Monday, May 14, 2012

Four Way Moves to Tumblr

As of now, we are officially leaving blogger and only on tumblr. To keep in touch with us and keep up to date with everything related to Four Way Books (author readings, Four Way events, book launches, submission deadlines, etc.), be sure to follow us on tumblr. See you there!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"Publishers Weekly" Reviews "The Pretty Girl"

"Spark's imaginative collection of stories (after the novel Good for the Jews) offers quirky surprises at every turn, as ordinary characters transcend their mundane lives. In the titular novella, "The Pretty Girl," Midwesterner Andrea feels a special bond to her Great Aunt Rose and a painting, hanging in her aunt's Spartan New York apartment, of a "laughing, young woman with two raspberry-colored gloves," who seemed to say to her beholder, "Oh, you silly. Go away." Like Spark's other characters, Andrea is charmingly plain, making her fascination with the alluring painting (which Andrea calls "The Pretty Girl") and her reticent aunt an engaging narrative force. In the wake of Rose's death, Andrea discovers the source of the painting, and the story of a great love and its surprising consequences come to light. In "Conservation," a young man destined for stardom at a news network returns home years later as a disturbing enigma in dress and attitude, unsettling the tranquility of former friends. And in the surreal "A Wedding Story," socially inept 20-something Rachel Rubinstein finds a tiny, sagacious rabbi in an old chocolate egg discovered among her deceased grandmother's effects--"‘Shalom,' he called, half in warning, so she wouldn't bite further." The numerous shifting realities and transformations in these stories might devolve in the hands of a lesser writer, but Spark's controlled craft keeps the narrative tight and the pages turning." (Publishers Weekly)

Congratulations, Debra!

If you want to learn more about The Pretty Girl and get your copy, visit us online. While you're there, check out what other new titles we have ready for you! For more on Debra Spark, follow our blog and tumblr to keep track of her on her blog tour for The Pretty Girl!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Rigoberto Gonzalez Makes The Believer's Reader Survey

Black Blossoms by Rigoberto Gonzalez made The Believer's list of READERS’ FAVORITE WORKS OF POETRY IN 2011, alongside many wonderful books!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Four Way Books Author Readings

Happy May! We're excited to say that there are quite a few readings set up this month for our authors. So if you're around, you should go!

5/2 (tomorrow!): Four Way Books & Friends at the NYU Main Bookstore, Patrick Ryan Frank, Jonathan Wells, and Stephen Motika, 6:30pm

5/3: Patrick Donnelly with Carmen Giménez Smith at The Muse Times Two Series, Collected Works Bookstore, Santa Fe, NM, 6pm

5/6: Patrick Donnelly at Sunday Chatter, The Kosmos, Albuquerque, NM, 10:30am

5/6: Patrick Donnelly with Dana Levin at Tome on the Range Bookstore, Las Vegas, NM, 3pm

5/16: Debra Spark at Newtonville Books, Newtown, MA, 7pm

5/17 Debra Spark at Longfellow Books, Portland, ME, 7pm

Spark Talks With "Lilith" for Blog Tour

As she continues her blog tour for her latest book The Pretty Girl, Debra Spark was interviewed by Lilith, a magazine and blog that is "independent, Jewish & frankly feminist".

"I am married to a painter, and I have spent much of my life in the company of artists—writers, painters, photographers, graphic novelists, playwrights, actors, etc. There’s an artist friend or casual acquaintance behind almost all of the stories in my book. For instance, I have a friend who used to direct an art workshop for developmentally disabled adults and that informed my story “Conservation.” On a plane, I once met a woman who took photographs for luggage catalogs, and that influenced part of “I Should Let You Go.” Two of my writer-friends had serious breakdowns when they were in their twenties. After they were hospitalized, they were both forbidden to write. The curious proscription influenced “Lady of the Wild Beasts.”

Read the rest of Lilith's conversation with Spark. And visit Four Way Books to take a closer look at her book The Pretty Girl.

