July 23, 2015

BOA Editions featured on WXXI Connections radio show


To celebrate WXXI Rochester Public Radio‘s “Summer Book Week,” BOA Editions was invited to the “Connections” show with guest host Scott Fybush and two other Rochester-based independent publishers, Open Letter Books and RIT Press, to discuss the current and future states of book publishing.

In a fascinating hour-long discussion on the literary scene in Rochester, as well as the importance of mission-driven independent publishing, BOA Publisher Peter Conners had some fun things to say about Rochester as a city of readers:

“Rochester is really a sexy city in a lot of ways because people who read are sexy,” he says. “They’re interesting, they have things to say … If you really want to be sexy, if you really want to be interesting, take an hour less at the gym and go read a book.”

“There are a lot of sexy people in Rochester who are reading, who have really interesting, intelligent thoughts, and BOA helps make them sexier.”

Audio of the entire conversation, a thoroughly entertaining and important listen, is now available online.

Visit www.boaeditions.org for more about BOA Editions.

July 23, 2015

Starred Kirkus review calls EDUCATION a ‘winning hand’


Kirkus Reviews has only rave things to say about James McManus’ new collection of linked stories, The Education of a Poker Player.

In a new *starred* review, Kirkus offers a thorough account of the new book and its merits: “McManus’ writing is deceptively artless: mundane details related in Vince’s slowly maturing voice track the unexceptional life of a middle-class Irish-American Catholic family in a Chicago suburb, with the obligatory JFK portrait on the wall and the obliging production of numerous offspring. Yet the author gradually forms these common facets of simple people into a sharp, intimate portrait of an intelligent, inquiring mind embracing, then questioning, and inevitably pulling away from the beliefs and strictures of home life.”

The review continues, “McManus, a novelist and nonfiction writer, has played poker for high stakes in Las Vegas, and in Positively Fifth Street (2003), he wrote a classic about the game with riveting descriptions of poker hands. He achieves that again here in two sessions that have Vince facing very different opponents and challenges.”

“With this plainspoken, highly readable coming-of-age story, McManus adds another winning hand to a growing body of work on the hearts and souls lost to the game of poker.”

Click here to read the rave new Kirkus review.

The Education of a Poker Player is available for pre-order at the BOA Bookstore. Order it here to get it before the release date!

July 14, 2015

Robin McLean interviews on-air for NHPR and Late Night Library


Robin McLean is taking the country by storm with her “Sidewind Across America” tour for her new BOA book Reptile House. The national reading community has welcomed her with open arms, which is demonstrated by her most recent interviews with New Hampshire Public Radio and Late Night Library.

For The Bookshelf, NHPR’s series on authors and books with ties to the Granite State, All Things Considered host Peter Biello interviewed McLean on elements of her new book, her personal inspirations, and her life before becoming an award-winning author, comparing her distinctive voice to that of Flannery O’Connor. First a lawyer and then a potter for 15 years in the woods of Alaska, McLean discusses how both crafts led her to, and now shape, her writing.

“The thing about the law is, the precision of language is very important,” says McLean. “What courts argue about a lot of the time is the meaning of a line, the meaning of a sentence, the meaning of a clause. I’m sure that it made me very aware of ambiguity in language, and I really love to play with ambiguity. . . . And then with pottery: you have to make a pot and you repeat over and over and over again a shape. . . . You definitely learn through long stretches of time and enormous amounts of error and failure and success and things falling on the ground, and you just learn to keep going and keep trying and that style and technique changes with time and repetition, and that is definitely the case with writing.”

In a new Late Night Library interview, Anne Rasmussen speaks with McLean about her darker writing, as well as her developed understanding of dialogue, meticulous editing process, and overwhelmingly successful national book tour.

Click here to take a listen to McLean’s Bookshelf conversation with All Things Considered host Peter Biello.

Click here for McLean’s full Late Night Library interview with Anne Rasmussen.

Reptile House is available now at the BOA Bookstore.

