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A literary comedy of manners set in a fictitious island nation in the South Pacific, somewhere between the Japan and Indonesia. It tells the story of a vacationing Asian-American journalist, Benjamin Inoue, who gets swept up into a cascading chain of events and who becomes the campaign manager of a buffoonish and megalomaniac island scion who is running against his younger brother for presidency of the small and forgotten island. Along the way, he becomes ensnared in a progression of dubious and absurdist events orchestrated by dubious and unreliable characters, all of which have their own hidden and conflicting agenda that they force Ben into serving.
In Fault, Katharine Coles continues to explore her abiding interest in the intersections of science, culture, and history, but the book is perhaps best described as an extended meditation on love. Ranging across time and continents, Coles addresses such figures as Newton, Kepler, and Vesalius, not only with intellectual rigor but also with humor, intimacy, and buoyant optimism that render her subjects—the figures and the science—accessible within the capacious intellectual, emotional, and physical landscapes of the poems.
Using Hollywood screenplay structure to illustrate a life in three acts, eighteen scenes, each with two poems as mirrors to action, filmmaker/poet Lawrence Bridges sequences through tragicomic plot twists and subplots to create a character-driven, novel-like book of lyric poems. An unnamed protagonist is torn from a lover, torn from himself, in perpetual transition while starting a new family, surrounded by a lively array of colleagues and friends as his career implodes, asserting his autonomy only to become part of life's "conspiracies." Strangers shift around him in a murky world beyond his control, a world with signs of indeterminacy and happenstance: Restaurant patrons smile innocently while thieves quietly rob, a death pact is used to escape a lover, disguised signals from space aliens announce that our enemies are now their allies. How do you tie up loose ends when characters we like are actually the bad guys? Bridges prods us to answer the main question: Can a man love as his world spells farewell? A unique, delightful read—an invitation to explore something new in what may be a new genre fusing some of the elements of screenplay with poetry. Today is already yesterday to tomorrow, in Flip Days.
The poems in Future Ship are largely autobiographical in the sense that they are based on personal experiences from childhood and adolescence when the personality is still in a molten form and being shaped by events and experiences that leave a lasting mark on the adult sensibility. The term "autobiographical" is slightly misleading, as any poet knows personal material exists to be molded and transformed according to the needs of the poem. So imagination is the midwife of the past, and whatever actually happened is colored by time, memory, and the exigencies of art. In order to access material which is essentially narrative in nature, and produce poetry rather than short fiction, it was necessary to adopt a form that allowed for flexibility both spacious enough to allow the narrative to develop, yet controlled enough to create some tension in the lines. So the form of alternating long lines with short lines was adopted to answer this requirement. The short lines are lines themselves, and not indented phrases clipped off the ends of the longer lines in order to fit into the marginal format of the page. After allowing the narrative to stretch out in the longer lines, the short lines are meant to act as pivots, or fulcrums, that propel the reader on to the each next long line. They are also meant to supply pauses, breathing spaces, in the extended narrative carried by the longer lines. Other poems in Future Ship are more traditional in lineation, but all the poems, in one way or another, are meant to serve the main theme of how the past informs the present, which then points directly toward the future the trope being a ship that arrives finally to voyage away containing all the accumulated facts, events, and characters that have marked a life. So the self is imagined as a kind of ark, bearing a lifetime's experiences into the future. One hopes, of course, that the closer one gets to personal experience if it is real and honestly felt the more it will become universal and represent, in some way, the experience of others.
New and Selected Poems
Bart Edelman’s latest poetry collection, The Geographer’s Wife, explores how our sense of environment creates and frames the world we choose to inhabit. The speakers in Edelman’s poems perpetually find themselves in conflict with the world around them. The choices they make sometimes free them to discover a life full of promise, sometimes cast them into uncertainty, and sometimes condemn them to regression. Again and again, the landscapes they visit serve as both boundary and horizon. This sense of place—east, west, north, and south—directs the physical and spiritual movements we often take for granted, as we pass through the days and nights that dictate each one of our journeys.
The stories in The Girl with Two Left Breasts focus on a new generation of African-Americans, who, having had access to the education their parents could only dream of, now face the challenges of living in an insane postmodern world. Readers will encounter stories shaped and styled for the new millennium as image and metaphor are taffy-stretched and virtually collapsed in order to depict how, at this unique juncture barely beyond our century’s turn, cultures, genders, and points of view collide as characters struggle with issues of race, identity, sex and addiction in an unforgiving urban milieu. Publisher Fiction Collective 2 calls Glenn’s work “An important new voice speaking to us throughout the stories in an array of vivid, unusual tongues, all of them full of intellect, passion and poetry. Moreover, the collection strikes one as having been written by someone whose literary sensibility is already fully formed.” This is fiction that is sometimes darkly humorous or humorously dark, deftly sidestepping facile categorization and often, like a koan, unfolding with a lyrical sort of dissonance.
Poems of Avvaiyar
Give, Eat, and Live is a selection of poems translated from the 12th century Tamil poet Avvaiyar, arguably one of the most important female poets in Tamil's two-thousand-and-five-hundred years of literary history, and certainly one of the best known, of any gender. Although people across the state of Tamil Nadu know many of her works by heart, she has received little attention outside India, owing largely to the lack of decent translations. The one comprehensive work in English, Avvaiyar, a great Tamil poetess, by C. Rajagopalachari (Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1971), has long since been out of print and renders Avvaiyar's poems in accurate but wooden translations. This book, by contrast, seeks to render her finest songs in a supple and poetically charged English that allows both her intellect and poetry to shine.
From python hunting to Swami Keerti’s laughing meditation, from a death in the family to a burial on the rural acres where he’s stood his ground for a decade, Gaylord Brewer extends and explodes his career-long obsessions in Give Over, Graymalkin. This 8th collection of poems is a journal of loss and recovery, departure and surprising return, fleeting hours in a world diminished yet wondrous. Seas writhe with uncharted beasts. Horsemen gather, conflagrant beneath sword and cross. A daughter mounts a bicycle and a divorcé has the Harley delivered. From India to France to Spain, to the birdsong and day lilies of his unruly garden, Brewer continues as poetic conquistador mapping our longing, melancholy, and joy. With his characteristic wit and compassion, signature sculpted lines, and incantatory vigor, buried metaphors arise, holy days pass, toasts are raised, suns set over the desert of the animate dead. And the weary traveler? He approaches a dark corridor that may or may not be the way home.
From wildfire and war to bleached reefs and human frailty, Peggy Shumaker’s new poems meditate on mortality. Her poems speak with elegaic force for lost languages, lost ancestors, lost ways of being. This work sharpens the edges of our perception, drawing on the inner life, on secrets that keep us alive. With language as lyrical as the natural world, the poems in Gnawed Bones nourish us.