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In American Busboy, a wry anti-mythology, the anti-hero busboy in an anonymous Clam Shack! tangles with the monotonous delirium of work, the indignities and poor pay of unskilled labor, the capricious deus ex machina of mean-spirited middle management, the zombified consumption of summer tourists, while jostling for the goddess-like attentions of waitresses and hostesses—all battered up in sizzlingly crisp wit and language, and deep-fried in a shiny glaze of surrealism. —Lee Ann Roripaugh
Ascending Order is the work of a poet in midcareer who has thought hard about the circumstances of his past and present, and found an attitude, part concerned and part amused, that serves him well in both his life and his art. The poems in William Greenway’s new book range widely, from memories of childhood and family through meditations on works of art, from humourous topics such as the cars in Hell’s garage or a dead celebrity golf tournament to deep-felt contemplations of cultures American and otherwise or the ailments of middle age and the shadows of mortality. But whether the subjects are serious or playful, the rich vision and inventive language displayed in these poems are Greenway’s alone.
Federal District Courts, Religious Speech, and the Public Forum
John Blakeman’s, The Bible in the Park is an in-depth study of federal district court policymaking and litigation trends in First Amendment cases concerning religious speech and expression in public places. District courts play an important policymaking role in the federal judicial system, and Blakeman’s book contributes to our understanding of that role, especially in the context of religious liberty and free speech disputes. As the courts of first instance in the federal judicial system, district courts not only are charged with interpreting and applying First Amendment law at the trial level, but to a large degree also affect how the law is mobilized and developed through litigation. Using a comprehensive database of district court cases concerning religious expression in public places, Blakeman analyzes the legal and political pressures affecting district court outcomes, and also details the litigation trends and pressures that affect how the law concerning religious expression evolves and changes over time.
In Big Muddy River of Stars, her second full-length collection of poems, Alison Pelegrin continues her celebration of the quirks and characters of south Louisiana, tempered now by the devastations of hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. These sassy poems come on like a carnival parade, with boisterous shout-outs to sleepy rivers and Big Shot soda, crawfish and trailer trash and those “git-r-dones” who rebuild homes ravaged by hurricane and high water. Presiding over the book is the spirit of Chinese poet Li Po, Pelegrin’s prodigal mentor and drinking buddy. Sharing his “exultation” and “taste of recklessness,” she wants to write “the Li Po way— / wine and the wide world.” And she does. With lines that laugh and rage and slur in the piquant tongue of her native Louisiana, Pelegrin knows how to play the blues in a bold and irreverent key.
Blues for Bill was born out of the desire to perpetuate the memory of our dear friend and teacher, Bill Matthews. Bill’s work will last without our help, of course, but what of our memories of Bill himself? This collection of poems ensures that the world will remember his graciousness, intelligence, knowledge, style, good humor, capacity for friendship, immense talent and wit. It’s Bill himself this anthology memorializes, the character and soul of this most unique man. The poems included were written by people who knew Bill in a variety of ways, under myriad circumstances: as friend, both old and new; as mentor and teacher; as colleague; as father. The book’s introduction was penned by Bill’s long-time friend, Russell Banks. Many of the contributors’ names will be familiar, such as Sharon Olds, Stanley Plumly, Dave Smith, Henry Taylor, David Wojahn, Susan Wood, and Baron Wormser; others are perhaps not as well known, but their poems are remarkable, true testaments to Bill.
In her latest collection of poems, The Book of Accident, Beckian Fritz Goldberg invites the reader into a shadowy atmosphere where her language prowls among strange images; hummingbirds become a "fistful of violet amphetamines" and desire gnaws away like a "live rat sewed up inside us." Reading The Book of Accident is like entering a graphic novel with missing panels, a noir world of queasy glints and feral adolescents, "a world where no one has to love you." Characters go by odd names: Torture Boy, Skin Girl, Lala Petite, Wolf Boy (his body "pale as the plucked end of light"). They are punk kids fending for themselves in an expressionistic version of those old stories "that began, Let's take the children out to the woods / and leave them." And on every page, there's Goldberg's hard-edged wit, with the speed and flash of a video game. These poems show mercy but give no ground. They make you feel heartbroken and frightened and exhilarated at the same time.
Heather Derr-Smith’s second collection journeys to the rough core of desire, creating and destroying binaries along the way. Familiar artifacts of domesticity become as volatile as land mines, and the streets of Damascus, Calcutta, and other faraway locales obliterate the American landscape. Yet Derr-Smith’s poetry transcends time and place, illuminating the ties that bind man to woman, mother to child. The Bride Minaret is a relentless chronicle of experience, where the sacred and profane become interchangeable, where “Every tent has a name, and every name is the breath of you.”
Steeped in a high-octane mythos, Jason Bredle's Carnival lets every inch of the world surge with delight and sorrow. The result is a collection of poems that thrills by framing an accurate snapshot of the human condition at its most absurd and joyful. This is book where boundaries don't exist, where people just might bring onions and Grand Marnier to the beach or a transient may be spotted spooning a raccoon in a back yard, and we are all the happier for it.
The University of Akron and the Emergence of The Polymer Age 1909–2007
While “plastics” was a one-word joke in the 1967 movie The Graduate, plastics and other polymers have never been a laughing matter at the University of Akron, with its world-renowned College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering. Chains of Opportunity: The University of Akron and the Emergence of the Polymer Age, 1909-2007 tells the story of the university's rise to prominence in the field, beginning with the world's first academic course in rubber chemistry almost a century ago. Chains of Opportunity explores the university's pioneering contributions to rubber chemistry, polymer science, and polymer engineering. It traces the school's interaction with Akron rubber giants such as Goodyear and Firestone, recounts its administration of the federal government's synthetic rubber program during World War II, and describes its role in the development and professionalization of the academic discipline in polymers. The University of Akron has been an essential force in establishing the polymer age that has become a pervasive part of our material lives, in everything from toys to biotechnology.
Guangqiu Xu, a native of China fluent in both Mandarin and Cantonese, has written an exhaustive study of United States-China relations during the Cold War, with a special focus on the role of the U.S. Congress in influencing Sino-American policy. Based upon extensive archival research in Chinese and American sources, Professor Xu's book is comprehensive and original. It is a detailed account of the interactions between Congress and the White House as the United States forged its policies regarding the world's most populous nation. Covering the period from the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949 to the United States' recognition of the PRC in 1979, this study shows how Congress became a key factor in the formulation and conduct of China policy. No other book examines so fully the legislative-executive struggles and compromises during this thirty-year period, from the postwar maneuverings of Truman to Nixon's surprising visit to Beijing. Especially important is Professor Xu's use of Chinese source material to discuss China's reaction and response to American policy decisions. Congress and the U.S.-China Relationship, 1949-1979 examines a familiar story from a fresh perspective, putting into a new context the forces at play in determining how the United States and China responded to each other during the chilliest years of the Cold War. With his emphasis on Congress, Professor Xu has opened up the history of the period to an analysis of how legislative power, direct and indirect, can affect foreign policy and change the course of world events.