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The University of Akron Press
Slovenian Women's Stories on Migration
Going Places is a narrative of a century of Slovenian Women's immigration stories. The book traces the migration of these Eastern European women to several destinations including Argentina, Egypt, Italy, and the United States. The research has been carefully culled from the subjects' letters, personal diaries, and oral interviews. What results is a story that covers the span of three or four generations. The book highlights in biography the story of identity under construction. Each woman's identity surpasses ethnic, national identity or belonging, but at the same time, contains different elements of identity transformation at different stages of the narrator's life. As one participant said, "While their suitcases may be light with personal belongings, their stamina, strength and determination and emotional commitment would sink a battleship."
The Good Kiss is a collection of poems dealing loosely with the subjects of divorce, sexuality, and American culture from the 1950s to today. The poems vary in tone from the fairly serious to the reflective and meditative, to the wryly comic. Perhaps it is fair to say that this range of tones exists within many of the individual poems, and is their defining characteristic. Poems like "What I Want," and "The Good Kiss" are good examples of these quirky, rather unexpected tonal shifts and blendings.
Groundspeed moves and doesn't stop moving. From pastorals on American highways to self-reckonings after a cancer diagnosis to examinations on grief and transience after the death of a brother, this collection of poems asks readers not only to size up threats but anxieties. Phillips witnesses a small plane crash and examines roadside attractions. She reckons with sexuality after a partner asks for a threesome, and renders a candid portrait of a nude, post-surgery body in a mirror. In this raw and personal book, Phillips insists upon one's own preservation through and beyond grief and trauma with the warning "creation is only // myth; destruction narrative."
In Half/Mask, Roger Mitchell goes in search of the magic that remains when the world is stripped down to “an inhospitable beauty.” Many of these starkly lyrical poems explore the human and natural communities found on tundra and borrow freely from the great narrative and sculptural traditions of the Inuit and other rugged people who have learned to live intensely under challenging conditions. Whether in the High Arctic or in different places “where human life . . . has a loose fit,” Mitchell discovers a land rich in imagery and metaphor for describing experience at a fundamental level, out at the edge of what we can know: “Alone and far away, remote, a step / or two beyond human, real being.” An effort to understand and sympathetically inhabit the earth drives these poems, even in the barren isolation of their settings, and gives to Half/Mask its emotional resonance.
Her Slender Dress, the first volume of poetry to win the Akron Poetry Prize, follows Virginia Woolf's advice to women writers: to move out of the sitting room and into reality. The staccato, often fragmented, syntax of these poems is an attempt to recreate an attitude of perception in which the postmodern female is "assaulted" by various stimuli with the dizzying speed made possible by the electronic age. The world now happens faster than it can possibly be integrated into an individual consciousness. The postmodern American reality for women consists of a society in which the confrontation with "the streets" (including drug abuse, sexual or physical abuse) can be as immediate, as influential as the previous zone of power and comfort, "home." But motherhood and marriage continue in importance, despite the changing cultural expectations. The title, taken from Blake's "Little Girl Lost" of the "Songs of Innocence," reflects the essential and unifying element of this book: Her Slender Dress is more than a Vogue magazine cover, but may be interpreted as Blake's simple, elegant image of female corporeality. And it is from the physical body, the slender dress, that both the pain and the joy of being female emanate.
