Poetry

Announcing “In the Language of My Captor” now available in paperback!

Finalist for the 2017 National Book Award for Poetry

“[McCrae’s] language remains as stark as the perdurable, terrible history it contains—a history that is not over yet.”
—Stephanie Burt, New York Times Book Review

Acclaimed poet Shane McCrae’s latest collection, In the Language of My Captornow available in paper, is a book about freedom told through stories of captivity. In it, historical persona poemsand a prose memoir address the illusory freedom of both black and white Americans. McCrae explores the role mass entertainment plays in oppression, and he interrogates the infrequently examined connections between racism and love.

Shane McCrae is the author of four other books of poetry, including The Animal Too Big to Kill, Mule, Forgiveness Forgiveness, and Blood.

April 2, 2019
108 pp., 9 x 6″
Paperback, $14.95 9780819577122
Cloth, $24.95 9780819577115

Announcing “Extra Hidden Life, among the Days” now available in paperback!

Poetry of grief and sustenance from an award-winning poet

“Just dazzling: how the world, the mind, and emotion are bound into that affecting, meditative, and poignant system of phrases. When I read lines as sharp as these are lexically, semantically, syntactically, and rhythmically, I fall in love with American poetry again.”
—Forrest Gander, New York Journal of Books

Building on her groundbreaking quartet of books about the earth’s elements, Brenda Hillman’s Extra Hidden Life, among the Days features new poems that are both plain and transcendent. This is poetry as a discipline of love and service to the world, whose lines shepherd us through grief and into an ethics of active resistance. A free reader’s companion is available online.

Brenda Hillman is an activist, writer, editor, and teacher. Hillman serves on the faculty of Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, California.

April 2, 2019
152 pp., 9 x 6″
Paperback, $14.95 9780819578945
Cloth, $24.95 9780819578051

Q & A with Mary Kathryn Nagle on Native Theater and YIPAP

Mary Kathryn Nagle contributed a powerful original essay to introduce Wesleyan’s new theater volume, Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light: A Play by Joy Harjo and a Circle of Responses. Her essay is entitled “Joy Harjo’s Wings: A Revolution on the American Stage.” Nagle explains how negative and demeaning representations of Native people in popular culture are not without consequence to Native people. She writes:

“Redface was purposefully created to tell a false, demeaning story. Redface constitutes a false portrayal of Native people—most often performed by non–Natives wearing a stereotypical ‘native’ costume that bears no relation to actual Native people, our stories, our struggles, or our survival in a country that has attempted to eradicate us. The continued dominant perception that American Indians are the racial stereotypes they see performed on the American stage is devastating to our sovereign rights to define our own identity. Of course, that’s why it was invented.”

Join Joy Harjo & Priscilla Page at the Yale Center for British Art, March 5, 4PM.

Nagle is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation. She currently serves as executive director of the Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program (YIPAP)—who are sponsoring Joy Harjo and Priscilla Page’s visit to Yale on Tuesday, March 5th. She is also a partner at Pipestem Law, PC, where she works to protect tribal sovereignty and the inherent right of Indian Nations to protect their women and children from domestic violence and sexual assault. Curious to learn more about YIPAP, I asked Mary Kathryn some questions about the program, and Native theater in general. Here are her answers:

Q. How long has YIPAP been existence? Can you tell me a little about how the department came to be?
A. YIPAP was formed in 2015, following the performance of SLIVER OF A FULL MOON at Yale Law School. Professor Ned Blackhawk noted that several of the Native students were moved and inspired when they witnessed professional Native actors, alongside Native women survivors, sharing Native stories in a play. Because Native people hardly ever see authentic Native people on stage, this one performance was very impactful. Professor Blackhawk wanted to sustain this work and give students exposure to professional Native performing artists, while also assisting with the development of Native artists more broadly in the field. This is the work YIPAP has been dedicated to.

Q. What do you envision for YIPAP, moving forward?
A. We hope to expand our programing and partnerships in order to bring more Native artists to college campuses and tribal communities to work directly with youth.

