November 24, 2015

University of Rochester acquires BOA Editions publishing archives

BOA_SmallExhibit2015Small BOA exhibit currently on display at the university’s Rush Rhees Library.

As BOA Editions looks ahead to its 40th anniversary in 2016, the University of Rochester is also reaffirming its belief in the importance of BOA’s history and future. In 2005, the university acquired BOA’s 1996-2005 publishing archives, which include materials related to the publication of BOA books and the organization’s general operations. In 2016, the university will make a Finding Aid for these holdings available online, which will enable scholars to search, utilize, and focus their research on particular pieces of the complete BOA Publishing Archives. BOA is also proud to announce that the university just this year acquired the press’ 2006-2016 archives, thus becoming the largest repository of BOA materials. This important connection between organizations will be celebrated on the university’s campus in 2016 with BOA displays and exhibits, classroom presentations, and a group reading featuring 40 representatives from both the university and BOA communities.

From March 7 through July 29, 2016, the University of Rochester will join in BOA’s 40th anniversary celebration with an exhibition entitled BOA Editions: 40 Years of Connecting Writers with Readers, which will be held in Rush Rhees Library’s Friedlander Lobby.

According to Phyllis Andrews, Manuscript Librarian and Curator of Modern Literature Collections at the university, “This retrospective will explore BOA’s evolution over the years through an extensive display of BOA volumes published between 1977 and 2015. Selected typescripts, book and cover designs, correspondence between authors and editors, and BOA publicity samples—all drawn from the archives of BOA Editions acquired by the River Campus Libraries beginning in 2005–will reveal the lifecycle through which poetry and literature move from submission to published work.”

A small BOA exhibit is currently on display on the 2nd floor of Rush Rhees Library, as part of the Rare Books and Special Collections Department’s 2014-2015 Recent Acquisitions exhibition.

BOA Publisher Peter Conners says, “Whether scholars are interested in a particular author or in the daily operations of a small press that has thrived in American letters for 40 years, the University of Rochester’s BOA Publishing Archives house a wealth of research materials. Given our place in Rochester’s cultural landscape and the University of Rochester’s status as a venerable institution of higher learning, I can’t imagine a better place for BOA’s history to be housed, shared, and safeguarded.”

November 24, 2015

Library Journal Q&A with Devin Becker on SHAME | SHAME


Library Journal recently published a refreshingly candid Q&A with BOA poet Devin Becker, author of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize-winning collection Shame | Shame. The piece touches on a bit of everything, from inspiration to the MFA experience, to the nitty-gritty details of publishing a book.

When asked what inspired his debut collection, which humorously focuses on the everyday sort of shame born of small, socially clumsy moments in life, Becker says, “A lot of the things are mundane. Me and my coworkers sitting outside of a building having coffee, or my wife and I at a smoothie joint in a nearby town. And I think I started really paying attention to those moments that I hadn’t ever paid attention to before. Something awkward happens. Not terrible, but just a little bit off. And I would come back and really want to write about that. That’s the ‘Shame’ part. Some sort of invisible social cue being played. I thought that was an interesting way to write. To really describe, in minute detail, that moment.”

This focus on the mundane and socially awkward highlights Becker’s connection to his audience through devastatingly relatable writing–something that has always been important for Becker. “The real thing I learned [from teachers and mentors],” he says, “was the importance of considering the reader . . . That’s the goal. That’s the community you want to create –the reader-writer dynamic–and that’s what I’ve found is easily the most rewarding part of [writing] the book.”

Becker also remarks on his use of humor, saying the best poetry readings are the ones that are self-deprecating, where people laugh, which again displays his acute attention to the reader’s experience. “I do think comedy can get at some things, in a kind of sideways way, and give a reader a deeper examination of life and the different ways of being that people have.”

A large part of the Q&A delves into what it takes to put together a collection of poetry–how Becker went about choosing and cutting poems, how themes were developed, the process of line-by-line edits. In general, Becker describes it as “a gradual and organic process.” And once all of the editorial elements–both exciting and tedious–are gone through, “you get a big box of your own book at your door.”

