May 20, 2015

Robin McLean keeps national book tour blog

Image courtesy of the Gates Public Library

Currently on an extensive national book tour in celebration of her BOA Short Fiction Prize-winning book Reptile House, BOA author Robin McLean visited Rochester this week for a book reading and discussion at the Gates Public Library. Traveling to 30+ cities within more than 15 states over the next several months, Robin McLean is keeping a Book Tour Blog, “Fish Obituaries,” to document her readings and travels. Below is her most recent post from her visit to Rochester.

FISH OBITUARIES — an anti-bloggers’s blog

TOUR BLOG POST #6: The Epicenter

ROCHESTER, NY: Re: The Discussion and Reading of Reptile House / how / why we write / create / live / love / suffer / act like weirdos when at first we seem so normal. All this in the room to the left as you enter the Gates Public Library. Ate one banana before for nerves while Mel smoked a secret cigarette. Good crowd. These people had DONE THEIR HOMEWORK, as in had read the reading in advance. Had questions ready. Almost an ambush except that I WROTE “Cold Snap” so if there were any answers, I had them. Actually this writers group had tons of answers. Thank you for reading, for connecting, for taking the time to come and talk.

Thank you to the Judy MacKnight and Lindsey Reber of Mount Holyoke Club of the Genesee Valley. They set this whole thing up. I’m grateful.

Thank to the Liz and Jim Patton for putting up with me, feeding me, giving me a free ticket to the Eastman House, and letting me watch the last episode of Mad Men with them (Liz). Wonderful.

Rochester is a beautiful town. I love all the cameras at the Eastman House, the old man’s double/imbedded organs–wow–and excellent postcards in the gift shop.

BOA–awesome–see you again soon. More fun than I deserve.

Coming soon: a Fish Obits exclusive, “White Bras Only” by John McLean, worth waiting for.

NEXT STOP: Harvard Bookstore with Launch Lab comrade Stephanie Kegan and Sylvia True. May 21 @ 7.

Click here to view Robin McLean’s extensive book tour, and where she’ll be reading at a venue near you.

Follow Robin McLean’s Book Tour Blog, “Fish Obituaries,” at

Reptile House is available now at the BOA Bookstore!

May 12, 2015

Fjords Review calls REVISING THE STORM ‘striking, refreshing’


Geffrey Davis’ Revising the Storm recently received high praises from Fjords Review. Reviewer LynleyShimat Lys offers a thoughtful and meditative approach to the winner of the 2013 A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize.

“What is most striking about the poems, individually and as a group, is their ability to maintain calm in the constant flux of the stormy weather they and their narrators inhabit. Davis takes us through the liminal spaces between experience and memory, compels us to listen as stories unfold, and reminds us to be mindful of silence and breath as landscapes spin out of control.”

The review continues, “through his positioning of the narrators and his use of pause, breath, and silence, he is able to give us the full impact of these stories in a way that lets the stories speak for themselves and make themselves heard . . . these poems hover in liminal spaces to teach us anew about living, listening, and the tenor of silence.”

Click here to read the full review.

Revising the Storm is available now at the BOA Bookstore.

May 08, 2015

Booklist reviews FANNY SAYS and SHAME | SHAME


Two of BOA’s newest poetry titles, Nickole Brown’s Fanny Says and Devin Becker’s Shame | Shame, recently received outstanding Booklist reviews.

Calling Fanny Says “poignant, funny, and utterly real,” Booklist says: “After the loss of a loved one, people have a tendency to narrow memory’s lens to focus solely on the person’s best qualities. It’s more rare to find someone both remembering and appreciating the whole of a person. . . . Fanny’s tone and inflection come alive through the series of poems based on her actual words. And through Brown’s vivid, honest, and surprisingly nonjudgmental reflections, we develop, page by page, a mental image of her grandmother in the mid-twentieth-century South and can’t help but enjoy the  process of getting to know Frances Lee Cox. While this collection honors Fanny’s span of years on this planet and her impact on her granddaughter, it also showcases the writer’s humor, insight, and poetic gifts.”

A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize-winning Shame | Shame is called an “engaging” collection of “miniature stories” about human embarrassment and awkward encounters. “These pieces’ predicaments are the likes of having the woman you’ve made love with in the night plop on your lap in the morning in front of your unsuspecting friends, feeling sexual tension between yourself and a teenager at a nearly deserted workout center on New Year’s Eve, and being a small guy in a sports bar full of bruisers who has to ask about the shot placed before him—almost painfully familiar circumstances, all. Besides prose poetry, Becker has also mastered e. e. cummings’ skinny, crawl-down-the-page poem, to similar, gotta-read-it-again effect.”

Both Fanny Says and Shame | Shame are available at the BOA Bookstore.

May 08, 2015

Gwarlingo calls FANNY SAYS ‘searing, courageous’


“Reading Nickole Brown’s new book of poems, Fanny Says, is like being introduced to someone you never want to let go, the kind of fierce, tender, acerbic, complicated woman who will snag you by your scruff and tell you what you don’t want to hear, and—in the next breath—what you need to hear,” says a new Gwarlingo review.

