffering. They are works of provocative witness and searching tenderness.
“Mohsen Mohamed is an honest poet with a new dictionary, a keen eye for details and surprising twists, and a great talent.” —Amin Haddad, poet, winner of the International Cavafy Prize for poetry
Boundless Deep, and Other Stories by Gen Del Raye, winner of the Raz/Shumaker Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction, is a portrait of a family that holds together despite everything. At the funeral of her old boss, a grandmother confronts the legacy of the draft letters she delivered as a girl during World War II. Facing the loss of his job, a father becomes the caricature strangers have always believed him to be. A graduate student living far from home is worn down by the reality of what it takes to save even a small piece of the world. Along the way, we meet communist revolutionary Shigenobu Fusako hiding out in a Tokyo hotel, submariner and war criminal Nishina Sekio in his tortured dreams, and Edwin, a half-dolphin friend, wreaking havoc in a public pool. Written in the compressed style of Amy Hempel and Lucia Berlin, these stories examine characters whose struggles submerge them, weighing them down from every angle, until they can finally float free.
Witty, nostalgic, rhythmic, and forlorn, Matt Mason’s poetry calls on the classic rock music that shaped him. Mason laments on his childhood in the 80s and addresses the graduating preschool class of 2023, as he takes us on the coming-of-age road trip of a lifetime. An ode and ovation to what our ears taught us before we knew what to say, Rock Stars riffs on all things music, poetry, sports, and more. Matt Mason is the Nebraska State Poet and, through the US State Department, has run poetry programs in Botswana, Romania, Nepal, and Belarus. He is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from the Academy of American Poets and the Nebraska Arts Council.
Sex Augury is a collection that practices divination with the symbolism of our radically changed and changeable world. Exercising trans poetics, C. Bain denormalizes the violence embedded in the most intimate strata of American life. Confrontationally queer, urgently wounded, deeply political, and metaphysically transported, these poems create their own system of meaning in an environment that is increasingly hostile to meaning of any kind. This collection spans digital culture, gender reversals, and archetypal-mythic vocabularies, alongside close observation of the surround of “ordinary” urban existence. These poems bristle with intelligence, acuity of feeling, and refusal to gloss the complexity of our moment into a false narrative of progress.
Asides: Occasional Essays by George Singleton EastOver Press, November 2023
George Singleton’s Asides: Occasional Essays offers readers a fascinating and curious collection in which Singleton explains how he came to be a writer (he blames barbecue), why he still writes his first draft by hand (someone stole his typewriter), and what motivated him to run marathons (his father gave him beer). In eccentric world-according-to-George fashion, Laugh-In’s Henry Gibson is to blame for Singleton’s literary education, and Aristotle would’ve been a failed philosopher had he grown up in South Carolina. Singleton gets his dogs to promise they won’t use his new gardens as a Porta-Potty, learns about his not-so-famous relations, and generally charms anyone sensible enough to read this delightful book. Word of advice? Buckle up and relish this ride.
The Cruelties of Brooklyn by Paul Schaeffer Mudfish Individual Poet Series #17 Box Turtle Press, June 2023
In The Cruelties of Brooklyn by Paul Schaeffer, each poem builds upon the next to create an unsparing vision of all the characters in the poet’s childhood and adulthood that is nevertheless suffused with a love of humanity. With almost as few words as possible, Schaeffer conveys a world of meaning and abundance of detail, telling his outrageous stories that are colorful, earthy, perceptive, empathic, and brilliant. His intense realism lifts into the visionary: “The coffin lid flew open / Her body so light / She lifted into the air / A white sheet escaping a clothesline.” He mourns Aunt Helen, “the last of the gang,” but not before he immortalizes each and every one of them.
Kazim Ali is a poet, novelist, and essayist whose work explores themes of identity, migration, and the intersections of cultural and spiritual traditions. His poetry is known for its lyrical and expressive language, as well as its exploration of themes such as love, loss, and the search for meaning in a rapidly changing world. “Sukun” means serenity or calm, and a sukun is also a form of punctuation in Arabic orthography that denotes a pause over a consonant. This Sukun draws a generous selection from Kazim’s six previous full-length collections and includes 35 new poems. It allows us to trace Ali’s passions and concerns, and take the measure of his art: the close attention to the spiritual and the visceral, and the deep language play that is both musical and plain spoken.