For the complete Q&A with Devin Becker, head over to Library Journal.

And be sure to check out his engaging, humbling, and impeccably funny debut collection Shame | Shame, available at the BOA Bookstore.

November 20, 2015

Poets & Writers features Marsha de la O on ‘Writers Recommend’


Poets & Writers recently featured Marsha de la O in its “Writers Recommend” section, an online exclusive on all things inspiring to writers in their creative process. Here’s what de la O, author of the new Isabella Gardner Poetry Award-winning Antidote for Night, had to say:

“Begin with bleakness. Bring yourself to the bare room. Voices will assail you, reminding you how many times you’ve been hit on the head, hard, reminding you of the bad genes, the narrow valley in Bohemia where your ancestors left their lives as factory hands, as milk maids, with their natural and legitimate children in tow, and walked to Trieste and boarded ‘the big boat’ right out of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, out of history, out of the looming world war to give up their names at Ellis Island and live many long years, long enough for the mutation to work its will. Forget that. It has nothing to do with what you face. Your sirens will begin to sing electronically; your digital imps will call you personally, offer something you’ve never had and always wanted. Ignore them. The house is a shambles, your potted plants are parched, your Queen Charlotte violets cannot go another minute, the cat wants attention. Shine ’em on. Begin again with bleakness, with the bare room. You need stimulants, you need caffeinated beverages. This is totally allowed. Mr. Coffee is your only servant, your only friend. Bring yourself again to the bare room. Be prepared to stay.”

—Marsha de la O, author of Antidote for Night (BOA Editions, 2015)

Antidote for Night is available now at the BOA Bookstore!

November 20, 2015

ANTIDOTE FOR NIGHT called ‘beautiful and dark’


The Santa Barbara Independent recently published a compelling interview with David Starkey and Antidote for Night author Marsha de la O, exploring the new collection’s noir tendencies, de la O’s hypnotizing reading style, and her process of going from elementary school teacher to full-time poetry writer.

Antidote for Night is so rich with imagery and characters and incident. It’s a beautiful book, but it’s also very dark,” says Starkey.

De la O contrasts topics on themes of darkness and her seer-like reading voice with light, congenial, and insightful humor–even imagining her book being read by Philip Marlowe in a Raymond Chandler novel. When asked about her tendency toward the darker side of life, de la O keenly remarks, “Regarding dark material, I believe that any poet writes what he or she has been given. This is my material because this is what I was given. It’s important to regard the totality of your life as a gift, and important for me personally as a writer to feel that any experience can be rendered.”

Click here to read the complete interview, and be sure to grab your copy of Antidote for Night at the BOA Bookstore.

November 18, 2015

Two BOA authors accept prestigious national awards


These past few months have been a whirlwind of exciting awards news for BOA authors and titles!

On Friday, October 23, poet Geffrey Davis (Revising the Storm, 2014) attended the 2015 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award ceremony in Washington, DC, where he was honored with the 2015 Hurston/Wright Finalist Award for poetry. Only one winner and one finalist were selected for each category.

The 2015 poetry judges were Chris Abani, Alison Joseph, and Monica Hand. Here is what they have to say about Revising the Storm: “A finely wright meditative collection that calls to mind poets such as Carl Phillips and Jay Wright—yet, with his own concerns, and his own elegant phrasing. There’s a classic feel to his poetry—yet he doesn’t feel staid or stodgy in his lines or stanzas. It is a book that wears its poetic finesse lightly.”

Just this past Monday, November 16, author Robert Thomas (Bridge, 2014) accepted his 2015 PEN Center USA Literary Award for Fiction at the 25th annual Literary Awards Festival in Beverly Hills.

