In the prologue to this inventive collection, the exhausted protagonist finally reaches the doors to paradise after an arduous journey, but the longed-for entrance doesn’t have a handle or keyhole and there’s no bell or intercom. He considers climbing over it, but the wall reaches to the sky. He thinks of magic words that might open it and even kicks it, to no avail. The long, difficult trip has brought him to nothing except a concrete wall surrounded by desert. The characters in these seventeen stories find themselves with their backs against the wall, whether literally or figuratively. They run the gamut from undocumented immigrants to faded rock and soap-opera stars and even the Washington Monument. The eyes of the world focus on the blackened obelisk, which is covered in millions of insects, as government forces attempt to deal with this national emergency! Several pieces deal with people who are lost or long to go back in time. In one, Ramírez wakes up disoriented to discover he—along with untold others—is trapped in a bus terminal, unable to leave the Lost & Found area that’s piled high with thousands of suitcases, trunks, backpacks and packages.
In this linked essay collection, author Jeff Fearnside analyzes his four years as an educator on the Great Silk Road, primarily in Kazakhstan. Peeling back the layers of culture, environment, and history that define the country and its people, Fearnside creates a compelling narrative about this faraway land and soon realizes how the local, personal stories are, in fact, global stories. Fearnside sees firsthand the unnatural disaster of the Aral Sea—a man-made environmental crisis that has devastated the region and impacts the entire world. He examines the sometimes controversial ethics of Western missionaries and reflects on personal and social change once he returns to the States. Ships in the Desert explores universal issues of religious bigotry, cultural intolerance, environmental degradation, and how a battle over water rights led to a catastrophe that is now being repeated around the world.
For decades, American schoolchildren have learned only a smattering of facts about Native American peoples, especially when it comes to service in the U.S. military. They might know that Navajos served as Code Talkers during World War II, but more often they learn that Native Americans were enemies of the United States, not allies or patriots. In Warrior Spirit, author Herman J. Viola corrects the record by highlighting the military service—and major sacrifices—of Native American soldiers and veterans in the U.S. armed services. Warrior Spirit introduces readers to unsung heroes, from the first Native guides and soldiers during the Revolutionary War to those servicemen and -women who ventured to Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Herman J. Viola is Director of Quincentenary Programs in the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. Other contributors include Ellen Baumler, Cheryl Huges, and Michelle Pearson, with a foreword by Debra Kay Mooney.
Without Goodbyes: From Puritan Deerfield to Mohawk Kahnawake Poetry by Ginny Lowe Connors Turning Point, December 2021
Without Goodbyes by Ginny Lowe Connors is a collection of poems based on a historical event: the infamous 1704 raid on the village of Deerfield, Massachusetts. More than 100 Deerfield residents: men, women, and children, were captured. Then they began the 300-mile trek to New France, the French colony, in Quebec. The poems, which trace a narrative but are lyrical in nature, focus on Joanna Kellogg, an eleven-year-old girl, and two of her siblings. They were adopted into Mohawk families in the village of Kahnawake, a Mohawk community centered around a Jesuit mission. The physical journey Joanna and her siblings took to reach Kahnawake was grueling; of even greater interest is the journey she took to truly become a member of the Mohawk community. Read sample poems here.
Slight Return Poetry by Rebecca Wolff Wave Books, October 2022
In her new collection, renowned publisher and poet Rebecca Wolff voyages in the myopia of American consumer consciousness—erotic regard, spiritual FOMO, gentrification, branding—without destination. Labyrinthine in their paradoxical musings and incisive in their witty recriminations, these poems grapple with the hubris and dysmorphia of the soul. Wolff is a poet that is unafraid to be a querent, not only of sages (“I only hang out with people / who are psychic / anything else is a / waste of precious / continuity”) but of language itself (“How else is one to know how to proceed / How is one to make a motion against— / electric word life”) In Slight Return, the journey is infinite and elusive—aspiring in the best way toward a point of diminishing returns and withholding any promise of a comfortable landing.
Mikey and Lurch are worlds apart, even if they’re from the same Mexican neighborhood in West Los Angeles. Mikey just graduated from UCLA and is determined to get out. Lurch, the leader of the Culver City gang, loves the hood—its projects, beat-up apartments, and crackheads—more than his own life. They hook up with a doctor, who is from the same area. He put himself through medical school selling dope and now is back, running a clinic across from the Mar Vista Gardens housing project. All three notice changes. Suddenly there are outsiders everywhere: white people with beards, wearing V-neck sweaters and plaid shirts, running in jogging outfits or riding bikes with helmets, oblivious to the gangbangers. They’re artists, students, developers and entrepreneurs; a plague, pushing people out of their homes. Old people on fixed incomes start getting evicted or foreclosed on and the residents of the projects are being relocated, but some of the locals aren’t going to sit by without a fight. Soon they are fortifying the housing projects and stockpiling assault weapons! This absorbing novel follows a group of people who are determined to save their homes and neighborhood from gentrification, even if it means turning to violence.
New from Livingston Press! Aftershock by George H. Wolfe is a novel about GI’s returning from WWII to about-face and enter colleges under the GI Bill. Zero to Ten: Nursing on the Floor by Patricia Taylor is a story collection about nursing, its joys, frustrations, and heartbreak. See flyer for more details or visit website.
David Mason was born in Washington State, forty-odd degrees north latitude, and now lives on the Australian island of Tasmania, forty-odd degrees south latitude. That Pacific crossing is the work of a lifetime of devotion and change. The rich new poems of Pacific Light explore the implications of the light as well as peace and its opposing forces. What does it mean to be an immigrant and face the ultimate borders of our lives? How can we say the word home and mean it? These questions have obsessed Mason in his major narrative works, The Country I Remember and Ludlow, as well as his lyric and dramatic writing. Pacific Light is a culmination and a deepening of that work, a book of transformations, history and love, endurance and unfathomable beauty, by a poet “at the height of his powers.”
American Narratives Poetry by T.P. Bird Turning Point, November 2021
In this newest collection of poems, American Narratives, T.P. Bird offers the reader narratives of America that portray the grit of the street, the noise of the crowd, and the softness of the heart in a manner as large and capacious as a myth and a country. Bird is a retired industrial drafter/designer and minister now living in Lexington, Kentucky with his spouse. He has published widely in literary journals and is the author of two previous chapbooks, Mystery and Imperfections and Scenes and Speculations. Read sample poems here.
Not a Soul but Us: A Story in 84 Sonnets Poetry by Richard Smith Bauhan Publishing, April 2022
Not a Soul but Us: A Story in 84 Sonnets by Richard Smith is the winning collection of the 2021 May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize. In it, Smith tells the story of mid-fourteenth century Yorkshire, when the plague pandemic wipes out half the inhabitants of a remote village. Left behind is a twelve-year-old shepherd boy, who, with the help of his dog, survives near-starvation and a brutal winter and keeps his flock alive. In the months and years that follow, he struggles to reconnect with the life around him. Judge Meg Kearney said this of her selection, “A mastery of craft. Music. An undulating urgency of tone that leaves no doubt about the emotional impulse that drives the work. A voice that you trust, even when the syntax or the material is difficult. And that material needs to feel relevant, of substance, necessary. Not a Soul But Us is an achievement on every front.”