In these “searing, courageous” poems which are “part persona, part personal narrative . . . Brown writes a vivid portrait of a woman who never really learned to read or write— the two things to thumb through in Fanny’s house were the Bible and Cosmopolitan magazine. Fanny appears as the antithesis of the cardboard cutout of sweet grandma: she is a racist whose best friend is Bernie May, a black woman who cleans her house; her husband abuses her and yet you feel they love each other fiercely.”

According to the review, “there is a look-you-right-in-eye tone of these unself-censored poems,” by which “Brown invokes Grace Paley: good writing is scrubbing all the lies out.”

“One morning I sat at my kitchen counter with Fanny Says, losing track of time and other demands,” says reviewer Janlori Goldman. “I turned page after page until I came to the end, having chuckled out loud, teared up, felt my stomach in a roil, and eventually envy for Nickole Brown for having been raised, in part, by Fanny. It’s not the kind of love that is without condition, constraint or blind spots . . . but it is unwavering, full of edgy wit, and red-hot.”

Click here to for the full Gwarlingo review: “The Sunday Poem: Nickole Brown’s ‘Fanny Says.’”

Fanny Says is available now at the BOA Bookstore!

May 07, 2015

DERRICK AUSTIN wins 2015 A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize


We are pleased to announce that Derrick Austin is the winner of the 14th annual A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize for his collection Trouble the Water! The collection was selected from nearly 500 manuscript submissions by National Book Award-winning poet Mary Szybist. Austin will receive a $1,500 honorarium and book publication by BOA Editions, Ltd. in spring 2016 within the A. Poulin, Jr. New Poets of America series.

Of the winning collection, Mary Szybist says, “‘Expect poison of the standing water,’ Blake warned, highlighting the dangers of imaginative stagnation. I’m now tempted to believe that Blake himself has sent us Derrick Austin and his remarkable collection, Trouble the Water. At once gospel and troubadour song, these deeply spiritual and expansively erotic poems are lucid, unflinching, urgent. This is an extraordinary debut.”

Two finalists were also selected by Szybist: Binary Stars by Dana Koster and Novena by Jacques J. Rancourt.

Derrick Austin is a Cave Canem fellow and earned his MFA from the University of Michigan where he was awarded a Hopwood Award in graduate poetry. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best American Poetry 2015, Image: A Journal of Arts and Religion, New England Review, Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review, The Paris-American, Memorious, and other journals and anthologies. He is the Social Media Coordinator for The Offing.

BOA Editions will accept manuscripts for the 15th annual A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize between August 1 and November 30, 2015. An entry form and fee are required. Guidelines for the 2016 A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize are available on the contest submissions page.

Congratulations and welcome to the BOA family, Derrick!

May 04, 2015

Arkansas Times: Poetry power couple discusses books, writing, the future

(Nickole Brown and Jessica Jacobs read from their new books at Iowa City’s Prairie Lights Bookstore | Video courtesy of Poets & Writers)

In a recent Arkansas Times interview with BOA’s Nickole Brown (Fanny Says, 2015), and her wife, poet Jessica Jacobs, the poetry power couple discuss “their books, their writing lives, and the future.”

Both of them women, writers, and professors of writing, Brown and Jacobs dive into their shared creative experience of the difficulties they face writing during the semester: “As a professor, my first obligation is to my students,” says Brown, “and if I give them what they need for their own writing, I rarely have time for my own. It’s just the way it is, and I don’t resent it. While the university is in session, I’ll scratch down a note here and there; I’ll write down ideas that I generally won’t be able to attend to until May, really. It’s very different than summer, when almost all my days are spent writing.” Jacobs adds, “In a way, the semester feels like a period of gestation. . . . Right now, we’re a month away from summer; I can just feel everything I want to write building, which is exciting.”

Working together, yet separate, Jacobs discusses how the two spend mornings and early afternoons in silence, allowing them to “enter a creative space.”

“During those blissful [summer] days, we’re unhindered by other responsibilities,” says Brown, “we’ll wake early and go outside, explore whatever woods are nearby. Jessica will run, and I like to shuffle my way along a trail. We’ll go out for six or seven miles, come back, have breakfast, and read for a few hours. Then we spend the rest of the late afternoon and evening pushing words around the page.”

Looking to the future, the two discuss their plan to become full-time writers: “This life choice? Well, we made it because simply, this is it,” Says Brown. “We want to give this writing thing a shot. If it doesn’t work, I’ll return to the job market, and that’s fine. But at least I’ll know I tried to be a writer full time. The key thing is that Jessica and I have each other. We have a vision of what we want and how we want to live, and we’ve got to take this chance.”

Click here for the full Arkansas Times interview.

Fanny Says is now available at the BOA Bookstore.

May 01, 2015

Library Journal gives FANNY SAYS starred review


Nickole Brown’s new collection Fanny Says, has been bright in the recent spotlight, and for good reason.

Receiving a starred review from Library Journal, Brown’s second collection “tells the story, without sentimentality or cliché, of her grandmother Fanny,” and does so “in a voice that is both authentic and colloquial.”

