F IN by Carol Guess. $14.00. Available here.
“F IN began as a ghost story, a mystery, my attempt to subvert the conventions of those forms. I wanted to tell the story of the (ubiquitous) dead girl from the perspective of a curious girl who makes up the murder, author instead of observer. I wanted to give my heroine agency and appetite. Instead I spent several years writing a manuscript I wasn’t happy with—a novella titled Willful Machine—only to pull it a few weeks before publication.
“Rather than publish a book I wished I hadn’t written, I canceled my contract and sat down to revise. At first I tried to make the manuscript longer. Then I made it shorter. Finally I blanked it out: black font to white, invisible screen. After erasing the entire manuscript I allowed a few words back in. Hey you, come in. But you, stay out. I got to be a bouncer at the club I’d constructed.
“F IN is an erasure of Willful Machine. I like it better than the original manuscript. I did have moments of wanting to leave the manuscript blank, words hidden in white font. Compression is vital to my aesthetic; when I write something I often just want to erase it. If I were a choreographer I’d be obsessed with stillness, like the moment in Balanchine’s Serenade where the dancers stand motionless, vibrating with patience, before suddenly snapping their feet into first.”—Carol Guess.
Praise for Carol Guess’ Previous Books:
Praise for Doll Studies: Forensics . . .
“Carol Guess’ beautiful, sonically-charged studies are dynamic, dioramic boxes of words, where the fictive and the real revealingly complicate causes and effects, where everyday objects are persuaded to disclose their deeper truths, and where ‘clues collect, but you’ve got to be looking.’” —Geoff Bouvier, author of Living Room.
“The paradox of proximity is in full force in Carol Guess’ brilliant Doll Studies. The miniaturization of crime scenes, the photographs of the details, and finally Guess’ investigations into these literal and psychic murders reveal the texture of suffering, and our attempts to frame the moments ‘between breathing and dying.’ In these poems, ‘the idea is not to solve the crime’ but ‘to see as at a museum’—and we do see, through Guess’ eyes, the startling beauty left behind like clues in the wake of human violence. Overall, with Guess as our guide, we are given a stark tour of the end, and yet strangely filled ‘with peace because [we are] only watching.’” —Allison Benis White, author of Self-Portrait with Crayon.
Praise for My Father In Water . . .
“Ever since reading the blazing brilliance of Carol Guess’s aptly titled essay, ‘Red,’ I have been greedy for more and more of her nonfiction: the kind of greedy that covets new essays and essay collections. My Father in Water is a dream—a compilation of essays that reflects Guess’s extraordinary range, as a memoirist, a philosopher, a teacher, a recorder without parallel of queer identity in the 21st century. From our first vision of the author as a small child, ‘white-blonde, sun-slashed. . . . sitting in a cabinet marked Radioactive’ to the vision of her in the final, title essay, a woman for whom ‘no mouth is as dangerous as mine,’ we are caught in a performance of miraculously charged words enacting rescue—rescue of the artist herself, of her lover, of we the readers. It is a breathtaking high-wire act of unstoppable resonance and beauty.” —Susanne Antonetta, author of Body Toxic and A Mind Apart: Travels in a Neurodiverse World.
Praise for Tinderbox Lawn . . .
“Tinderbox Lawn will light you on fire. The music is broken glass; the buildings in flame . . . Richly steeped in the violence of loss, these poems are a tea ‘so sharp it cuts teacups to shards.’ And one wants to keep drinking — for the war planes and train whistles, the queer girls in dresses, for Guess’s vulnerable and unbreakable voice.” —Jen Currin, author of The Sleep of Four Cities.
“Carol Guess, through brilliantly wrought blocks of prose, has made the kind of poetry you’ll want to keep on your night-stand; poetry that won’t leave the back of your head — the pulse and insistent whisper of it — a ‘bridge between faith and decay.’”—Joseph Massey, author of Areas of Fog.
Drawing Water by Eva Heisler. $14.00. Available here.
