Staff Picks 2020
Franny Weed recommends
In STAGES, we accompany Rachel Kauder Nalebuff in her creation of a play we will not see, performed by the caregivers of a nursing home. Her anecdotes, visions, labors, and images of care spark something intense and brief: an intimacy with every widow, nursing assistant, partner, friend, or unnamed and deceased resident that Nalebuff witnesses. Every page pinches yousometimes bringing tears, sometimes with a familiar, forgiving hand, asking if you are awake.
Liam Curley recommends
Pokemon, the playing cards, Gameboy games, and phenomena, was such a force of nature when it was released in 1998, that I wouldn't be surprised if it got tangled up in many coming-of-age stories. (My first memory of stealing was stealing a Pokemon card. My secord memory of stealing was stealing money to buy more Pokemon cards.) The greatly enjoyable chapbook CAPABLE MONSTERS by Marlin M. Jenkins is one such story and includes poems about selfhood and monsterhood prompted by the Pokemon canon, the death-filled Lavender Town of now, and the Pokedex, an encyclopedia of each creature/pet and its evolutions with compact entries. (Here's one for Ninetales, not included but a favorite of mine: "Very smart and very vengeful. Grabbing one of its many tails could result in a 1000-year curse.") The work moves beyond any novelty or juvenilia: see a sexy-explicit-surprising poem inspired by Cloyster (how???), see ground-type lines like "I don't have the strength / to pile boulders on my own / to protect myself from the current / fire trying its damnedest to connect / with the molten rock at the core of the Earth." It demonstrates how even in our cutest toys, franchises, and lore there's something wild to be caught, a deeply human pulse.
Janice Worthen recommends
"I believe we can be different and use those differences not to destroy each other but to move forward...We share a heritage, we share an earth, and we need each other but we are not each other. We are different. I can know and respect your differences. You must know and respect mine. That is the only way we can work together."Audre Lorde, at a reading in Germany in 1987 (pg. 199)
Jane Gregory recommends
I'm not sure if our staff picks can include images, but if they can I give you this photo of plates 100 and 101hi ho silver (2008) and a star 2 (2010)where we see not just the "holding together" and the "active search" of Alvarez's practice, but also relational care, a note from mom, and Maggie Simpson's head; if I can't share this image with you, get the book to find it, and other brightnesses like: a Comme des Garçons collab. and gems from the interviews about painting's space between "representation...and whatever they call abstraction," how "there are moments when people just disappear, right in front of you" and other moments "where our edges meet," and magic and numbers and special pieces of string, too!