Staff Picks (March 2019)
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 March 2019 Staff Picks 20% off
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Somehow out of print, ERODING WITNESS, Nathaniel Mackey's first book, is back thanks to selva oscura in a limited edition that corrects a number of errors in the original, as the front matter tells us. I picked it up as a reward for having gotten through Februarymonth of "panicky / music / I'd cut / if I could"nearly, to let the inexhaustible beauty & lure that this book is help me out to make it through. In ERODING WITNESS, "The distance / persists, like a grudge." Squint in it and awake to a "world / on the run if not yet on its / knees." Get it & learn a dance to throw yr "ass, the ocean / in."
A refreshingly acerbic treatise on living in a state of dissipation MARNIE's speaker spreads herself thinly across oceans, discursive registers, and varying social states, refracting back poems that choose critical humor over political hand-wringing; sardonic sharpness over pastoral poetic purity. And yet, despite its wretchedly intelligent send-up of a world in which little makes sense and even less feels like its worth making sense of, MARNIE has, at its heart, the dark earnestness of a really good love poem, which is to say "something not right / not real nor / unreal, a realer catastrophe / not beautiful but something / so beautiful / it became all I could think:". In other words, I'm all in can't wait to discover whose laughing face I'll see as I reach the end of this maze, this double suicide pact of a book. I can feel the razor flush against my neck.
This exciting new translation of selected works from Italian/Venezuelan poet Miyó Vestrani is like one of those anxiety hangovers where you can't sleep and you can't eat but you're angry and sad and you don't know why. You forget about time and really anything that isn't directly in front of your face while somehow simultaneously terrified the world could suddenly implode.
Her work seeps in under doors into private space then quickly zooms out suddenly self conscious and insecure.
I fluff the pillow,
I suck my thumb,
and I hope that El Flaco comes.
There are days like this.
LOST PRIVILEGE COMPANY OR THE BOOK OF LISTENING is composed from the case files of inmates in the earliest youth prisons in California. These poems explore the narrative of oppression, how those narratives are compiled and documented, are imbalanced, and how they might be revisited to explore something contrary to their original purpose. Named after the isolation ward at the Whittier State School, a symbol of California's disturbing history and engagement with eugenics and forced sterilizations that once inspired Nazi Germany, this collection explores the silences and isolation of the deliberately suppressed. The collection lacks a single-author, focusing instead on the collaboration between the histories contained in the case files and the names of the children the poems overlay. This book isn't to be missed.
From the poem overlaying "Uriah": "his chief joy / to collect rubbish and / tear up / American flags any / he could get and burn them / oh, I don't know, I just play around / as a method of discipline / the boy's mother put coal oil on paper lit it / and held it to her children's feet / the boy's sister / Mary is a pretty girl / with a nice alto voice but almost too lazy / to use it...".