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New Book :: Her Birth and Later Years

Her Birth and Later Years: New and Collected Poems, 1971-2021 by Irena Klepfisz book cover image

Her Birth and Later Years: New and Collected Poems, 1971-2021 by Irena Klepfisz
Wesleyan University Press, December 2022

A trailblazing lesbian poet, child Holocaust survivor, and political activist whose work is deeply informed by socialist values, Irena Klepfisz is a vital and individual American voice. This book is the first complete collection of her work. For fifty years, Klepfisz has written powerful, searching poems about relatives murdered during the war, recent immigrants, a lost Yiddish writer, a Palestinian boy in Gaza, and various people in her life. In her introduction to Klepfisz’s A Few Words in the Mother Tongue, Adrienne Rich wrote: “[Klepfisz’s] sense of phrase, of line, of the shift of tone, is almost flawless.” Irena Klepfisz taught Jewish Women’s Studies at Barnard College for 22 years. She is the author of four books of poetry, a collection of essays, and was co-editor of The Tribe of Dina: A Jewish Women’s Anthology. An advocate of the Yiddish language and active in its renaissance in the United States, she has published poetry and essays have appeared in Jewish Currents, Tablet Magazine, In Geveb, Sinister Wisdom, The Manhattan Review, Conditions, The Georgia Review and Languages of Modern Jewish Cultures.

New Book :: In the Current Where Drowning Is Beautiful

In the Current Where Drowning Is Beautiful by Abigail Chabitnoy book cover image

In the Current Where Drowning Is Beautiful by Abigail Chabitnoy
Wesleyan University Press, November 2022

In the Current Where Drowning Is Beautiful, poetry by Abigail Chabitnoy, is a meditation on water, land, women, and violent environmental changes as they affect both the natural world and human migration. The poet reckons with the unsettling realities that women experience, questioning the cause and effect of events and asking why stories of oppression are so often simply accepted as the only stories. Alutiiq language is used throughout these poems that are in conversation with history, ancestors, and an uncertain future, in imagery that moves in waves, returning again and again to the ocean, and a deep visioning of the “current.” Abigail Chabitnoy is a Koniag descendent and a member of the Tangirnaq Native Village in Kodiak, Alaska. Her first book, How to Dress a Fish, won the Colorado Book Award in the Poetry category and was shortlisted for the Griffin International Poetry Prize. She is an assistant professor at UMass Amherst.

New Book :: In a Few Minutes Before Later

In a Few Minutes Before Later poetry by Brenda Hillman published by Wesleyan University Press book cover image

In a Few Minutes Before Later
Poetry by Brenda Hillman
Wesleyan University Press, October 2022

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.

New Book :: Belly to the Brutal

Belly to the Brutal poetry by Jennifer Givhan published by Wesleyan University Press book cover image

Belly to the Brutal
Poetry by Jennifer Givhan
Wesleyan University Press, August 2022

Belly to the Brutal by Jennifer Givhan sings a corrido of the love between mothers and daughters, confronting the learned complicity with patriarchal violence passed down from generation to generation. Givhan’s poetry edges into the borderlands, touching the realm of chora—humming, screaming, rhythm—transporting the words outside of patriarchal and racist constructs. Drawing from curanderisma and a revived wave of feminist brujería, Givhan creates a healing space for Brown women and mothers. Each poem finds its own form, interweaving beauty and devastation to create a pathway out of the systems that have for too long oppressed women. The poems dwell in the thick language of “motherfear,” “where love grows too / in the shining center of the wound.” This poetry of invocation moves toward a transformation of violence that is ultimately redemptive. Jennifer Givhan (Albuquerque, NM) is an award-winning Mexican-American poet and novelist whose family has ancestral ties to the Indigenous peoples of New Mexico and Texas.

New Book :: Finalists

Finalists by Rae Armantrout book cover image

Finalists
Poetry by Rae Armantrout
Wesleyan University Press, February 2022

A double book (176pp) by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Rae Armantrout. I mean, really, do we need to say more? How about some samples? From “Shush”: “A smart pop song / can convince a desperate person / to see herself / as a thrill seeker. // This is considered a job skill.” From “Flocks”: “As thoughts take pleasure / in forming, then break and / retreat.” From “Plague Year”: “What we share is distance: telephone poles / leaning this way and that, a wayward / crowd that staggers drunkenly / toward an empty, mauve horizon. // We can’t wait to see / who dies next.” This is not a book of poetry. It’s a collection of daily meditations to see us through. To what? Exactly.

New Book :: The Writing of an Hour

The Writing of an Hour book cover image

The Writing of an Hour
Poetry and Prose by Brenda Coultas
Wesleyan University Press, March 2022
ISBN: 9780819580702
Hardcover, 88pp; $35

In The Writing of an Hour, New York poet and teacher Brenda Coultas considers the effort and the deliberateness that brings her to her desk each day. Despite domestic and day job demands and widespread lockdown, Coultas takes the reader on a journey in four sections; from a bedroom to an improvised desk over the North Sea, where she attempts to create an artwork inside an airplane cabin flying over Greenland’s rivers of ice.

New Book :: The Neverending Quest for the Other Shore

The Neverending Quest for the Other Side by Sylvie Kande book cover image

The Neverending Quest for the Other Shore: An Epic in Three Cantos
Poetry by Sylvie Kandé
Translation by Alexander Dickow
Wesleyan University Press, February 2022
ISBN: 9780819580733
Hardcover, 176pp; $35

Sylvie Kandé’s neo-epic in three cantos is a double narrative combining today’s tales of African migration to Europe on the one hand, with the legend of Abubakar II on the other: Abubakar, emperor of 14th-Century Mali, sailed West toward the new world, never to return. Kandé’s language deftly weaves a dialogue between these two narratives and between the epic traditions of the globe. Dazzling in its scope, the poem swings between epic stylization, griot storytelling, and colloquial banter, capturing an astonishing range of human experience. Kandé makes of the migrant a new hero, a future hero whose destiny has not yet taken shape, whose stories are still waiting to be told in their fullness and grandeur: the neverending quest has only just begun. Presented in side by side translation into English from French.