July 14, 2015

The Common calls REPTILE HOUSE ‘a book for lovers of language’


According to a new review from the Common, Robin McLean’s story collection, Reptile House, “opens at an end—when a freeze of apocalyptic proportions devastates the town of Easter, (“Cold Snap”)—and ends at a beginning—when an unhappy man’s wife gives birth to another baby (the title story).”

The review continues, “this sort of upset runs rampant throughout McLean’s debut work. McLean’s surreal tales about ordinary characters deliver emotional truth in poetic language. Concrete and surreal, they spill beyond the conventional short story forms.”

“A book for lovers of language, Reptile House won the 2015 BOA Short Story Fiction Prize, sponsored by BOA Editions, Ltd., a publishing house committed strictly to poetry, until 2007 when it launched its American Reader Series with the goal of publishing fiction ‘more concerned with artfulness of writing than the twists and turns of plot.’ Indeed, the nine short stories that form Reptile House seem to spring from language in an intuitive way.”

Calling the new book “risky work,” reviewer Chantal Corcoran says, “snappy, realistic dialogue further helps the reader relate to Reptile House’s characters and infuses McLean’s epic themes and compressed prose with a welcome humor.”

Click here to read the full Common review.

Reptile House is available now at the BOA Bookstore.

July 04, 2015

Words from the Chair: Announcing ’40 for 40′


When you think of BOA its age may be the last thing you consider. The late poet, editor, and translator A. Poulin, Jr. founded BOA on July 4, 1976, which means that on July 4, 2016, BOA will mark 40 years as a publisher of poetry and literary fiction. In those 40 years, BOA has earned an esteemed reputation as an award-winning not-for-profit publishing house. This has been achieved by a staff and board with a strong sense of mission to bring high quality literature to the public.

The fact of “40 years as an independent publisher” is remarkable and deserves celebration.  The terrain for publishing poetry and literary fiction is fraught with all kinds of challenges; hardly the least of these is the marketplace itself. As William Logan recently noted, “poetry has long been a major art with a minor audience.” So when we recognize that for 40 years BOA has been a successful enterprise maintaining partnerships with its authors, poets, artists, designers, and printers to publish literature that regularly achieves the highest standards in the literary arts, the cause for celebration is brought home even more energetically.

One of my great pleasures as a long-time board member is being awed by our new books as they arrive each season. They always present an enticing visual and even tactile invitation to be opened up and read. And when that reading gets started it becomes difficult to stop. Our poets and writers stir me to think, to empathize, to learn, to understand, and often to be delighted. But what I love most is that I am regularly dazzled by their remarkable and inspiring artistry. For me to be able to say I had a small role in bringing these books to life is very satisfying. This feeling is doubled for our books in translation, which honor outstanding contemporary writers and literature from other nations and cultures, and are part of what we do as a contribution to increased global understanding.

An anniversary often triggers reflections on the past as well as preparations for the future. Our Board of Directors has been planning a number of ways for our organization to do both. In thinking about BOA’s future, we will kick off a year-long Major Gifts Campaign on July 4, 2015, one full year before our anniversary. Called “40 for 40,” the goal of this campaign is to raise $40,000 as a celebration of BOA’s amazing 40-year history, and to help ensure our financial stability as we step into the next 40 years.

Our celebration will also feature a number of special events in different locations around the country, and it is our hope that whenever we are near you, you will join us. Our website and blog will provide further information about these occasions as they take final shape. In addition, the Winter Issue of the BOAhemian will focus directly on our anniversary, and will provide full details about the year’s plans, developments, and activities.

I’m sure you will agree, as our celebration begins to unfold, that it is an exciting time to be part of the BOA family. We hope you will join the celebration as we mark our 40th year of publishing dynamic literature that enriches a culturally diverse community.

–Jack Langerak, BOA Board Chair

July 01, 2015

Huffington Post interview with Nin Andrews on WHY GOD IS A WOMAN


In a new “Part and Parcel” interview for Huffington Post,” BOA poet Nin Andrews speaks with Hannah Stephenson about her new book Why God Is a Woman.

