Sacred Spells: Collected Works by Assotto Saint Nightboat Books, August 2023
In this timely collection of poetry, plays, fiction, and performance texts, Assotto Saint draws upon music and incantation, his Haitian heritage, and a politics of liberation to weaves together a tapestry of literature that celebrates life in the face of death. Influential to contemporary writers such as Essex Hemphill, Marlon Riggs, and Melvin Dixon, Sacred Spells is Saint’s crucial legacy–five hundred incandescent pages of painful, lyric writing that exemplifies the visceral, spiritual dimensions of an artistic practice that’s integral to Black and trans activist movements in the United States, both historic and present.
Hydra Medusa by Brandon Shimoda is part coping mechanism, part magical act, and was composed while Shimoda was working five jobs and raising a child—during bus commutes, before bed, at sunrise. Encountering the ghosts of Japanese American ancestors, friends, children, and bodies of water, it asks: What is the desert but a site where people have died, are dying; are buried, unburied, memorialized, erased. Where they are trying, against and within the energy of it all, to contend with our inherited present—and to live.
Scarcely published in his lifetime, Hyatt’s work survives thanks to the intervention of poets and friends who saved his manuscripts and kept his poems in circulation. Queer in the decades before Gay Liberation; Romani; incarcerated in prisons and asylums; illiterate into adulthood: it’s tempting to read Hyatt according to the familiar script of the doomed poet, resounding with loneliness and isolation. But his poetry—“hot and tender,” funny and sad—tells another story: of love, liberatory commitment, and desire.
Rooted in the classical tradition of the Chinese “reversible” poem, 回 / Return is engaged in the act of looking back—toward an imagined homeland and a childhood of suburban longing, through migratory passages, departures, and etymologies, and into the various holes and voids that appear in the telling and retelling of history. The poems ask: What is feeling? What is melancholy? Can language translate either? A former Margins Fellow at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, Emily Lee Luan is the author of I Watch the Boughs, selected by Gabrielle Calvocoressi for a Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship. She lives in New York City.
Notes from the Passenger by Gillian Conoley is a collection written over the course of the last few years, as the author sought for ways to make room for joy amongst an upturned and unsteady quotidian. Written in response to climatic and societal catastrophe, war, increasing gun violence, plague, and the global spread of white supremacy and patriarchy, the sonically vivid and cinematic poems in Notes from the Passenger arrive like missives from a journey between the living and the dead. Gillian’s use of play, music, and humor offers us pleasure when we need it most, reminding us to turn our heads toward the light. Gillian Conoley is the author of nine collections. A long-time resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, she is currently Professor of English and Poet-in-Residence at Sonoma State University where she edits VOLT.
Pink Noise by Kevin Holden Nightboat Books, April 2023
Kevin Holden’s Pink Noise orbits in spaces of memory, longing, violence, solidarity, the ecological, and the mystical. Experimental in its forms and lexicon, in poems ranging widely in style and scale, it moves through layers of musical intensity as it reworks the visual space of the page to generate sensations of presence and revelation. Simultaneously lucid and syntactically disjunctive, these poems are queer and radical not only in their content but in their grammar.
Poetry by Marwa Helal Nightboat Books, May 2022 ISBN: 978-1-643621425 Paperback: 80pp; $16.95
Ante body is a poetics of [un]rest. A project that started as an exploration of how the psychological impacts of migration and complex traumas manifest as autoimmune disease and grew into a critique of the ongoing unjust conditions that brought on the global pandemic. Continuing her use of the invented poetic form, the Arabic, and integrating Fred Moten’s concept of “the ANTE,” Helal creates an elliptical reading experience in which content and form interrogate the inner workings of patriarchy, capitalism, nationalism, and globalism.
The creative writing program at Eastern Michigan University is distinguished as one of the only interdisciplinary programs for creative writing in the country. They provide a rich space for exploring relationships between poetry and poetics, experimental prose, cultural translation, community service, pedagogy and contemporary arts. Their goal is to nourish the development of rigorous and imaginatively engaged writing.
Rosie Stockton, who graduated from their MA program in 2017 is currently pursuing their PhD at the University of California, Los Angeles. Rosie has become the recent winner of the Sawtooth Prize. Their book Permanent Volta will be published soon by Nightboat Books.
Christina-Marie Sears, current blog writer/admin staffer for EMU’s online journal BathHouse sat down with Stockton to discuss their work, current practice, and time at Eastern Michigan University.
One of my daily rituals is- I get up and I journal. It’s not narrative. Journaling for me is a stream-of -consciousness and image-focused practice. I have a really active dream life and I just wake up and write before I even look at my phone, but of course on some days that doesn’t always work.