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The world that Donald Revell ponders in these poems replete with contrarieties. The same verbal playfulness and prophetic lyricism that made Revell a 1992 Guggenheim Fellow in Poetry and a winner of National Poetry Series, Pushcart, and PEN Center USA West awards are in full force in Beautiful Shirt. Here he traverses the rocky terrain of innocence, memory, disillusion, and salvation in a voice at once haunted and elliptical: "This is the world as I have known it./ It has a soft outline and is easily victimized."
Juxtaposed within a trio of long, introspective poems are shorter lyrics that push the limits of poetic syntaxes and dictions. In all, Beautiful Shirt searches for the true nature of the self through language unfettered by narrative constraints and conventional conceptual identities.
A Writing Life
Part memoir, part handbook, part survey of the contemporary literary scene, Joan Frank’s Because You Have To: A Writing Life is a collection of essays that, taken together, provide a walking tour of the writing life. Frank’s aim is to form a coherent vision, one that may provide some communion about realities of the writer's vocation that have struck her as rarely revealed. Frank offers what she has learned as a writer not only to other writers, but to those to whom good writing matters. Her insights about "thinking on paper" are never dogmatic or pontifical; rather, they are cordial and intellectually welcoming. Original, witty, and practical, Frank ably steers us through the journey of her own life as a writer, as well as through the careers and work of other writers. Her subjects range widely, from the “boot camp” conditioning of marketing work to squaring off with rejection and envy; from sustaining belief in art’s necessity to the baffling subjectivity of literary perception and the magical books that nourish writers. Frank’s personal journey is wonderfully told, so that what in these essays is particular becomes useful and universal.
The bed, dressed in hand sewn quilt or threadbare blanket, may in and of itself be memorable, but it is what happens in the bed ñ the sex and lovemaking, the dreams, the reading, the nightmares, the rest, giving birth and dying ñ which give ëbedí special meaning. Whether a bed is shared with a book, a child, a pet or a partner, whether lovers lie in ecstasy or indifference, whether ëbedí relates to intimacy or betrayal, it is memories and recollections of ëbedí, in whatever form, which have triggered the writing of these thirty stories by women from southern Africa. Well known writers Joanne Fedler, Sarah Lotz, Arja Salafranca, Rosemund Handler and Liesl Jobson will delight, but you will discover here new writers from Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Namibia and Zambia, each with a unique voice as they cast light on the intimate lives of women living in this part of the world and the possibilities that are both available to and denied them. The BED BOOK of short stories ñ some quirky and tender, others traumatic or macabre ñ is the perfect companion to take to bed with you, to keep you reading long into the night.
After several years of silence and seclusion in Beetlecreek's black quarter, a carnival worker named Bill Trapp befriends Johnny Johnson, a Pittsburgh teenager living with relatives in Beetlecreek. Bill is white. Johnny is black. Both are searching for acceptance, something that will give meaning to their lives. Bill tries to find it through good will in the community. Johnny finds it in the Nightriders, a local gang. David Diggs, the boy's dispirited uncle, aspires to be an artist but has to settle for sign painting. David and Johnny's new friendship with Bill kindles hope that their lives will get better. David's marriage has failed; his wife's shallow faith serves as her outlet from racial and financial oppression. David's unhappy routine is broken by Edith Johnson's return to Beetlecreek, but this relationship will be no better than his loveless marriage. Bill's attempts to unify black and white children with a community picnic is a disaster. A rumor scapegoats him as a child molester, and Beetlecreek is titillated by the imagined crimes. This novel portraying race relations in a remote West Virginia town has been termed an existential classic. It would be hard, said The New Yorker, to give Mr. Demby too much praise for the skill with which he has maneuvered the relationships in this book. During the 1960s Arna Bontemps wrote, "Demby's troubled townsfolk of the West Virginia mining region foreshadow present dilemmas. The pressing and resisting social forces in this season of our discontent and the fatal paralysis of those of us unable or unwilling to act are clearly anticipated with the dependable second sight of a true artist." First published in 1950, Beetlecreek stands as a moving condemnation of provincialism and fundamentalism. Both a critique of racial hypocrisy and a new direction for the African-American novel, it occupies fresh territory that is neither the ghetto realism of Richard Wright nor the ironic modernism of Ralph Ellison. Even after fifty years, more or less, William Demby said in 1998, "It still seems to me that Beetlecreek is about the absence of symmetry in human affairs, the imperfectibility of justice the tragic inevitability of mankind's inhumanity to mankind." William Demby is the author of The Catacombs and Love Story: Black. He lives in Sag Harbor, N. Y. James C. Hall, a professor of African-American Studies and English at the University of Illinois, Chicago, is the author of the forthcoming book, Mercy, Mercy, Me: African-American Culture and the American Sixties, and editor of Langston Hughes: A Collection of Poems.
Escaping his ghosts, AIDS widower David Masiello accepts a one-year position at a Western medical clinic in Beijing. Lonely but excited, he sets out to explore the city—both its bustling street life and its clandestine gay subculture.
David chronicles his adventures in China as he wrestles with cultural dislocation, loneliness, and sexual and spiritual longing. After a series of both comic and poignant encounters with gay Chinese men, he meets Bosheng, a handsome young artist. Though the attraction is strong, a difficult courtship ensues, during which Bosheng returns to his ancestral village to marry the girl his parents have chosen for him. Eventually, and quite unexpectedly, David and Bosheng reconnect and share an idyllic spring together. As the year ends, David must decide whether to say goodbye or face the uncertainties of a long-distance relationship.
