October 24, 2014

LARB calls The Stick Soldiers a ‘knowing authority’

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A new Marginalia, Los Angeles Review of Books essay by Christopher Kempf discusses the art of war poetry, looking to five “critically-regarded books of poetry by veterans” which have been “released by distinguished presses”: Hugh Martin’s The Stick Soldiers (BOA, 2013); Here, Bullet and Phantom Noise by Brian Turner; Bangalore by Kerry James Evans; and Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting by Kevin Powers.

According to Kempf, we can better understand, “through poetry, ‘the causes and the crimes’” of conflict.” He adds, “the relationship between war and its poetic representation is also one of poetry’s newest, most pressing problems, particularly at a time when our own War on Terror continues to render language itself suspect.”

“Martin’s book, The Stick Soldiers, released in 2013, is filled with this kind of comédie noire, a knowing authority which seems deeply suspicious not only of its own attempts to reduce the war to language but also of the capacity of its civilian audience to comprehend this language.”

The review compares Martin to renowned author Brian Turner: “Both of these poets style themselves as reluctant witnesses to a historical event irreducible to language, an event that at once resists poeticization and yet, given the current vogue for veterans’ poetry, seems remarkably generative of it.”

Called “the most complex of these veteran poets,” Martin is noted for his “treatment of the War on Terror’s collateral damage … Rather than glossing over the violence elided by other veteran poets, Martin self-consciously renders his own titillated witness to this violence, suggesting the mediation implicit in any attempted witness to war … Martin gestures in these poems, as his fellow veteran poets rarely do, toward his own active yet self-critical participation in the War of Terror.”

It’s Dodge Poetry Festival weekend, and Hugh Martin will be a special guest, reading with a veterans’ writing group, and with Yusef Koumnyakaa and Brian Turner, on Saturday night (October 25). Don’t miss it! Click here for more details.

Click here to read the full Marginalia, Los Angeles Review of Books essay: “The Art of War Poetry.”

The Stick Soldiers is in stock at the BOA Bookstore.

October 10, 2014

AMRI looks at Michael Teig’s newest collection

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Michael Teig’s latest poetry collection, There’s a Box in the Garage You Can Beat with a Stick, has recently gotten the attention of American Microreviews and Interviews.

“As a means of interrogation, a book of poems can pose one or several questions … some questions are meant to drift in the background, unanswered, while others storm to the forefront, demanding replies.” Michael Teig’s poems, according to AMRI reviewer Laurie Young, contain both.

And, though attempting universal questions, and addressing themes as common and central as “the domestic, the environmental, and the animal,” his poems interrogate in a way that’s unique. Young praises the structure of Teig’s work, a chain with few weak links, saying: “Through their connectivity and juxtapositions, through their dexterous leaps of mind and perception, [these poems] rise from the page and occupy, in dazzling multiplicity, the unseen yet fully habitable rooms of consciousness, rooms writers and readers enter to consider questions guaranteeing at best transitory answers.”

Rather than dropping into the droning voice symptomatic of work involving itself with the all-too-real indeterminate quality of life, Teig pronounces such in a voice Young calls “vulnerable, humorous, and encouraging.” Human, perhaps in the way we most hope ourselves to be. Engaged with central questions (not just lofty ones), we are able to orient ourselves around them without losing sight of immediate needs.

Teig’s collection does not stagnate on this uncertainty, nor does it compel us to desperation. Instead, Young says: “The poems acknowledge powerlessness while demonstrating the power of—and inherent in—the imagination.” While questions have historically prompted us to look upwards at—as if through or into—the cosmos, Teig seems to suggest the wide expanse is here,  in the seemingly paper-thin spaces between things and the language we use to upholster them.

“Like nesting dolls or an Escher print, Teig’s macrocosm holds many systems, denying the existence of none.”

Laurie Young’s full review of Michael Teig’s collection can be found at American Microreviews and Interviews.

There’s a Box in the Garage You Can Beat with a Stick is available at the BOA Bookstore.

