Black Valentine by David Abel
This lovely addition to Chax Press' line of chapbooks features Portland poet David Abel's elegiac sequence on love and grief. Written in New York following the 1988 death of Robert Duncan but published in 2006, Abel's poem takes as its point of departure a line from Christopher Marlowe, who writes: “Black is the beauty of the brightest day.” From this ambiguous, mournful line, Abel fashions a beautifully spare set of poems that encompass and intertwine concerns both philosophical and quotidian, displaying both sadness and acceptance in the face of death.
Born Two by Allison Cobb
“Allison Cobb's BORN TWO brings monsters out of memory and an unexpected sweetness out of the firestorms of language. Hers is the mind of poetry, driven by history and lured by love, caught in the act of the need to know. Like a child after family secrets, Cobb turns up more truths than the ones she seems to be seeking. Childlike, too, are her characters, whose adventures carry them nearer and nearer the beautiful, erotic, and tragic world of knowledge.”—Susan Tichy
“For this new century, a poetry of minus signs. Like many of her generation, Allison Cobb's curious about the wheres, whens and whys of our predicament. Through compression, cubtraction, amputation and dispersal, she manages to scrape a hole across the ice on the windshield. BORN TWO peels away the myths of the American West to reveal the twitchy nerve beneath.”—Kevin Killian
Busy Dying by Hilton Obenzinger
At Columbia University in April 1968, Hilton Obenzinger was one of many students who dramatically occupied the president's office. For six days they protested the university's secret research to support the Vietnam War and its plans to build a gym in Morningside Park despite the opposition of Harlem. The occupation adn subsequent strike was a generational moment repeated in universities around the country and throughout the world. BUSY DYING is an autobiographical novel, a portrait of the author's Polish Jewish family, a coming of age in poetry, music, politics, and friends in New York City and Columbia, including a dangerous exodus through the Yukon to end up teaching on an Indian reservation in Northern California. All of this is comically and sometimes tragically relived as the author is inspired by a series of encounters and coincidences, including the revelations of students he teaches at Stanford today and the surprising discovery of the story behind 'Hilton Obenzinger,' a 1980s Long Island high school humor magazine.
“Hilton Obenzinger is an American original. His lost histories are acts of leger
Chantry by Elizabeth Treadwell
Chantry is song. Chantry is song that exceeds song structure in all dimensions to become invocation and enchantment. From “the vessel without a cover” to “late silhouette in / blue” it refuses to be contained, as a book wants to live outside its covers. Sing this: “linger so this grace of grace,” yet sing it so that “the door cracks in so many different directions.” It is in these cracks, these interstices, that Elizabeth Treadwell finds and makes song, and the song exceeds and excels. Wordsworth defined poetry as spontaneous overflow of emotion, recollected in tranquility. Hear the overflow: “lovelove. all back-slaps and gummy smiles; free for honest mating?” and hear the invocation of a tranquility available for recollection and celebration: “inventing an alphabet / and feast their Beloved for awhile.” Throughout all, hear a language that irrepressibly invites the reader in, and creates a world worth the while, worth the song.
Chromatic Defacement by Philip Foss
Phillip Foss’s CHROMATIC DEFACEMENT is a new fin de siecle theater of cruelty with the roles played by perfumes, echoes and elisions. Coquettish effluvia. Susan Howe meets Bataille and they have this child called Fetter of Nuance or, in fact, CHROMATIC DISPLACEMENT. I think I’m in love with it. – Rae Armantrout. There is the entrance of submission. The opening / is very low, or very shallow, as if its fabricator desired removal / of one’s head in entering, not concerning stature / but sensation and dialectics. (The Theater of Perfumes). Following the steps of Phillip Foss, one of Lully’s latter-day and more intrepid progeny surely, you will re-make desire. Re-make it and re-make it. Re-make it and make it last. At last. – John Taggart.
