Artifice in the Calm Damages by Andrew Levy
Chapbook / Letterpress Covers with original cover painting by Cynthia Miller
Poetry / ISBN 9781946104076 / 32 pages / $20
from the poem “War of Life” in Artifice in the Calm Damages
If there’s life on other planets, then
the earth is the Universe’s insane asylum. I felt something
was wrong the entire time, but I had possibly misread
the situation in its entirety. Someday, there will be something
that you just won’t be able to do again, like straighten up.
You’ll say I’m never going to get over it.
100% with you, this goes beyond passion, it is a cosmic orgasm.
any would be if, by Norman Fischer
Poetry. ISBN 978-1-946104-05-2. 146 pages. $17 US.
A graduate of the University of Iowa Writers Workshop, Norman Fischer is a poet and essayist. He has been practicing as a Zen Buddhist priest for thirty five years, and is one of the senior Zen teachers in America. The latest of his more than twenty-five poetry and prose titles are Experience: Thinking, Writing, Language and Religion (prose, Poetics Series, University of Alabama Press), Conflict (poetry, Chax Press), The Strugglers (poetry, Singing Horse Press), and Magnolias All At Once (poetry, Singing Horse). In 2000 he retired as co-abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center, one of the largest Buddhist organizations in the West, and founded The Everyday Zen Foundation (www.everydayzen.org), an international network of Buddhist groups and social projects.His latest Buddhist title is Training in Compassion (Shambhala). Norman Fischer lives on a cliff near Muir Beach California with his wife Kathie, also a Zen priest. Their two sons live in Brooklyn.
“without love no quirks,” writes Norman Fischer in the midst of any would be if. One might add: without quirks, no life, as in this book Fischer proceeds “by ellipsis,” and suggests that living, noticing, even drinking tea, manifests in similar fashion. Indeed, “the teacup told us how to hold it,” provides one of many delightful and slightly puzzling, or perhaps uncanny, moments in a book full of moments. Moments of thought, moments of action, moments of light, moments of language, moments through which “we pull ourselves into now.” If one wants a book to show the world, not in its grandeur (or, maybe that, too) but in its process, in the betweenness we all inhabit, then this is the book one wants. I know I am glad to have it, and to return to it, often, “to be.”
Leaves of Class, by Kit Robinson
Poems by Kit Robinson
The title of Kit Robinson’s latest is a nod to the Great Includer, and its pages share something of that earlier writer’s peripatetic energy, his constant welcoming. Think also of Monk’s sidewinding testaments, Saul Leiter’s carefully sudden Manhattan kodachromes, Top 40 radio when it (sometimes) used to be challenging. But the call of thought is the tone most often heard—the summons to consider, to praise, to inveigh. Time now to roll up those “vernacular shirt sleeves” and get down to “tuning the work of days.” These are irresistible poems.
— George Albon
Like Whitman, Kit Robinson celebrates himself, the world, and the amplitude of time. In Leaves of Class, we are treated to poetic clarity and a sense of rectitude. Whimsical forays into the boundaries of meaning and language, “You could say poetry publicity puberty probity,” he characterizes planetary currents, of which he knows he is an intrinsic part, as “vertiginous, lofty, cerebral, lazy, and light.” In this collection, Robinson leaves the ecology of self to discover new wilderness. Powerful stuff.
— Anne Tardos
The Letters of Carla, by Benjamin Hollander
The Letters of Carla, the letter b. A Mystery in Poetry
with a Foreword by The Future Guardian of the Letters
and an Afterword by Benjamin Hollander
Literary Nonfiction / Literary Criticism / Essay. ISBN 9781946104014. $19
A polemic, a dispute, an essai, a history of real persons in poetry, of agon and salient entanglement. An investigation, an epistle. A romp a ride, but open as conclusion. Across boundaries of time and place these ideas sing and let us serve an elusive poetic dream — Clara Bow perhaps. Like a Le Carre spymaster, this Carla, the letter b., is one of the ghosts whose imaginative skillful (means & motives one cannot grasp, and yet she leads us on.” Wallace Stevens and Charles Olson would be delighted. Kudos to the “forsworn author.” — Anne Waldman
Benjamin Hollander (1952-2016) lived for the past three decades in San Francisco, after moving there with his wife, Rosemary Manzo, in 1978. He taught English, Writing, and Critical Thinking, primarily at Chabot College, in Haward. He passed away on November 21, 2016. His many books include The Book of Who Are Was (Sun and Moon), Levinas and the Police Part 1 (Chax), Vigilance (Beyond Baroque), Rituals of Truce and the Other Israeli (Parrhesia), and In the House Un-American (Clockroot).
Don’t Forget to Breathe by Andrew Levy
Don't Forget to Breathe
“Andrew Levy's DON'T FORGET TO BREATHE is truly only figuring out how to stay free.”—Lissa Wolsak
“Somewhere in here the poet says 'you can call me Nothing / Which is something,' thereby compressing the crisis related in this book to its bluntest formulation. Who or what is the residue that causes these words to occur? What do these questions, jokes, propositions, slogans, fragments, rationalizations constitute? No answer is forthcoming: anatomies of 'absurdities / Spewing forth / From capital' disintegrate as they coalesce, disposing themselves along an eroding continuum, where each step taken is a step back to an abandoned future. Although from here it's hard to see forward, some day the sticks will dry out, giving us a chance to make a fire, in whose heat and light we'll remember DON'T FORGET TO BREATHE as a threshold.”—William Fuller
Salamander: A Bestiary
Poems by Leonard Schwartz / Images by Simon Carr
64 pages; 24 poems with 24 images plus title/cover image
What do you get when you put ten frogs in a coffee pot? Answer: Salamander, the latest in a long, imaginative line of animal inventories that began in classical Greece, if not on Noah’s Ark, became popular during the medieval period, and includes such modern innovators as Leonardo da Vinci and Lewis Carroll, Jorge Luis Borges and J.K. Rowling. A collaboration among a father, his daughter, and a woodcutter, this poetic menagerie celebrates the intelligence and ingenuity of two dozen creatures, from elk to eel, orca to owl. A labor of filial laughter, this carved, quirky rolodex is also a mirror in which we see ourselves, as “Wildness withheld,” for the endangered species we are.
— Andrew Zawacki
Woodcuts — are they black on white or white on black?—cut through the woods of words. The wood shows what the words mean. And the other way round. You can’t be sure with animals.
Animals are there just enough for us to glimpse (a woodcut is more shadow than flesh) and have some working poet explain them to themselves.
This book is all explanation. Read “Blonde Raven” to learn what it means to live in a visible world
The poems are sparse — light shows through them — and tell us things about animals, and tell animals about themselves — so much so that I’m not sure, after reading through the 24 panels, whether I’m being explained or being enlightened. That’s a perplexity that comes when reading Rilke and Dickinson too, poets who can’t always tell themselves from what they see.
— Robert Kelly
photo by Carlos David