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Issue #104
Current Issue

New Titles 2015




 

Dearest Annie

ISBN: 978-1934909-90-4 (pbk.) $18.00

Dearest Annie,
You Wanted a Report on Berkson's Class: Letters from Frances LeFevre to Anne Waldman

Edited by Lisa Birman
With an introduction by Bill Berkson
and an afterword by Anne Waldman

Frances LeFevre was a fixture in the downtown New York poetry culture at a seminal time. Her insatiable hunger for the arts had her on a constant circuit of galleries, happenings, theater and always, poetry. When Frances enrolled in Bill Berkson's poetry class at the New School, she promised to keep her daughter, Anne Waldman, posted on the readings, writings, and discussions. Her letters became a kind of correspondence course, transmitting the energy of the classroom, while also keeping Anne updated on the comings and goings of Frances's classmates, friends, family, and neighbors. Through these intimate letters, Frances muses on philosophy, narrates cultural events, parses out advice and writing critiques, and engages in inevitable mother-daughter drama.

The collection includes poems, some of which are discussed as writing exercises in the letters. With an introduction by Bill Berkson and afterword by Anne Waldman, this is a rare glimpse into a vibrant moment in US American poetics.

Advanced Praise

“Lucky Anne Waldman to have such an art mom, poet mom, critical mom and aesthetic private detective mom who detailed the New York cultural world of the 60s & 70s-sending "Annie," still up at Bennington, this canny and thoughtful account of, for example, Bill Berkson's historic workshop at the New School whose roster included "Miss Mayer" (Bernadette), Hannah Weiner, Peter Schjeldahl and so many others. The early New York School comes crisply alive in the letters of the fledgling poet Frances LeFevre. Do we have another such mother/daughter correspondence anywhere else in the world, ever? It is wonderful stuff.”
—Eileen Myles

“What a wonderful book and what fascinating letters: endearing, forthright, delightfully gossipy, informative, insightful about poetry, poets and people in general, straightforward but elegant too. An intensely loving mother, Frances LeFevre (Waldman) gives her 21-year-old daughter, Anne, who is away at Bennington and just starting her life as a poet, advice on everything from poetics to personal relationships. Immersed in the teeming artistic life in NYC in the sixties, Frances reports seemingly compulsively on events and the poets, composers, actors, etc., involved in them, as well as the writers in their early twenties she has met (and Anne hasn't yet) in Bill Berkson's New School poetry workshop, a number of whom would go on to become, like Anne, important figures in contemporary American arts and letters. I read Dearest Annie in one sitting and immediately wished it were longer.”
—Charles North

“Frances LeFevre, with her tousled beauty and commanding presence, left an enduring mark on the New York poetry world of the late 1960s and 70s. Dearest Annie is both an intimate look at a mother-daughter relationship, fueled by a mutual devotion to poetry, and a coming-of-age story of the young poets Frances encounters along the way. At a point where public and private intertwine, she is the perfect eye witness, the brash student taking notes in the front row. Her voice rings true a half-century down the line, timeless as ever.”
—Lewis Warsh




Naming the Fires

ISBN: 978-1-934909-85-0 (pbk.) $18.00

Naming the Fires
Poems by Patricia Traxler

Patricia Traxler is an award-winning poet and fiction writer. A two-time Bunting Poetry Fellow at Radcliffe, she also served as Hugo Poet at the University of Montana, Thurber Poet at Ohio State University, and as visiting poet at many other universities around the U.S. Her work has appeared widely in such periodicals as The Nation, The Boston Review, AGNI, Ms. Magazine, New Letters, Ploughshares, Slate, and the Los Angeles Times Literary Supplement, as well as in the Best American Poetry anthology series and in Robert Pinsky's anthology The Handbook of Heartbreak. Her novel Blood (St. Martin's) was also published in Spanish, German, and Swedish translations and in an Ireland/UK edition. Born and raised in San Diego, she now lives and teaches in Kansas. Naming the Fires is her fourth poetry collection.