October 02, 2014

Publishers Weekly: In a Landscape ‘will woo readers’

 

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With “long, loose conversational lines” and a speaker “less concerned with results and technical prowess than the process of speaking (and living) itself,” John Gallaher’s In a Landscape is something of an “extended monologue,” according to a new Publishers Weekly review. The book-length poem, which has received much positive attention from the poetry world, “chronicles the questions, profundities, and crises of midlife, marriage, and fatherhood.”

PW says: “Childhood stories (from the time of Gallaher’s adoption and adolescence), provide a backbone for the poem, and round out a history of adversity, uncertainty, and ever-shifting identity.”

“Gallaher’s charm and wit, and the project’s breadth, will woo readers.”

Click here to read the full Publishers Weekly review of In a Landscape.

In a Landscape is now in stock at the BOA Bookstore.

October 01, 2014

Library Journal’s *starred* review of The Tao of Humiliation

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The praises keep rolling in for The Tao of Humiliation! Lee Upton’s newest fiction collection, and winner of the BOA Short Fiction Prize, received a new Library Journal *starred* review.

“This story collection by poet, novelist, and critic Upton takes its title from one of several winningly off-kilter stories set at a motivational rural retreat aimed toward breaking down the ego as a precursor to building it up.”

But it’s the pieces themselves, and their tellers, that are particularly notable. According to the review, the stories “proceed by indirection, with elements that cohere only after the fact and open up further surprises upon rereading.” And, despite the humorous tone in many of the book’s episodes, “Upton elicits tremendous sympathy on the part of the reader for these and other characters facing existential crises, often with great aplomb.”

Library Journal‘s verdict? “These well-imagined stories bear the mark of the poet in the best sense, and the reader will not soon forget them.”

Check your local library’s online catalog, or purchase The Tao of Humiliation directly from the BOA bookstore.

September 30, 2014

Copia is a ‘PW Pick: Book of the Week’

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Earlier this month, Publishers Weekly named Copia a Book of the Week in its weekly list of PW Picks! This honor places Erika Meitner in such company as novelists Joseph O’Neill and Ian McEwan, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and documentarian Ken Burns, among other writers chosen for the list.

Click here to see the entire list of PW Picks: Books of the Week.

Click here to read the Publishers Weekly starred review of Copia.

To order Copia, visit the BOA Bookstore.

September 16, 2014

Poet Lynn Domina reviews No Need of Sympathy

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In a new review of No Need of Sympathy by the poet Lynn Domina, Fleda Brown is praised as a  “skilled poet, [whose] skill is perhaps most evident in the fact that she wears it so lightly.”

Throughout the review, Domina discusses how Brown manages to mesh the technical structure of formal poetry with her own conceits, and to work with a unique plasticity of metaphor while carrying an air of nonchalance.

“All poems, I’m told, are love poems in one way or another,” says Domina. “And the object of all love poems is really the language in which it’s written. No Need of Sympathy is all about language, and imagination, and memory, and perspective. Perhaps these four nouns ultimately refer to the same thing, but the poems in this book are characterized by a playful variety that doesn’t boil down to just one thing. The poems often develop surprisingly, as one idea leads to another and then turns back on itself, so that one sometimes continues reading just to see where these words will go. More than many contemporary poets I read, Brown relies on rhyme and received form, but she does so subtly, as if the form were almost a coincidence.”

The review continues: “No Need of Sympathy is a collection that is clearly contemporary and yet understands its place in tradition; it is serious without being somber, playful without defaulting to the merely clever. The poems are set in specific geographic locations and often mention individual human beings, and their particularity succeeds in that paradox we hope for from literature, in reading of another to understand ourselves, ‘To let it be who you are.’”

Click here to read the full review by Lynn Domina.

No Need of Sympathy is available for purchase at the BOA Bookstore.

September 16, 2014

Entropy: The World Shared is ‘necessary poetry’

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In a new Entropy review, poet Anthony Seidman calls Dariusz Sosnicki’s The World Shared an “excellent translation into English from the Polish,” which is “marked by the tone of the ‘public poet’ … able to speak of social concerns, of communities, [of] epochs.”

“Sosnicki has loads of talent, and this volume offers North American readers entry into his necessary poetry.”