Winner of the 2022 Big Moose Prize, Down Here We Come Up by Sara Johnson Allen is about three women who have lost connection with their children, through alienation, adoption, and across a militarized border. Their lives intersect in a “safe house” for migrant workers outside of Wilmington, North Carolina in 2006. From her deathbed, con artist Jackie Jessup lures home her estranged 26-year-old daughter Kate Jessup. There, Kate meets former teacher Maribel Reyes, who is separated from her family in Ciudad Juárez. While none of these women trust each other, they do have a chance to get back what they have each lost.
This volume promises to be the definitive guide to Calvin C. Hernton’s unparalleled poetic career, re-introducing readers to a major voice in American poetry. Hernton was a cofounder of the Umbra Poets Workshop; a participant in the Black Arts Movement, R. D. Laing’s Kingsley Hall, and the Antiuniversity of London; and a teacher at Oberlin College who counted amongst his friends bell hooks, Toni Morrison, and Odetta. As a pioneer in the field of Black Studies, Hernton developed a theoretical and practical pedagogy with lasting impact on generations of students. He may be best known as an anti-sexist sociologist, following in the footsteps of W.E.B. Du Bois, but Hernton viewed himself, above all, as a poet. This volume includes a generous selection of Hernton’s previously published poems, from classics like the often anthologized “The Distant Drum” to the visionary epic The Coming of Chronos to the House of Nightsong, reprinted in full for the first time since 1964, alongside uncollected and unpublished material from the Calvin C. Hernton papers at Ohio University, a new critical introduction by Ishmael Reed, and detailed notes, chronology, and bibliography.
In this third full-length collection of poems, Madison welcomes the reader to step into her craft for a tour that tracks the movement of a life. Among narrative, lyric, and points in between, the poems in this collection are informed by the poet’s keen eye for detail, command of language, and ear for the music of words. Poems of loss, growth, grief, pleasure, joy and snark, are presented with arresting imagery, humor, and an abiding faith in the salvation that nature offers.
You Were Watching from the Sand: Short Stories by Juliana Lamy Red Hen Press, September 2023
Playful, kinetic, and devastating in turn, You Were Watching from the Sand is a collection in which Haitian men, women, and children who find their lives cleaved by the interminably strange bite back at the bizarre with their own oddities. In “belly,” a young woman abandoned by her only living relative makes a person from the mud beside her backyard creek. In “We Feel it in Punta Cana,” a domestic child servant in the Dominican Republic tours through his own lush imagination to make his material conditions more bearable. In “The Oldest Sensation is Anger,” a teenager invites a same-aged family friend into her apartment and uncovers a spate of disturbing secrets about her. Written in a mixture of high lyricism, absurdist comedy, and Haitian cultural witticisms, this is a collection whose dynamism matches that of its characters at every beat and turn.
Through each poem in the debut collection Toy Gun, Matt Coonan fires his offbeat childhood and adolescence at the page. He enters each exit wound with sharp diction and form, extracting shards of trauma, mental health, and evolutionary violence. What readers will find in this collection is ambitious anaphora—an attempt to explain the irrationality of an obsessive mind by imitation. The result of it all? Raw candor dripped on the backdrop of New York suburbia; an intimacy that lingers from backyard barbeques to funeral homes.
Tara Kelly’s moving memoir, No Last Words, opens: “The day before Robert died was an otherwise perfect June day in Connecticut: warm but not hot, with a bit of a breeze, flawless blue sky, puffy white clouds—the sort of weather a sailor loves, and Robert was a sailor.”
Robert Willis was Tara’s husband, father of their children, restauranteur, sailor, bon vivant, and alcoholic. From an enchanted start in Manhattan to a townhouse in Brooklyn, from an island in Maine and back to rural Connecticut, in fast cars and sleek boats, Tara and Robert seemed to live a charmed life. But beneath the glittering exterior was the struggle of money, alcohol, and ultimately self-control and hard-won sobriety. When this couple seems to have reached an impasse, separation brings renewed love, and then tragedy brings new challenges. Kelly’s memoir is a clear-eyed excavation of the lives lived together and apart by two charismatic modern Americans, a story told in love and compassion for herself and others.
