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.

June 25, 2015

Sean Thomas Dougherty receives Lifetime Poetry Award

Award winner_Dougherty

On Friday, June 19, BOA Poet Sean Thomas Dougherty was awarded a Lifetime of Achievement recognition by Erie, PA, literary institution Poet’s Hall. Poet’s Hall founder Cee Williams writes: “With more than a dozen collections to his credit, the award-winning poetry of Sean Thomas Dougherty has drawn national attention to our scene. And so, we celebrate him with the highest honor we can bestow: our 2015 Lifetime of Poetry Achievement Award.”

Also honored at the ceremony was Erie poet Berwyn Moore for her work for the community, and three high school poets who won a contest that Dougherty judged. Poet’s Hall is a community based literary organization founded five years ago by Cee Williams. The award is cosponsored by Erie Civitas and Mercyhurst University.

For more than 20 years, Sean Thomas Dougherty has negotiated between modernist and avant-garde writing and more populist traditions that extend back to Walt Whitman. His subject matter ranges from basketball to Björk, from blue collar workers to Biggie Smalls, from Luciano Pavarotti to women waiting at a diner outside a prison in Upstate New York. Selecting from the best of eight previous collections, his latest book All You Ask for Is Longing reveals the powerful arc and development of Dougherty’s writing and establishes him as a voice of dissent for the future.

Dougherty received a beautiful glass engraved trophy which he called “prettier than all my pool plaques and medals put together!”

Congratulations, Sean!

June 22, 2015

The Academy calls Waldrep’s TESTAMENT ‘erudite and glittering’


The Academy of American Poets recently reviewed G.C. Waldrep’s new collection Testament, offering high praise and a proverbial thumbs up to the poet’s language and style.

“Capitalism, notions of gender, and language itself are critiqued and examined throughout . . . Erudite and glittering, Waldrep’s language consists of Ashberian non sequiturs that are sonically lush and often nature-related.”

In this book-length poem, Waldrep addresses matters as diverse as Mormonism, cymatics, race, Dolly the cloned sheep, and his own life and faith. Drafted over twelve trance-like days while in residence at Hawthornden Castle, Waldrep responds to such poets as Alice Notley, Lisa Robertson, and Carla Harryman, and tackles the question of whether gender can be a lyric form. Intimately autobiographical, Waldrep’s fifth book masterly takes its own place in the American tradition of the long poem.

The review concludes, “In dialogue with the historic tradition of the American long poem, Waldrep’s contribution to that tradition is elliptical, political, and memorable.”

Click here for the Academy‘s full review.

Testament can be purchased in the BOA Bookstore.

June 19, 2015

Publishers Weekly calls SMUGGLERS ‘engaging, accessible, eye-opening’


Publishers Weekly recently reviewed BOA’s new translation Smugglers, with poems by Aleš Debeljak, translated from the Slovenian by Brian Henry.

“Debeljak’s insistence on formal consistency, humor, and adherence to his subject, along with translator Henry’s efforts at retaining his syntactical and cultural idiosyncrasies, put the personal, and traditional, experience of those historical events at the forefront of this collection. A troubled national history and the continuing traumas of a young nation may well strike readers as the heart of the collection.”

The review continues, “Set in various locations around his home city, Ljubljana, this series of tonally folksy, yet formally rigid, long-lined poems (each in four quatrains) echoes with the mingling of historical and personal intimacies that haunts the speaker at every turn.”

“Debeljak’s engaging, accessible, eye-opening poems turn cultural dislocation into its own strange pleasure.”

Click here to read the full Publishers Weekly review.

Smugglers is available at the BOA Bookstore 

June 19, 2015

LARB calls Que Mai ‘one of Vietnam’s foremost contemporary poets’


Reviewer Madeleine Kruhley offers high praise for The Secret of Hoa Sen, written by Nguyen Phan Que Mai and translated by the author and Bruce Weigl, in a recent review by the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Kruhley endorses Mai’s ability to maintain a sense of confidence among the shadow of situation: “While there are dark, gritty elements at play, Que Mai’s work does not lose itself to despair. She crafts subtleties in sentiment without being overly sentimental.”

This collection of poems is riddled with honest moments, illustrating the intimacy associated with cultural elements of Vietnam, whose “secrets are intrinsic to geography.”

“By embedding a culture’s bygone songs in her poem, Que Mai carries both the weight (and gifts) of mango and plum to the reader, along with the wealth of a native literary tradition. The voice of the past shadows those of our modern-day street sellers, who draw strength from the words of ancestors, like water from the well. There is a collective here, of women who struggle to feed families, who must tolerate great physical strain. The past sings, and Que Mai shares it with us — a token of hope.”

Click here to read the full review.

Order your own copy of The Secret of Hoa Sen from the BOA Bookstore today!

Posted by under: Book Reviews