Poetry

Celebrating Wallace Stevens – 23rd Annual Wallace Stevens Birthday Bash

Looking for poetry to snuggle up with as the days grow shorter and temperatures dip? Want to read more Connecticut poets? Pick up Garnet Poems: An Anthology of Connecticut Poetry Since 1776, edited by Dennis Barone, featuring Robinson Jeffers, Susan Howe, Richard Wilbur, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Wallace Stevens.

A fan of Stevens’ poetry? Head over to the Hartford Public Library for the twenty-third annual Wallace Stevens Birthday Bash!

Saturday, November 3, 2018, 2:00pm
Center for Contemporary Culture
Hartford Public Library
suggested donation: $10

Featuring: Cole Swensen, presenting “Perhaps the Truth Depends”

A reception of wine and hors d’oeuvres, book signing, birthday cake, and champagne will be available.

Evie Shockley honored with Hurston/Wright Legacy Award

Congratulations to Evie Shockley!

Her book, semiautomatic, is the winner of the 2018 Hurston/Wright Foundation’s Legacy Award for Poetry.
In the words of the judges: “Despite the ugliness of the violence around us, she has written a collection of poems that both chronicles it and decries it, all while offering us the beauty of her lines.”

More about the awards, from the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation:

The Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation announced the winners and finalists of the 2018 Legacy Awards and paid tribute to two pioneers in the Black literary community: Poet and playwright Ntozake Shange, best known for For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf; and Charles Henry Rowell, long-time editor and creator of the literary journal Callaloo.

Marita Golden, co-founder of the Hurston/Wright Foundation, presented the North Star Award—the foundation’s highest honor for career accomplishment and inspiration to the writing community to Dr. Shange; due to health issues, Dr. Shange was unable to attend, but her sister, playwright Ifa Bayeza accepted the award. Two-time U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner, Natasha Trethewey presented Dr. Rowell with the Madam C.J. Walker award in recognition of his life-long dedication to uplifting the Black cultural experience.

More than 200 literary stars, readers and representatives of the publishing industry, media, arts, politics, and academia attended the event on Friday, October 19 in Washington, DC. Award-winning journalist Derek McGinty served as Master of Ceremony and Khadijah Ali-Coleman, playwright, poet and singer/songwriter, delivered a musical tribute to Zora Neale Hurston, one of the foundation’s namesakes. The highlight of the evening was the naming of the winners of the juried awards for books by Black authors published in 2017 in the categories of debut novel, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

Read more about the Hurston/Wright Foundation. 

 

Vizenor on silent communication, puppets, and Dummy Trout

From the novel Native Tributes, by Gerald Vizenor:

Dummy Trout surprised me that spring afternoon at the Blue Ravens Exhibition. She raised two brazen hand puppets, the seductive Ice Woman on one hand, and the wily Niinag Trickster on the other, and with jerky gestures the rough and ready puppets roused the native stories of winter enticements and erotic teases.

The puppets distracted the spectators at the exhibition of abstract watercolors and sidetracked the portrayals of native veterans and blue ravens mounted at the Ogema Train Station on the White Earth Reservation. The station agent provided the platform for the exhibition, and winced at the mere sight of the hand puppets. He shunned the crude wooden creatures and praised the scenes of fractured soldiers and blue ravens, an original native style of totemic fauvism by Aloysius Hudon Beaulieu.

The puppets were a trace of trickster stories.

Dummy was clever and braved desire and mockery as a mute for more than thirty years with the ironic motion of hand puppets. Miraculously she survived a firestorm on her eighteenth birthday, walked in uneven circles for three days, mimed the moods of heartache, and never voiced another name, word, or song. She grieved, teased, and snickered forever in silence. Nookaa, her only lover, and hundreds of other natives were burned to white ashes and forgotten in the history of the Great Hinckley Fire of 1894.

Dummy stowed a fistful of ash in a Mason jar.

We recently asked Gerald Vizenor, author of , to tell us a little more about his interest in hand puppets and why he used puppets so prominently in this latest book. This was his response.

