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  • Book Recommendations from Our Advisory Editors

Tess Gallagher recommends A Cold Wind from Idaho by Lawrence Matsuda: “Matsuda’s poems break for us all the Japanese American code of silence (gaman) toward the indignities of the ten U.S. government-mandated internment camps of wwii, like Minidoka in Idaho where Matsuda was born. He not only educates us in the specifics of the suffering of this time but also brings us into the transgenerational implications of it, connecting this shameful period to both the war in Iraq and the bombing of Hiroshima, where one of his relatives survived near ground zero. The book moves us to new levels of empathy and seeks to heal the speaker, the Japanese American community, Japan in its relation to America, and this nation itself. I admire its dignity, its ferocious honesty, and intimate witnessing of something we thought we knew, but not in this way, until he told us.” (Black Lawrence Press, July 2010)

Jane Hirshfield recommends Invisible Strings by Jim Moore: “I have loved Jim Moore’s brief ‘invisible strings’ since I first stumbled into a few in a magazine. They are chips of reality, obsidian flakes of the heart and mind. In form they remind me strongly of Mary Barnard’s translations of Sappho (the way a set-apart first line functions as both title and opening). Their fragmentary quality, and their deep affirmation of reality as it is, does as well. And, as with Sappho, the worldview here is complex, nuanced, and deep. These poems are also, I should add, thoroughly of our own time, with their references to Abu Ghraib, freeways, and cell phones, and thoroughly the work of an American man of a certain age, looking at his own life and at the lives of others with fully open eyes, mind, and heart.” (Graywolf Press, March 2011)

Joyce Peseroff recommends Kentucky Derby by Andrea Cohen. “Cohen continues to defy gravity with her wit, while deepening her grounded, hard-won wisdom with poems that hold close and examine the ephemeral, beautiful world.” (Salmon Poetry, August 2011)

Jayne Anne Phillips recommends In Zanesville by Jo Ann Beard: “for its masterful, completely original take on small town girls and the lives they invent in supposedly sleepy, endlessly complex, Midwest towns.” (Little, Brown and Company, April 2011)

Gerald Stern recommends Bringing the Shovel Down by Ross Gay: “Realistic; terrifying; tender; beautiful music.” (U. of Pittsburgh Press, January 2011)

Gerald Stern also recommends Pierce the Skin: Selected Poems, 1982–2007 by Henri Cole: “Henri Cole accumulates more and more wisdom, generosity, and loveliness. I was [End Page 195] deeply moved by this book.” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, March 2011)



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