Praise for Patricia Traxler's Poetry:

“These poems strike a thrilling balance between personal disclosure and the rigors of writing.”
—Publishers Weekly

"Gorgeous writing, and devastating... Patricia Traxler has done crucial work here: rigorous, faithful, tragic, hopeful, true.”
—Marie Howe, The Boston Review

"Forbidden Words is an outstanding and enviable performance.”
—Ted Kooser, The Laurel Review

"Forbidden Words is an intelligent, careful work by a gifted and generous poet.”
—Karen Volkman, The Harvard Review




Swing Theory

ISBN: 978-1934909-92-8 (pbk.) $18.00

Swing Theory
Michael Lally

Michael Lally is the author of over twenty previous books, including It's Not Nostalgia, an American Book Award winner, and Cant Be Wrong, recipient of the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature. Other honors include two National Endowment for the Arts grants, the second denounced on the floor of Congress by Republicans claiming Lally's autobiographical epic "My Life" was "pornography." Lally has also written for The Washington Post, The Village Voice, and other publications. An actor and screenwriter too, he appeared in White Fang and other films, and on TV shows such as Deadwood. His blog, Lally's Alley, presents his eclectic views on poetry, politics, movies and more.





Comments on Michael Lally's earlier work:

“A great American poet.” —Aram Saroyan

“The Walt Whitman of his generation.” —Bob Holman

“A real joy to read.” —Hubert Selby, Jr.

“Michael Lally's street-wise and tuneful Irish-American verse eternally rallies against that which is thin and terribly frightened in contemporary poetry today.” —Bob Callahan

“[Lally's] My Life is an amazing tour de force…remarkably fresh and exciting.” —Marjorie Perloff

“Lally's powerful style, mixing talk, a jazzy rhythm and pre-hip hop improvisatory rhyme with pure attitude, seems predictive, in retrospect, of the performance styles to come after his own work began…. Reading his work and seeing him perform it over the years, I can't help but think of him as the sophisticated (if at times unacknowledged) literary godfather of all sorts of poets. (I know he influenced my attempts at mixing punk motifs with poetry.)” —Jerome Sala

“Lally comes to the point of almost telling too much, about his loves, his life, his desires, that it is at times frightening-for him and the reader. But it is always beautiful. Powerful and moving and human.”
—Mark Begley




Translating Requiem

ISBN: 978-1-934909-88-1 (pbk.) $18.00

Translating Requiem
Poems and translations by Hoyt Jacobs

In the terrifying years of Yezhovism I spent seventeen months in the prison lines of
Leningrad. Somehow, at some point, someone "recognized" me.
Then the woman standing behind me, her lips blue in the cold light, a fellow sleepwalker
who had certainly never heard my name before, woke from her fetters and whispered in
my ear (there, everyone spoke in a whisper):
—And this?
Can you describe this?
And I said:
—I can.
Then something resembling a smile slipped across the apparition that only a moment before had been her face.

—from his translation of Anna Akhmatova's "Requiem"





The Island Kingdom

ISBN: 978-1934909-85-1 (pbk.) $18.00

The Island Kingdom
Pablo Medina

Cuban-born Pablo Medina is the author four novels, eight poetry collections, three books of translation, and a memoir. Medina's work has appeared in various languages, among them Spanish, French, German and Arabic. He has received numerous awards, including grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, the NEA, the Guggenheim Foundation, and others. Currently, he is professor of fiction and poetry and directs the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Emerson College in Boston.




“Pablo Medina's new book of poems is the work of a mythmaker, a visionary who finds the thrones and powers of his native island in every corner of it, bringing them to us in all their beauty and fury. The color, grace, music and energy that fill these pages ought to harken us (again) to Medina's mastery, for a master-poet he is. ” —Bill Zavatsky

“Here's one of our best writers being better yet. In this, his finest book, Pablo Medina simply surrenders to his wild poems and their reckless urges, spurred on by his ghosts (Basho, Rilke, Vallejo, Whitman), embracing the restlessness of pure imagination and rocked by its pleasures. Such an opening of the spirit, such a giving in, these gifts to us. ” —Alan Michael Parker





Runaway Goat Cart

ISBN: 978-1934909-45-8 (pbk.) $18.00

Runaway Goat Cart
Thomas Devaney

Thomas Devaney is a poet and author of Calamity Jane (Furniture Press, 2014), The Picture that Remains (The Print Center, 2014), A Series of Small Boxes (Fish Drum, 2007), The American Pragmatist Fell in Love (Banshee Press, 1999), and the nonfiction book Letters to Ernesto Neto (Germ Folios, 2005). Projects include, "Tales from the 215" for "Philadelphia Freedom" with Zoe Strauss, the "The Empty House" at the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site for "The Big Nothing" at the Institute of Contemporary Art, and "Common Ground: Seven Philadelphia Photographers in the 1960s and 1970s" at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Devaney is the recipient of a Pew Fellowship in the Arts for poetry (2014). He teaches at Haverford College.





