No Way in the Skin Without This Bloody Embrace by Jean D’Amérique Ugly Duckling Presse, September 2022
In Jean D’Amérique’s book-length poem, translated from the French by Conor Bracken, each page is as brief as a hurricane’s eye, glimpsing the eerie territory his speaker traverses like an apocalyptic flâneur. His “body / a devastation inventory,” his stroll a “walk / to curse the sidewalks,” he peers into the ruins—left by the winds of colonialism, capitalism, war, and natural disaster—and sees a “crop of eyes” peering back. What others dismiss as broken, for D’Amérique, is a mirror in shards, “drinking up all the world’s rot / then spilling it all out in diamantine rays.” The first of his books to appear in English, this work reclaims the visceral potency of poetry—it is food, it is “collars of blood,” it is a garment sewn with “a thread of sobs.”
From a dentist’s office in San Francisco to the caves of the Phong Nha Karst, Tammy Nguyen’s O sounds the depths of personal, mineral, and geopolitical histories of Vietnam. In this many-threaded narrative, a wind that carved mountains whistles through a young girl’s teeth. The electric green of a plastic forest glints off of glazed porcelain. The shape of a bowl becomes the mouth of a cave. What emerges is a story without a center: an anti-allegory that finds its meaning in echoes and refracted light, a book stitched together by the O woven through the work as its visual spine and sonic refrain. Tammy Nguyen is a multimedia artist and writer whose work spans painting, drawing, printmaking, and publishing. Intersecting geopolitical realities with fiction, her practice addresses lesser-known histories through a blend of myth and visual narrative. She is the founder of Passenger Pigeon Press, an independent press that joins the work of scientists, journalists, creative writers, and artists to create politically nuanced and cross-disciplinary projects. Ngueyn is Assistant Professor of Art at Wesleyan University.
Animated by a poignant blend of humor, pathos, joie de vivre, and nostalgia, Elixir is an extended meditation on everyday life and the passage of time. Fragments of narrative, overheard dialogue, song lyrics, and slant memoir surface and recede throughout. Examining the inseparable entanglement of the quotidian and the profound with wit and candor, these poems are personal, direct, and elusive at the same time. Lewis Warsh (1944–2020) was a key poet of the second generation New York School and — as a teacher, poet, mentor, and publisher of Angel Hair and United Artists Books — a significant figure in New York poetry communities for over 50 years. He authored over thirty volumes of poetry, fiction, and autobiography.
Palm-Lined with Potience is New York City poet and visual artist Basie Allen’s debut collection of poems. Basie’s work is by turns political and lyrical, charting both physical and emotional landscapes, making maps of paintings and paintings of maps. While rooted in Pro-Black theory, art, and precise description, Basie makes space in the ekphrastic for the eerie and abstract. The poems in this collection search for nodes of truth in a tumultuous sea of fractured facts.
Behind the Tree Backs Poetry by Iman Mohammed Translated by Jennifer Hayashida Ugly Duckling Presse, March 2022
Behind the Tree Backs investigates a poetics of remembrance through senses that hover just below and just above the skin. The text excavates war and displacement through a constellation of animate memories carved out of deep pleasure as well as brutality, the ancient and the institutional, the everyday and the geopolitical. The book insists on a poetics that recall through vibrating auratic fields, violence, love, and sexuality; these sensations tremble and cohere in a musical and tightly composed lyric.