NEWEST RELEASES FROM THE BITTER OLEANDER PRESS
To Each Unfolding Leaf by Pierre Voélin ($25.00) ISBN # 978-0-9862049-6-8
translated from the French by John Taylor
This book offers a representative selection of Pierre Voélin's poetry, ranging from his early books Sur la mort brève (On Brief Death, 1984) and Les Bois calmés (The Calmed Woods, 1987) to recent works such as Y. (Y., 2015) and Des voix dans l'autre langue (Voices in the Other Language, 2015). In other words, since La Nuit osseuse (The Bony Night) section of On Brief Death was written during the years 1976-1980, this Selected Poems spans four decades and reveals the Swiss poet's recurrent themes of amorous exaltation (and loss), an individual's relationship to nature (and especially to a rural environment), the possibilities of a spiritual quest in the contemporary world, as well as the writer's role (or vulnerability) with respect to political iniquity or persecution. Up to now, Voélin has remained very little known in English-speaking countries.
Yet he is one of the most important figures in contemporary Swiss francophone poetry. Born in 1949 in the village of Courgenay and then raised in the nearby small town of Porrentruy, both of which are located in the hilly Jura region of Switzerland, Voélin is a key poet in a generation that also comprises Frédéric Wanderlère (b. 1949), François Debluë (b. 1950), José-Flore Tappy (b. 1954), and Sylviane Dupuis (b. 1956). It is a generation that has sometimes chosen thematic directions differing from those taken by their Swiss mentors, namely Anne Perrier (b. 1922), Philippe Jaccottet (b. 1925) and Pierre Chappuis (b. 1930), and that has conceived new poetics to continue to question man's place in the cosmos.
——John Taylor, from his introduction
Call Me When You Get to Rosie's by Austin LaGrone ($12.00) ISBN # 978-0-9862049-5-1
Winner of the 2016 Bitter Oleander Library of Poetry Award (BOPLOPA)
Winner of the 2016 Bitter Oleander Library of Poetry Award (BOPLOPA). Call Me When You Get to Rosie's by Austin LaGrone is a small package of poems which exudes a swollen intensity towards life and how it's immeasurably encountered the poet. Everything is in play for LaGrone, as in the back-cover comment by the poet Ronnie Yates: "These poems—an efflorescence of rogues, carnies, workers and mystics, all brandishing the ordinary talismans of the last junk shop in the Marigny, poems, which, as Austin once told me, he writes then whittles down to chicken bones—speak in the tongues of men and angels and strumpets in kimonos patrolling sun-lit prison yards, poems which radiate, rot and stink sweet among their reedy contemporaries. Austin tells us where we can find him, he's with her 'in the back pocket of the Oldsmobile.' 'I want to poke her with a cheap umbrella,' he admits, 'beneath a mutual communion of stars.' He'll poke you and you'll look up to receive the bread of the body and sidereal wine."
The Hunchbacks' Bus by Nora Iuga ($18.00) ISBN # 978-0-9862049-4-4
translated from the Romanian by Adam J. Sorkin & Diana Manole
"i’m sam," begins the first poem of Nora Iuga's The Hunchbacks' Bus (Autobuzul cu cocoșați). The book is a sort of family chronicle centered on the imaginary character sam and his life, much of which is in his head, his not very faithful wife minodora, his brother istovitu (the name means exhausted, worn-out). It's comic, though not often in a laugh-out-loud kind of way; surreal or fantastic at not a few moments, at others ribald, eccentric; perhaps even a little hard to cozy up to, since Iuga keeps everything at an ironic distance. Her style is rarely lyrical in a traditional sense. The syntax is direct but the imagery teases and surprises; the poetic voice is energetic, even audacious, with a delightful quirkiness.
In the first of five authorial interludes, short monologues in prose, Iuga addresses the reader, "you might find it hard to believe, but sam actually exists" (notwithstanding the fact that he's sometimes presented as a dog); and Iuga notes otherwise in "sam is an angel":
i'm still determined to find out who
sam is and what he does with his little stick…
i'm the most helpless text
in this city
Iuga's world may at times be one of loss, worry, proverbially a dog's life, but it spins away with exhilarating dreamlike absurdity.