Discussing how she came up with the concept for the magical island depicted in her book, as well as her fascinating characters, Andrews also addresses gender roles, philosophy, and a splash of religion.

According to Stephenson, “Nin Andrews brilliantly subverts our notions about gender, identity, appearance, and value. She invents a utopian island where women are known for being biologically wired to be hard-working and in positions of power (while looking like Angelina Jolie); in contrast, men are soft, lovely, weak, domestic, and assigned to master a text called ‘Relinquishing Self.’ Men make 70 cents on the dollar as compared to women’s salaries, and are often harassed or victimized for their beauty.”

She continues: “What amazes me about these prose poems is that they are never gimmicky. Truly, they are believable, painful anecdotes told to us by a male speaker on this Island. I found myself immediately feeling empathy for this speaker, finding some of the poems sad or funny or alarming. But Andrews also forces us to see that her Island is eerily familiar, and that our own notions of gender and identity are indeed sad, funny, alarming, and in desperate need of critique.”

Click here to read the complete Huffington Post interview with Nin Andrews.

Why God Is a Woman is available for purchase at the BOA Bookstore.

July 01, 2015

Colorado Review calls REPTILE HOUSE a ‘dazzling debut’


The Colorado Review is calling Robin McLean’s new book Reptile House “sharp and concise and tinged with a poetic flare.” Reviewer Jeremy Griffin explores the complex web McLean weaves with character depth, “ensuring that each paragraph resounds with meaning and metaphor.”

“To call Robin McLean a storyteller is technically correct but misses the point of her work; McLean doesn’t write stories so much as she writes about them … she wants her readers to actively engage with the characters instead of being passive consumers of narrative. The result is a dazzling debut that signals the arrival of one of fiction’s most compelling new voices.”

The review continues, “McLean’s insistence that readers engage with each story as its own object, examining the sizes and shapes and textures and dimensions, points to her steadfast command of language.”

“…I am still thinking about these stories, still turning those objects over in my head like the strange but stunning artifacts of someone else’s life. And that, I suppose, is Reptile House’s most impressive accomplishment: for better or worse, it is the kind of book that stays with you long after you’ve finished it, begging to be revisited over and over again.”

Click here to read the full piece from the Colorado Review.

Reptile House is available at the BOA Bookstore.

July 01, 2015

LA Review: FANNY SAYS has ‘nostalgia and folksy southern charm’


Danny Caine of the Los Angeles Review offers an exciting new review of Nickole Brown’s Fanny Says.

“The back cover of Nickole Brown’s Fanny Says calls the book an ‘unleashed love song to a Kentucky grandmother,’ begins the review. “One would expect such a project to have a certain degree of nostalgia and folksy southern charm, and Fanny Says certainly delivers on both counts … But Fanny, we soon learn, is far too strange to fit into a conventional story about the good-ole-days and how people talk funny back home.”

“Like Allen Ginsberg’s Kaddish or Sarah Blake’s Mr. West, this book draws its energy from the personality of its main character/subject and the way the speaker engages with it. The main character of Fanny Says is likeable, foulmouthed, strange, immensely memorable, and perhaps most importantly, very funny. In memorializing Fanny, Nickole Brown has made her come alive.”

Click here for the full piece from Los Angeles Review.

Fanny Says is available for purchase at the BOA Bookstore.

June 29, 2015

Remembering the legacy of Robert Hursh

The staff and board of BOA Editions mourn the passing of Mr. Robert D. Hursh. Mr. Hursh was a passionate advocate for the arts in Rochester, NY, and served as a board member for BOA Editions. We will all greatly miss his good humor and dedication to promoting poetry, literature, and the arts.

Robert D. Hursh is the retired Chairman of Lawyers Cooperative Publishing, a part of the family of law publishers called collectively, Thomson West. Thomson West is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Thomson Corporation which acquired Lawyers Cooperative in 1989.

Mr. Hursh’s career with Lawyer’s Cooperative Publishing and its associated companies dates from September, 1949 when he joined the Lawyers Cooperative’s editorial staff upon graduation from the Law School of the University of Virginia. The following year he was recalled to active duty in the Navy during the Korean conflict and served for two years as a Naval Intelligence Officer.