Monday, April 30, 2012

May 14th Event at Asian American Writers' Workshop With Monica Youn

On Monday, May 14th at 7pm, at the Asian American Writers' Workshop on West 27th Street in New York City between 6th and 7th avenues, there will be a "salon-style multimedia show-n-tell, where your favorite authors and artists present the images that have been haunting their writing." 

To learn more about this event and others at the Asian American Writers' Workshop, click here. For more on Monica Youn and to get a copy of her book Ignatz, visit our website

Rigoberto Gonzalez Talks About "Letras Latinas" for Poetry Foundation

"As our poetry month (and time on Harriet) comes to a close, I wanted to reflect on an important program that continues to influence the visibility of Latino poetry in this country.
If the poetry community at large seems tiny, imagine the Latino poetry community–it’s no degree of separation. Though ours is a virtual community that stays in touch via social media (and comes together at least once a year at AWP, during the annual Con Tinta pachanga), we are fortunate to have a year-round resource such as Letras Latinas, the literary program of the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame. It sponsors readings and other literary events, on campus and across the country. And under the close direction of Francisco Aragón, the program has created important publishing opportunities specifically for Latino writers."

To learn more about the program, click here. To learn more about Rigoberto Gonzalez and his writing, visit our website. You can even get a copy of his book, Black Blossoms.

Monica Youn Writes Poem on NPR

Four Way Books author Monica Youn went on NPR's All Things Considered and wrote a great poem after a day in the newsroom.

 "Today at All Things Considered, we continue a project we're calling NewsPoet. Each month, we bring in a poet to spend time in the newsroom — and at the end of the day, to compose a poem reflecting on the day's stories."

Read the rest of the article and Youn's poem. And visit us online to get a copy of Youn's book, Ignatz.

Kindle Edition of The Pretty Girl

We're excited to announce that you can now order The Pretty Girl for your Kindle! So regardless of whether you like books in print or in digital form, you can get your copy of The Pretty Girl today. Visit our site to see what books we have for you this spring.

Debra Spark's Blog Tour: "The Quivering Pen"

For Spark's third blog tour stop, she wrote about her virgin experiences as a writer for The Quivering Pen's column, "First Time".

"So my first story publication quickly became my first book publication.

I was 24 when the book came out.  I had one of the best agents in New York.  The New Yorker actually wrote me back then and asked me to submit work.  When I did send stories, I got long detailed responses.  Editors called my agent, asking for a novel from me.

Only I didn’t know how to write."

Continue reading Spark's story, then look around the blog for other "First Time" stories. Don't forget to stop over at Four Way Books for a copy of Spark's The Pretty Girl!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

FWB author Farrah Field will read from her first poetry collection, Rising(FWB, 2009) in Brooklyn tomorrow night at Late Night Library’s bi-coastal anniversary party! Farrah’s second collection, Wolf and Pilot, is forthcoming in October. Don’t miss a live reading plus a live podcast from the party in Portland!

Debra Spark's Blog Tour Stop Two, "The Arty Semite"

Four Way author Debra Spark makes her blog tour's second stop at The Arty Semite (The Jewish Daily Forward).

"My siblings are kind (though not uniformly) about my work. There are a few comments, over the years, that hurt at the time, that pain me less in retrospect. Here’s one that just interested me. My mother read a few stories of mine (in draft) and then asked, “Why do all your characters have to be Jewish?” She wasn’t asking this about the stories where there was a clear answer. If the story concerned Jews on the Lower East Side or a rabbi (as two of the stories in my most recent collection do), then that was fine. What she was asking was about the other stories. The ones with no clear Jewish content, where I nonetheless had made the characters Jewish. The story about the faltering marriage in Baltimore, the one about the cousins living together in a Cambridge apartment when Vaclav Havel’s press secretary comes to visit? They didn’t have to be Jewish, did they?" Continue reading.

Get your copy of her book The Pretty Girl and take a look at our other Spring 2012 books.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Interview with Four Way Author, Collier Nogues

Chris Miller in Conversation with Collier Nogues

CHRIS MILLER: I love how you begin your book, On the Other Side Blue, with an observation from an airplane. Can you explain the challenge of "distance," and maybe even "proximity," when trying to write about the loss of a parent? And would you mind sharing a little about your mother and your relationship with her? Did she also write poems?

