Staff Picks (August 2018)
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 2018 Staff Picks 20% off
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Immediately after finishing Conrad's THE BOOK OF FRANK, I turned to my girlfriend and said "you have got to read this book." This is that kind of book. A book you want to pass along as soon as it's over, to a lover, best friend, classmate, THE BOOK OF FRANK is destined for cult book (if it hasn't already become one), it lingers in the brain like a bloody nose, like a rumor. The poems are picaresque, serial, each one a self-contained skeletal gem building towards a much larger grotesque whole, Conrad's poetry world-building birthed from a deranged mingling of the Julien Donkey Boy and John Waters but so so very CA Conrad. I love this book for doing what so much contemporary poetry avoids nowadays, it offends, it offends beautifully and totally and unsparingly.
Hazel White's latest book of poetry VIGILANCE IS NO ORCHARD balances memory and desire with forward momentum and letting go. The lines in each section of this book-long sequence are also about a commingling of person, place and thing. "...It takes courage to enter my geometry," White writes, and further down on the page, "...under my feetthe straight-to-the-door path / forgetting, become again a bridge"
VIGILANCE IS NO ORCHARD serves as a reminder not to be complacent. She expects us to pay attention, remain watchful and alert to changes:
argue again for view:
Like the garden that served as inspiration, the pages in this book take root, refusing to be contained. "...The eye hops right up, ears listen branch to moving branch, and the / present tense warms what's freshly bare, revealing a woman to herself."
Vi Khi Nao's ekphrastic SHEEP MACHINE seems to control time or at least "transform[s] our comprehension" of it, dropping one down into a moment that stretches out and out. Mesmerized, I fall into the frame where I can hear the grass grumble out of the ground centimeter by centimeter, the click of a beetle's legs on a blade, and sheep quiver every molecule in my being with a simple twitch: "I am a backdrop against another backdrop." Here, there seems to be so much space to contemplate perception and its tricks, to stepin terror and delightoff the edge into imagination: "Is art created by the malfunction of shadow or the malfunction of perception?" SHEEP MACHINE flips the familiar. It cuts every tether. As each element transforms, becoming a little strange and a little terrifying, discovery is again possible: "So much to hear and feel and so little to say. Is life a little monstrous?" This wonderful book reminded me, "Each moment of existence is to be cherished. Each second is perishable. So much takes place in one threshold of time."