January 28, 2015

Poetry Everywhere videos feature Nye, Clifton, Laux, and more

Poetry Everywhere with Garrison Keillor, a project airing on PBS, is expanding the poetry landscape with videos of some of the world’s most beloved poets reading some of the world’s best poetry. Included among these select poets are Naomi Shihab Nye, Lucille Clifton, and Dorianne Laux, all reading from their BOA publications. Each and every video is a masterpiece, and getting these voices into the homes and lives of the nation is a more than worthy cause.

Produced by WGBH and David Grubin Productions, in association with the Poetry Foundation, the scope of the Poetry Everywhere project is to “expose a diverse audience to a broad spectrum of poetic voices, build an appreciation and an audience for poetry, and increase the presence of poets and poetry within the two most ubiquitous media in American popular culture–the Web and TV.” In addition to presentation on its website, the videos appear on local public television stations at unexpected moments during their broadcast schedules. The goal is for poetry to become a permanent part of the PBS landscape, “offering moments of meditation and even revelation throughout the day.”

Naomi Shihab Nye reads “One Boy Told Me” from Fuel:

Lucille Clifton reads “won’t you celebrate with me” from The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010:

Dorianne Laux reads “Dust” from What We Carry:

January 27, 2015

Erika Meitner named one of ‘the best young American poets writing today’


The Culture Trip recently named Erika Meitner (Copia, 2014) as one of “10 Young American Poets Changing the Face of Poetry.” She was placed alongside such highly acclaimed poets as Sandra Beasley, Michael Dickman, Camille Dungy, and Tracy K. Smith, among others. According to The Culture Trip, “Here you’ll find prize winners galore and poetry ranging in theme from the angry to the contemplative–the best young American poets writing today.”

Copia, Erika Meitner’s fourth book, grapples with the widespread implications of commercialism and over-consumption, particularly in exurban America. Documentary poems originally commissioned by Virginia Quarterly Review examine the now-bankrupt city of Detroit, once the thriving heart of the American Dream. Meitner probes the hulking ruins of office buildings, tract housing, superstores, construction sites, and freeways–exposing a vacuous world of decay and abandonment–while holding out hope for re-birth from ashes.

Click here to see The Culture Trip‘s entire list of “10 Young American Poets Changing the Face of Poetry.”

Erika Meitner’s new book Copia is available now at the BOA Bookstore.

January 26, 2015

Robert Thomas talks poetry, prose, and BRIDGE with BTM


In a post from Beyond the Margins, Robert Thomas, author of Bridge, shares his perspective on the differences between composing poetry and writing prose. Beyond the obvious distinctions inherent in the genres, Thomas discusses the personal challenges he faced when switching from poetry to prose: “It’s hard for me to get beyond my inhibitions when writing poetry, but I can lose them in prose. In poetry I get stuck—’I can’t say that—it’s too prosaic’— meaning it’s too complex to be expressed concisely. I never think the reverse when writing prose. I never think, ‘I can’t say that—it’s too intense or passionate or beautiful or poetic.’”

“The crucial distinction may be between art you can immerse yourself in and art that is ‘antiabsorptive,’” writes Thomas. “When even the line breaks of a poem wake me out of its lucid dream, I want to keep dreaming, and for me, for now, prose, not poetry, is the language of dream.”

Click here to read the full piece: “Crossing Over: From Poetry to Prose.”

Thomas’ new fiction collection Bridge is now available at the BOA Bookstore.

January 26, 2015

Fanny Says on NPR Books’ list of ‘amazing 2015 poetry books’


Nickole Brown’s forthcoming Fanny Says has been featured on NPR Books‘ 2015 Poetry Preview. Claiming that “we need poetry even more than ‘more than ever,’” reviewer Craig Morgan Teicher recommends a list of 2015 poets that “offers plenty of the balm and fervor we need right now.”

Here’s what the preview says about Fanny Says, out from BOA in April: “Brown’s sprawling sophomore collection is a lyrical biography of and tribute to her wise and irreverent southern grandmother. Along with a memorable lesson in the use of the word ‘flitter,’ what’ll stick most is this book’s unknown ‘word for all things left unbroken, a word for breakable yet unbroken things.’”

Click here to read the full NPR Books piece: “Resurrections, Do-Overs, And Second Lives: A 2015 Poetry Preview.”