—— Adam J. Sorkin & Diana Manole, from their introduction
Territory of Dawn: Selected Poems of Eunice Odio ($20.00) ISBN # 978-0-9862049-3-7
translated from the Spanish by Keith Ekiss with Sonia P. Ticas & Mauricio Espinoza
Eunice Odio (1919-1974) is considered the leading Costa Rican poet of the twentieth century. She traveled and lived throughout Central America and the United States before settling for much of her life in Mexico City. Her principal works include Los elementos terrestres (Earthly Elements, 1948), Zona en territorio del alba (Zone in the Territory of Dawn, 1953), El tránsito de fuego (The Fire’s Journey, 1957), and Territorio del alba y otros poemas (Territory of Dawn and Other Poems, 1974). In addition to her poetry, she was the author of short stories and numerous political and cultural essays. Her complete works were published by the University of Costa Rica in 1996.
Travelers to Costa Rica often depart the capital of San José as soon as they arrive, heading out for the cloud forest of Monteverde, the volcano at Arenal, or the waves at Playa Tamarindo, leaving behind the smell of diesel fumes and the city’s concrete architecture. But if you visit the National Theater, a civic treasure modeled on the Paris Opera, you will find a bronze statue guarding the building, the bust of a woman with a fierce, penetrating gaze, and hair of Medusa-like serpents: the mother of Costa Rican verse and the country’s most significant international literary presence, Nuestra Eunice, as she’s been called, the poet Eunice Odio.
Eunice Odio's poetry has thus remained almost wholly unknown to readers outside Latin America, obscured on the margins of the region's avant-garde and proletarian-poet traditions. A woman poet who lived a secluded life, Odio was born in a country with, at the time, an antipathy to artists and writers, who often relocated to Mexico City if they wanted to establish themselves as contributors to the vanguard. Odio herself was aware of her marginalized, self-exiled position. Octavio Paz once told her that she was "of that line of poets who invent their own mythology, like Blake, like St. John Perse, like Ezra Pound; and they are rubbed out, because no one understands them until years or even centuries after their death."
—Keith Ekiss, from his introduction
All the Beautiful Dead by Christien Gholson ($12.00) ISBN # 978-0-9862049-2-0
"Christien Gholson is the author of the novel, A Fish Trapped Inside the Wind (Parthian, 2011) and a book of linked prose poems, On the Side of the Crow (Hanging Loose Press, 2006). He has been many shapes before he attained congenial form: bookseller, union organizer, a black feather in a blue dumpster, farmhand, editor, a fish falling from the sky, and factory worker. He attended both Naropa University and the University of California at Davis. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Gholson’s All the Beautiful Dead (along the side of the road) is a harrowing, razor-biting collection which addresses the wounded and the outcast, in a landscape of boxcars, poppies, crows, empty fields, the lights of Las Vegas which can't overpower the open black mouth of the desert night, and the rusted lives and emotional shrapnel ranging from Wales to Colorado , New Mexico to Gaza. This poet's range is wide, able to enter the surrealist canvases of Remedios Varo, as well as everyday struggles, such as unemployment, the death of his father. The voice that immaculately gathers all of these rune-like fragments informs us how he has been "desperately trying to read them, knowing there is no answer." But the poems themselves are a candle, even if it's flickering. And Gholson's voice is a prayer "in the coldest of winters."----Anthony Seidman, judge of our 2015 award competition
Confetti-Ash: Selected Poems of Salvador Novo ($18.00) ISBN # 978-0-9862049-1-3
Translated from the Spanish by Anthony Seidman & David Shook
"I feel that poetry," Salvador Novo confesses in a poem from Espejo (1933), appropriately titled Poetry, "hasn’t come forth from me." That will prove to be a recurring theme in the intense and brief work of this sui generis poet, a member of that distinguished "group lacking a group," as the Contemporáneos playfully referred to themselves. Among that constellation of solitary souls there belonged some of the best Mexican poets and Spanish speaking poets of the 20th century: José Gorostiza, Xavier Villaurrutia, and Carlos Pellicer, to mention the more widely known among them. The Contemporáneos was the first generation of truly modern writers in Mexico, and in their eponymous journal they published the first Spanish translations of T.S. Eliot, just to give a quick example of their cosmopolitanism. Moreover, they also published D.H. Lawrence, Saint-John Perse, Langston Hughes, Jules Supervielle and Paul Valéry. All of those influences can be spotted in the youthful poetry of Novo. Moreover, as in the brief quote which opens this paragraph, there appears another distinct trait in his poetry: confession.
