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Alice James Books created a playlist • 6 days ago
"Ghost, Like a Place" is a new volume of poetry by Iain Haley Pollock, forthcoming September 18, 2018 from Alice James Books. We're happy to offer you this preview.
This collection highlights the complexities of fatherhood and how to raise young kids while bearing witness to the charged movements of social injustice and inequities of race in America. Memory, culpability, and our very humanness course through this book and strip us down to find joy and inspiration amid the darkness.
“Iain Pollock has a slow, steady hand that’s fine tuning the pentatonic chambers where whole and half notes of the heart glisten the world. This Ghost, like a Place is a phantasm of small psalms settling into territory familiar with new beginnings and bearing ragged, but revealing truths.” —Tyehimba Jess, author of Olio, winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
“Iain Pollock’s eye is guided by passion—a passion for the city and street life, and the hard facts of individual lives amidst the violence and turmoil of American life today. But given this material, and contrary to what Derek Walcott once called the ‘standard elegiac,’ his poems never moralize or forsake complexity of feeling. His ear for idiom is pitch perfect, and the forward drive of his syntax embodies an undeluded but fundamentally hopeful vision about remaking the world.” —Tom Sleigh
Open Letter Books created a playlist • 23 days ago
Roughly three percent of books published in the United States are translations, and only around 30% of those are books written by women. When you start looking at poetry collections, you’re taking a fraction of a fraction of a fraction, until you arrive at a number so small that, according to the translation database housed at Publishers Weekly, a scant nineteen translated books of poems written by women will be published by the end of 2018.
One of those is the easiness and the loneliness by Asta Olivia Nordenhof, a best-selling poetry collection that took Denmark by storm and arrives in English with Open Letter Books this October. With poems that double as social critiques, it addresses the difficulties of living under financial strain, various forms of abuse, and working in a brothel.
To round out Women in Translation Month, we wanted to create this playlist to celebrate Nordenhof and to shine a spotlight on a handful of other living female poets already available in translation.
Joseph O. Legaspi created a playlist • a month ago
Since the publication of Threshold (CavanKerry Press) on October 2017 I’ve been doing a lot of readings to promote it. However, with a full time administrative job (and teaching an undergraduate poetry class on top of it), I’m unable to travel much outside of New York City, my home. Which actually suits me just fine, this city offers more than enough bounty and, besides, I miss it desperately when I’m away.
But for this Verse playlist, I’ve decided to assemble a set list of sorts to provide a taste of what it’s like at a Joseph O. Legaspi reading. I prefer and tend to share the stage with other writers, hence, this here is a 10-15 minute set, depending on the amount of mic banter and/or podium nuttiness.
~ Joseph O. Legaspi Jackson Heights, NY August 19, 2018
A popular mode stories have taken, in both poetry and other narratives, is the anecdote: a stable “I” communicates something that “happened,” in this time and world, or perhaps in a speculative adjacent world, to this “I.” This communication often happens, supposedly, horizontally—where the proposed “I” of the work is in an equally shared or estranged relationship with the reader (poems where a shared nostalgia, exception, surprise, occurs), but can also happen vertically across power, culture, or presumed social groups.
When articulated vertically, say from a position of power to one below, the relationship will inevitably hyper-realize certain narratives to the exclusion of others. We have here the discussions of representation, diversity, self-empowerment. One may, through hard work or circumstance, find herself speaking vice versa, from a position of marginalization to an audience that profits off that marginalization. From the perspective of the marginalized, this can take many forms, ranging from exploitation (the demand for an account, tokenization, exploitation of labor) to justice or empowerment. We have here questions of self-determination, (white, cis, et al) anxiety, redistribution of resources. Yet when the making of profit is supreme goal (and it rarely isn’t), this can position the readership, or is marketed to position the readership, into a position of objectivity, understanding, determination. Once they have sufficiently read, felt bad, felt inspired, consumed, they are awarded a broader world view, empathy, liberality.
This is a reduction. Likely, we all to varying degrees occupy multiple stations of readership, both through power and exclusion, and navigate our way accordingly. Hopefully, when entering that position of “liberal reader” we listen, learn, yes, but redistribute often, speak up when we are able, and act when opportunities present themselves to be acted upon. But what of when we occupy the position of the one looking up, feeling the words, already not ours, transform our audience into that body of liberal readership? We can let it happen, certainly. This often is all that’s available, better than most alternatives, and often brings payment, the promise of payment, or circulation. After all, we all need to eat. We could, equally and alternately, at the level of writing form resistances, or forms of barring or keeping at bay, the reader—leaving them just at the door of the text.
While repetition often establishes emphases, expectation, and carries within it, now, the implication of lyricism, it can also be used to decontextualize, pushing the reader into a critical space of imagining their involvement within the poem. These poems defy unintelligibility though, rather they create an opacity that demands interrogation, questioning who is or becomes legible through the poem. The following work features multiple uses of such repetitions: embodying the recurring boredoms of marginalization, recontextualizing words or phrases, upsetting implied patterns, forcing, again and again, grammatical structure as an imposition onto its subjects, or merely echoing a sound, passing as it has through a landscape, with its deformities and valleys and ruins, distorted and opaque, back to the speaker, who discovers there a voice, new, and not quite her own.
I learned this technique from the authors included here, and while I don't intend to project kinship or lineage, two poems from my collection feeld are included alongside them. I hope my work uses these techniques to similar effect.