A judges’ statement by Cynthia Sweeney, Melanie Thorne, and Andrew Tonkovich says: “In Bridge, Robert Thomas constructs, with urgency and crackling, unrelenting energy, a story told with the contradictory self-doubt and wild self-awareness of a bright, sardonic, and potentially self-destructive young woman. Even as we appreciate her tenuous existential dilemma, Alice’s vivid internal construction of an overwhelming worldview in short diaristic episodes seems, in its very creation, to keep her alive. Considering how easily readers might have felt claustrophobic within, or limited by Alice’s point of view—interior, unraveling—it is singularly impressive that Thomas manages—through the beauty of his prose, sophistication of his references, and propulsive energy of Alice’s mind—to connect the reader, and the narrator’s struggle, with the outside world. Although Alice’s beautiful and dangerous estrangement is entirely and selfishly her own, it becomes ours, and teaches us something larger and universal. This novel is an experiential wonder, giddy and joyful reading via the desperate empathy it both demands and models. The digressive, perfectly choreographed role of docent to everyday madness, as played by our heroine, is a brave pleasure in word and sentence, a totally pleasing combination of narrator and authorial, artistic self-control, and vividly evocative self-consciousness.”

Congratulations to both Geffrey and Robert on these tremendous achievements!

Revising the Storm and Bridge are both available at the BOA Bookstore.

November 13, 2015

FANNY SAYS is a Library Journal Best Book of 2015


Library Journal has named Nickole Brown’s Fanny Says a Best Book of 2015 for Poetry!

According to LJ Editor Henrietta Verma: “We agonized, we discussed, we pondered, and most of all we read, read, read. The results are below: lists of what the LJ Reviews team can honestly say are the best titles published in 2015. They include a Top Ten list of the most outstanding titles of the year, both fiction and nonfiction; followed by ‘More of the Best,’—the titles that we just couldn’t let go of although they didn’t make it to the top ten; and the best of a variety of genres, from poetry to arts and crafts . . . I hope you’ll enjoy these titles as much as we enjoyed picking them.”

An “unleashed love song” to her late grandmother, Nickole Brown’s collection brings her brassy, bawdy, tough-as-new-rope grandmother to life. With hair teased to Jesus, mile-long false eyelashes, and a white Cadillac Eldorado with atomic-red leather seats, Fanny is not your typical granny rocking in a chair. Instead, think of a character that looks a lot like Eva Gabor in Green Acres, but darkened with a shadow of Flannery O’Connor. A cross-genre collection that reads like a novel, Fanny Says is both a collection of oral history and a lyrical and moving biography that wrestles with the complexities of the South, including poverty, racism, and domestic violence.

Nickole Brown grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and Deerfield Beach, Florida. Her first collection, Sister, was published by Red Hen Press in 2007. She received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts, studied literature at Oxford University, and was the editorial assistant for the late Hunter S. Thompson. She is the Editor for the Marie Alexander Series in Prose Poetry at White Pine Press, and lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, with her wife, poet Jessica Jacobs.

Click here to see Library Journal‘s complete list of Best Books of 2015 for Poetry.

Fanny Says is available now at the BOA Bookstore.

November 13, 2015

Ron Slate calls FANNY SAYS ‘cross-genre with a purpose’


Poet and critic Ron Slate has written an in-depth review of Nickole Brown’s 2015 collection Fanny Says. Focusing on Brown’s language, form, and personal stake in her writing, Slate calls the collection “cross-genre with a purpose.” 

“Although the poems illuminate Fanny’s life and behavior, Fanny Says is an acknowledgement and appreciation of an inheritance, the poet’s striving ‘to keep alive a fierce and singular part of myself that lives only through her,’ as Brown remarked in an interview . . . Fanny Says is animated by the elemental principles of presence–the unique habits of an individual and the flaring of its influence through language.”

Fanny Says resists categorization and nostalgia. According to the review, “Brown isn’t a sentimentalist nor does she dismiss ambiguity for some muzzy unifying principle. What Fanny says and how she says it are paramount here . . . The granddaughter honors the matriarch not through emulation but observation immune to the typical acids of generational judgment. The child learned early to exert her own self by being one’s own difference among differences. As one of the poems’ governing co-presences, she underscores her own interests–sound, tone, story, and the habits of honest work with words . . . Converted into language for the telling, each piece assumes its own shape.