Some people gesture with their hands and fingers as they speak, and these people are the hand talkers. I am fascinated by the hand gestures of direction, or scenes in stories. They pinch words, praise words, smooth, and reverse words with the turn of a finger. Some of my relatives were hand talkers, and the gestures are not the same but remind me of the moves of hand puppets. My first interest in hand puppets started with native dolls in museums, made of straw and cloth, and the stories that went along with the figures.  

Later, as a soldier in Japan, I was inspired with the great Bunraku puppets. These puppets were visionary, transformation characters in traditional scenes, and the puppets created an incredible sense of presence through gestures, sound and story. The Bunraku puppets are not controlled with strings, but with the hands of a master, and the gestures and costumes are elaborate and traditional. The string and hand puppets are more common around the world, especially in Europe, and some puppet moves are more innovative than others. The Guignol is a famous hand puppet in France.  

I am interested in any manner or style of puppets, the creative motion of fingers and figures to convey emotion, and convince the audience that there is a spiritual association between humans and puppets, something similar to a totemic association. Puppets are not the mere imitation of human gestures, but rather the spiritual motion, or natural motion that creates a sense of presence.

Laura Hall, my wife, and I twice attended an international puppet festival that is held every other year in France. The brilliant imagination of amateurs and master puppeteers from around the world create great puppet shows at the Festival Mondial des Théâtres de Marionnettes in Charleville-Mézières, France. My interest in puppets took another turn with the appreciation of the flea market hand puppets made with found objects, buttons, thimbles, plastics, tin cans, brushes, and bones. I was moved by the creative power of the hand puppets made with discarded material by the Paul Klee, the expressionist and surrealist artist. He created marvelous hand puppet creatures to amuse his son, but not as works of art.  

Dummy Trout, the silent puppeteer in two of my recent historical novels, was an actual native person, and she was a marvelous hand talker. Her facial expressions and hand gestures almost created the sense of a puppet. Dummy, a wicked nickname because she apparently spoke a very early version of either Cree or the Anishinaabe language, and natives teased the manner of her speech since they did not understand the words. The only real dummies were the crude nicknamers. Dummy lived on the White Earth Reservation in a tiny cabin, and teased me with delightful hand talk. She died alone about fifty years ago. I imagined her hand talks as a hand puppet, and then created a similar character that carves the heads and hands of hand puppets from fallen birch trees.  

Most of the hand puppets in my novels have polished heads and hands carved from wood, and resemble notable figures, such as Léon Blum, Gertrude Stein, Adolf Hitler, and Guillaume Apollinaire. And in the same novels one character creates hand puppets with trash and debris, a bone, vegetable, or a rusty cigarette tin such as the hand puppet President Herbert Hoover in Native Tributes.

I have imagined hand puppets as visionary figures with a sense of presence in theatres, and in literary scenes of my historical novels. Carved and debris hand puppets appear as characters in two of my recent novels, Native Tributes, and Satie on the Seine: Letters to the Heirs of the Fur Trade. My hand puppets play crucial roles in literary scenes during the Nazi Occupation of Paris.      

There are no birth certificates, photographs, or other documents about the woman who inspired Gerald Vizenor’s puppets. Nonetheless, Vizenor is sure that “‘Dummy’ probably arrived at the White Earth Reservation in the thirties, because the first stories about her seem to go back to the early forties.” “Dummy” was remembered by Sharon Enjady-Mitchell Anwaachigekwe, along with other members of a large ceremonial and adopted family. 


Gerald Vizenor will be at the Bockley Gallery in Minneapolis, MN, Wednesday, September 26th at 7pm. He will read from his new historical novel, Native Tributes. In this sequel to Blue Ravens, Vizenor maintains his masterly perception of oral stories, creating a dynamic literary tribute to his community and  relatives, who have become visionary artists during the Great Depression. Book signing at Birchbark Books (2115 W 21st St.) to follow the reading. More information about the event can be found here.

Announcing “American Poets in the 21st Century” edited by Michael Dowdy and Claudia Rankine

Showcases the most innovative and politically engaged poets working in the U.S.