Get your hands on a copy of Fanny Says early! Click here to place a pre-order.

January 21, 2015

On adoption and poetry: A NightBlock interview with John Gallaher


BOA poet John Gallaher was recently interviewed by NightBlock‘s Eric Enquist on what Gallaher calls “inexpensive therapy.”

This form of therapy is prevalent in his new book In a Landscape, as Gallaher discusses his adoption in 1968 and how that has influenced his writing. “We all feel, at least sometimes, like we’re dislocated,” Gallaher says. “But for adopted people, it’s actual. We are dislocated.”

At first, Gallaher was opposed to calling the collection a “book of poetry,” and felt that this particular writing style and content was better suited as non-fiction. He says in the interview: “One of the things about poetry that kind of annoys me now and then is being at a poetry reading, and sometimes, now and then, what a poet will say between poems is more interesting to me than the poems themselves. The poet will give some background or tell a story or pose some large question or goal, and that just feels so much more human and fragile than what the poem ends up being. So I wanted that. I wanted to try to write the middle bits, and questions of being good or happy or whatever are what happens there, in our day-to-day negotiations.”

When asked what he hoped for in writing this way, Gallaher says, “I want not to feel alone. I want to feel like we all belong. That there’s hope for us. The planet.”

Click here to read the full NightBlock interview: “The Adopted Voice: An Interview with John Gallaher.”

In a Landscape is available for purchase at the BOA Bookstore.

January 21, 2015

Galatea Resurrects calls Volkman’s NOMINA ‘gorgeously energetic poems’


A review from Galatea Resurrects calls Karen Volkman’s Nomina “a work whose sonnets’ flash quicksilver modifications, an impressive display of Petrarchan rhyme and, to some degree, a restricted verbal palate, so long as one reads ‘restricted’ as willful, as could be with a painter who chooses to work within a specific degree of hues. In tandem, these aspects create a thriving culture in which elaboration leads to acceleration.”

Reviewer Adam Strauss commends Volkman’s bold use of the Petrarchan rhyme scheme, saying that it creates a “most gauchely delicious” feeling. ”Nomina has as many gorgeous, gorgeously energetic poems within its pages as one could want.”

He continues, “It is a pleasure to read work which, again and again, working a wild fluency, capitalizes on the potentials of swerving from conventions with Baroque gusto as opposed to emerging out of default or its environs. Volkman puts on a show, makes of reading, as Andrew Marvell knows in his poem ‘The Gallery’ and as Elizabeth Bishop writes in ‘The Colder the Air,’ a site where ‘air’s gallery marks identically / the narrow gallery of her glance.’”

Click here for the full Galatea Resurrects review.

Nomina is available at the BOA Bookstore.

January 16, 2015

The Times of Israel on the life and work of Erez Bitton

Erez Bitton
Image courtesy of The Times of Israel

The Times of Israel recently published an article marking the lifetime accomplishments of Lod-based poet Erez Bitton. Bitton, who was born in Algeria, “has risen to the summit of the Israeli literary world,” winning the 2014 Yehuda Amichai poetry prize and being presented with the Bialik Prize’s lifetime achievement award this past December.

Often considered the father of Mizrahi Isareli, a new and major tradition in the history of Hebrew poetry, Bitton’s forthcoming collection, You Who Cross My Path (November 2015) dramatically expands the scope of biographical experience and cultural memory regarding Moroccan Jewish culture. The bilingual collection will be the first-ever U.S. publication of Bitton, translated by Tsipi Keller.

The article thoroughly chronicles the poet’s life as he moved from Morocco to Israel at the age of six, was blinded by a live hand grenade he found by his house at the age of ten, and how he discovered the beauty of poetry in the “Jewish Institute for the Blind in Jerusalem, which, he said, ‘in essence saved my life.’”

Click here to read the full article, which beautifully captures the amazing accomplishments of Erez Bitton.

Keep your eye out for his remarkable new collection, to be published in our Lannan Translations Selection Series this fall.

January 16, 2015

Zone 3 on Geffrey Davis’ Revising the Storm

Geffrey Davis  (smaller) - color

According to a Zone 3 review, Revising the Storm reaches “for something beyond the personal, through the personal” in an attempt to make sense of the past. “Occasionally, these poems break through their cohesive, straight-laced narratives into something I and many other readers will find much more interesting. Inside the effort to ‘revise the storm,’ speakers stumble upon the problems inherent in memory.”