In Jill Hoffman’s long-awaited second novel, STONED, forty-year-old mother of two Maud Diamond is getting a divorce. Having experienced the colossal disappointment of being jilted by a famous artist, she falls in love with a poor unknown artist who assuages the disappointment but leads to other ills. Maud’s son leaves home to live with his father; the daughter does phone sex from their new home, proclaiming, “I’m the only one in this house earning any money.” As Maud starts a literary journal called Wild Leek with her new boyfriend and moves downtown, their relationship spirals downward from her pot-smoking and his alcoholism. STONED is for anyone who has been in love or lost love, been married, divorced, or lonely. It is about the satisfactions and deprivations of sex and drugs.
The thirteen stories in Rebecca Turkewitz’s debut collection, Here in the Night, are engrossing, strange, eerie, and emotionally nuanced. With psychological insight and finely crafted prose, Here in the Night investigates the joys and constraints of womanhood, of queerness, and of intimacy. Preoccupied with all manner of hauntings, these stories traverse a boarding school in the Vermont woods, the jagged coast of Maine, an attic in suburban Massachusetts, an elevator stuck between floors, and the side of an unlit highway in rural South Carolina. At the center of almost every story is the landscape of night, with all its tantalizing and terrifying potential.
All the Ways We Lied: A Novel by Aida Zilelian Keylight Books, January 2024
Set in Queens, New York, meet the Manoukians—a dysfunctional Armenian family and the fraying rope that binds them. While a father deteriorates from terminal illness, three sisters contend with one another, their self-destructive pasts, and their indomitable mother as they face the loss of the one person holding their unstable family together. Kohar, the oldest sister, is happily married, yet grapples with fertility issues and, in turn, her own self-worth. Lucine, the middle child, is trapped in a loveless marriage and haunted by memories of her estranged father. Azad, the beloved youngest child, is burdened by an inescapable cycle of failed relationships. Zilelian uses humor and compassion to explore the fraught and contradictory landscape of sisterhood, introducing four unforgettable women who have nothing in common and are bound by blood and history.
From a cathedral in Cuernavaca with its frescos of samurai and soon-to-be-martyred priests to neighborhoods in Miami at the end of lockdown, to New York City in the 1970s, or to mythic Greece, the poems in Remote Cities are conscious of history as a process happening right now. They look back at us with an urgency that demands response, not that we embrace this or that political or religious dogma but that we live our lives with a sense of their fragility and value.
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Apples & Crows, Alan Basting, Kelsay Books The Cruelties of Brooklyn, Paul Schaeffer, Box Turtle Press Directed by Lilly Obscure, Dana Curtis, Blaze Vox Excuse Me As I Kiss The Sky, Rudy Francisco, Button Poetry Feast of the Ass, Jahna Khajavi, Ugly Duckling Presse Floriography Child, Lisa C. Krueger, Red Hen Press Frida Kahlo in Fort Lauderdale, Stephen Gibson, Able Muse Press Honest Sonnets, Nicole Farmer, Kelsay Books Joan of Arkansas, Emma Wippermann, Ugly Duckling Presse Let Our Bodies Change the Subject, Jared Harel, University of Nebraska Press MA, Ida Börjel, Ugly Duckling Presse Morpheus Dips His Oar, Tamara Madison, Sheila-Na-Gig Editions Nice Nose, Buck Downs
The Weight of Ghosts: A Memoir by Laila Halaby Red Hen Press, September 2023
The Weight of Ghosts is a circling of grief following the death of the author’s older son when he was twenty-one, a horror that was compounded by her younger son’s drug use, the country’s slow eruption as it dealt with its own brokenness, and reckoning the author had to do regarding her own story. The Weight of Ghosts is a lyrical reclaiming and an insistence by the author that she own the rights to her story, which is American flavored with an unreleasing elsewhere. The Weight of Ghosts is an immigrant story and a love story. While it is raw and honest and tragic, it is also a hopeful, funny, and original telling that demonstrates the strength of the human spirit, while offering a vocabulary for these most unmanageable human experiences.