“These poets help us think about the society we have, the way that identities form within and against it, the attitudes we can examine if we want to know how to stand up, or see more clearly, or fight back.”
—Stephanie Burt, Harvard University

American Poets in the 21st Century: Poetics of Social Engagement emphasizes the ways in which innovative American poets have blended art and social awareness, focusing on aesthetic experiments
and investigations of ethnic, racial, gender, and class subjectivities. Rather than consider poetry as a thing apart, or as a tool for asserting identity, this volume’s poets create sites, forms, and modes for entering the public sphere, contesting injustices, and reimagining the contemporary. Like the earlier anthologies in this series, this volume includes generous selections of poetry as well as illuminating poetics statements and incisive essays. This unique organization makes these books invaluable teaching tools. A companion web site will present audio of each poet’s work.

Michael Dowdy is the author of Broken Souths: Latina/o Poetic Responses to Neoliberalism and Globalization and Urbilly. He is associate professor of English at the University of South Carolina.

Award-winning poet, critic and activist Claudia Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry, including Citizen: An American Lyric, and she edits the American Poets in the Twenty-First Century series. She is the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry at Yale University.

 

September

416 pp., 2 illus., 6 x 9”

Unjacketed Cloth, $80.00

978-0-8195-7289-7

 

Paper, $29.95

978-0-8195-7830-3

 

Ebook, $23.99

978-0-8195-7831-0

Announcing “bury it” by sam sax

bury it is lit with imagery and purpose that surprises and jolts at every turn. Exuberant, wild, tightly knotted mesmerisms of discovery inhabit each poem in this seethe of hunger and sacred toll of toil. A vitalizing and necessary book of poems that dig hard and lift luminously.”
—Tyehimba Jess, judge of 2017 Laughlin Award

sam sax’s bury it, winner of the 2017 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, writes from the root of experience with poems written in response to coming of age, young gay suicide, desire, and generational weight. What follows are raw and expertly crafted mediations on death, rituals of passage, translation, desire, diaspora, and personhood. What’s at stake is survival itself and the archiving of a lived and lyric history. In this phenomenal second collection of poems, sam sax invites the reader to join him in his interrogation of the bridges we cross, the bridges we burn, and bridges we must leap from.

sam sax is a queer Jewish writer and educator currently living in Brooklyn. He’s the author of Madness, winner of the National Poetry Series, and the two-time Bay Area Grand Slam Champion.

 

Publication of this book is funded by the
National Education Association.

 

September

88 pp., 6 x 9”

Paper, $14.95

978-0-8195-7731-3

 

eBook, $11.99

978-0-8195-7732-0 Poetry

Announcing “Counter-Desecration” edited by Linda Russo and Marthe Reed

New vocabulary for a world on the brink

“Affirming the imagination’s importance in effecting change, with marvelous invention this poets’ glossary of terms responsive to the Anthropocene illuminates losses and violations, offers resources, inspires hope.”
—Lynn Keller, author of Recomposing Ecopoetics

Counter-Desecration collects 135 original terms
and definitions articulated by a diverse, international community of poets, including Brenda Hillman, Eileen Tabios, and Christopher Cokinos. The Anthropocene is a term proposed for our present geological epoch during which the role of humanity in the transformation of earth’s environment globally is increasingly perceptible. The terms in this glossary map new perspectives that provide a way to approach the interlinked social, economic, and environmental forces that shape our lives and the world around us.

Linda Russo is the author of three books of poetry, including Participant (Lost Roads Press), winner of
 the Bessmilr Brigham Poets Prize, and To Think of her Writing Awash in Light (Subito Press), a collection of lyrical essays. Her scholarly essays have appeared in Among Friends: Engendering the Social Site of Poetry (University of Iowa Press) and other edited collections. She teaches creative writing and literature at Washington State University.

Marthe Reed was the author of five books, including Nights Reading, (em)bodied bliss, and the collaborative Pleth with j hastain. She was co-publisher and managing editor for Black Radish Books, and her poems have appeared in Jacket2, Tarpaulin Sky, and New American Writing, among other publications.

 

August

144 pp., 5 1⁄2 x 8 1⁄2 ”

Unjacketed cloth, $30.00

978-0-8195-7845-7

 

Paperback, $16.99

978-0-8195-7846-4

 

eBook, $13.99

978-0-8195-7847

Allison Adelle Hedge Coke’s preface to “Counter-Desecration”

Counter-Desecration: A Glossary for Writing Within the Anthropocene, edited by Linda Russo and the late Marthe Reed, is a work of collaborative eco-activism and a call to action for readers and writers.