“Thomas Devaney in Runaway Goat Cart takes us back-"Back in the mashed potato kitchen"-and even if our back is not his, it doesn't matter. The places he takes us to are always worth the trip. His ambition to chart the seasons is admirable, and well within reach for a poet of Devaney's focus and finesse. He writes smoothly, so it doesn't even seem like writing sometimes but rather speaking-from the heart, each time. I want to know the places he knows, the times. There is real life and real work in these poems, strange to find it all there, a complete world. ” —Vincent Katz

“The tutelary spirits hovering around Thomas Devaney's new collection include Philip Whalen and Erik Satie, Thelonious Monk and James Madison-maybe they have something to do with the astringent buoyancy and 'essential tension' of these poems, with their handmade textures, their atmosphere thick with intimate geographies and unbetrayable childhood confidences. 'Tone matters.' It sure does, as Runaway Goat Cart demonstrates in multiple entrancing ways. ” —Geoffrey O'Brien

“Is technique the true test for a durable emotion conveyed? Try Thomas Devaney's gently rollicking sincerity on for size. The poem for his sister, for instance, "Things We String Together": an "impossible" prospect but he pulls it off—compendious, intimate, elegant, the appropriate space between poet "I" and sibling addressee made close and breathing throughout. Devaney's "cart" is pulled along by childhood (in public readings "Burning the Bear Suit" always brings down the house), self reflection and admonition, art appreciation, history, and an abiding love of particular people and plain things. The runaway" part, I guess, is his generosity—first to himself, then to us—in letting go of the poem just enough to let it show what can happen (what if...?). Devaney is a poet interested in life as he lives it. As one poem has it, "J says 'We get lost in life, but life always knows where we are.' ”
—Bill Berkson





Two Towns

ISBN: 978-1934909-942 (pbk.) $18.00

Two Towns
Ed Friedman

Ed Friedman grew up in 1950s Los Angeles. He made his way to New York City in the early 70s, where he worked on magazines, collaborated with artists and composers, played in bands, and participated in the active St. Mark's Poetry Project community. In 1987 he became the Poetry Project's Artistic Director, a position he held until 2003. His previous books of poetry and prose include: The Telephone Book; Humans Work; Mao & Matisse; Away; and Drive Through the Blue Cylinders.





“Two Towns resonates with Freidman's memory for object, words, people, places, all salient metabolic detail, the center of which are an assortment of magically ordinary textures and gestures of New York City and Los Angeles, skillfully held and captured. From the chaise lounge anytime of year to New York's singular agitation with its loneliness and friendships. A sane sensibility reigns here in these four ambitious poems filled with domestic and urban tone, and a hundred worldly delicate things, Bermuda shorts and Patanjali's sutras to name a few. ” —Anne Waldman

“Ed Friedman's zippy takes on his L.A. past and N.Y.C. present are a contemporary Wordsworthian 'Prelude or, Growth of a Poet's Mind.' Two Towns teems with sharp, often amusing details about growing up, but it also offers an incisive picture of American society in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, the good and the bad.-Cameo appearances by fathers and sons, Mao, the Duke of Earl, Pandit Pran Nath, Vick and Ethel, the Clanton Gang, and others. ” —Charles North

“There is in Ed Friedman's marvelous new book a range of voices from the mock-naive & deeply comic "Ideal Boy" to the wide-ranging & always surprising "Propulsion," a long poem in itself with incursions into both the personal & political. Friedman emerges in all of these as a powerful & never disappointing poet/chronicler, at the top of his form & ready to take his place among the makers & movers of our time. The work is refreshing, absorbing, & remarkably readable; the pleasure in that reading all ours now as it must have been his in the making. ” —Jerome Rothenberg





TBonnard’s Dog

ISBN: 978-1934909-44-7 (pbk.) $18.00

Bonnard's Dog
Rosalind Brackenbury

Rosalind Brackenbury is the author of twelve novels and two books of short stories. This is her eighth book of poems. Harvey Shapiro praised her poetry as "a palpable pleasure on the tongue." A native of England, she now divides her time between Key West and Paris.