Gambone’s novel is peopled with a host of wonderfully memorable characters: Owen, David’s forthright best friend back home; Auntie Chen, the clinic’s office mom, who wants to fix David up with a girlfriend; Stewart, David’s Beijing roommate, a graduate student doing research on Peking opera; Jiantao and Guoyang, two lovers who lecture David on the fleeting quality of American romance; and Tyson, the Australian doctor with a Chinese girlfriend, who hopes to teach David that love doesn’t need any explanations or justifications.
A Modern Edition
Jonathan David Gross is a professor of English at DePaul University and the director of the DePaul Humanities Center. He previously edited The Sylph (Northwestern, 2007) and Emma; or, The Unfortunate Attachment (2004), both by Lady Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. He is the author of Byron: The Erotic Liberal (2001), and edited Byron’s "Corbeau Blanc": The Life and Letters of Lady Melbourne (1997).
There are worlds within our own in which even the smallest victories are hard won, the tender moment is almost unbearable, and the understated rings like a bell. Belonging, a new collection by British poet Dick Davis, is an extended visit to these worlds. Deepened by his dry wit and the formal rigor of his verse, the poems of Belonging negotiate their way among personal and political dividesâ€”generations in a family, man and woman, and the tentative present and our inherited pasts. But behind much of the writing there is also a desire for a kind of idealized belongingâ€”to a clerisy of civilized and humane decency which can be found intermittently in all cultures and is the monopoly of none. Davisâ€™s own cosmopolitan background provides the context for many of the poems, yet he is concerned always to Wnd the humanly universal within the local and anecdotalâ€”a hope realized in these careful and incandescent poems. â€œReading this book in manuscript, I began by jotting down the titles of the best poems, but gave that up when it seemed I might choose them all.â€?â€”Richard Wilbur Dick Davis is an Englishman who has lived for most of his adult life outside his own countryâ€”in Greece, Italy, Iran, and the United States. He is currently a professor of Persian at Ohio State University in Columbus and the author of several books of poetry and translations, including Touchwood and Borrowed Ware. What others say about this book: In Top 10 Poetry Selections for 2002! â€œHis poems are full of fine emotion, intelligence, wit, and multinational culture. He lithely celebrates the legendary rake Casanova; poignantly conjures â€œKiplingâ€™s Kim, Thirty Years Onâ€?; economically reports a fatherâ€™s aching futility in comforting his child (â€œA Bit of Paternityâ€?); deftly valorizes the power of art (â€œJust Soâ€?); and often muses on the shortness of life and the limitations of being human, so cogently that a single quatrain can take oneâ€™s breath away.â€?â€”The Booklist A Book of the Year 2002! â€œA British poet married to an Iranian, Dick Davis teaches Persian literature in the United States. The cultural diversity of his life is reflected in the variety of his poems â€”in their skillfully handled formal range, in the scope of their subject-matter and in their commitment to an ideal of civilized life shared by many cultures. Belonging is a profound and beautiful collection, which stimulates, dazzles, surprises and delights.â€?â€”The Economist â€œI want to go through Belonging quoting handfuls, learning poem after poem by heart. . . . To read Dick Davis is to be reminded of what poetry used to be, and can still become.â€? â€”X. J. Kennedy
An Anthology of African Love Poetry
From the ancient Egyptian inventors of the love lyric to contemporary poets, Bending the Bow: An Anthology of African Love Poetry gathers together both written and sung love poetry from Africa.
This anthology is a work of literary archaeology that lays bare a genre of African poetry that has been overshadowed by political poetry. Frank Chipasula has assembled a historically and geographically comprehensive wealth of African love poetry that spans more than three thousand years. By collecting a continent’s celebrations and explorations of the nature of love, he expands African literature into the sublime territory of the heart.
Bending the Bow traces the development of African love poetry from antiquity to modernity while establishing a cross-millennial dialogue. The anonymously written love poems from Pharaonic Egypt that open the anthology both predate Biblical love poetry and reveal the longevity of written love poetry in Africa. The middle section is devoted to sung love poetry from all regions of the continent. These great works serve as the foundation for modern poetry and testify to love poetry’s omnipresence in Africa. The final section, showcasing forty-eight modern African poets, celebrates the genre’s continuing vitality. Among those represented are Muyaka bin Hajji and Shaaban Robert, two major Swahili poets; Gabriel Okara, the innovative though underrated Nigerian poet; Léopold Sédar Senghor, the first president of Senegal and a founder of the Negritude Movement in francophone African literature; Rashidah Ismaili from Benin; Flavien Ranaivo from Madagascar; and Gabeba Baderoon from South Africa.
Ranging from the subtly suggestive to the openly erotic, this collection highlights love’s endurance in a world too often riven by contention. Bending the Bow bears testimony to poetry’s role as conciliator while opening up a new area of study for scholars and students.
The first published collection of poems by Ron Egatz presents a host of narrators describing encounters with characters ranging from washed-up rock musicians to former lovers, airline stowaways to family members. A poet for 25 years to the month of publication of this book, Egatz explores the limits of the lyric narrative poem with subject matter spanning historical events to family snapshots. This collection is a rallying cry for poetry unafraid of being understood, yet not sacrificing lyric quality, music, or emotional depth.
Beso the Donkey is a poetry cycle about a wounded, neglected, and abandoned jackass. In sparklingly clear and luminous poems, Richard Jarrette tells the story of Beso and of his caregiver's attempts to understand and heal him — an endeavor that teaches the man much about the meaning of life, death, peace, and acceptance. With undertones of Buddhist, Christian, Taoist, and Islamic faiths, Beso the Donkey incorporates elements of philosophy, ethics, religion, and morality.
As the book progresses, we sense the poet’s growing acceptance of life’s passing. Along with the author, we feel a deeper peace blossoming as Beso’s life is ending (which is itself a beginning). This is a lyrical story of loss and acceptance.