A Decade in Staff Picks (2010-2019)
Omg, what a decade! Here are just a few of the small press books that kept us company, invigorated our shelves, and helped us through. Here's to another decade of great reading!
The following titles are 20% off
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...Haunting and timely, she words her poems with terrifying sensuality that creates a mirror of the horror inherent and capable in every individual...
"Renee Gladman has always struck me as being a dreamershe writes that way and the dreaming seems to construct the architecture of the world unfolding before our reading eyes..."Eileen Myles
...The resultant prose is not only life-like, but a living thing that evinces physicality and a rhythmic consistency like stepping or breathing. Sentences are long and muscular and pool together into the fresh paw-print of each new paragraph.
In Aaron Shurin's eleventh book, CITIZEN, transformative lyrical language echoes with soft yet emphatic imagery...CITIZEN promises a journey to a space somewhere in between now and the future, which readers are sure to find both fascinating and familiar.
BURIAL is a meditation on loss...The tone is elegiac, intelligent, and lyrical; the narrative occasionally grasps a meta-fictitious sense of itself, giving this book of cross-genre/prose poetry/fiction an extra dimension or web of meaning...
...It's devastating and comic, each poem a reminder that everyone else is as twisted and lonely as you...
Hoa Nguyen's RED JUICE: POEMS 1998-2008 demonstrates the enduring power of the political lyric. The work collects several earlier volumes published during her years in Austin, Texas, spanning as well an historical era that moves from the peak of US confidence to the abysm of the Bush era, taking on disaster capitalism, environmental degradation, and racism with poetic intelligence...
...There's a serious and considered poetics found here amidst her imagined conversations between Marcel Duchamp, John Cage and Morton Feldman, time, duration and art making and how they synthesize, in the world, in Ava's work, both poetry and visual...
...In this moving, tragic, loving, aching book, Antígona searches among a sea of bodies, living and dead, but how does one search when the sea keeps growing, keeps crashing in?...
...Sometimes off-rhyme and other musical elements take the lead, sometimes a political argument, sometimes bits of intimate experiences, sometimes bits of social experiences, and sometimes it's so associative you're not sure what's going on. But the lived (at times livid) authority of the voice, the directness of the poet's ongoing cogitations, foregrounds all those shifts, and anyway, point is: this stuff is interesting, line to line and all the way across.
This is a book about America and Blackness and gazes and wanting and dancing and how to survive when the world has deemed you disposable. You'll want to read I BE, BUT I AIN'T out loud, so you can sway to it and so you can catch when, mid-thought, Barnes' language swerves between the conversational and the divine.
Andrew Joron's THE ABSOLUTE LETTER allows one to move from word to word with the rigorous pleasure we, his committed readers, have come to associate with his work. The urgent momentum of these poems pull you forward syllable by syllable, pun by pun, with a kind of serious hilarity that is not a writing style so much as a way of life...
...In the face of unspeakable violence, repression, rage, and terror, what modes of expression are available to the disenfranchised? Dorantes' answer is fractured, wounded, and decimatingher text cuts and draws blood.
...I just love this one. Argentinian poet Alejandra Pizarnik was 26 and living in Paris when she wrote this slim volume...
...R E D conjures fire and brimstone, thrashes through castles, breaks and rejuvenates under the soft light of the sun. My heart has longed for this epic retelling, this final avenging.
...But Poetry aside, when all is said and done, STAGE FRIGHT demonstrates, at its core, that Poet's Theater is far from a theater of miscommuniques, mistakes, or infelicitous acts of speech. Rather, it demonstrates the limitations of genre itself, which is also to say, that in its expansive acts of unreality, its practice of exceeding its form, Poet's Theater is about inhabiting new worlds, new situations - as a different act of being. Not simply for the purposes of political gain, or bettering the world, but simply for the pure enjoyment of it...
...This collection is a statement and a love letter (to language and the potential of language) to create and transmit worlds both internal and external. Seek this collection out for every moment you imagine a world in every word.
...Easily one of my favorite reads this year (2019)...
...I think it would be great to read this book on a lake or borrowed pool, floating on one of those garish swans. No matter. MARNIE will hold you wherever you read it, recognize all of us "suckers drinking infinity in this / prick lake called pain."...
I tried to count how many times Fred Moten wrote the word "shit" in this book and I counted 37 times. Which is only one reason I would recommend it to a friend.