For the young Novo, passionately avant-garde, poetry was not only everything that tradition seemed to bypass, such as the unsacred, the free association of ideas, the prosaic, the unedited spaces of Spanish from the vast cities, fragmentation, irony, the uninhibited along with an acrid sense of humor, but also a poetry not detached from his lifestyle, which captured with an opulence in language, as well as a frankness, making one think of Oscar Wilde (one with whom Novo shares not only an emotive and aesthetic quality, but also a sexual orientation which he openly practiced in a society that was vehemently scandalized). The translations which Anthony Seidman and David Shook have done—-taken from two fundamental books by Novo, XX Poemas (1925) and Espejo (1933)—-offer an excellent way in which to appreciate the work of this radically unorthodox poet. ---—Alberto Blanco
Salvador Novo López (30 July 1904--13 January 1974) was a Mexican writer, poet, playwright, translator, television presenter, entrepreneur, and the official chronicler of Mexico City. As a noted intellectual, he influenced popular perceptions of politics, media, the arts, and Mexican society in general. He was a member of Los Contemporáneos, a group of Mexican writers, as well as of the Mexican Academy of the Language. He was well known for his wit. When a party, where young soldiers had been invited by gay scholar friends of his, had degenerated into a fight and a scandal, Salvador Novo brushed off the whole matter with a factual: "This is what happens when members of the intellectual elite try to enter military circles". In accordance with tradition, the street on which he lived was renamed after him when he assumed the role of Mexico City's official chronicler, a post held for life.
Ripened Wheat by Hai Zi ($21.00) ISBN #978-0-9862049-0-6
Translated from the Chinese by Ye Chun
Finalist for the Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Award for 2016 through the American Literary Translators Association
For over two decades, March 26th has marked the day when college students across China hold vigils for the poet Hai Zi, reciting his poetry and sharing their own poems dedicated to him. Newspapers and magazines publish memorial articles and the latest critical essays on his work. People travel from far and near to visit his tomb in the otherwise forgotten village of Chawan. It was on this day in 1989 that Hai Zi laid his body down on a rail track near Beijing Shanhaiguan and ended his life at the age of twenty five.
In modern Chinese history, few poets have been revered to the extent that Hai Zi has. Not only is he one of the most read contemporary poets, but also one of the most imitated--his folkloric simplicity, imagistic clarity, his motifs of wheat, wheat field, village, and grassland have found their way into many Chinese poems written today. Mostly unknown during his lifetime, he has been posthumously crowned with such titles as "the genius poet", "the purest poet," "the poet martyr," and "the poet who has changed a whole generation's writing of poetry."
Ye Chun is the author of two books of poetry, Lantern Puzzle (Tupelo Press, 2015) and Travel Over Water (Bitter Oleander Press, 2005), and a novel in Chinese, Peach Tree in the Sea, (People's Literature Publishing House, 2011). A recipient of the NEA Fellowship, she is the poetry editor of The Missouri Review and teaches at the University of Missouri where she is a PhD candidate.
The Sky's Dustbin by Katherine Sànchez Espano ($12.00) ISBN # 978-0-9883525-9-9
WINNER OF THE BITTER OLEANDER PRESS
LIBRARY OF POETRY BOOK AWARD FOR 2014
Katherine Sànchez Espano lives in Saint Johns, Florida where she owns a portrait photography business and teaches writing. She holds a BA in Creative Writing from Carnegie Mellon University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Florida. In addition to publishing in numerous journals, she has received a Florida Artist Enhancement Grant, was a semi-finalistin the Discovery/The Nation poetry contest, and has been nominated for Pushcart Prize. Her poetry has been shaped by a variety of cultural influence from a young age, and she comes from a family with a long lineage of painters and storytellers. She and her husband Allan have two children..
In The Sky's Dustbin, vibrant details lead us easily into something that's part magical realism, part magic for realists. Everyday events read like parables here, though, as in life, their meanings are layered, turn this way and that, refuse us comfort, closure. Espano handles weighty topics with a skill and urgency that announces that this is indeed a noteworthy debut.
--Alpay Ulku, author of The Meteorologist
Katherine Espano is a powerful new voice in contemporary poetry. In The Sky's Dustbin she charts the waters of loneliness, anger, and regret with the steely-eyed precision of a modern-day Plath. Like some hip, feminist, voodoo priestess, Espano conjures a magical world where non-Catholic school girls float over pews daring priests to knock them down, where Issac's daughter "chops celery like diced souls to feed to the unborn," and where the mere shape of a girl in a new bra has the power to "knock out" silly teenage boys. This is a brilliant and refreshing debut.