“‘When white is well managed, it ought to be strange,’ writes Eva Heisler in her brilliant new hybrid collection Drawing Water. Here narrative falls away, replaced by repetition, which creates both music and color. Drawing Water is a meditation on the significance of the line in both poetry and visual art. ‘The right hand margin / is profile– / is oar– / is brink.’ Each page functions as a poem or image that challenges convention: ‘What I learned from Matisse’s black– / to creep downstairs in the middle of the night and exchange blue silk for black wool.’ Writing as both poet and art critic, Heisler captures the tension between innovation and history that informs ‘two experiences of time: the random glitter of / unmeasured minutes; the geometry of schedules.'”—Carol Guess, author of Doll Studies: Forensics.
“Not since Marguerite Duras’s Writing or Maggie Nelson’s Bluets have I been so excited by a new book, but Eva Heisler’s Drawing Water has done it, has entered my ‘heart line / fate line / life line.’ It is a book for the back pocket, for a train ride or a rainy weekend, the kind of book that complements staring out a window at the changing landscape — shifting scenes sliding by, tiny beads of rain refracting light. Make no mistake: when Eva Heisler breaks a line she breaks a heart, just ‘as the sea / breaks at our back door.’ And throughout, her touch is as delicate as if she has been ‘drawing the wing on a fly,’ and the result is as mighty and ‘broad as the breast of a hero.'”—Molly Gaudry, author of We Take Me Apart.
the shared properties of water and stars by Kristy Bowen. $14.00. Available here.
Praise for Kristy Bowen’s Previous Books:
Praise for The Fever Almanac . . .
“In Bowen’s work, there is hazard to the homestead. Her poems reel you in with a Southerner’s hospitality, but as soon as you feel safe, the floorboards start caving in. Both devotional and dangerous, these poems are ‘prone to strange weather.’ In her book, occupied by ‘sadness and jazz in red dresses,’ an exacerbating beauty resides that is mesmerizing and revelatory. Bowen’s poems are about what exists in the periphery. Beyond the lovely delicacy of stockings, rice paper, Shalimar, yellow dresses, and tortoiseshell combs, there is famine and loss, desire and rot. When reading Bowen, one experiences an unraveling sensation that sidles into the nervous system, generating the shakes. As her wonderful title indicates, the work induces fever; yet, her poems don’t stop at disease and disappointment, they make an argument through death, so that we may experience release, sustenance, and restitution. Philomela’s tongue has finally been returned. And I, for one, am gloriously sated and illumined by having read this linguistically shimmering book. Bowen’s poems are dark jars lit by phosphorescent moths.”—Simone Muench.
“Following Pound’s adage, Kristy Bowen has cut the waste marble from the figures of these muscular lyric poems; what remains is sculptural, opaque, and suggestive as beach glass. Full of fever dreams and labyrinthine tattoos, that are poems that ‘taste like rainstorm/all dampness and electricity’-poems powered by elusive images, rich diction, and terse musicality.”—Campbell McGrath.
Praise for Girl Show . . .
“Kristy Bowen’s poems unfold like a fairy-tale pop-up book; open like a cabinet of wonders in which girl is both cabinet and wonder; flame and spark into the night air where we read by that light. In a collection so rich in image-milk and angels and vinegar, the trapdoor and the hemline, bees and a line of low clouds-I’m struck even more by those seemingly small words of relationship-the prepositions-behind, against, inside, beneath beneath beneath. These poems arise from ‘the rubied dark’ where the Louises and Livvies and Coras live, frightened yet defiant, and return there, with us in tow.”—Mary Ann Samyn.
“The poems in Kristy Bowen’s brilliantly musical Girl Show capture the details of domestic life gone delicately, mysteriously wrong: ‘My salt shakers shaped like ducks. My ducks shaped like/killers.’ In this map of bruised doors and broken windows, house after house reveals burnt staircases and ghostly inhabitants. The girls displayed in these illuminated rooms ‘speak softly while night…knocks us out,/knocks us up.’ These gorgeous lyrics document dangerous histories, the marginalia that matters most. Bowen’s dreamy, eerie poems create a subversively gothic landscape: ‘mile after mile of busted/lunchboxes glinting in the sun.'”—Carol Guess.
What Is a Domicile by Joanna Penn Cooper. $14.00. Available here.
Praise for Joanna Penn Cooper . . .
