Drawing from Eastern and Western spiritual traditions, Leaving the Base Camp at Dawn explores how a long relationship of love is like a spiritual practice, a challenge to live in true care and compassion with those to whom we are closest. Interspersed throughout this lyric and narrative sequence are 14 poems that travel cliffs, streams and dirt paths and envision climbing a mountain whose peak cannot be reached. This contemplation of the challenge of love makes us think deeply about finding grace and charity in the ordinary moments of our daily life. Sample poems can be read on the publisher’s website.
As a young boy, Otilio Quintero lived with his family in abject poverty in a labor camp in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Later, they moved to a housing project that exposed him to the madness of violence. Despite his difficult childhood, he managed to go to college. But more important to his development was a trip to Mexico in which he was taken in and taught by the Mayan Chol people. In his memoir, The Sign Catcher, Quintero writes he found his calling at an indigenous ceremony during The Longest Walk, a 3,000-mile march across the country—from Alcatraz Island in San Francisco to Washington, DC—in 1978 by Native Americans to protest federal attacks on their way of life. The marchers carried the sacred pipe to the nation’s capital and ultimately legislative bills detrimental to indigenous people were defeated. His life took a dramatic turn when he found himself in a maximum-security prison facing a possible 20-year sentence.
Memorandum from the Iowa Cloud Appreciation Society Fiction by Joseph G. Peterson University of Iowa Press, November 2022
When his girlfriend, Rosemary, asks about his life, Jim Moore, a successful salesman whose territory covers the entire continental United States and parts of Canada, doesn’t think there is anything to say and so he tells her “nothing happened,” or maybe he doesn’t know how to put it all into words or maybe he doesn’t want to. Stuck in an airport because of blizzard conditions, and packed into a crowded terminal with other travelers, Moore has come to believe that his life is not worth reporting about because it has largely been a life lived without incident. However, chance encounters with a yoga instructor, a man traveling to bury his mother, and an enigmatic woodsman reawaken long dormant emotions about his father’s suicide and cause Jim to newly reflect on his own life and on a memorandum that he later discovered in his deceased father’s papers, which lists all the names of the clouds, and which Jim now, from time to time, recants as if it were his own private kaddish to memorialize his lost father.
LaDonna Humphrey gains a new ally in her effort to find justice in the 1994 unsolved murder case of Melissa Ann Witt when Alecia Lockhart reveals a dark and troubling secret from her past. Together, Humphrey and Lockhart must delve inside a dangerous and twisted world known as the “dark web” to unlock a series of mysteries, including Alecia’s haunting connection to Melissa Witt’s murder. Strangled is the shocking and suspenseful account of the war Humphrey and Lockhart wage on a warped and depraved online community set on destruction, murder and mayhem. The stakes are high. Their safety is compromised. Evil lurks with every click. Just how far are they willing to go to find the answers they need?
In Defense of My People Hispanic Civil Rights Series By Alonso S. Perales, Trans. by Emilio Zamora Arte Publico Press, November 2021
Originally published in Spanish in 1936 and 1937, In Defense of My People contains articles, letters and speeches written by Alonso S. Perales, one of the most influential civil rights activists of the early twentieth century. When Mexican-American veterans of World War II were denied service in a South Texas pool hall, even while wearing their uniforms, Perales wrote about the incident for The San Antonio Express. He also exhorted his community to secure an education and participate in civic duties. His form letter, “How to Request School Facilities for Our Children,” helped parents secure schools “equal to those furnished children of Anglo-American descent.”
Watchman, What of the Night Poems by W. Luther Jett CW Books, June 2022
W. Luther Jett’s newest collection, Watchman, What of the Night? bears witness to a world in turmoil, as tyrants rise with the warming seas, while entire generations are displaced by war and catastrophe. The poet asks, what centre can hold in this whirlwind night? Here are poems which speak of past calamities in order to hold up a lamp to pierce the present murk and fog in search of clarity. This book is an alarm-bell, a cry in the night, and above all else, a call to action. Visit the CW Books website to read a sample from the collection.
Alone in the House of My Heart Poetry by Kari Gunter-Seymour Swallow Press, September 2022
Ohio Poet Laureate Kari Gunter-Seymour’s second full-length collection resounds with candid, lyrical poems about Appalachia’s social and geographical afflictions and affirmations. History, culture, and community shape the physical and personal landscapes of Gunter-Seymour’s native southeastern Ohio soil, scarred by Big Coal and fracking, while food insecurity and Big Pharma leave their marks on the region’s people. A musicality of language swaddles each poem in hope and a determination to endure. Alone in the House of My Heart offers what only art can: a series of thought-provoking images that evoke such a clear sense of place that it’s familiar to anyone, regardless of where they call home.
In this brooding and obsessive novel, Ansgar Allen recounts the story of a nameless man who attends a funerary wake with no other distraction than papers that once belonged to the body on display. The deceased considered the papers to be his magnum opus, a text that unraveled everything he had been educated to accept, beginning with the spectre of religion—namely The Church of Christ, Scientist—and ending with the very fabric of educated, civilized thought. Allen’s protagonist thinks he’s above the conclusions drawn in the titular manuscript, but the blurred lines between what he reads and what he sees in himself incite an apocalypse of introspection. The result is a dark, labyrinthine attempt to diminish (and eventually annihilate) the memory of the man who came to rest on the table before him. Literary and existential, The Wake and the Manuscript explores the vagaries of death, identity, desire, and indoctrination as it (un)buries a history of delusion that speaks volumes about the human condition.
Dolore Minimo Poetry by Giovanna Cristina Vivinetto Translated by Gabriella Fee and Dora Malech Saturnalia Books, October 2022
In Dolore Minimo, Giovanna Cristina Vivinetto attends to her own becoming in language both tender and fierce, painful and luminous. This collection, Vivinetto’s first, charts the course of her gender transition in poems that enact a mutually constitutive relationship between self and place, interrogating the foundations of physical, cultural, and emotional landscapes assumed or averred immutable. Her imagination is rooted in the Sicilian landscape of her native Siracusa, even as that ground shifts under foot in response to the poet’s own emotional and physical transformations. Vivinetto engages with classical mythology, Italian feminist theory, and received constructs of family, religion, and gender to explore the terrors and pleasures of a childhood that culminates in a second birth, in which she must be both mother and child. Fee and Malech’s collaborative translations reflect the polyvocal and processual qualities of Vivinetto’s poetry, using language that foregrounds an active liminality and expresses the multiplicities of the self in dynamic conversation over the course of the collection. In Dolore Minimo, the lyric “I” is a chorus, but an intimate one.
A book still timely in its content and as a testament to our shared experience, In the Plague Year is a book about living through the Covid-19 pandemic, when a coronavirus and its variants swept around the globe. In this suite of poems, William New reveals how, from March 2020 to March 2021, people coped with the threat. This is a book about love and death, laughter and loss, the price of isolation, and the cost of staying alive. This pandemic was no minor unease, and this book is no workaday diary: it’s a powerful record of people’s lives as a new pandemic vocabulary became the idiom of the day. In these poems, people prove to be both dismissive and empathetic; officials react both creatively and slowly; institutions adapt or fail; not everyone survives. New’s poems are fresh, witty, serious, and sensitive―a powerful personal documentary that testifies to the strength of community.