University of Massachusetts Press

Juniper Prize for Poetry

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Juniper Prize for Poetry

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The Body Distances (A Hundred Blackbirds Rising)

Mark Wagenaar

"Let no lip, shoulder, hip, go untasted tonight. Let no one be unscathed. And as you close the door & fold yourself in sleep against another look for a moment at the empty stretch of dark between heaven & earth: someone is missing from the world . . . " The Body Distances is filled with long, limber, nimble poems at once ecstatic and elegiac. These poems are odes to the miraculous embedded in the everyday, in which “the unlikely continues / to dovetail with the present.”

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Goodbye, Flicker

Poems

Carmen Gimenez Smith

This distinctive collection introduces a new type of mythmaking, daring in its marriage of fairy tale tropes with American mundanities. Conspiratorial, Goodbye, Flicker describes the interior life of a girl whose prince is a deadbeat dad and whose escape into a fantasy world is also an escape into language, beauty, and the surreal.

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Interloper

Poems

L S. Klatt

In the United States, where much of the daily discourse appears to be reduced to matters of dollars and cents, the poet is an interloper who traffics where he doesn’t belong. L. S. Klatt is vividly aware of this phenomenon. For him, words are musical and versatile, more about play than utility, and he seeks to dislocate language, to freelance and maneuver, to alter common sense on the way to new sense. The poems in Interloper unsettle frontiers between disparate worlds so that the imagination is given room to roam: pears become guitars, racks of ribs are presented as steamboats, and helicopters transmute into diesel seraphs. The poetry aspires acrobatically in the manner of prayers and pilots, but adventure throughout the book is viewed as precarious and the will to conquest leads to apocalypse and ruin. The interloper wanders through crime scenes and crash sites as he glosses the landscape—at home and not at home with the America of yesterday and tomorrow. In symbols that scat and ricochet, the interloper scores a new song, one that composes—and decomposes—on the page.

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Letters of Transit

Theodore Worozbyt

Letters of Transit is a passport to the space between: prose and poetry, reverie and memory, death and fecundity. Its invitation is a journey without destination, a ramble, a thrill ride, an open-ended ticket. But it maps an uncanny territory, populated with ominous doctors, proctors, theorists, forgers and game show hosts, whose agendas seem no less threatening than the intrusions of red spitting monkeys, biting spiders, monster hornets, unseen shrieking creatures. One ranges through its pages with an electric sense of visiting places impossibly recognizable—the dream realm of a collective unconscious. Its attractions are part freak show, part museum, part mausoleum. Theodore Worozbyt brings a rich and intricate vision to a world both gorgeous and grotesque, where one must suspect every detail of being a crucial clue.

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The Many Woods of Grief

Poems

Lucas Farrell

In this striking debut volume, Lucas Farrell offers a lyrical and illuminating field guide to the flora and fauna of “worlds just out of reach.” With the precision and detail of an Audubon sketch, he turns his naturalist’s eye to the vast landscape of human emotion—all the while affirming “how real this world we live in / must be to live in.” Journeying ever outward, from the achingly ordinary to the mysterious “land where there is no land,” the narrator of this collection, equal parts pastoralist and surrealist, explores the vivid in-betweens—between love and loss, hilarity and despair, wild and domestic, real and imagined. Hungry, expressive, and original, these poems glean light from even the darkest of fields.From "Further Along Now"Further along the curves of gesture, the delicateapostrophe, in the tongues of muted suns, we'll findourselves in a clearing, in a meadow of ancient grass,picking apart what has long been picked apart. Furtheralong, the compliments, the tweezers and logic, thelaboratory of hard hats and felt pens and hard headsand clipboards hanging from sky's bloody fender, birddroppings steaming calligraphic so long as the cloudsbecome clouds become clouds and amazed we see insuch preventable warfare our own substancesunchanging. Fountains of ash too diffuse to interpret,too complex to diagnose, I quote the many woods ofgrief, too far alone, too deep.

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Starship Tahiti

Poems

Brandon Dean Lamson

The poems in Brandon Dean Lamson’s first volume, Starship Tahiti, explore imprisoned bodies and the tension between captivity and imagination. Beginning on Rikers Island, the book traces a creation myth in reverse, moving from prison to the spacious arches of Grand Central Station to the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. Lamson examines themes of violence, gender, and identity in various real and imagined settings where inmates read Antigone, Howlin’ Wolf sings in a black barbershop, and Metallica records burn on a Viking altar. Throughout these shifts, the poems construct fractured narratives that subvert linear storytelling. The layering of voice and imagery in this collection transgresses boundaries between the secular and the sacred, and between the communal and the personal. As the speaker of “Portland Bardo” says, The fragile, in between state of larvae hatching is no less desirable than full bloom in a city of roses, if such a city can ever be found.

