Category Books

Discover news from independent publishers and university presses including new titles, events, and more.

New Book :: Buy a Ticket

Buy a Ticket: New and Selected Poems
Poetry by Judith R. Robinson book cover image

Buy a Ticket: New and Selected Poems
Poetry by Judith R. Robinson
Word Poetry, February 2022

Buy a Ticket by Judith R. Robinson is a collection of poems about life—its imperfect beauty, its poignance, and the forces that propel it forward. Toggling among life stages—from a child’s recollections of school with its “blue-lined grainy first-grade paper” to an adult’s look back through the eyes of shared reminiscence with a boon companion, these poems resonate with a sense of time’s passage, its transience, and elasticity. Grief and disappointment compete with an indomitable will to continue despite setbacks and loss. Whether through the eyes of teenage Holocaust survivor, Dora, who gleans the forest floors in her quest to live, or the “jobless-wounded-welfar-ians” who keep on dreaming of the windfall that will make it all better, the human beings in Robinson’s poems may be beaten and bruised by life’s hard knocks, but they are not down for the count. Read sample poems here.

New Book :: American Bitch

American Bitch poetry collection by Rae Hoffman Jager published by Kelsay Books book cover image

American Bitch
Poetry by Rae Hoffman Jager
Kelsay Books, April 2022

American Bitch is Rae Hoffman Jager’s debut collection of poems that portrays a woman starting a family in an impossibly violent and impersonal world. Jager’s book juggles an unlikely pairing of poems about football, Judaism, pregnancy, and becoming a parent. This collection is a funeral march and a celebration with allusions to Greek mythology, Marshawn Lynch, Rothko, and an ever-growing crack in the ice shelf. Jager holds a BA from Warren Wilson College and an MFA from Wichita State University. Her poetry has been published in a variety of online and print journals. In 2016 She was named The New Voice Poet out of Salina, Kansas. This book originally was a finalist with Sundress and Birdcoat Quarterly before finding a home with Kelsay Books.

New Book :: Hayley and the Hot Flashes

Hayley and the Hot Flashes a novel by Jayne Jaudon Ferrer published by Small Town Girl Publishing book cover image

Hayley and the Hot Flashes
Fiction by Jayne Jaudon Ferrer
Small Town Girl Publishing, June 2022

Hayley Swift, a country music diva who has slipped out of the limelight, gets more attention when she’s mistaken for Taylor Swift’s mom than for her former glory days. When she’s invited to perform at her 35th high school reunion, a bus accident puts her backup singers in a hospital, Hayley begs her long-gone-domestic quartet from high school to join her onstage for the gig. They’re such a hit that she invites the women to fill in on a low-budget tour for a couple of weeks while her singers recover. Thrilled at the chance to flee routine for a dream deferred for decades, the friends readily accept. Nefarious flirtations, indiscriminate mood swings, equipment malfunctions, and a few nasty cat-fights combine to wreak havoc on the Retro Rodeo tour, but it’s a crazed stalker, an overzealous fan, and an unexpected pregnancy that ultimately derail the road trip. In the midst of the mayhem, friendships and fantasies are redefined as the women come together to face one’s debilitating illness. True love emerges from the tragedy, though, and the friends discover new strengths and aspirations as this adventure ends and new ones begin.

New Book :: Optic Subwoof

Optic Subwoof poetry by Douglas Kearney book cover image

Optic Subwoof
Poetry by Douglas Kearney
Wave Books, November 2022

Optic Subwoof is a collection of talks that poet and National Book Award finalist Douglas Kearney presented for the Bagley Wright Lecture Series in 2020 and 2021. As kinetic on the page as they are in person, these lectures offer an urgent critique of the intersections between violence and entertainment, interrogating the ways in which poetry, humor, visual art, music, pop culture, and performance alternately uphold and subvert this violence. With genius precision and an avant-garde sensibility, Kearney examines the nuances around Black visibility and its aestheticization. In myriad ways, Optic Subwoof is a book that establishes Kearney as one of the most dynamic writers and thinkers of the twenty-first century.

