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“When you open this book, expect serious role-playing and syntactic tap dancing. The City She Was presents a world that brings ‘the horizon line into your lexicon’ and a poet’s muse (‘The Endangered You’) is lent to a friend and returned ‘a little more frayed.’ Giménez Smith muddles and enchants with her many masks, leaving the ground a little less stable under our feet.” —Matthea Harvey, author of Modern Life, Sad Little Breathing Machine, and Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form
“The human body has only five senses but The City She Was reroutes the architecture of experience so effectively that the reader is awarded a new unnamed sense, a soft power, one that reprioritizes our outdated reality with the gathering infrastructure of the geography of language. The whole aggressive world is this book’s only enemy, and no one tricks absurdity into form, reality into abstraction, injustice into stylized verdict, and contemporary popular culture into a useful, heroic trap of surreal-her-wholeness like Carmen Giménez Smith.”—Thomas Sayers Ellis, author of Skin, Inc. and The Maverick Room
Winner of the 2012 Colorado Prize for Poetry, selected by Elizabeth Willis
“Family System is one of the most specific and clarifying books of poetry I’ve ever read. It is filled with choices—made, to be made, not made—handled with a poetic understanding that what seems arbitrary will be inevitable when said with the right words while singing the right songs. This is a stand-out first book, introducing a first-rate original talent, doing powerful work, making quintessentially lyrical choices. Don’t miss this book.”
“It seems that Jack Christian’s brain is able to produce tiny lucid creatures, have them run and sprinkle over a map of an unknown world with joy, speed and delight. Even stranger, he’s somehow the spiritual offspring of very different ancestors: Pascal’s Esprit de geometrie and Scandinavian mythology. ‘I was eulogizing a squirrel in a shoebox.’ Brilliant.”
With intimacy and depth of insight, Henrietta Goodman’s Hungry Moon suggests paradox as the most basic mode of knowing ourselves and the world. We need hunger, the poems argue, but also satisfaction. We need pain to know joy, joy to know pain. We need to protect ourselves, but also to take risks. Though the poems are drawn from personal experience, Goodman shares the conviction of such poets as Anne Sexton and Louise Glück that when the poet writes of the self, the self cannot be exempt from culpability. Goodman’s speaker ranges through time and locale—from exploring the experience of flying in a small plane with her lover/pilot over the landscape of the American West to addressing the grief and retrospective self-scrutiny that arise from a friend’s death. Like the work of Mark Doty and Tony Hoagland, Goodman’s poems embrace concrete particularity, entangled as it is with imperfection and loss: “the Quik Stop’s fridge full of sandwiches and small bottles of livestock vaccines,” “the black, hammer-struck moon of your thumb,” “the empty water tower, one rusted panel kicked in like a door.”
Clouds, mountains, flowering trees. Difficult things. Things lost by being photographed. Things that have lost their power. Things found in a rural grocery store. These are some of the lists, poems, prose poems, and lyric anecdotes compiled in The Logan Notebooks, a remix and a reimagining of The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, a collection of intimate and imaginative observations about place—a real place, an interior landscape—and identity, at the intersection of the human with the world, and the language we have (and do not yet have) for perceiving it.
Essays on Fathers and Fatherhood
Selected from the country's leading literary journals and publications—Crazyhorse, Colorado Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Creative Nonfiction, Georgia Review, Gulf Coast, The Missouri Review, The Normal School, and others—Man in the Moon brings together essays in which sons, daughters, and fathers explore the elusive nature of this intimate relationship and find unique ways to frame and understand it: through astronomy, arachnology, storytelling, map-reading, television, puzzles, DNA, and so on. In the collection's title essay, Bill Capossere considers the inextricable link between his love of astronomy and memories of his father: "The man in the moon is no stranger to me,” he writes. "I have seen his face before, and it is my father's, and his father's, and my own.” Other essays include Dinty Moore's "Son of Mr. Green Jeans: A Meditation on Missing Fathers,” in which Moore lays out an alphabetic investigation of fathers from popular culture—Ward Cleaver, Jim Anderson, Ozzie Nelson—while ruminating on his own absent father and hesitation to become a father himself. In "Plot Variations,” Robin Black attempts to understand, through the lens of teaching fiction to creative writing students, her inability to attend her father's funeral. Deborah Thompson tries to reconcile her pride in her father's pioneering research in plastics and her concerns about their toxic environmental consequences in "When the Future Was Plastic.” At turns painfully familiar, comic, and heartbreaking, the essays in this collection also deliver moments of searing beauty and hard-earned wisdom.
Marvelously sustained and densely rhythmic, this tightly constructed whole is built of parts that, at each level, all the way down to the phrase, constitute poems in themselves. Baus manages to keep a cast of words in constant replay until many of them take on the presence of character, and some emerge as characters themselves—Minus and Iris, for instance—keeping the whole on the verge of a narrative project that remains always just barely out of reach, just barely in another world in which language and animal endlessly interleave. Baus has opened a new literary field: the linguistic bestiary, a new zoo where words pace like fauves behind ever-thinning bars.” —Cole Swensen, contest judge and author of Greensward, Ours, and The Glass Age
The poems in Derek Henderson’s Songs are “translations” of a film cycle of the same name, shot by American filmmaker Stan Brakhage (1933–2003) to document his and his family’s life in Colorado in the mid-1960s. Where Brakhage’s films provide a subjective visual record of his experience bewildered by the eye, these poems let language bewilder the space a reader enters through the ear. Henderson tenders the visual experience of Brakhage’s films—films of the domestic and the wild, the private and political, the local and global—into language that insists on the ultimate incapacity of language—or of image—to fully document the comfort and the violence of intimacy. Songs expresses the ecstasy we so often experience in the company of family, but it just as urgently attests to ecstasy’s turbulent threat to family’s stability. Like Brakhage’s films, Henderson’s poems carry across into language and find family in every moment, even the broken ones, all of them abounding in hope.
Heather Winterer explores the intimate territory between desolation and consolation, offering a poetry that translates the distances between spiritual endings and beginnings, between an “after what it used to be” and “an arrival.” The work enacts the model of St. Ignatius Loyola, encouraging the collapse of lines between creation and creativity, time and space, the Christian and Christ, the self and the other. The voice of these poems moves exuberantly through various forms, resisting predication and celebrating its own multiplicity. With lyrical dexterity and humor, Winterer invites us into her world, a world of tangible absences and presences—where the Mojave Desert and the city of Las Vegas become the unlikely sites of spiritual encounter. The god of this quirky world appears in cars, apartment buildings, and swimming pools and speaks to us through desert plants and birds. Everything from the outside—natural and unnatural—spills into the poems and they turn whatever they are given into movement away from darkness and loss, toward possibility, potency and grace.