Asking “[w]hat if we could step into each other’s lives?,” Joanna Penn Cooper’s what is a domicile navigates the experience of time, of how our sensations and memories interact with the particularities and complexities of place. “Travel[ing] up and down the reality scale” with humor and interrogative wonder, Cooper describes a poetics of populated space, in poems that investigate and create at once. Here, the documentary act of description intertwines with dream and memory to become its own generative engine, a participatory exposure (as in film, as in time) of the “space the vibrating world makes.”—Maureen Thorson, author of Applies to Oranges.
Joanna Penn Cooper’s debut collection, what is a domicile, interrogates the philosophical geographies of female/human embodiment. With the hypnotic languor of time-lapse photography, these dreamy poems, “lived by the movement of cloud shadow,” document the quotidian rituals of moving through domestic, urban, psychological, emotional, aesthetic, and textual spaces. “I’ve cured myself of being / so meta, or else I’ve embraced it,” Cooper writes in these alternately lush and witty poems, as she wrestles with the art of “[h]ow to wear the crown of love and fresh pita for lunch and let it go.” Like a Russian Matryoshka doll, spaces and lives nest and layer one inside the other—strange palimpsests over other days, hours, histories, ghosts—culminating in the Coke-can sized life growing within the speaker, who forms the vulnerable core from which these existential questions ripple with a gorgeously aching intensity: “You are in love with someone you just met, who’s lying there, too. You barely touch, but you’re also the same person. Part of the movie is a tiny spine, tiny kidneys. A four-chambered heart. Look at all the wonder.”—Lee Ann Roripaugh, author of On the Cusp of a Dangerous Year.
Apocryphal by Lisa Marie Basile. $14.00. Available here.
Praise for Lisa Marie Basile . . .
“Lisa Marie Basile is a romantic only in a world where romance encompasses the lilac roar of loss and a lush, ornate divination of grief. The roiling search for fathers and life beyond the grinding ether of some female ‘reality’ sidles up to fluid contemplations on the body, desire and belief. In Apocryphal ‘a camera captures everything,’ and that camera aches and bleeds and beats the drums of time’s non-linear passing.”—Gina Abelkop, author of I Eat Cannibals, editor of Birds of Lace.
“‘I was born with a registry for sadness. I am born to be a spectacle’ proclaims the fiercely candid speaker of Apocryphal. In this collection, a woman desperately searches through a landscape littered with ambivalence; she peers at us through wreckage left by a god-like, demon-like father who towers over her past with his ‘smell like pine, chest you could wrap around a boulder.’ This brave collection proudly wears its vulnerabilities in a transformative gesture towards strength, self-exploration, and desire. Basile resists easy labels of victim/abuser, masculine/ feminine, power/weakness, want/repulsion, in order to expose the intricate hidden passageways of sex and power that exist within us all. Her lines and visions carry a shaman like quality, echoing and haunting the reader’s psyche long after the book is put down. I still have the speaker’s cries trailing me through my days: ‘pluck me. pluck me. pluck me. pluck me.'”—Anne Champion, author of Reluctant Mistress.
“‘This is the way we talk / about fathers,’ says the speaker in Lisa Marie Basile’s Apocryphal, recreating a dark new mythology of family history and trauma, womanhood, and sexuality. As the title of Basile’s book indicates, mystery and (self)doubt are at the heart of the narrative – from memories painted as unreliable to the stories we tell ourselves in the face of trauma to the ways we rebuild ourselves out of those shadowy spaces. Basile relies on vintage snapshot images and a smoky dreamlike setting to recreate – and at times deny – an identity grounded in a brutal past, a speaker who was ‘born of the kind of love / that sneaks up on you,’ and who claims, ‘I want to haunt your history / like you’ve haunted mine.'”—Mary Stone Dockery, author of One Last Cigarette.
“Lisa Marie Basile brings us the reckoning of daughters ‘born with a registry for sadness.’ A cyclone of hot tears & cool stilettos, the prodigal ‘hair big with curl & eyelid lined, a structured gown…shaped like the colosseum’ returns again and again to the scene of the crime. Sometimes Daddy’s there, sometimes he’s a a ghost through the spider-webbed windshield. ‘The base of the electrical tower,’ ‘the Mercedes smoking in the background,’ ‘black roses, a grail filled by a girl’s sweating torso.’ She’s just what we needed.”—Danielle Pafunda, author of Natural History Rape Museum.