Robert L. Penick’s short, masterful poems have been making appearances in small press magazines since the early 1990s. The Art of Mercy, his first full-length collection, contains excerpts from four chapbooks as well as fifty-seven new and previously uncollected poems, representing the best of a long, quiet career in the poetry trenches. This book marks the first in the Beggar Poet Series produced by Shō Poetry Journal in partnership with their parent publisher, Hohm Press. “It is named for seekers across world traditions who set out on the spiritual path with nothing but a begging bowl in hand and a driving thirst for the unnameable. Some of those beggars become poets. Just as some poets, in their sacred vocation, become beggars, standing empty before the muse and writing what is given.”
In Ray Trotter’s collection of stories, And Dogs to Chase Them, ordinary humans are pushed to do things in out-of-the-ordinary ways. Trotter has conjured a world of Southern hyper-reality: a good Christian woman who pushes a man down the staircase, “as final as flushing the commode”; a concrete deliveryman who ought to have double-checked the address before he got out of his truck; and a man who enacts his revenge on the self-declared Queen of the Post Office. Through a keen eye for detail, Trotter brings to life a world that is at once familiar and deeply odd and creates characters that stay with a reader long after the book is closed.
Winner of the 2023 Whiting Award for Drama, Emma Wippermann’s Joan of Arkansas is an election-season closet drama about climate catastrophe, divine gender expression, the instructions of angels, and heavenly revelation relayed via viral video. Fifteen-year-old Joan has been tasked by God (They/Them) to ensure that Charles VII (R–Arkansas) adopts radical climate policy and wins his bid as the Lord’s candidate to become the president of the United States. Arkansas is flooding, the West is burning, and borders are closed: “Heaven or / internet—it’s / hard to be / good.”
In Joy Taylor’s satirical fiction Silent Bob, BJ and Rainey are two misfits from a rural town in Kentucky living their everyday lives, until they stumble upon a shocking secret: humanity is controlled by invisible creatures called the viziers who manipulate through pheromones and telepathic suggestion. Delving deeper, they uncover a bizarre world where laughter and tears are commodities and are forced to strive to be more than just “syrup units” providing the viziers with all the tragi-comic emotion they can eat. Silent Bob is a thought-provoking dark comedic exploration of the human condition, exposing the absurdity and vulnerability of our lives. With subtle humor and unexpected twists, Taylor’s craft will leave readers questioning the true nature of their emotions and the forces shaping their lives.
Snow After Fire: A Memoir of the Paradise Camp Fire & its Aftermath by Kandi Maxwell Legacy Book Press, June 2023
In November 2018, Kandi, already struggling with anxiety and chronic fatigue, faces her family’s unthinkable losses after the Paradise Camp Fire. Her two sons and two granddaughters are immediately displaced when their homes are demolished, and they come to live with Kandi and her husband in their small cabin. As Kandi’s solitude-seeking husband moves out and her energy wanes, she wonders how much of herself she can and should give up for her family. When her family can finally move into temporary FEMA housing, hope flourishes, but as the months go by, Kandi faces illness, more fires, the COVID-19 pandemic, the loss of her parents, housing issues for herself and her family, and the prospect of being torn from her most cherished refuge—the forests and the wild lands she called home.
Lies about Black People: How to Combat Racist Stereotypes and Why It Matters by Omekongo Dibinga Prometheus Books, July 2023
From the Black Lives Matter movement to the health and economic disparities exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans have been forced to reckon with our country’s fraught history – and present – of racial bias and inequality. Now that we have scratched the surface of courageous conversations about race, many are wondering: what is the next step toward healing and justice? Lies About Black People: How to Combat Racist Stereotypes and Why it Matters is designed for anyone who wants to examine their own biases and behaviors with a deeper critical lens in order to take action, make change, and engage positively in the fight for racial equality.