 

Contributors (including Brenda Hillman, Eileen Tabios, Hoa Nguyen, Jennifer Scappettone, Cheryl Savageau, Rusty Morrison, Bhanu Kapil, Christopher Cokinos, etc.) call on humanity to end this era of environmental and spiritual destruction, beginning with this clear and provoking preface by Allison Adelle Hedge Coke.

This glossary delivers terminological impression of shifts in language and in consciousness fostered to address the perilous state of today. Continually fed now since Euro-invasion, intentional attempts at extinction/slaughter of the Western Hemisphere’s indigenous peoples (estimates say that 75 to more than 100 million people rapidly perished at the hands of the Euro-invader and his diseases) undoubtedly spurred the initial methane surge of the Anthropocene. This is, immediate and dire, an enduring era of environmental injustice, survivance under unequal protection from colonial, imperial resourcing, with political sabotage by collective lessening of efforts to combat climate change. Now, in the Sixth Extinction epoch segment, we strive to locate lingual succinctness in attending to the multitudinous expression with participatory means to discern and disseminate information necessary to better the state of the world for all peoples and all lives dependent on our shared planet. Moreover, we strive to employ as vernacular this nomenclature and vocabulary in idiolect of intentional lexicon while gathering activist effort for gross intervention, reclamation, renewal, revivance, and restoration, by whatever means necessary to keep this world inhabitable and whole beyond what damage has already diminished its complete viability.

In imagining a book that would clarify the new ways that we respond to the call our earth, her oceans, and the surrounding atmosphere surely sing, Counter-Desecration brings sustenance and power with terms made in collective remedying. From dysoptics to echolocution, reciproesis to terrotic, the countenance of communication encounters the need of a global population on its mettle. Torpor (the rest state required of an activist) and vivitocracy (a social mind-set built on the idea that all life deserves equally to exist) bring a sense that our collective strength and support of the planet might still replenish and recover her ability to continue, and thus we along with her, or at least give a sense of the hope for future life here. This book allows us fortitude and wisdom to secure what means we might to continue to cherish and to equip us to protect our planet with concise and meritorious language and action: a generous undertaking for which I am exceptionally grateful and believe indispensable for writers, speakers, readers, and researchers working for vital cause and solution.

Allison Adelle Hedge Coke

Wesleyan UP acquires Paris Press

Bookshelf

View a list of Paris Press books now available through Wesleyan. 

Paris Press and Wesleyan University Press are pleased to announce Wesleyan’s acquisition of Paris Press. As of May 1, all Paris Press books will be available through Wesleyan University Press and its distributor, University Press of New England. “For years, readers have delighted in the books published by Paris Press. What an opportunity, to bring on board books by such luminaries as Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, Bryher, and Muriel Rukeyser,” says Wesleyan University Press director Suzanna Tamminen. “Now these books and those of so many other extraordinary women writers will have a long and vital life with Wesleyan University Press. We look forward to working with each of these beautiful, courageous, and daring books and to ensuring that they continue to inspire readers.”

Jan Freeman, founding director of Paris Press, comments, “I am thrilled and deeply honored that Paris Press authors and books will be part of Wesleyan University Press, a press with a great literary history, a press that I have admired for decades. This is a dream come true. Director Suzanna Tamminen will provide a welcoming home for the Paris Press list, which will forever reflect what is essential in literature. It has been a privilege to usher each Paris Press book into the world. I hope that Wesleyan will bring new audiences to these groundbreaking books and that the Paris Press family of readers, educators, and writers will continue to enthusiastically support the Paris Press at its new home.”

Paris Press (1995–2018) was founded with the mission of publishing groundbreaking yet overlooked literature by women and educating the public about its books and authors. Its titles encompass many genres including essays, poetry, fiction, memoir, letters, drama, and creative nonfiction. Their common attribute is their daring—in style and in the courage to speak truthfully about society, culture, history, and the heart. Paris Press authors include Muriel Rukeyser, Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, Bryher, Ruth Stone, Zdena Berger, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Wesleyan University Press, based at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, was established in 1957 and focuses on poetry, literature, music, and dance. The press’s internationally renowned poetry series has the distinction of having earned five Pulitzer Prizes, two Griffin Awards, and two National Book Awards. The press’s list reflects the university’s commitment to boldness, rigor, and practical idealism.