The epoch The World Shared introduces readers to is “lurching in the muck of crass consumerism, Google instead of the library, subpar hip-hop, and a ‘disastrous geopolitical situation.’” While the world Sosnicki captures is called “Audenesque,” these poems are concerned with incidents of contemporary life—taking place on public transit, voyeuristic scenes of a stairway, or the private and ordinary ridiculousness of the Middle Class.

The review likens The World Shared to a “danse macabre,” though this doesn’t preclude the poetry from also lighting on “the practical and necessary … the tangible grasp of what keeps one alive.”

“When the frail meat of humanity is exposed in these wonderful persona poems, the reader tastes the bitterness of a speaker out of Larkin, who works a long day, gets half-drunk, and wakes to the throbbing darkness, unable to sleep; yet the reader also tastes Larkin’s humor, and partakes in his weary but unshakeable commitment to the one life we’re given.”

According to the review, Sosnicki’s poetry–and its “mordant, yet humane tone”–is “successfully carried over into English by Piotr Florczyk and Boris Dralyuk.” Through this, “Sosnicki reaches out to each of us, tries to wipe the anonymity off our faces, and to recover, if not rescue us, as an archeologist recovers a mud-smeared amulet from a deep stratum.”

Click here to read the full Entropy review.

The World Shared is now in stock at the BOA Bookstore.

September 04, 2014

Douglas Watson on why fiction is ‘good at understanding life’

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In an interview by Lookout for its “House Guest” series, fiction author Douglas Watson (The Era of Not Quite, 2013) talks about his brief relationship with philosophy, and explains how fiction may be working for him as its substitute.

“I don’t know that much about philosophy,” says Watson, “but that doesn’t stop me from poking fun at philosophers in my fiction. Really, though, it’s my younger self I’m making fun of.”

Watson, who fell out of love with philosophy in Philosophy 101, says: “Philosophy, it turned out, was difficult and rather dry and quite possibly beside the point.” An urgent political climate during his college years left him feeling that “life…took place in the world, not just inside our skulls, and the world needed our help right now!”

In his short story “New Animal,” it’s no wonder that, with a range of philosophy from the hyper-rational Hume, to the romantic work of Kierkegaard, protagonist Van Roost can’t find satisfaction, and finds himself “troubled by the vague sense that he is ‘waiting for something’.” This is a feeling Watson himself knows “quite well.”

“But perhaps a restless sense that one is forever waiting for something is a good cast of mind for a fiction writer,” says Watson. “Like philosophy, fiction writing is a form of thinking. John Gardner would tell me it is the form I trust the most. I can’t make myself believe in some grand search for meaning anymore—as though the mind were Napoleon and truth were there to be won on the battlefield. If Plato was right about the unexamined life, well, okay, then let’s actually examine life, the messy stuff of experience. That messy stuff is what fiction is all about.”

It’s that “no one answer is definitively right,” and that “every character has a different take on things, a different set of questions and answers” that Watson finds most satisfying about fiction. “That is how life actually is, and that is why fiction is good at understanding life.”

Click here to read the full interview with Watson, “Why I Make Fun of Philosophers.”

Watson’s recent collection The Era of Not Quite is available at the BOA Bookstore.

September 04, 2014

PW *starred* review calls Bridge ‘linguistic tours de force’

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A new Publishers Weekly *starred* review is calling Robert Thomas’ Bridge a series of “linguistic tours de force,” full of “crisp, concise, emotionally explosive riffs … that together form an unsettling character study.”

“You’d pass her on the street and never notice Alice, who works in the word-processing department of a San Francisco law firm by day, and attends the opera, watches movies, or, home alone, listens to the voices in her head during off-hours. Alice leads her lonely life in what she calls the ‘Goldilocks Zone’: not too crazy, not too sane—a just-right (if tenuous) balance between calm and losing it.”

With monologues that are “alternately suicidal, murderous, funny, and vulnerable,” the review says “Thomas has a gift for using a minimum of words with maximum effect.”

Click here to read the full Publishers Weekly review of Bridge.

Bridge is now available for pre-order from the BOA Bookstore. Newly printed copies are available from BOA and will ship out immediately. Get your hands on it early!

August 28, 2014

Dine & Rhyme tickets on sale now – featuring Jillian Weise

 

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For tickets, contact Melissa Hall at hall@boaeditions.org, or 585.546.3410, ext. 11.