Q. What would you like to say about “Native Theater” as a concept? Misconceptions? Relevancy? How long it’s actually been around? How is it different than Non-Native theater?
A. I think the biggest misconception today about Native theater is that somehow our stories do not appeal or are not relevant to non-Natives. Powerful stories are powerful stories. Good stories are good stories. Just like the stories of ALL of the other communities that comprise the United States today, our stories are universal in their humanity and always relevant to the issues everyone faces today.

Nagle has authored numerous briefs in federal appellate courts, including the United States Supreme Court. She studied theater and social justice at Georgetown University as an undergraduate student, and received her JD from Tulane University Law School, where she graduated summa cum laude and received the John Minor Wisdom Award. She is a frequent speaker at law schools and symposia across the country. Her articles have been published in law review journals including the Harvard Journal of Law and Gender, Yale Law Journal (online forum), Tulsa Law Review, and Tulane Law Review, among others. Nagle is an alum of the 2012 Public Theater Emerging Writers Group, where she developed her play Manahatta in Public Studio (May 2014). Productions include Miss Lead  (Amerinda, 59E59, January 2014) and Fairly Traceable  (Native Voices at the Autry, March 2017). Upcoming productions include Arena Stage’s world premiere of Sovereignty, Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s world premiere of Manahatta, and others.

Announcing “Oxota”

Experimental Poetic Fiction Modeled on Pushkin’s Evgeny Onegin

“It is a deep pleasure to reopen this book, a book of estrangement, of fragmentation, of scattered light and scattered speech, of bridges of sense cast over waters of foreignness. Oxota records a trusting encounter between two poetries across cultural difference unimaginable today.” —Eugene Ostashevsky, editor of Arkadii Dragomoshchenko’s Endarkenment

 

Between 1983 and 1991 author Lyn Hejinian visited the USSR seven times, often staying with her friends the poet Arkadii Dragomoshchenko and his wife Zina in Leningrad. She decided to write a novel reflecting her experiences of literary and lived life in Leningrad and Moscow, and cognizant of a general sense that the Russian novel is stereotypically “long,” she determined that hers would be “short.” The result is an experimental novel whose structure (284 chapters, each 14 lines long) pays homage to Alexander Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin (generally regarded to be the first Russian novel: a verse novel composed in 14-line stanzas). Oxota (which means variously “huntress,” “hunt,” and “desire” in Russian) is a novel in which contexts, rather than contents, are kept in the foreground.

LYN HEJINIAN is a poet, essayist, teacher and translator. She is John F. Hotchkis professor of English at the University of California at Berkeley

March 5, 2019
292 pp. 6 x 8″
Paperback, $18.95 978-0-8195-7876-1

Announcing “The Work-Shy” now available in paperback!

Wesleyan is pleased to announce that BLUNT RESEARCH GROUP’s The Work-Shy is now available in paperback!

Activating what poet Susan Howe calls “the telepathy of the archive,” these poems of The Work-Shy occupy identities rooted in the demimonde and in places of confinement; they build portraits of individuals at once denied work and subjected to its punishing routine. As “translations” of apparently unredeemable texts, the poems convert the dubious paradigms of delinquency, degeneracy, and madness into a mutable archive of infidel culture. Published under the collective, anonymous signature of the BLUNT RESEARCH GROUP, the archival work of “atavistic clairvoyance” retains the proper name of every voice it hears. By converting the procedures of appropriation and sampling into a poetics of close listening, The Work-Shy operates at the crossroads of lyric and documentary poetries, of singularity and collectivism. An online readers companion is available at bluntresearchgroup.site.wesleyan.edu and a book trailer can be found below:

BLUNT RESEARCH GROUP is a nameless constellation of poets, artists, and scholars from diverse backgrounds.  Drawing on examples of anonymous collectives in the arts, BLUNT RESEARCH GROUP presumes that the forging of individual voices in poetry is collaborative by nature, and it challenges the convention of the single author by using a collective signature. Work by BLUNT RESEARCH GROUP has been published by Noemi Press and appeared in museums across the country.