“I love the deft depiction of a situation and an inner life, both strange and secret and yet exceedingly well observed.”—Jennifer Michael Hecht, author of Stay, Doubt and Who Said.
“Lisa Marie Basile navigates layers of transformation with these poems. She explores what is body, what is not, and why it matters–how we grow and become. These poems are metal and salt and flower. They are muscle, and they are softness.”—Ashley Iguanta, author of The Way Home.
Operating Theater by Carrie Olivia Adams. $14.00. Available here.
Praise for Carrie Olivia Adams . . .
“This book is a cup dropped and left in shards. Luminescent, sharp. Cracked, it still holds water. Fragile, restless, economical. Drink me, this book says, meaning bind me to memory. Carrie Olivia Adams asks you to read into words memories you’ve made or forgotten. In Operating Theater, images function as smears on an X-ray, and you, Reader, must read as surgeon. Where to cut and where to stitch? You’re putting the pieces together again in the blue light of the theater, furniture draped in ghostcloth, ‘hostess to your hostage.’ This is a beautiful, visual exploration of loss, violence, and language, linked by musings on memory: ‘I gather light, lost in frames and thresholds…I want to know how long I have to wait until I remember again.'”—Carol Guess, author of Doll Studies: Forensics and F IN.
medi(t)ations by Emma Bolden. $14.00. Available here.
Praise for Emma Bolden . . .
“[…] her most recent poetry gives tragic voice to those dispossessed of choice with regard to the manner of alterations visited upon them, as well as the inadequacy of contemporary science—with all its proud manifold powers—to correct or even properly address many of them. This is particularly true of those among us who fall out of ourselves only to keep on falling. Yet there exists, too, the potential of providing a certain measure of aid even to those in the midst of descent. And, yes, I am speaking here of hope. For when words make memorable record of a singular plunge, they increase the possibility that the rest of us might fall a little easier, shifting our positions in mid-air.”—The Southern Literary Review.
“But the magic of these poems is conjured by their discontinuities, their tendency to interrupt themselves – in the words of Baudelaire they are “supple enough and jarring enough to be adapted to the soul’s lyrical movements.”—Joshua Corey, Judge’s Citation for the Spoon River Poetry Review’s 2014 Editors’ Prize.
“This book speaks in many tongues, many vivid, and living tongues.”—Thomas Lux, on Maleficae.
“Heartbreaking and eloquent, Emma Bolden writes beautifully and fearlessly about loss of innocence and trust, as well as love, personal authenticity, and resilience.”—Julianna Baggott.
Catechism: A Love Story by Julie Marie Wade. $14.00. Available here.
Praise for Julie Marie Wade . . .
“Catechism: A Love Story is a gorgeous collection of poetic essays on reading, loving, and, most delightfully, reading love between the lines. Julie Marie Wade’s prose refuses tradition and convention, the expected beginnings and endings, preferring instead to investigate the gray unknowns of ritual and sacrament in life, reading, and love. She writes, ‘Now the pages are scribbled with the Possible.’ Hers is a daring and true way to not only write but to live”—Jenny Boully.
“Catechism is exploration, is essay, is confession, is rite of passage through Before, Now, Future, Retrospect, Otherwise. Julie Marie Wade must find her own way, confront her own demons, and write her own life narrative in answer to the question, ‘Why love?’ Ultimately, like Jeanette Winterson’s Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, Wade’s Catechism celebrates the hero whose ‘desire to split proved irresistible,’ the heroine who finds a way to love her selves.”—Molly Gaudry.
“Julie Marie Wade will lead you astray. She promises to undo you if you’re willing to leave behind the things you only think you know: ‘I did not attend my own wedding,’ she writes, describing a road trip of twists and turns. In fairy tales, girls get lost to be found. Here’s a narrator willing herself lost for the losing, no path in sight through a forest of questions. I’m in awe of this restless, relentlessly curious character’s longing to risk everything for pleasure. ‘She had not allowed herself to be written the way she would like to be told,’ yet here she writes beautifully, with grace and integrity, in a fierce voice that urges your compass to North.”—Carol Guess.
“Julie Marie Wade spins myths and portraits, essays and verse, about interrogating tradition, questioning gender, and reaching for a new, blessed life. Catechism: A Love Story is a rosary for former Catholic school girls who dare to hold hands down in the wreck.”—Daisy Hernández.