Reviewer Robert Campbell calls Davis “first and foremost, a hypnotic, arresting storyteller. These are poems for the ear and for the heart.” Revising the Storm is a collection of poems that wrestles with the problems we face when trying to make sense of the pain of past experience. “Does it control us, or do we, as poets, construct it? How do we, as tellers of the tale, engage with this god-like power, these phantoms that shape us, this series of flat images, this very architecture of us that is as uncontrollable as our parentage, as the weather itself, and yet also, paradoxically, the story we build for ourselves, clause by clause?”

“This is a book of poems for those who believe in the cathartic power of poetry and its ability to render meaning from pain. Despite its lagging moments, Revising the Storm succeeds at transforming loss and grief into something worth sharing, and beyond any discussion of Davis’s romantic conceits or clever self-reflexivity, doesn’t that matter more? After all, if poetry can’t save us from our suffering, what can?”

Click here to read the full review at Zone 3.

Revising the Storm is available at the BOA Bookstore.

December 22, 2014

Asymptote praises the ‘full-blown songs’ of THE SECRET OF HOA SEN


An Asymptote review is calling the poems in Nguyen Phan Que Mai’s The Secret of Hoa Sen “fine memorials” for the historical struggles faced by the Vietnamese people. “There is both the quality of the earth and the wind in her poetry, an embracing lushness.” The poems in the new collection are translated from the Vietnamese by Que Mai and Bruce Weigl.

“Nguyen Phan Que Mai’s poetry collection is firmly rooted in the Vietnamese tradition, though her poems—or, rather, full-blown songs—also travel to Bhutan, Bangladesh, and other locales. The Secret of Hoa Sen is a collection about the earth-born: family, feeding, sustenance, and how these are intimately connected to the earth. This is what makes the poems stand out from the recent trend in writing about the urban familial settings, but this is not to say that the poems are limited to pastoral settings. Nguyen’s co-translator Bruce Weigl rightly describes the collection in the introduction as ‘a global poetry, necessary for our troubled times.’”

According to the review, Que Mai’s voice is “simple, but full of compassion … history of the Vietnamese people is mapped via vegetation, food, artisans’ work songs, lullabies, and folk poetry, thus keeping the oral tradition alive in the printed form.”

Acknowledging the magnitude of Que Mai’s project, the review notes the “historical rootedness” of the collection,  and its “recurring attempts to use poetry as a means of coming to terms with the past and handling the tragedies of the present.”

Click here to read the full Asymptote review.

The Secret of Hoa Sen is available now at the BOA Bookstore.

December 18, 2014

San Francisco Chronicle on Robert Thomas’ BRIDGE


Still looking for the perfect last-minute holiday gift? We highly recommend Bridge by Robert Thomas. And we’re not the only ones!

The San Franciscio Chronicle just featured the new fiction collection in a thorough and spot-on review. Calling the book an “energetic, lyrical narration,” the review discusses the “precarious mental state” of protagonist Alice.

Bridge … may borrow a weapon, along with a taut style and a slender economy, from James M. Cain, but this is no crime story. Instead, and perhaps incongruously, it is a quiet, interior novel, a character study in which the prose plays a bigger role than the plot. What happens in the story is minimal: San Francisco legal secretary Alice falls in love with her married colleague David, antagonizes her supervisor, Fran, and buys that gun. But how it happens — and how Alice describes it happening — is striking, unsettling and profound.”

According to the review, “the rushing thoughts, sense impressions, quirky language and crumbling boundaries” of Bridge speak not just to an isolated plot, but to “agonizing universal truths.”

“We realize that [Alice] is indeed on precarious ground, and, as a classic unreliable narrator, cannot be trusted — or can she? In this inventive psychological novel, the mind-set of the psychologically suspect narrator may be what matters most.”

In the new issue of Ploughshares, poet and Advisory Editor Eleanor Wilner also recommends Bridge, saying, “The serial monologues of Alice … place us inside a wholly original, slightly suicidal, radically unconventional mind: precariously balanced, yet how far down she can see without falling. In this poet’s tour de force fiction, Thomas’ imaginative language created in me, to transplant his phrase, ‘what medical books accurately term ‘prolonged dazzle.’”

Click here to read the full review from The San Francisco Chronicle.

Bridge is available now at the BOA Bookstore.