Dear Beloved Humans: Selected Poems by Grzegorz Wróblewski Translated by Piotr Gwiazda Lavender Ink, May 2023
Grzegorz Wróblewski’s Dear Beloved Humans offers a representative selection of poems by a Polish writer and visual artist based in Copenhagen for the last thirty-five years. A third volume of Wróblewski’s poetry translated into English by Piotr Gwiazda, it shows its remarkable scope and variety, from the early 1980s poems, with their motifs of existential anxiety and radical estrangement, to those written in the last decade, with their satirical insights on nationalism and capitalism, among other topics. The collection crystallizes the nature of his lifelong project: an attempt to portray, through something theoretically as simple and unassuming as poetry, what it means to be alive at this moment in the planet’s history.
Feast of the Ass by Jahan Khajavi draws extensively on Iranian poetic traditions and the history of their reception in English translation, presenting a series of verses that play in the fields of love poetry’s address. Khajavi irreverently ruffles the “classical grandeur & quiet dignity” of inherited forms in order to consider the poet’s relationship to death, literature, race, religion, and sexuality, his “queer shoulder / set not to the wheel—so long, Solon!—but turned on to some bolder / axon.”
Match Point! by Maddie Gallegos First Second, September 2023
In this debut middle-grade graphic novel by Maddie Gallegos is about two girls: one who hates racquetball and another who loves it. Rosie Vo is at odds with her dad. He pushes his racquetball hobby to the point that she dreads ever spending time with him. Thankfully, new kid Blair moves to town and becomes fast friends with Rosie. She’s cool, a great listener, and even better, the best distraction from the tension Rosie feels at home. Rosie’s convinced Blair is the answer to all her dad-problems. If only Blair could be the racquetball genius Rosie’s dad has always wanted! But Blair disagrees, hoping to show her that with a friend by her side, Rosie can face both her dad and racquetball.
The Teller’s Cage: Poems and Imaginary Movies by John Philip Drury Able Muse Press, January 2024
The poems in John Philip Drury’s The Teller’s Cage swell the heart and the imagination through their cinematic storytelling. The collection opens with baseball and culminates with persona poems starring the poet’s mother, along the way unraveling factual and fantastical chronicles in enchanting locales. Drury’s formal prowess is on display throughout this versified blockbuster. Drury earned degrees from Stony Brook University, the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins, and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is the author of four previous books of poetry.
The poems in Kathy Nelson’s The Ledger of Mistakes explore the complexities of mother-daughter love in the context of a mother’s Alzheimer’s decline and death. Old, unresolved conflicts, the daughter’s recognition of her own mortality, the lifelong desire for an unattainable closeness—these are the pressures that exert their clarifying power in these poems. While the work is rooted in personal experience, it achieves, not journalistic autobiography, but the emotional truth that can arise from poetry. The poems range widely in form: there are sonnets, a pantoum, a villanelle, a rondelet, a triolet, a prose poem as well as more unconventional forms. Kathy Nelson is the 2019 recipient of the James Dickey Award and an MFA graduate of the Warren Wilson Program for Writers.
It’s the summer of 2008, in Charles Goodrich’s novel Weave Me a Crooked Basket. Thirty-five-year-old Ursula Tunder, on the heels of a bad marriage and abandoned career, moved home to the family farm for a fresh start and to care for her ailing father, Joe. Her younger brother, Bodie, comes home as well, to try his hand at organic farming. Their land at the edge of a prosperous college town is coveted by developers. Ursula wants to sell the farm, but Bodie and his idealistic wife are committed to farming. Enter Nu, Ursula and Bodie’s Vietnamese-American cousin by adoption, and an up-and-coming visual artist. When Nu gets arrested after a fight with a pair of dirt bikers, Joe persuades him to take refuge at the farm. Fates change each of their futures as Ursula leaves only to return again to help save the farm from bankruptcy and preserve a way of life.
Take Creek, For Example by Chris Rugeley 7.13 Books, October 2023
In Chris Rugeley’s forthcoming novel, Take Creek is one of the most prestigious art schools in the United States. An unnamed photography major attends to study under Salter, a famous and perhaps out-of-his-mind professor whose works rival that of Cindy Sherman and Garry Winogrand. When Salter asks his protégé to surveil Manning, the new transfer, as his final project, what follows is a wild, unpredictable last year of college full of drugs, nudity, shifting viewpoints, and the occasional making of art. “I drew a lot of inspiration from other classics in the genre,” says Rugeley, “novels by Vladimir Nabokov, Evelyn Waugh, Don DeLillo, Donna Tartt, Tobias Wolff, Elif Batuman, And Elisabeth Thomas.”