--Chris Tusa, author of Haunted Bones and Dirty Little Angels
Light from a Small Brown Bird by Rich Ives ($14.00) ISBN # 978-0-9883525-8-2
Rich Ives has received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission and the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines for his work in poetry, fiction, editing, publishing, translation and photography. His writing has appeared in Verse, North American Review, Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review, Quarterly West, Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, Virginia Quarterly Review, Mississippi Review, Fiction Daily and many more. He is a winner of the Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander. He has been nominated twice for The Best of the Web, three times for The Best of the Net, and five times for the Pushcart Prize. He is a winner of the Creative Nonfiction Prize from Thin Air magazine. His writing has appeared from eleven different countries. A fiction chapbook, Sharpen, is available from The Newer York Press, and a "book of days" with a work for each day of the year from Silenced Press. He lives on Camano Island in Puget Sound, north of Seattle, and is also an artist and musician who is currently concentrating on dobro and fiddle among the many instruments he plays.
These are mysterious poems, unlike much being written now in this country. To find things like them, you may have to go back at least a decade to some of the work being done then under the freshening influence of European poetry. I can only guess at some of the sources of his imagery and his personal darkness of tone; but whatever they may have been it seems to me that they have become part of him, revealed now in poems long thought about and carefully written, rich and quiet.
The Cave by Tom Holmes ($12.00) ISBN # 978-0-9883525-6-8
WINNER OF THE BITTER OLEANDER PRESS
LIBRARY OF POETRY BOOK AWARD FOR 2013
Tom Holmes is the editor of Redactions: Poetry & Poetics. He is also author of Poems for an Empty Church (Palettes & Quills Press, 2011), The Oldest Stone in the World (Amsterdam Press, 2011), Henri, Sophie, & the Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound: Poems Blasted from the Vortex (BlazeVOX Books, 2009), Pre-Dew Poems (FootHills Publishing, 2008), Negative Time (Pudding House, 2007), After Malagueña (FootHills Publishing, 2005), and Poetry Assignments: The Book (Sage Hill Press, forthcoming). He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize seven times, and his work has appeared a number of times on Verse Daily, as well as numerous journals. His current prose writing efforts about wine, poetry book reviews, and poetry can be found at his blog, The Line Break: http://thelinebreak.wordpress.com/.
Hand art on Paleolithic cave walls is the artery, but observations like cut gemstones are woven into Tom Holmes' exciting tapestry of The Cave with its hunger for mystery to balance you along the edge: "When the wall opens, / I am lightning in the antelope's antlers / and the stripe along its jaw." These poems wrestle with the concept of time. They want to capture time, yet realize that time is elusive. So, they attempt to understand time through concrete experience, which poses its own dilemma. Even The Needle, a vehicle which hopes to stitch the fabric designed to apprehend time, is ephemeral: "Let me tell you about the needle. / It is and it is not. It points / to what will be, and what it isnt..." Undeterred, the poet continues his quest. Enjoy this exciting journey through the primordial future.
--Alan Britt, judge for the 2013 Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award.
Puppets in the Wind by Karl Krolow ($21.00) ISBN # 978-0-9883525-7-5
translated from the German by Stuart Friebert
Karl Krolow (1915-1999) was the author of more than twenty-one volumes of poetry in his lifetime, each with a physiognomy of its own. A noted critical essayist, he always furnished an exacting commentary on four decades of international poetry. Every German prize for literature honored his name and work, yet in translation his work is barely known. Scattered over the last forty plus years, only six books of his work in translation have appeared. Michael Bullock's Foreign Bodies and Invisible Hands, two wonderful renderings, along with Herman Salinger's Poems Against Death (all in 1969), and now this third selected edition of poems, Puppets in the Wind translated by Stuart Friebert.
Karl Krolow was a giant of twentieth century German letters, and made his mark early and often with poems, translations from Spanish, French and English, and criticism. Later, he added prose to his staggering output, which includes a number of volumes of Selected Poems (decade by decade), each with a life and mind of its own. Reminding of Virginia Woolf's dictum that a writer must be able to distinguish one day's light from another's, Krolow famously said he didn't write just for readers, but also for "so-called dead objects, landscapes, cities, gardens, streetcorners, animals, the air itself, for stones and their pores, for sadness, and bodily pain." Ranging across many subjects and themes, in a plethora of voices at once abstract and detached, Krolow's language is so concentrated that what is observed becomes intimate, even voyeuristic at times, illuminating basic human wants, needs, and values. Fond of quoting Flaubert, Krolow was intent on eventually "writing a book about nothing," which at the same time would be about everything.