“Richly conceived, Fanny Says is dense with material yet welcoming in its spirited shape-shifting.”

The complete review is available at

Fanny Says is currently available at the BOA Bookstore.

October 29, 2015

NBC News highlights Gonzalez’s BEAUTIFUL WALL


In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, NBC News has included Ray Gonzalez’s new book, Beautiful Wall, on its list of “10 New Books by Established Latino Authors.”

According to reviewer Rigoberto González, Beautiful Wall allows “the reader to experience this expansive American terrain through [its] image-driven verse.”

“The U.S.-Mexico border,” the review continues, “is where histories and stories converge, not always pleasant but not always tragic, and certainly worth considering. Magic awaits the keen observer, the careful listener.”

Along with other authors on the list, including Sandra Cisneros, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Luis Alberto Urrea, and U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, Gonzalez is called a “prominent writer” who helped produce “the foundational texts that shape the Latino literary canon.”

See the complete list of “10 New Books by Established Latino Authors” at

Discover more of Gonazalez‘s works, including Beautiful Wall, at the BOA Bookstore.

October 29, 2015

Library Journal says BEAUTIFUL WALL is ‘lush with empathy’

Library Journal is again praising Ray Gonzalez’s new poetry collection Beautiful Wall. In June, LJ named Gonzalez a “Key Poet to Discover and Rediscover,” saying that “this latest collection, set in the sun-scorched desert region, perches on the wall between Gonzalez’s Mexican heritage and American upbringing and investigates all that entails.”

In a new LJ review, Doris Lynch calls the poems in Beautiful Wall “rich with cultural identity and blessed with a sense of place.”

The review mentions the sense of “journey” felt throughout the collection, while also noting how “nature becomes a breathing presence.” Lynch adds that “several poems pay tribute to the author’s nephew, a veteran, whose PTSD contributed to his death,” and gives special praise to “a ten-part poem that features Jack Kerouac and his mother at the Mexican border,” which “humorously describes Jack having a drug experience while showing his mom the sights.”

LJ’s verdict? “Gonzalez has a way of combining the mystical with the everyday and nature with the world of the family to produce poems lush with empathy.”

Read the entire Library Journal review in its September Issue.

Find Beautiful Wall and other works by Ray Gonzalez at the BOA Bookstore.

October 29, 2015

Booklist praises ‘unique vision and voice’ of BEAUTIFUL WALL


A new review from Booklist‘s Diego Báez praises BOA author Ray Gonzalez and “his invaluable role in American literature.”

The review focuses on Gonzalez’s new book, Beautiful Wall, his seventh collection of poetry from BOA Editions. “Gonzalez, a celebrated and prolific poet, delivers another rich volume of exquisite verse, focusing on the beauty and ambiguity of walls, both literal and  metaphorical.” Báez notes that Gonzalez’s speaker “considers the epidemic of violence that plagues the U.S.-Mexico border,” but also “balances this severity with a roster of creative beacons, referring often to artists and authors from around the globe.”

The result of this “balance,” says Báez, is “an international tapestry of inspiration, including Chilean polymath Nicanor Parra, German language lyricist Paul Celan, and Argentine avant-gardist Julio Cortázar.”

Cultivating a “unique vision and voice,” Gonzalez’s world in Beautiful Wall is at times viciously real, yet also “infused with mythos and ritual, whether it’s a pilgrim finding respite inside the refreshing sanctuary of a cathedral’s shade, or a tourist inspecting ancient ruins.”

The review concludes: “Along with such fellow Chicano poets as Alberto Ríos and Juan Felipe Herrera, Gonzalez continues his invaluable role in American literature.”

Check out Beautiful Wall (and much more from Ray Gonzalez) at the BOA Bookstore!