His Captivity and Life with the Indians
A History of Jonathan Alder: His Captivity and Life with the Indians is one of the most extensive first person accounts to survive from Ohio’s pioneer and early settlement eras. Nine year-old Alder was captured and taken to Ohio by Indians in 1782. Adopted by a Mingo warrior and his Shawnee wife, Alder lived as an Indian until 1805. After he left the Indians, Alder became one of the first European settlers to live in central Ohio. Alder composed his memoirs in the 1840s. His account chronicles his life for fifty years, from the time of his capture to 1832. The narrative, therfore, provides a unique perspective on fronteir Ohio and its transformation from wilderness to statehood and the continuing evolution in the relationship between Ohio’s Indians and whites from the Revolutionary War-era to a time when many of the state’s Native peoples had been removed. Alder’s recollection provides an exceptional look at early Ohio. His portrait of his captors is revealing, complex, and sympathetic. The latter part of his narrative in which he describes his experiences in central Ohio is an extraordinary rich account of early pioneer life. Further, Alder was fortunate in that he encountered many of the persons and took part in many of the events that have become touchstones in Ohio’s pioneer history, including Simon Kenton, Simon Girty, and Col. William Crawford. He participated in the Battles of Fort Recovery and Fallen Timbers, and his recollection of these actions are among the few extant accounts that describe these events from a Native American perspective.
Nearly every poem in How We Spent Our Time flies at its mast a title in the form of a gerund or gerund phrase, that humble verbal noun. The book's table of contents, therefore, reads like an equally humble enumeration of the ways a human lifetime can be paid out, so to speak: looking, getting, owning, learning. We all do them all. And yet there is exceptional artistry in the testimonials these doings make witness to. The arrangement of the poems within the text is part of it. Note how "keeping" immediately precedes "spending," in the poems "Keeping It Together" and "Spending the Night"; these poems are conversational but endlessly skilful in the ways they keep the language vivid and fresh and surprising. How We Spent Our Time is flush with pangs and satisfactions, abundant with wisdom and delight.
Hurricane Party is an original and rewarding work, a masterful follow-up to Big Muddy River of Stars, and a livewire, compelling contribution to American poetry. No other poet sounds like Pelegrin, and that's the sure sign of a writer at the top of her game. —Elton Glaser
I Have My Own Song for It: Modern Poems of Ohio gathers together 117 poems by 85 poets for a fresh perspective on the Buckeye State. Not since 1911 has there been a comprehensive collection of poems written about Ohio. And this anthology is especially relevant as Ohio celebrates its 200th year as a state. It could be called Ohio’s bicentennial gift to itself. These poems, written by such celebrated Ohio natives as James Wright and Mary Oliver, and by accomplished if less well known poets like Ruth L. Schwartz and Rachel Langille, offer a virtual tour of people and places in the state, traveling around Ohio’s lakes and rivers, farms and open country, small towns and large cities. In resonant language and compelling imagery, in shapely verse and lines responsive to the moment’s impulse, the poems bring Ohio to its citizens and, beyond the borders of the state, to lovers of poetry everywhere. The perspective may be personal or historical, close-up or wide-ranging, celebratory or otherwise, but each poem becomes part of the state’s legacy passed on to future generations, a collective record of how Ohio appears to itself and to others at the begining of the 21st century.
How a Controversial Mayor Quarterbacked Akron’s Comeback
Until his resignation in May 2015, Don Plusquellic had been the mayor of Akron, Ohio, for twenty-eight years. When he took office in 1987, Ronald Reagan was in the White House, the average price for a car was a little over $10,000, and later that year the US stock market would drop over 22 percent in one day—at the time the sharpest market downturn in the United States since the Great Depression. This was a harbinger of things to come in Akron as the Rubber Capital of the World hemorrhaged jobs. In the 1980s, over 26,000 people were employed in the plastics and rubber product manufacturing industries in greater Akron. By 2007, the number had slipped to only 7,220. The loss of jobs coincided with greater suburbanization—a blow to the city's housing market. Plusquellic was challenged with rebuilding a transforming city. Using news sources and extensive interviews, Love has crafted a superb political biography of the person some have called Akron's Mayor for Life. Plusquellic reinvented his job, erasing the line between public and private efforts to provide employment in a reimagined downtown and innovative Joint Economic Development Districts beyond the city. He championed education for future workers. Don Plusquellic won fast friends and eager enemies with his silk-and-sandpaper personality. He became one of the longer-serving and most-honored mayors in America. His story is one of both place and person, the son of a rubber worker who restored Akron's spirit and belief in itself after the city lost its title of Rubber Capital of the World.