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Issue #108
Current Issue

Recent Titles 2016


My Shaolin

ISBN: 978-1-934909-874 (pbk.) $18.00

My Shaolin: A Poem of Staten Island

by Joel Lewis

Joel Lewis' poetry has been monitoring the outer urban rings of Gotham for over 35 years. This collection, his sixth, shifts his psychogeographic investigations to the southernmost portion of the New York archipelago. He edited an anthology of contemporary New Jersey poets, the selected poems of Walter Lowenfels and the selected talks of Ted Berrigan. A social worker by day, he has taught writing at an assortment of places and written more freelance pieces than he cares to think about. He shares his Hoboken garret with his wife, film theorist Sandy Flitterman-Lewis.

“The poet takes the commute boat to Staten Island in its latest incarnation (Shaolin), marks out his territory, brings home a bookful that plays. Poet as prime responder, constant sender, ever on call. ! It's Joel Lewis with the news”
—Clark Coolidge

“More than you knew that you wanted to know about the home of the Wu Tang Clan and annual Fig Fest, related by an astute, witty rail and ferry commuter poet and flâ neur with ears for the telling and eyes for the unsightly. Joel Lewis-scholar of geography, linguistics, history, cuisine, commerce, invention and jazz-is that commuter Fairfield Porter promised would confound statisticians by his idiosyncrasy.”
—Gary Lenhart

“In this ambitious serial poem of Staten Island, Joel Lewis takes on a role equal parts tour guide and passenger, presenting the reader with a stream of cheerfully awkward documentary detail-filled consciousness that reveals "a connoisseur's / taste / for irony." This commuter poem evokes big questions such as: what do we really take away from an experience of place in language, are we always just visiting, and do we ever really get there? Lewis invents ingenious ways to evade the dreary commodification of his language landscape by keeping it personal, by keeping it concrete, and by continually, enthusiastically arriving.”
—Trace Peterson

Reconnaissance: New and Selected Poems and Poetic Journals

ISBN: 978-1-934909-83-6 (pbk.) $18.00

Reconnaissance: New and Selected Poems and Poetic Journals

by Mark Pawlak

Reconnaissance brings together a decade's worth of Mark Pawlak's work exploring the nexus of Japanese poetic journals and American observational poetics. These new and selected poems owe allegiance to the early experimental books of William Carlos Williams (e.g. Spring and All) as much as to the Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagan and to Basho's Narrow Road to the Interior. They join aspects of poetry with the daily, or near daily, "takes" of journal writing, but differ from traditional diaries or journals by emphasizing the act of writing itself in collaboration with the day's account.
Mark Pawlak is the author of eight previous collections of poems and the editor of six anthologies. His latest books, from which selections appear here, are Natural Histories (Cervená Barva Press, 2015) and Go to the Pine: Quoddy Journals 2005-2010 (Plein Air Editions/Bootstrap Press, 2012). His work has been translated into German, Polish, and Spanish, and has been performed at Teatr Polski in Warsaw. In English, his poems have appeared widely in anthologies such as The Best American Poetry, Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust, and in the literary magazines New American Writing, Mother Jones, Poetry South, The Saint Ann's Review, and Solstice, among many others. He supports his poetry habit by teaching mathematics at UMass Boston, where he is Director of Academic Support Programs. He lives in Cambridge.

ADVANCE PRAISE for Reconnaissance: New and Selected Poems and Poetic Journals

“Pawlak's work succeeds in eliminating an undiscriminating "I" for an observant and non-occlusive "eye" that sees objectively and in seeing presents the image, the visual and sensory experience, as the focus of the poetic impulse. In Pawlak's work the poet gains, by removing himself, a remarkable understanding of the natural world and his—and thus our—presence in it, thereby achieving a consistency of vision and linguistic vigor I can only marvel at and applaud. Pawlak is among the very best poets working today.”
—Pablo Medina

“[Pawlak's] writing has been incisive and perspicuous from the start; during the past fifteen years ... his work—quietly but firmly experimental—has developed in original ways that fuse the traditional concerns of American poetry with those of daily recording... I don't know any poets whose work has the same flavor, including complexity, as Pawlak's.”
—Charles North

Take Your Hand Out of My Pocket, Shiva

ISBN: 978-1-934909-89-8 (pbk.) $18.00

Take Your Hand Out of My Pocket, Shiva

By Leonard Gontarek

Leonard Gontarek is the author of six books of poems, including He Looked Beyond My Faults and Saw My Needs and Déjá vu Diner. His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Poet Lore, Verse, Blackbird, The Awl, Spinning Jenny, and The Best American Poetry, among others. He coordinates Peace/Works, Philly Poetry Day, The Philadelphia Poetry Festival, and hosts The Green Line Reading & Interview Series. Gontarek has received Poetry fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Philadelphia Writers Conference Community Service Award, and was a Literary Death Match Champion. His poem, 37 Photos From The Bridge, was a Poetry winner for the Big Bridges Motion Poems project and the basis for the award winning film by Lori Ersolmaz sponsored by the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis.


“Leonard Gontarek's Take Your Hand Out of My Pocket, Shiva is a large masterpiece consisting of small poems. The poet he immediately reminds me of is Leonard Cohen. I call this book a Zen punk classic—each poem has the driving force of a Ramones' song. Gontarek says what he needs to say, leaving explosive imagery behind, in his pursuit of love and God. Unlike a Johnny Appleseed who plants trees for the future generations, Gontarek swallows seeds, planting imagery that's directly related to the body. His verse is home—grown. He doesn't write to please, but rather to decipher his soul. Like the Clash's song "Lost in the Supermarket," Gontarek gets lost in adult movies and in his "Dickering with God," (his words) but he always finds himself at the end. Like early Bill Knott each poem is a religious relic, a snapshot conscious of the frame. The book at the end keeps reverberating like a percussion player who still hears the beat”
—Hal Sirowitz, author of Mother Said and Father Said

“This is a book of human hungers so exact in its recognitions it leaves a reader stricken with a sense not just of how detailed our desires are, but how rare it is to have them articulated in ways yet unspoken. 'In my poor country, we poured sugar/ on everything to not notice our hunger,' Leonard Gontarek writes, but where that coat of sweetening fails, this poet stays to record what is still needed, what is still hungry, what is still so very, and beautifully, human.”
—Katie Ford, author of Blood Lyrics and Colosseum

“With its spare language, dry wit, and unnerving honesty, Gontarek's latest book delivers a sucker punch of solitude and desire. Here is a voice that offers no simple solutions to the whirl of the universe, but instead stands next to you and points out the small essential thing you forgot to notice. Deliberate, bare, and infused with a searing humor, these poems hiss and bloom at the same time.”
—Ada Limón, author of Bright Dead Things and Sharks in the River

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.

Advance 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"



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