Sheds/Hangars by José-Flore Tappy ($21.00) ISBN # 978-0-9883525-4-4
translated from the French by John Taylor
Special thanks to the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia for their support in making this translation project possible.
Finalist for the National Translation Award for 2015 through the American Literary Translators Association
José-Flore Tappy was born in Lausanne in 1954. She is the author of six volumes of poetry, all of which are translated in this volume. She has won two prestigious Swiss literary awards: the Ramuz Prize for Errer mortelle and the Schiller Prize for Hangars and for her entire oeuvre. Tappy has also written an essay about the artist Loul Schopfer. She has translated Spanish poetry and, with Marion Graf, the poems of Anna Akhmatova. She works as an editor and scholar at the Centre de Recherches sur les Lettres Romandes at the University of Lausanne. This book represents the first appearance of her poetry in English translation.
Tappy by no means abandons the deceptively simple, vivid, arresting imagery that has always characterized her poetry: here, the front of the house that becomes a gash in the darkness, the wall of nails, the keyboard of heads, the black-petal eiderdown, and the ladder of waves. Because of the suggestiveness of such symbols and word-pictures, one senses between the lines or behind the words something much deeper than that which can be summarily designated or described: the mystery of death itself, of course, but also certain aspects of this obviously intimate yet otherwise undefined relationship, which ever remains "before" words and yet becomes palpable, imaginable because of the poems.
---John Taylor, in his introduction
Painting the Egret's Echo by Patty Dickson Pieczka ($16.00) ISBN # 978-0-9883525-2-0
WINNER OF THE BITTER OLEANDER PRESS
LIBRARY OF POETRY BOOK AWARD FOR 2012
The poetry of Patty Dickson Pieczka never hesitates to introduce both a startling imagination and a sense of the natural world. Here is a poet who is no stranger to either. With fast-paced literature more and more the norm, we're more than fortunate to have a place such as this book of poems to go and settle ourselves down. Poems in Painting the Egret's Echo are sanctuaries for all those moments in life that elude us. Pieczka's poems see, hear, experience and uncover for us so many terrestrial experiences occurring unseen at all times around us. In universes we have yet to fully explore for their ingenuity and beauty, she is the perfect guide for us. Her knowledge and those precious maps of perception earned through life-changing experiences help the reader flow into their rhythm and wash out the other side a more vitalized person. Giving someone a new pair of eyes is not always easy, but if only for a few precious moments, it can make all the difference.
Raised in Evanston, Illinois as a writer's daughter, Patty Dickson Pieczka found a strong appreciation of poetry. She graduated from the Creative Writing Program at Southern Illinois University in 2006 and, while there, spent two summers as an editorial intern at Crab Orchard Review. She fell in love with the area and moved to Carbondale, where she and her husband John own and manage a small rental business. They spend their free time exploring the lakes, trails, and bluffs of southern Illinois, from which Patty draws inspiration for her writing. She also enjoys music and played cello with the SIU symphony for more than ten years.
Her first book, Lacing Through Time, was published by Bellowing Ark Press in 2011, and her chapbook Word Paintings (Snark Publishing) was published in 2002. One of her poems was nominated for an Illinois Arts Council Award, and she was the recipient of the 2010 Frances Locke Memorial Poetry Award. Additionally, her work may be found in such journals as: Apocalypse, Bellowing Ark, The Bitter Oleander, Bluestem, Blue Unicorn, Briar Cliff Review, California Quarterly, The Cape Rock, Chicagopoetry.com, Common Ground, Crab Orchard Review, Eureka Literary Magazine, Forge Journal, Green Hills Literary Lantern, Halogen, Karamu, The Listening Eye, Mad Swirl, Mid America Poetry Review, Midday Moon, Moon Reader, Poetry Depth Quarterly, 96 Inc., Northern Stars Magazine, Quantum Leap and their anthology, Editor's Cut, Poet's Post, Rambunctious Review, Red Owl, Red Rock Review, Red Wheelbarrow, Seedhouse, Skidrow Penthouse, Sidewalks, Sierra Nevada College Review, Springhouse Magazine, A Summer's Reading, Talking River Review, and Willow Review.
1001 Winters / (1001 Talve) by Kristiina Ehin ($21.00) ISBN # 978-0-9786335-8-5