Contact: Stephanie Prieto, Publicist, Wesleyan University Press  selliott@wesleyan.edu phone: 860.685.7723

Jan Freeman, Founding Director, Paris Press   jbf227@gmail.com  phone: 413.374.1799

Poetry @ LA Times Festival & Split This Rock

Wesleyan University Press is pleased to have authors participating in events at both Split This Rock Poetry Festival and the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

Camille T. Dungy and Kazim Ali are among the featured readers at Split This Rock, April 19–21

From the festival organizers:

Not only does poetry equip us to speak out against oppression but it helps to sustain us in these extremely perilous times. It reminds us of what it means to be fully human, holds the vision of what is possible, creates community, keeps alive what we value: compassion, justice, love. Poetry helps us find our voice when we feel powerless. It helps us be our best selves, so we can continue the long-term activism our current climate demands.

As we selected sessions for the 2018 festival, we were particularly interested in sessions designed to help us combat despair (or ride through it), learn from one another across generations, celebrate cultures targeted by hate, figure out what it means to live in this time, and equip us all as creative and effective citizens and activists.
Continue Reading Here….

Thursday, April 19 | 7-8:30 PM
Camille T. Dungy, Sharon Olds, Javier Zamora

Saturday, April 21 | 4:15-5:45 PM
Kazim Ali, Ellen Bass, Terisa Siagatonu

In addition, Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalists Evie Shockley and Shane McCrae
will participate in this year’s Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, April 21–22

Shane McCrae

Saturday, April 21 • 11:20am—11:40am
Shane McCrae reading from “In the Language of my Captor”
More info here…

Saturday, April 21 • 2:00pm–3:00pm
Poetry: Trauma and the Problem of Beauty, Conversation 1043
Moderated by David Baker
Speakers include Alessandra Lynch, Shane McCrae, Carol Muske-Dukes, and Patricia Smith
More info here…

Evie Shockley

Saturday, April 21 • 11:00am–12:00pm
Poetry: Self, Cultural Narratives, and Form, Conversation 1041
Moderated by Cyrus Cassells
Speakers include Mary Jo Bang, Christopher Merrill, Evie Shockley, David St. John
More info here…

Saturday, April 21 • 2:40pm–3:00pm
Evie Shockley reading from “semiautomatic”
More info here…

 

 

 

 

 

Congratulations to NBA Finalist, Shane McCrae!

Wesleyan University Press’s In the Language of My Captor, by Shane McCrae, shortlisted for the National Book Award.

Judges for the 2017 National Book Award in the category of Poetry have selected Wesleyan University Press title In the Language of My Captor as one of five finalists. The judges are esteemed poets Nick Flynn, Jane Mead, Gregory Pardlo, Richard Siken, and Monica Youn.

Acclaimed poet Shane McCrae’s latest collection is a book about freedom told through stories of captivity. Historical persona poems and a prose memoir at the center of the book address the illusory freedom of both black and white Americans. In the book’s three sequences, McCrae explores the role mass entertainment plays in oppression, he confronts the myth that freedom can be based upon the power to dominate others, and, in poems about the mixed-race child adopted by Jefferson Davis in the last year of the Civil War, he interrogates the infrequently examined connections between racism and love.

Critic Valerie Duff-Strautmann described In the Language of My Captor as reminiscent of the great Romanian poet, Paul Celan. And a review in Publisher’s Weekly noted that McCrae’s “raw honesty…refuses to shy away from the effects of oppression and faces up to those not willing to acknowledge their part in a history many want to forget.”

Past Wesleyan titles honored with the National Book Award for Poetry

Jean Valentine’s Door in the Mountain, 2004
Charles Wright’s Country Music: Selected Early Poems, 1983.
James Dickey’s Buckdancer’s Choice: Poems, 1966

In 2016, Peter Gizzi’s Archeophonics was a finalist for the Poetry award. Rae Armantrout’s Versed, which won the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critic’s Circle Award, was a finalist in 2009. And in 1973, The Glorious Revolution in America, by David S. Lovejoy, was a finalist in the History category. ­­­