“At the heart of these lyric hybrids (epistolaries, monologs, and other poetic celebrations) is language, the language of communication, the language of shared heritage,” says Library Journal.  “These are poems of survival—and sometimes advice. It’s rare to find a book of poems that reads like a well-plotted page-turner, each poem propelling the reader into the next, each poem filled with story and song. This is that book.”

Library Journal‘s verdict? “Bawdy and real, this volume will stay with readers long after Fanny has had her final say.”

Click here to read the full Library Journal review.

Fanny Says is now in stock at the the BOA Bookstore.

May 01, 2015

Poet Lore: BRIDGE is ‘densely figurative and psychologically precise’


In a recent review on authors’ first books, Poet Lore takes a close look at Robert Thomas’ new fiction book Bridge. Although Thomas has published previous works of poetry, Bridge is his first published work of fiction. “First books offer the promise of freshness, innovation, and surprise … It’s a rite of passage, that debut, and for a reader it can be a delight,” says reviewer Mary-Sherman Willis.

“The speaker is Alice, in her early thirties, a legal secretary in a San Francisco law firm (as is Thomas), with an obsessive crush on a married co-worker, David, and a paranoid fear of her boss, Fran. … But this character, whose intelligence and perceptive apparatus operate in high gear, is deeply credible, unreliable as she might be as a narrator. In densely figurative and psychologically precise language that reminds me of the novelist Nicholson Baker, Thomas manages the interstices of Alice’s thoughts and feelings as they pivot around the gun she buys and what she might do with it.”

According to the review, Bridge, “which the novelist-poet Laura Kasischke called ‘entirely new, shockingly strange, and strangely traditional’—has all the marks of a poet’s creation.”

Bridge is available now at the BOA Bookstore.

April 21, 2015

Erez Bitton wins Israel ‘Nobel’ Prize in Literature


Renowned Israeli poet Erez Bitton is the 2015 recipient of the Israel Prize in Literature. Bitton, whose bilingual translation You Who Cross My Path is forthcoming from BOA Editions in fall 2015, is the first poet of Mizrahi descent to win this prestigious prize, known widely as the Israeli Nobel Prize.

“The five books of poetry [Bitton] published… are the epitome of courageous dealings,” wrote the Israel Prize committee, “sensitive and deep with a wide range of personal and collective experiences centered around the pain of migration, planting roots in the country and the reestablishment of the Mizrahi identity as an integral part of the overall Israeli portrait.”

Translated from the Hebrew by Tsipi Keller, BOA’s forthcoming You Who Cross My Path is the first U.S. publication of Erez Bitton, one of Israel’s most celebrated poets. The collection recalls the fate of Moroccan Jewish culture with poems both evocative and pure. Considered the founding father of Mizrahi Israeli poetry, a major tradition in the history of Hebrew poetry, Bitton’s bilingual collection dramatically expands the scope of biographical experience and memory, ultimately resurrecting a vanishing world and culture.

Blinded as a child by a stray hand grenade he found near his home in Lod, Erez Bitton spent much of his childhood in Jerusalem’s School for the Blind. His first two books, A Moroccan Offering (1976) and The Book of Na’na (1979), established him as the founding father of Mizrahi poetry in Israel—the first poet to take on the conflict between North African immigrants and the Ashkenazi society, and the first to use Judeo-Arabic dialect in his poetry. He is the recipient of numerous other awards, including the Bialik Prize for Lifetime Achievement (2014). Bitton currently lives in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Click here for The Jerusalem Post, for more on the Israel Prize.

You Who Cross My Path is available for pre-order at the BOA Bookstore.

April is National Poetry Month! Now through April 30, get FREE SHIPPING on any BOA Bookstore order(s)!

April 21, 2015

REVISING THE STORM a nominee for Hurston/Wright Legacy Award


Geffrey Davis’ Revising the Storm (BOA, 2014) is a nominee for the 2015 HURSTON/WRIGHT LEGACY AWARD for Poetry, from the Hurston/Wright Foundation.

“The Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards annually honor published works of fiction, nonfiction and poetry by Black writers published in the previous year. Recognized as a singular award from the Black writing community to its peers, the Legacy Awards each year recognizes members of the national and international Black writing community.” The winners of the 2015 Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards for Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry will be announced on October 23, 2015, in Washington, D.C.

“By honoring these authors, [the foundation recognizes] the profound significance, necessity, and genius of Black writers and the stories they tell.”

Revising the Storm is among five other Poetry nominees for the 2015 award, including We Didn’t Know Any Gangsters by Brian Gilmore (Cherry Castle Publishing); Digest by Gregory Pardlo (Four Way Books); The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon by Willie Perdomo (Penguin Books); Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine (Graywolf Press); and King Me by Roger Reeves (Copper Canyon Press).

The Poetry judges for the 2015 award were Chris Abani, Monica Hand, and Allison Joseph.


The Hurston/Wright Foundation is a literary organization that discovers, educates, develops, and mentors Black writers at pivotal stages of their literary aspirations.

The Hurston/Wright Legacy Award is the first national award presented to published writers of African descent by the national community of Black writers. This award consists of prizes for the highest quality writing in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry.

Revising the Storm is available at the BOA Bookstore.