“Bonnard's Dog is a book of arrival's stock-taking, of time-delving and time-wrestling, of gratitude, of opening to the gift that is even our losses. It shows, precise detail by precise detail, how the past is carried into the present: on the hooves of horses, the stairs of a pigeon tower, the notes of a long-vanished piano, and also by accident, by luck. With deft mastery, Rosalind Brackenbury distills the facts and feel of a deeply lived through and profoundly attended-to existence-and her title poem here, I must add, is simply wondrous. ” —Jane Hirshfield

“As I read Rosalind Brackenbury's recent poems, I sensed that in the process of creation she must have been exceptionally aware of the reader; the reader being, of course, me. She tells me what I feel in language choicer than my own; she also intuits what I should be feeling and reveals it in language of tactful purity. Of her many gifts, this is perhaps the greatest: she makes a confidant of every reader, who soon learns that she has marvels to confide. I consider this collection to be her best, because she has put so much of her life into it: the delights she has always tellingly depicted, and now its terrors: disease, the body's frailty, the lurking threat of death; and, as well as all the lands where she has lived, the dark regions looming beyond. In a wonderful poem called "The Other Alphabet," she asks, "Where are the letters that are / in exile from the alphabet, / squatting in camps on the borders / of language, waiting their time / to rise up, invade and rule? / While they crouch in darkness / over their beaten tin kettles / where the bones boil...." She has been there, too; and she has taken me with her. ” —Harry Mathews

“These are RB's finest poems to date--delicate, exquisite, but also bare and real, with a unique compassion for both human and animal life.” —Marie-Claire Blais




The Year of Yellow Butterflies

ISBN: 978-1-934909-454 (pbk.) $18.00

The Year of Yellow Butterflies
Joanna Fuhrman

Joanna Fuhrman is the author of five collections of poetry, including Ugh Ugh Ocean (Hanging Loose Press 2003) and Pageant (Alice James Books 2009). She teaches poetry at Rutgers University, in public schools and in private workshops. She has worked at the Poetry Project at Saint Mark's Church as a workshop leader and reading series coordinator For several years, she has been collaborating with the artist Toni Simon on a multimedia project combining poetry, sculpture and photography. The poems in The Year of Yellow Butterflies combine elements of surrealism and wry humor as well as riffs on autobiography, science fiction and unhinged nostalgia. Fuhrman explores the relationship between the mind and the body and playfully examines how gender, technology, capitalism and culture affect this relationship.







“In this extraordinary book, Fuhrman seamlessly oscillates between illusion and reality, childhood and maturity, the animal kingdom (a "babbling...walrus," "a creeky bird," a "bunny rabbit") and technology (" baby's rebooted brains," "Virgil's Internet"). She gives new life to the prose poem in one section. The Year of Yellow Butterflies is killer-not only Fuhrman's best book to date, but her most poignant. ” —Noelle Kocot

“With the impish charm of an illusionist and the dazzling patter of a tummler in a Borscht Belt resort, Joanna Fuhrman suspends our expectations in The Year of Yellow Butterflies, sending us head over heels into zones of cosmic and technological bafflement and sudden parabolic grief. "Stand on one foot while the world pretends to end. // The beauty almost hurts / if you want it to," she writes, and we do want it to, in this book full of brilliant predicaments and pleasures. ” —Rachel Loden





Making Maxine’s Baby

ISBN: 973-194909-46-1 (pbk.) $18.00

Making Maxine's Baby
Caroline Hagood

Caroline Hagood is a Teaching Fellow and English Ph.D. candidate at Fordham University. Her first collection of poetry, Lunatic Speaks came out in 2012. She has also written on film and literature for the Guardian, the Economist, Salon, and the Huffington Post. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and son. Making Maxine's Baby tells the story of Maxine, a homeless woman who lives in the New York City subway system. The book follows Maxine's surreal journey through city and memory as she attempts to overcome her traumatic past, and culminates in her eccentric romance with Marvin, a homeless man she first sees on the subway wearing a trash bag shoe and a gold clog.








“Tracking her flight from the hell of feeling, Caroline Hagood's metaphors unfold with a desperado's inventiveness. Reeling with the book's unexpected turns, I'm reminded of Dickinson's razor-sharp observations of her own psyche and of Plath's acerbic wit. For all the diversity of its escape routes, Making Maxine's Baby reads like a single utterance. It wills us to train our attention not on the traumatic violation at the poems' source, but on the loneliness, wild creativity, and valor of survival.” —Joan Larkin


“In Maxine, Caroline Hagood has created a supremely likeable character. Hagood carries us through her life, beginning with sexual abuse and culminating with a pregnancy. That Maxine lives off the grid, as a homeless New Yorker, may make the challenges Hagood has set herself-embodying otherness and trauma-seem insurmountable, but this poet ismore than up to the task. There is no patronizing in Hagood's smart, empathetic poems. Making Maxine's Baby is a gorgeous book, eminently readable, full of surprises.” —Elisabeth Frost

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