After returning to Lawyers Cooperative, Mr. Hursh was named an Assistant Managing Editor in 1961 and a Managing Editor in 1964. As a member of the company’s editorial staff, he specialized in federal and constitutional law, and the law of torts. He is the author of American Law of Products Liability, published in 1961, and co-author of American Law of Products Liability, Second Edition, published in 1974.

In 1966 Mr. Hursh transferred to San Francisco as Editor-in-Chief of Bancroft-Whitney Company, the west coast subsidiary of Lawyers Cooperative. He became Vice President of that company in 1968 and President in 1970.

In April, 1974 he moved to New York City as President of what is now the Research Institute of America. He held that post until his return to Rochester as Lawyers Cooperative’s President and Chief Operating Officer in January, 1984. He served as Chairman following the acquisition of the company by the Thomson Corporation in 1989.

Mr. Hursh was a former Chairman and President of the Board of Managers of the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, Chairman of the Honorary Board of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and a member of the Honorary Board of Monroe Community College, the Boards of Rochester’s Child, the Rochester Public Library, the Rundel Library Foundation, the Hochstein Music School, the Monroe County Chapter of the American Red Cross, and BOA, Ltd., a non-profit press specializing in publishing poetry. He served on the Executive Committee of the member of the Board of the Rochester Area Community Foundation and St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation. He was also a former President of the Monroe County Bar Foundation, and a former Vice-President of the Rochester Downtown Development Corporation. He was also a member of the Library and Business Advisory Committees of the University of Virginia Law School.

June 25, 2015

High praise for Sean Thomas Dougherty from the Utah Review

Dougherty_Photo by John Henry Doucette

In anticipation of his upcoming performance(s) at the Utah Arts Festival this weekend, Sean Thomas Dougherty has been featured extensively in multiple pieces by the Utah Review.

“When reading Sean Thomas Dougherty’s work,” says UR writer Les Roka, “one often realizes how easily a ‘Dougherty moment’ can pop up — that fleeting moment of a familiar connection, an unexpected yet relevant epiphany about a relationship, event, struggle, love, or pain. A prodigious poet with a vast complex of influences cultivated through an exceptionally voracious appetite for reading, experiences, music and ever-alert observation, he offers up a language rendered, as he explains, in ‘three dimensions in which we say a word that becomes a form in the air that then is anchored in the space of an exchange between bodies.’ There is unflinching realism in his work that the astute reader soon realizes that his poetry and his humanitarianism are among the most worthy American literary descendants of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, whom Dougherty refers to as the father and mother of American poetry.”

One of the features, “Backstage at The Utah Arts Festival 2015: The glorious spirit of the American streets in Sean Thomas Dougherty’s poetry,” goes into extensive detail about Dougherty’s poetry career, his performance style, and his complex poetry muse.

Roka calls Dougherty a “prolific poet whose books have garnered numerous awards and a solidly broad stream of critical praise. With more than a dozen books to his credit including All I Ask for Is Longing: New and Selected Poems 1994-2014 (BOA Editions) … Dougherty also is well-known for his energetic performances which are inspired by the strong rhythmic elements in his work, which often seeks out the common rhythmic ground from among seemingly disparate sources representing different cultures and social geographic foundations.”

Having just won a Lifetime Poetry Achievement Award from the literary organization Poet’s Hall, Dougherty will be performing at this year’s Utah Arts Festival, giving two readings of his work on the Big Mouth Stage (June 27, 6:30 p.m.; June 28, 7 p.m.) and will lead a writing workshop (June 27, 4:30 p.m.).

Click here to read “Backstage at The Utah Arts Festival 2015: The glorious spirit of the American streets in Sean Thomas Dougherty’s poetry.”

Click here to read “Backstage at The Utah Arts Festival 2015: Literary Arts captures kinetic potential of 21st century creative landscape.”

Dougherty’s most recent collection All You Ask for Is Longing is available at the BOA Bookstore.