COLLIER NOGUES: My husband pointed out once as he read the manuscript that for a book ostensibly about my mother, there wasn’t much of her in it—she wasn’t easy to get to know from reading the poems. I realized he’s right. The book’s not exactly about her, although who she was, the kind of person she was, is very important to it. Her mother was an English teacher, and so was she, and her whole side of the family is bookish—they’re all teachers or librarians or ministers. She wrote a master’s thesis on Poe, and always wanted to be a college professor, but she got married instead. She was a junior high and high school teacher, and she was good at it. But she loved being a student, too. She was always taking summer classes, ranging from Arabic to instructional technology. Once while I was in college she went to a summer poetry program, and came back demoralized—she said a famous poet (she wouldn't say who) had told her she would always be an amateur. I hope that poet has ashes in his mouth, whoever he is. In many ways, I think she would have liked to lead the life I do—as a writer and a college teacher. In terms of feminism, she was of the generation that saw my generation enjoying the turned tide. Her generation turned it, but she didn’t participate early on, and her later feminism developed very much through her experience in an unhealthy marriage, and leaving it. I don’t think she ever imagined writing as a possible career for herself, but she took a lot of pleasure in my wanting that.

MILLER: I'm curious about the role or significance of the structure, especially section II, in this collection. In terms of the arc, there seems to be a highly thought-out movement through the five sections. You begin with the immediate moments before and after the loss of your mother, and then move into a description of a temporary living space in "The Barn Apartment." Next, the poems explore a world of memory and family. The last two sections seem to focus on faith, wilderness, and continuance, or the way grief can become "less frighteningly central." It seems as the book progresses you are able to begin to talk/think about other things, but the loss of you mom or others you know, still pervades the poems. Am I getting at something with this description of the book's structure? Is this, at least partly, what you had in mind?

NOGUES: I think you’ve nailed my intentions for the structure. I like the way you describe the second section as being about a “temporary living space,” especially. That poem is about the building that my father moved into in his last years, when he was retreating from the world. I was sixteen when he died, and wasn’t living with him, so his motivations and experiences are less available to me than my mother’s were. As I was writing the book, it did seem strange to me that here was all this material about my mother, and my dad appeared not at all. That poem is for him, and about him. As I was arranging the manuscript, that poem seemed to belong by itself in a single section, and seemed to fit best just after the intensity of the poems in the first section. There was a vast space, to me, between the tone of those two sections, and the fact that “The Barn Apartment” is one longer spare poem balanced the multiple short lyrics in the first section. There was also no other way I could see to move forward from that first set of poems. “Anthurium,” which launches the third section, is too flip to come immediately next, but I knew it belonged at the beginning of the next move, in terms of the chronological and emotional arc the book has. So “The Barn Apartment” solved that problem, too.

This may actually be a way into answering your first question, the one about distance and proximity when trying to write about the loss of a parent. “The Barn Apartment” is so detached, comparatively—many of my friends had no idea it was about my dad (though my great-aunt did immediately, and wrote me a few memories of visiting him in that apartment). My mother was a much more proximate subject, and I knew her much better. I was a caregiver for her at times in my twenties, which meant our roles had switched earlier than they do in many families. We were friends in what seemed at the time a more equal way than many of my female friends and their mothers were. Also, I was an only child, and my mother and I lived together just ourselves after my parents divorced. This made us very close, though not always in a way I was happy with. So my relationship with each parent, and the circumstances of their deaths, were very different in terms of literal and temporal proximity.