New Book :: posessions

possessions poems in american poetry by alan botsford book cover image

possessions: poems in american poetry
Poetry by Alan Botsford, May 2022

Author Alan Botsford has penned three other poetry collections—mamaist: learning a new language (Minato no Hito); A Book of Shadows (Katydid Press) with William I. Elliott; and mamaist: a different sort of light (dark woods press). He has also published the hybrid essay-dialogue-poetry collection Walt Whitman of Cosmic Folklore (Sage Hill Press). This newest collection consists of a large cast of poets, of multiple voices, over 150, including many contemporaries. As Botsford writes, “this book is a love letter to the art of American poetry, a tribute to American poetry’s pedigree. Its method is simple—I tried to synthesize what the poets wrote with my own music.”

New Book :: The Meadow and the Misread

The Meadow and the Misread a novel by Max Halper published by Threadsuns Press book cover image

The Meadow and the Misread
Fiction by Max Halper
Threadsuns Press, June 2022

X Parke Penate, a college freshman, realizes she has no memories from before the age of 12 or 13. Determined to understand why, she boards a plane home over winter break to speak with her parents. But her plane crashes, and X Parke is stranded alone in the cold forest. What ensues is a journey—equal parts surreal and hyperreal, epic and interior, esoteric and harrowing, strange and familiar—to uncover the truth about her missing memory. Max Halper is the author of the novella, Lamella, and numerous short fictions. He lives in upstate New York.

New Book :: Against the Wall

Against the Wall Stories by Alberto Roblest book cover image

Against the Wall
Stories by Alberto Roblest
Arte Público Press, March 2022

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.

New Book :: Ships in the Desert

Ships in the Desert environmental travel essays by Jeff Fearnside published by Santa Fe Writers Workshop Books cover image

Ships in the Desert
Essays by Jeff Fearnside
Santa Fe Writers Project Books, August 2022

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.

Book Review :: Loss/Less by Rebecca A Durham

Loss/Less poetry by Rebecca A. Durham published by Shanti Arts book cover image

Guest Post by Jami Macarty

The beautifully sounded, ecologically aware, and botanically influenced poems of Loss/Less, Rebecca A. Durham’s second collection, is, to my read, not so much interpretive of loss related to climate crisis, but intends to be reconciliatory: “This is how I enter the forest & this is how it enters me too.” Combining the geological and botanical with the plaintiff and ecstatic, the collection conjures Rumi and Thoreau. One way to read the book is as one long poem, an epistle to Thoreau, challenging his words “nothing could defile this pond.” The poet wonders if the transcendentalist knew that was a “lie.” Is Durham a new transcendentalist in her asking “what kind of extinction is this”; in her call for “a moratorium on cement or at least errant elements”; her command “uncut / all those holy trees”; her recognition that “we are illicitly complicit in disaster”? Like Thoreau, perhaps even if Durham knows it is already “too late,” her poems insist:

this is how we kneel
at the hemlock

pulled back
from the brink

pulled back from the helm
of helplessness, hatred

(from “Arboreal Burial,” 77)

Call to action, educational primer, love song, the poet calls on the many gestures of poetry, creating if not an abundance, less loss. What remains? Loess, a windblown sediment, or as the poet writes: “I gather bitter fruits / map my fissures.” What else is there as “we are primed for decay’s reticent elegance.” A special and compelling book!

Loss/Less by Rebecca A Durham. Shanti Arts Publishing, January 2022.

Reviewer bio: Jami Macarty is the author of The Minuses (Center for Literary Publishing, 2020), winner of the 2020 New Mexico/Arizona Book Award – Poetry Arizona, and three chapbooks, including Mind of Spring (Vallum, 2017), winner of the 2017 Vallum Chapbook Award. Jami’s writing has been honored by financial support from Arizona Commission on the Arts, British Columbia Arts Council, and by editors at magazines such as The Capilano Review, Concision Poetry Journal, Interim, Redivider, Vallum, and Volt, where Jami’s poems are forthcoming.If you are interested in contributing a Guest Post to “What I’m Reading,” please click this link: Reviewer Guidelines.

New Book :: Warrior Spirit

Warrior Spirit by Herman J. Viola published by University of Oklahoma Press book cover image

Warrior Spirit: The STory of Native American Patriotism and Heroism
Military History by Herman J. Viola
The University of Oklahoma Press, March 2022

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.