Muslim Comics and Warscape Witnessing by Esra Mirze Santesso offers the first major study of comics by and about Muslim people. Santesso assesses Muslim comics to illustrate the multifaceted nature of seeing and representing daily lives within and outside of the homeland. Focusing on contemporary graphic narratives that are primarily but not exclusively from the Middle East—from blockbusters like Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis to more local efforts such as Leila Abdelrazaq’s Baddawi—Santesso explores why the graphic form has become a popular and useful medium for articulating Muslim subjectivities. Further, she shows how Muslim comics “bear witness” to a range of faith-based positions that complicate discussions of global ummah or community, contest monolithic depictions of Muslims, and question the Islamist valorization of the shaheed, the “martyr” figure regarded as the ideal religious witness.
In Fig Season, the poet Joan E. Bauer explores what it has meant to her to be Italian-American. She mingles stories about her own quirky family with portraits of Fellini, Frank Zappa, Diane di Prima, Pasolini, Enrico Fermi, Anna Magnani, John Fante, Elsa Schiaparelli, and more. In writing about history, culture, and family, Bauer also shares what, over time, she has learned about love and vanity, courage, and forgiveness.
Optometry by Xiang Yata is a 250-page, full-color graphic novel that follows the story of a woman who is transported to an experimental kaleidoscopic world during a visit to the optometrist. As the eye doctor calibrates the optometry machine to investigate the faults and fractures in her eyes, the protagonist is transported to a new world, a place full of overlapping images, dots, curves, houses, and light reflections. As she struggles to navigate these various unique planes, she must confront the endless versions of herself to avoid becoming forever lost in a daze. Artist Xiang Yata guides readers through multiple art forms, combining elements of traditional comics, animation, and illustration, to investigate the myriad ways we perceive ourselves. A Kickstarter campaign to help bring Optometry to life launches on July 31, 2023.
MA is Ida Börjel’s award-winning abecedarian, a maelstrom of voices cast in the underwater shadows and nuclear light of the Anthropocene. MA is a refraction of Inger Christensen’s seminal Alphabet, published in 1981, and speaks a furious incantation in the past tense, a grammar of loss, from the vantage point of a disintegrating here and now. Appearing for the first time in English in Jennifer Hayashida’s luminous translation, MA is less a curative than a testimonial, speaking simultaneously for the one and the many, the solitary mother and the insurgent multitude.
Dreaming in Cantera / Sueños en Cantera: Poems by Bonnie Wolkenstein WordTech Editions, February 2023
In 2019, the author set out to journey—abroad and within. Although she planned to experience several countries, the pandemic created a unique opportunity to deepen her knowledge and exploration within the limits of one place, one person, and the overlap between them. The place was Guanajuato, Mexico, a 500-year-old city with secrets and success, conquests and divides, myths, legends, the ghosts of past inhabitants and the bustling energy of those who currently call it their home, all set against a blaze of color, winding stone alleyways, and an arid semidesert surrounded by low mountains. The result is this collection of poems, which mirror the author’s exploration of the unknown and the universal, the cyclical flow of any journey, from leaving, to what we seek and what we find, our return home, and if we’re fortunate enough, our preparation for the next frontier, inner or geographical. Some poems came first in English; others originated in Spanish. Every poem has been translated, creating a rich melding of language and place, offering the reader the chance to feel what it is like to dwell in a new self in a new land, to remember past explorations, and to spark the next longed–for journey.
The Legible Element: Essays by Ralph Sneeden EastOver Press, July 2023
The Legible Element by Ralph Sneeden is a lyrical memoir of a life lived in and out of the water. In his first book of essays, award-winning author Ralph Sneeden combines poetry, prose, and narrative in a search for the origins of his passion for buoyancy and immersion. The collection’s narratives about surfing, sailing, fishing, scuba diving, and swimming are earthly dispatches from an ongoing voyage fueled by joy, longing, loss, and humor.