But beyond that, I like that you generate this question from that first poem, “The Woman Who Left.” There is a sense of extreme, surveying distance in that poem, and also a sense of surprise and at the same time a defensive displacement—it’s not me, it’s not my funeral suit this time. But of course it is, too—that speaker can’t shake the funeral-suit feeling. The speaker in that poem has a kind of exhaustion-induced third-person view of herself moving in the world, but also wants to be the narrator at a far remove, seeing everything. Immediately after my mother died, and for a few months, I was aware that my life was moving forward, that I was moving forward, with less control over what was happening than I’d ever had in my adult life. I understood I couldn’t hope to understand much—and in retrospect, it was exactly like when I found out my father had died, except that with my mother I was grown, and there when it happened, which made it even stranger. It felt like I’d been swamped by a wave, and was left standing neck-deep watching the wave go into the shore. I was too deeply in it and also at the same time the force of it was gone, I was apart from it, too calmly, so that I didn’t trust my observations of what I felt. In fact I took some pleasure in being beyond what I could observe and put down on paper. I wasn’t worried, and it was the first time in years I hadn’t been worried. Around this time I talked to a friend whose father had died a few years before, and she said that while he was ill it had felt like a betrayal to imagine her life beyond his, to make plans more than a year in advance, for example. When he died, she could, and it was a relief. I felt something like that. Suddenly my horizon wasn’t in the same room with me anymore. And then later when I was able to write about what it was like losing her, my mother was both absolutely distant because she was gone, and also even closer, in a sense, because all I had of her was me. I was very drawn to the photographs I have of her in which we look like each other. And the poems I wrote then were very focused on single details at a time. I could only look at that much, and that single thing would unfold hugely. None of those ended up in the book, except “Hydrangea, Best Blue Flower.”

MILLER: There are quite a few eggs in the first half of the book? Any special reason?

NOGUES: I hadn’t noticed! Chickens, though, make it into my poems frequently. Also other farm animals, and cats. Perhaps this is because I lived in rural Texas until I was ten? My husband pointed out once that there are a lot of natural objects which are not very particularized—‘those trees,’ ‘the sheep,’ ‘the cat,’ but never ‘birches’ for example, so that they pass as real objects but are not, quite, visible or significant as the specific objects they are in the world.

MILLER: I was particularly intrigued by "Train Prayer" and also the line / idea, "I hate not having a faith", from your poem, "After the Avalanche." You also mention living uncles who are pastors. Can you explain more about your faith, or desire to have one, and how that entered into or shaped your experience of loss, and also your poetry?

NOGUES: My parents grew up Presbyterian and Methodist in southern towns where denomination organized social life, but when they married they didn’t go to church. I never did as a child, except occasionally with friends. My mother later explored Siddha Yoga and then Okinawan Shinto Buddhism (we lived on Okinawa during my teen years). I didn’t talk to her about her faith, or her search for it, though I think we shared the same general curious agnosticism. I like what Augustine has to say about talking about God, which is that language is no good, both because it’s temporal and successive (you can’t say everything at once) and God isn’t, and because language can’t describe God accurately anyway. So the only appropriate intersection of human language and God is speech to God directly: via prayer, or confession. The one-on-one communication experience is also what I love about poetry. A poet, really, is only ever talking to one person at a time, and that relationship is pretty odd. There’s a privacy about poetry and prayer both that appeals to me.

“After the Avalanche” talks about faith not so much in terms of believing in God as of having a specific denominational faith. I want “a faith,” with the indefinite article, in that poem because being a believer in a community of believers would ease grief, or help it make sense. But that poem also refuses to agree that it would be the belief making things easier—instead, the key is what’s made possible by shared belief: the comfort of a group of people grieving together, understanding grief the same way. I think I may have thought I’d grow into faith, or “a” faith, of the sort people like my Methodist pastor uncle have. I sort of hope I will, but I can’t imagine it.

MILLER: If you would like to share any thoughts about "The Party," I would love to hear. I thought that was a fantastic poem.