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The Theme of Tonight's Party Has Been Changed

Poems

Dana Roeser

Sui generis, Dana Roeser’s poems are spoken by a stand-up comic having a bad night at the local club. The long extended syntax, spread over her quirky, syncopated short lines, contains (barely) the speaker’s anxieties over an aging father with Parkinson’s, the maturation of two daughters, friends at twelve-step meetings and their sometimes suicidal urges—acted on or resisted—and her own place in a world that seems about to spin out of control. Bad weather and tiny economy cars speeding down the interstate next to Jurassic semis become the metaphor, or figurative vehicle, for this poet’s sense of her own precariousness. Roeser brings a host of characters into her poems—a Catholic priest raging against the commercialism of Mother’s Day, the injured tennis player James Blake, a man struck by lightning, drunk partygoers, an ex-marine, Sylvia Plath’s son Nicholas Hughes, a neighbor, travelers encountered in airport terminals, various talk therapists—and lets them speak. She records with high fidelity the nuances of our ordinary exigencies so that the poems become extraordinary arias sung by a husky-voiced diva with coloratura phrasing to die for, “the dark notes” that Lorca famously called the duende. The book is infused with the energy of misfortune, accident, coincidence, luck, grace, panic, hilarity. The characters and narrator, in extremis, speak their truths urgently.

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Then We Saw the Flames

Stories

Daniel A. Hoyt

In this freewheeling debut collection, Daniel A. Hoyt takes us from the swamps of Florida to the streets of Dresden, to the skies above America, to the tourist hotels of Acapulco, to the southwest corner of Nebraska. Along the way, we encounter a remarkable group of characters all struggling to find their footing in an unsettling world. Sometimes magical, sometimes realistic, sometimes absurd, these stories reveal people teetering on the dangerous edge of their lives. In “Amar,” a Turkish restaurant owner deals with skinheads and the specter of violence that haunts his family. In “Boy, Sea, Boy,” a shipwrecked sailor receives a surreal visitor, a version of himself as a child. In “The Collection,” a father and son squander a trove of bizarre and fanciful objects. And in “The Kids,” a suburban couple grasp for meaning after discovering children eating from their trash. In each of these stories, characters find themselves challenged by the political, cultural, and spiritual forces that define their lives. With a clear eye and a steady hand, Hoyt explores a fragile balance: the flames—fueled by love, loss, hope, and family—shed new light on us. Sometimes we feel warmth, and sometimes we simply burn.

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TransBuddhism

Transmission, Translation, and Transformation

edited by Nalini Bhushan, Jay L. Garfield, and Abraham Zablocki

The global spread of Buddhism is giving rise to new forms of religious complexity, both in the West and in Asia. This collection of essays examines the religious and cultural conversations that are occurring in this process from a diverse range of disciplinary, methodological, and literary perspectives, including philosophy, ethnography, history, and cultural studies. The chapters in the first section explore the transmission of Buddhism to the West, ranging from the writings of one of its earliest western interpreters, the Wesleyan missionary R. Spence Hardy, to the globalization of Tibetan Buddhist reincarnation, to the development and practice of Buddhism within the American prison system. The concluding chapter of this section presents a case study of a Japanese Buddhist temple in Oregon that ultimately died out—an example of a transmission that failed. The second section looks at the complex issues that arise in the translation of Buddhist terms, texts, and concepts from one language or cultural milieu to another. Two chapters examine the challenges confronted by those who translate Buddhist texts—one exploring the contemporary translation of Tibetan Buddhism, the second analyzing an exchange of poetry in medieval Japan. The other two chapters describe the translation of Buddhist ideas into new cultural domains in America, specifically film and sports. The final section presents case studies in the transformation of Buddhism which is resulting from its new global interconnections. Topics include the role of women in transforming Buddhist patriarchy, Buddhist-Freudian dialogue in relationship to mourning, and the interplay between Buddhism and the environmental movement. The book also includes images created by the noted artist Meridel Rubenstein which frame the individual chapters within a nonverbal exploration of the themes discussed. In addition to the editors, contributors include Mark Blum, Mario D’Amato, Sue Darlington, Elizabeth Eastman, Connie Kassor, Tom Rohlich, Judith Snodgrass, Jane Stangl, and Karma Lekshe Tsomo.

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Violin Playing Herself in a Mirror

David Kutz-Marks

With rhetorical estrangements that recall John Ashbery, and rhythms and ambitions that recall Wallace Stevens and Walt Whitman, the voice in these poems is nonetheless distinct, aware that its own time is finite—“a minor catarrh / after which the throat clears and it’s nighttime again”—but striving with each movement for the sublime. The poems challenge our identities, our thoughts, and our quarrels with each other as they dart back and forth between interior spaces and real human relationships.

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