This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Praise for The Work-Shy:

Selected by Yale Review as one of the “best first books” of 2016.

“Herein are the voices of children sacrificed to the barbaric dogmas of eugenics and conformity; an archaeology of inhumanity that should haunt us forever.”—Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz

“A stunning collection of poems…The Work-Shy exemplifies some of the most important work poetry can do—to create the space to notice those who have been disparaged, muted, and trapped.”—Emma Schneider, Full Stop

“The language of The Work-Shy cuts straight through, as sharp and alive as the eyes that peer out from its photographs.”—Carmen Gimenez-Smith, author of Milk and Filth

The Work-Shy tears out pages from the bleak archives of California’s founding to reveal the hidden schematic—an exploded view—of white supremacy’s moving parts…a sonic tour de force.”—Henk Rossouw, Boston Review

What is new in The Work-Shy is its authors’ articulation of a poetics of listening. Whether it is possible for texts to listen, what even precisely it would mean, is rightly left unresolved.”—Eli Mandel, MAKE Magazine

“The Work Shy documents moments in time that resonate with us still, as each breathes up through history like an iron shackle around the leg. A heartbreaking and necessary read.”—Dawn Lundy Martin, author of Life in a Box is a Pretty Life

October 2, 2018
160 pp.,7 x 9”
Paper, $14.95 978-0-8195-7861-7
Jacketed Hardcover, $24.95 978-0-8195-7678-1
Ebook $18.99 978-0-8195-7679-8

The 37th Annual West Indian Literature Conference

Hosted by the Hemispheric Caribbean Studies program at University of Miami, October 4-6, 2018, the 37th annual West Indian Literature Conference, sponsored by PEN America, was a commemoration of Caribbean studies’ and history past. A key event of this year’s conference was a memorial performance of Zong! by M. NourbeSe Philip at Historic Virginia Key Beach, remembering the 150 Africans drowned in November 1781, by order of the captain of the slave ship Zong.

M. NourbeSe Philip is a poet, essayist, novelist and playwright who was born in Tobago and now lives in Toronto. She practiced law in Toronto for seven years before deciding to write fulltime. Philip has published four books of poetry, two novels, four collections of essays, and two plays. She was awarded a Pushcart Prize (1981), the Casa de las Americas Prize (Cuba, 1988), the Tradewinds Collective Prize (1988), and was made a Guggenheim Fellow in Poetry (1990). In 2015 Wesleyan published the first U.S. edition of She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Break—first published in Cuba as winner of the Casa de las Americas Prize.

A Celebration of Lorenzo Thomas

In late October a celebration of the late poet Lorenzo Thomas was organized at the Poetry Project on St. Marks.The event featured readings of his work by A.L. Nielsen, Charles Bernstein, Erica Hunt, Tracie Morris, and other contemporary poets in celebration of Thomas’ legacy and forthcoming poetry collection, The Collected Poems of Lorenzo Thomas, edited by Aldon Lynn Nielsen and Laura Vrana.

Afro-Caribbean poet Lorenzo Thomas was born in Panama in 1944 and relocated to Queens, New York, in 1948. Recognized for his contributions to the Umbra workshop and the proceeding Black Arts Movement of Harlem, he published ten collections of poetry in his lifetime, including Chances Are Few (1979), The Bathers (1981), and Dancing on Main Street (2004). He was the editor of Extraordinary Measures: Afrocentric Modernism and 20th-Century American Poetry (2000), which received the honor of Choice Outstanding Academic Book for the year. After graduating from Queens College in 1971, Thomas served in the United States’ Navy (1971–1973) and later became a professor of English at the University of Houston-Downtown, in 1984. He passed away in 2005, in Houston.