NOGUES: Thank you. I really like that poem, too. It owes a lot to the poet Sarah Manguso, whose book Siste Viator I was reading again when I wrote that. “The Party” is really a protest against unfairness, a protest which knows it’s being unreasonable, or at least that it’s looking in the wrong place for justice. That poem is interested in the unwelcome envy that comes from watching other people’s loving (despite being still messed-up) family relationships. And it’s interested in the unexplainable and arbitrary elements of the Bible—the elements that are so, anyway, to someone who is not a believer. Genesis offers no clear reason why God dismisses Cain’s offering of his harvest in favor of Abel’s of his flock. I absolutely sympathize with Cain. His frustration seems so warranted, and he gets no validation—he’s made to feel like a child with no power, trying to earn a blessing from an authority whose criteria are opaque to him. So he lashes out. I like Martin Buber’s writing on this. He points out that because there was no precedent of death so soon out of the Garden, when Cain struck Abel on the head he had no way of knowing that Abel might die. So Cain’s made an example of, but it doesn’t seem like justice. The speaker in “The Party” feels reduced to an envy she understands is unfitting for an adult, because it’s an envy of circumstances beyond anyone’s control, but it overwhelms her just the same. Maybe it is God back there being arbitrary and cruel; he has been before. The speaker sees Cain as an example, but she isn’t a confident believer. Here we are back at faith: the lines “I think there are two promises that will be kept. The first / is that we’ll be given the opportunity to fail or surmount. // The second is that we’ll have help” were the strongest statement of faith I could make at the time. I think they still are.

MILLER: My mother passed about three weeks after I was married. Your final poem suggests you were engaged after your mom's passing. Can you expound upon how the theme of marriage weaves into this collection?

NOGUES: I never thought I’d get married. My models for marriage, with few exceptions, weren’t strong ones. I never imagined it working, and how a project like that would get off the ground I couldn’t see. Also, I was an orphan at 29, which removed me from the trajectory of life events most people I knew were experiencing. Milestone events seemed unmoored from their proper order. But then, if your mother can die after having been alive, why not a wedding after all? So marriage in the book, I think, I approach with a sense of the unreal, of wonder that it’s even happening. My husband and I had met a few times while my mom was still alive, though we didn’t start dating until a year after she died. It’s comforting to me that I knew them both for an overlapping period of time, though they never met or even knew about each other. That sense of continuity feels important.

MILLER: Lastly, how do you think the loss of your parents, specifically your mom, will continue to manifest, interact with, and shape your poetry?

NOGUES: For a while during and after I was putting together this manuscript, I had to work to write poems about something not informed directly, to the point of mentioning, my mother or her death. I kept returning to the subject even after I felt I’d finished with it—it was habit. I wrote a lot of poems about God and ethics, which were the other subjects I found myself thinking about a lot. I don’t like many of them now, but they got me writing about something else. It took several years before I was past the point at which everything in my writing connected back to her.

The loss of my dad, since I knew him so much less well and lost him before I was an adult, means that I can imagine all kinds of things about him. He was a Marine and a Formula One racecar builder, and a country attorney and a heavy drinker. He liked people, and strangers, and got along well with everyone. I like it when I feel like him, which isn’t often. I think my interest in being able to understand something about other people, to reach them, to enjoy their company, as well as my interest in how impenetrable people are to each other, and also how deeply they can mark each other, comes in part from the early loss of my parents and my understanding of who they were. I’m working now on a manuscript about Okinawa, about the air base I grew up on and the island’s history as a colonial holding of China and Japan and now the U.S., basically. It’s a place haunted by military paternalism, and for me moving there just after my parents divorced, it was haunted by fatherlessness. The reason we ended up there was that teaching for the Department of Defense schools overseas was a great situation for a single mother. And of course my mom and I learned the place together, so my understanding of it is colored by that. But this book is not about my life in such an immediate way as On the Other Side, Blue is. So while I don’t foresee excising the loss of my parents from my writing, I think that my recent and future poems are likely to be much less directly influenced by that loss.


Interviewer: Chris Miller is a poet in his second year of the MFA program at Arizona State University. Film, music, the characters and stories of the Bible, science fiction, poetry, and classic literature, continually intrigue him.

For your copy of Other Side, Blue, visit us online

Debra Spark Begins Blog Tour with "MyJewishLearning"

Debra Spark, the author of The Pretty Girl, has begun her blog tour for her book at MyJewishLearning.