Saving Sunshine by Saadia Faruqi; illustrated by Shazleen Khan First Second, September 2023
In Saving Sunshine, written by Saadia Faruqi and illustrated by Shazleen Khan, it’s hard enough for twins Zara and Zeeshan to get through a day without being teased for a funny-sounding name or wearing a hijab, but the two really can’t even stand each other. During a family trip to Florida, when the bickering, shoving, and insults reach new heights of chaos, their parents sentence them to the worst possible fate—each other’s company! But when the siblings find an ailing turtle, it presents a rare opportunity for teamwork—if the two can put their differences aside at last.
Restless by Joseph Kai is a graphic novel Set in Beirut, Lebanon, 30 years after the end of the civil war, and a few months before the disastrous explosion of August 2020. Samar, a young queer comic book artist, wanders between anguished dreams, childhood memories, sexual experiences, and Beirut’s alternative communities. This abstractly autobiographical story tells of the author’s anxiety over living in a complex city of changing colors and moods. Three powerful themes: art, sex, and political uprising, are interwoven in a compelling narrative and an otherwordly color palette
Winner of the 2021 St. Lawrence Book Award, Boomtown Girl by Shubha Sunder is set entirely in the Bangalore region of South India and explores the ambitions, delusions, and struggles of people navigating a rapidly developing city. A rebellious teenager and her workaholic father confront their mutual distrust while dining at a newly opened Pizza Hut; a tailor nostalgic for his past glory in the employ of an Englishman grows obsessed with an American customer; a techie, his fiancée having broken off their engagement, takes a young, eager intern into his confidence. These stories trace Bangalore’s warp-speed transformation from a leafy backwater into India’s Silicon Valley—a place where Digital Age values clash with tradition, where British colonialism casts its strong shadow, and where visions are inspired and distorted by the forces of globalization.
Paper Cuts: Lighter Verse by Gail White Kelsay Books, May 2023
Gail White’s first new chapbook in seven years shows no abatement in her trademark formalist cynicism as she takes on cats, gators, Edna Millay’s goldfish, and God. She expresses sympathy for the snails found mating inside her garbage can “because on Friday nights / I look ridiculous myself.” If the heat is getting you down, some iced light verse is highly recommended. Gail White was born in Florida but has disowned it for political reasons. She currently lives in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, where Cajun food is available at all hours. Her other books, Asperity Street and Catechism, are available on Amazon.
World Too Loud to Hear: Poems by Stephen Kampa Able Muse Press, November 2023
The poems in Stephen Kampa’s World Too Loud to Hear confront today’s zeitgeist of dark social norms online or off. Our litany of individual and collective shortcomings is laid bare or castigated—as, for instance, with obligations we abhor, avoid, and “can’t wait / to pass down to the upstart generations.” The delivery ranges from straight or subtle to rants and execrations, while the settings range from historic and current affairs to the imaginary, dystopian, sci-fi, or surrealistic. This sui generis collection is fearless in hope, with a sobering take on our acceleratingly fearful national and global trajectory.
The Tower of Babel Tipped on Its Side Turns into a Tunnel of Love: Poems by Kimo RedeR CW Books, January 2023
As its steeplechase of a title suggests, The Tower of Babel Tipped on Its Side Turns Into a Tunnel of Love is a book of oral and acoustic wordplay pressed to a precarious brink. These poetic experiments use alliteration, assonance, and related sound-devices to twist the tongue and tickle the eardrum while exploring matters of grammar, logic, and semantics. “Kimo RedeR’s writing explores the neuroscience of literacy, sensory overlaps between verbal meaning and oral flavor, occult aspects of the alphabet, and ecstatic, visionary states of language-use like graphomania and glossolalia.”
Excisions by Hilary Plum investigates the feeling—the problem and the syntax—of being on a threshold. If you don’t know what will happen next, you can’t yet say what has happened. These poems arise from states of precise unknowing, desperate imagination, inchoate emotion, encounters with mortality and power when they’re closing in but haven’t caught you yet. What is choice, given the terms of an ill body, survival in a grotesque empire? Tenderly and acutely, these poems examine the life of before and after: when something is excised from you, it was you, and you are what remains.