Recordings from the event can be found on YouTube.
Part I
Part II

Announcing “How to Dress a Fish”

A vision of identity at the intersection of language, history, and family

“This essential and captivating debut will draw readers into intersections of history, memory, exile, and return. Abigail Chabitnoy’s poems are tender and direct—they restore worlds, mend fragmented histories by revealing our human longing for land and for memories embraced in language.”
—Sherwin Bitsui, author of Shapeshift

 

In How to Dress a Fish, poet Abigail Chabitnoy, of Unangan and Sugpiaq descent, addresses the lives disrupted by the Indian boarding school policy of the US government. She pays particular attention to the life story of her great-grandfather, who was taken from Alaska to Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania. In uncovering her own family records, Chabitnoy finds that reconnection through blood and paper does not restore the personal relationships that had already been severed.

Abigail Chabitnoy is a member of the Tangirnaq Native Village in Kodiak, Alaska. Her poems have appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Tin House, Gulf Coast, Pleiades, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Nat. Brut, Red Ink, and Mud City.

December 11, 2018
152 pp., 6 x 9”
Paper, $14.95 978-0-8195-7849-5
Unjacketed Cloth, $30.00 978-0-8195-7848-8

Hilda Raz, Exploring Trans Identity in Poetry

Author of the first poetic exploration of transgender issues by the mother of a transgendered child Hilda Raz and her poetry serve as a reminder of humanity in today’s socio-political world on the edge of redefining gender and identity along political party lines.

Trans (2001, Wesleyan) is considered the first poetic exploration of transgender issues by the mother of a transgendered child, becoming a poetic landmark preceding today’s social transformations of understanding gender. Honored by the Nebraska Center for the Book’s Nebraska Book Award for Poetry (2002), Trans is a work which traverses the questions of transformation of body, self, society, and spirit through meditation of the evolving self.

All Odd and Splendid (2008, Wesleyan) is a continued poetic exploration of these themes of self, actualization, and transformation. Following Raz’s coauthored memoir with her son Aaron, What Becomes You (2007, Nebraska), Raz continues to write of her son’s and her own personal transition from daughter to son, providing poetic space for family, community, loss, growth, personal examination, and shared experience.

Debut Collection Recalls Lasting Impact of Carlisle Indian School

In How to Dress a Fish, poet Abigail Chabitnoy, of Unangan and Sugpiaq descent, addresses the lives disrupted by US Indian boarding school policy. She pays particular attention to the life story of her great grandfather, Michael, who was taken from the Baptist Orphanage, Wood Island, Alaska, and sent to Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania. Incorporating extracts from Michael’s boarding school records and early Russian ethnologies—while engaging Alutiiq language, storytelling motifs, and traditional practices—the poems form an act of witness and reclamation. In uncovering her own family records, Chabitnoy works against the attempted erasure, finding that while legislation such as the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act reconnects her to community, through blood and paper, it could not restore the personal relationships that had already been severed.

ABIGAIL CHABITNOY is a poet of Unangan and Sugpiaq descent and a member of the Tangirnaq Native Village in Kodiak, Alaska. She received her MFA at Colorado State University, where she was an associate editor for Colorado Review. Her poems have appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Tin House, Gulf Coast, Pleiades, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Nat Brut, Red Ink, and Mud City.

“Never before have readers been of a mind to apprehend such prodigious poems. Determined by the wealth and control of their poet’s language and the most profound respect for the powers of history, this work insists upon the necessity of poetry. Poems like these change the world, connecting us to each other and all else that sustains life. Herein, the lyric bones are barbed and all the crafts, laden. Not in division, but through the responsibility and gifts of this most crucial poet: Abigail Chabitnoy. With her poems, together we may, as real people, spring from and return to the islands, the sea, and the ice with utmost elegance. Traveling together, and most attentive to our context.” – Joan Naviyuk Kane, 2018 Guggenheim Fellow in Poetry

How to Dress a Fish is a stunning investigation of archive, loss, and kinship. These poems linger in histories erased by US colonialism—not toward recovery, but to study those modalities of mourning, attachment, and invention through which living proceeds nonetheless.” – Matt Hooley, assistant professor of English, Clemson University