"In literature, as in life, you may go looking for one thing, only to find another. Several years ago, I decided to go to London to do research for a novel I was planning to write. I had written a short story about Victorian toy theatres — it’s in my most recent book, The Pretty Girl — and I didn’t think I was quite through with the subject. I had an idea of writing a novel that was set, at least partially, in Victorian times and focused on a Jewish engraver of plates for the toy theatre. I felt, from the start, that I was in over my head. What did I know about Victorian London? Much less, Jews in that time period? As part of my research, I engaged a tour guide who took me on a daylong tour of Jewish London. By the end of the day, I felt unequal to the task of my novel. There was too much I didn’t know."

Click here to continue reading Spark's post. This is only her first blog post... keep an eye out for her next blog tour stops! And be sure to get your copy of The Pretty Girl on our site. 

"The Potomac" Reviews "Bad Daughter"

Four Way Books author, Sarah Gorham, gets another great review for her latest book, Bad Daughter from The Potomac.

"Gorham is truly one of those poets you don’t want to have to “explain” so much as simply “show,” bring to the reader’s attention. Look at this! And this! It’s the overall tone, a sort of Dickensonian playfulness, that’s really enchanting about her verse. Her poetry can pop and sparkle with the wisecracking wit of a Dorothy Parker."

Here is the full review. Get your copy of Bad Daughter and take a look at our latest books while you're at it.

Monday, April 23, 2012

C. Dale Young in "The Collagist"

C. Dale's poem, What is Revealed, was published in The Collagist. Congratulations, C. Dale!

Read the poem here. To learn more about C. Dale Young and our other authors, visit our website.

"New England Review" Congratulates C. Dale on his Guggenheim

Big congratulations to C. Dale Young, NER’s Poetry Editor, on his 2012 Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry!
NER contributor Christian Wiman, Editor of Poetry magazine, was also awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship this year.
Read more about this year’s Fellows at Jacket Copy.
For more information, click here. To get a copy of C. Dale's latest book, Torn, visit us online. And while you're there, visit our homepage for our new Spring 2012 titles. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Rose McLarney's Writing Place for "The Orion Blog"

"I have to bend down to enter the door and I sit, straight-backed on a stool, under a pair of meat hooks. It’s a canning house, an outbuilding on my old farm, built into the hillside, out of uneven brick, lined with beadboard, and in shelves. The canning house is where food—rows of jars, hanging hams—was once stored, and I think I use it because I want to take putting by as my model. Perhaps I can write something as enduring as preserves. I don’t imagine mine will be canonical masterpieces, but I would like to think I could write a poem worth revisiting, the way the complex taste, even the resilient texture, of summer’s rhubarb is when un-canned again in winter."

Rose McLarney, the author of The Always Broken Plates of Mountains, writes about where she writes for The Orion Blog. If that first paragraph intrigued you (as we suspect it did), read on! And after, head over to Four Way to get a copy of her book and see what other new titles we have.

Congratulations to C. Dale Young, Pablo Medina, and Sarah Manguso: Our 2012 Guggenheim Fellows!

Congratulations to recent
Four Way Books author
C. Dale Young, recipient of a 2012 Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation!!

Congratulations also to Four Way Books authors Pablo Medina for a Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry and to Sarah Manguso for a Guggenheim Fellowship in General Non-Fiction!!

View the entire list of 2012 Fellows here.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Verse Wisconsin Reviews "Bad Daughter"

Four Way Books' Sarah Gorham got a great review of her latest book Bad Daughter by Verse Wisconsin.

"The trailer for Sarah Gorham’s fourth book of poetry follows the cover artist, Michelle Tock York’s, Metamorphosis character, towing a wagonful of cat, dog, and rabbit as she traces a knotted clothesline that dangles phrases from the poem "When we were good we were…". This is apt, as Bad Daughter is threaded tight by anxiety over cohesion—for the unfolding skein, the slip of the slip, or the dissolution of the self....

As loose as the thread may seem at times, the careful reader will notice persistently recurring stitches throughout the book that signify careful needlework. Gorham, known for her work as co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sarabande Books as well as for her poetry, appears to be at the height of her powers in this collection."

Here is the rest of the review, and to get your copy of Bad Daughter and see what else is happening right now at Four Way (new books, new events, our benefit on May 2nd!) visit us online.