Staff Picks (August 2017)
Omg, we love small press books! And these are some of our favorites. Now they can be some of your favorites too...if they aren't already. Be sure to check in every month for a new handful to add to your reading list...lists...so many lists.
All August 2017 Staff Picks 20% off
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Sueyeun Juliette Lee's aesthetic cosmology is built from cosmology itself, i.e. interest in light, science, mathematics, astronomyall of which could not be closer to my heart. At the same time her interest in "human displacements" as she puts it (especially, here, the subject of her father's death during the Korean War) creates another framework that runs under, over and through the astronomical. Then there's the sweeping title poem that ends this book: filled with rifts, drifts, traces and residues it still manages, nearly impossibly, to be both oceanic and personal. Lee's previous Futurepoem book, SOLAR MAXIMUM, is beloved in my household, and I know we'll wear this one out too...take a look!
in this era of SPARKS OUTRAGE! generation wuss (sup BEE!) it's refreshing to remember back to a moment in the poetry world where sparking outrage (via cultural appropriation among other means) was perhaps the point, unapologetically the point. FLARF man, remember Flarf? I do, so much drama over so many poems, over so much coterie, over so much JOIE DE VIVRE! I loved it, and still do, I miss it and all the drama that surrounded it, King Silliman's blog and Jim Berhle's cartoons, Kent Johnson's comment boxing and Nada Gordon's dresses, the parties, the makeouts, the poet's baseball, the little mags, the poems too! the hate the hate the hate! viva hate! blogspot culture for life! I hate anthologies but this one's an exception, the brand new FLARF: AN ANTHOLOGY OF FLARF (Edge Books) brings back all those sticky, "problematic" poetry memory moments from years gone by, I would especially recommend this book to all poets under the age of 30, get dirty, break a bone, read this book, get offended and blog about it, it can only make you stronger.
Read this little book to your feline overlord as you both contemplate the strangeness of each other's existence. What assumptions do you make, how is your perception shaped, by your human form? How delightful, aggravating, and bewildering the being that knocks all your assumptions and ideas and rules off the shelves and coffee tables of your mind and leaves you wondering if it's spite or brilliance. Let Caroline Picard and Little Grey unravel your being like a ball of yarn and bat you around their world as your universe expands.
It's leo season & i was feeling extravagantly sad & in need of attention when i picked up HELL-P ME by Little Grape Jelly. & what can i say? this book was exactly what i needed. Written by not just one poet, but three, this book consists of a year-long email correspondence between Lily Ashely, Grace Pilkington & James Massiah. HELL-P ME is for the lonely, longing, tender & fabulous, asking some of the most important questions of our iphone addled brains, "did you ? forget to respond? ... connecting like this...can it work? ... this splurging like speech but onto / a page of pixels..." Somewhere between the back & forth of their correspondences is a space where "anything could be shared in the medium of poetry." This is a space that i want to share, where i want to be, an in-between space within the dialogue of poetry.
For those who are feeling extra tender & confused, Pilkington's lines consistently hit the spot, "I don't want to misunderstand you. / but i worry that i will. / everything is red and raw / and in me there's no still.” HELL-P ME is also filled with delightful little illustrations on every other page. Around the stanza that says "everything is red and raw" a thread encircles the stanza, with a needle hanging from it, along the edge of the needle are the handwritten words, "I needle you." I absolutely love that this book is no one thing, or at least shows that poetry can be many things, people, worlds at once.
I wanna b God's girlfriend / and live on other planets / I wanna break up with God / and watch his wrath / and laugh and laugh. "I Wanna B A Mountain"
HAIRDO by Rachel B. Glaser is a doozy of a book. I feel pained, but soothed at the same time like maybe someone was rubbing my head and massaging my ears while another person punched me in the guts repeatedly. I'm reaching the final days of my very, very short, but happy tenure at SPD and in California. And boy, it was a doozy just like this book. HAIRDO is how I feel about my summer - very nice and random and just a little bit intense and harebrained. I think it's safe to say HAIRDO reads as a bildungsroman gone wrong. Instead of erring to some sort of conclusive epiphany or revelation, there is more to be sought for, more to be morbidly curious about and a willingness to always be searching and trying and listening. And a great willingness to just state what she wants to state, what she cares about, what she doesn't care for or like. It is nothing groundbreaking, but it is! There is a surreal pleasure in the ways of the modern world, the strange nuances and idiosyncrasies of Spanish classes and deodorants and pornography versus real life sexy-sex. Glaser welcomes that surreality with an awareness that most people don't have or choose to look beyond.
I like it. Glaser thrives in being candid, irreverent, and a non-sequitur. Glaser writes fuck yous beautifully, wrapped in a clever and warped perspective. Glaser writes through the butts of teenagers, through Netflix and chills, and through Snoopy. I wanna do that too.