Conflict by Norman Fischer
“The conflict Norman Fischer speaks of in this poem is an inherent component of the universe. He writes of the human dilemma, the struggles of daily life, and the desire to 'hold the world in place,' showing us how not to be mired in any one spot. Freedom is won by tirelessly moving forward. The lines breathe: the poet's breath, and the complexity of his thought, visualized on the page.”—Anne Tardos
Dark Ladies by Steve McCaffery
Dark Ladies, by Steve McCaffery
Dark Ladies is an explosive meditation on death and laughter cast as both a Menippean masque and a user’s guide to the tragi-comic. Mixing erudition with illogicality and vaudeville vulgarity it pays homage to Shakespeare by both erasure and incorporation. Preserving the end rhymes of all 154 of his sonnets, in mirror-reverse order, and embedding stage directions from his comedic and tragic plays, it offers a grotesque repurposing of the bard’s great themes. Published to coincide with Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary, written in large part during the epoch of George W. Bush and dedicated to the dead and dying on a continuing basis, it advances a truly pataphysical vision of a haunting question. If death is the real solution to life, is laughter the imaginary solution to death?
Deaccessioned Landscapes by Jonathan Brannen
The visceral and the intellectual, the fragmentary and the full, the future and memory–Jonathan Brannen interrogates opposites in these facing pairs, brilliantly illuminating the zone of language that operates between. Sharp and bright, it’s a collection that sees the world in all its detail and in vivid color; it sparks the mind.”–Cole Swensen
Deathwatch for My Father by Hank Lazer
A handsewn chapbook with letterpress cover, DEATHWATCH FOR MY FATHER is a long poem, meditation, and memorial from the poet to his dying father in which Lazer attempts to use the thing he knows, language, in order to reconcile the thing he can’t know, death: “my mind inclines / to ask and what / is it perhaps to / turn your death into / linguistic inquiry / a somewhat familiar / terrain.”
Hank Lazer has published seventeen books of poetry, including N18 (COMPLETE) (Singing Horse Press, 2012), Portions (Lavender Ink, 2009), THE NEW SPIRIT (Singing Horse Press, 2005), ELEGIES & VACATIONS (Salt Publishing, 2004), and Days (Lavender Ink, 2002). He is Associate Provost for Academic Affairs and Professor of English at the University of Alabama, where he is Executive Director for Creative Campus and edits the Modern and Contemporary Poetics Series for the University of Alabama Press.
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
Edges of Water by Maureen Owen
“In a land where FEELINGS shared is a transgression, we get propelled onward! If Elizabeth Murray’s promise that the subconscious is what we paint about, then Maureen Owen’s promise is by the poems. Always there first, as Freud said, ‘Where I go I find a poet has been there before me.’ Imagine Sigmund meeting up with the latest Owen book. ‘We think we look back / we just look outside / surface that is a state / of meringue / holiness that is a condition independent / of deity….'”—CA Conrad
Maureen Owen is editor of Telephone Books and author of over ten poetry collections, including American Rush, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist, and AMELIA EARHEART, a recipient of the American Book Award. Formerly co-director of the Poetry Project, she now lives in Denver and teaches at Naropa University. Most recently, she is the author of EDGES OF WATER (Chax Press, 2013).
Entangled Bank, by James Sherry
Entangled Bank, by James Sherry.
Poetry. ISBN 978-0-9862640-8-5. 90 pages. Published November 1, 2016.
Entangled Bank opens with a set of five line poems dedicated to the “beauty” of various poets, a nuanced and generous version of Joseph Kaplan’s infamous Kill List, and concludes with a wrenchingly honest prose piece on Sherry’s correspondence with the late poet Stacy Doris on the limits of empathy. Between these gestures towards a troubled yet significant human connection, Sherry places poems in a variety of styles, as if styles were species in an ecosystem, a veritable “entangled bank.” Often he writes with scathing wit on the degradation of the environment and the fraudulence of the financial system. One line admonishes, “Wake up, this is about you.” And it is. You’re going to want it. — Rae Armantrout
Taking his theme from Darwin’s “entangled bank,” James Sherry pries open present life on the planet to reveal a tangled flow of vegetation, money, politics, beauty, selves, distributed networks, fish, nation states, death and friendship. “Couching nature as bundles and linkages,” he does not side-step the perils of hybridity but dives in head first: “Tamales of Sparta rolled global.” A dazzling display of formal invention leads up to an intimate, brutally candid chronicle of friendship and illness that is as clear-headed as it is passionate. And how can you not love a poem called “Memoir” that begins, “Dawn again / Fuck!” — Kit Robinson
Unbeauty will take you about as far as you can throw it, appeasing no one and nothing, all for good measure. James Sherry does not beware of entangling alliances, he foments them. — Charles Bernstein