Friday, December 11, 2009

Four Way Books Featured on "The Lantern Review"

Stephen Hong Sohn, Assistant Professor of English at Stanford University, gives praise and attention to several Asian-American Four Way poets in his blog entry on The Lantern Review. In the entry Stephen wishes to "highlight the exciting and innovative work being produced out of independent presses," and that includes Four Way Books! The title of this entry will take you to The Lantern Review.

Farrah Field's "Rising"

Ron Slate reviews Farrah Field's Rising for The Quarterly Conversation. Slate calls Farrah's collection "superb in its design and pacing" and adds that Rising "recruits its readers to wreak vengeance on what would block our humanity by unblocking the language we use to describe what actually happens." To read this wonderful review in its entirety, click on "Farrah Field's 'Rising'" above. If you are in the New York area, Farrah will be reading with three other writers, tomorrow, Saturday, December 12 from 3-5 PM at the Bushwick Library in Brooklyn.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Joel Brouwer's "And So"

Ron Slate reviews Joel Brouwer's third collection of poetry, And So, for Blackbird, an online journal of literature and the arts. Of Brouwer's writing, Slate says "he is capable of masterfully including what Roland Barthes called the “punctum” in a photograph, the essential detail that pricks the viewer in such a way that a hidden element leaks out but cannot be fully understood." For the full review, clink on the title of this entry above.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Best Sellers List

Four Way Books is pleased to announce that three of our authors have made the Poetry Foundation's Contemporary Best Sellers List for the week of November 8, 2009. Congrats to Meg Kearney, author of Home By Now; Sandy Tseng, author of Sediment; and Tom Healy, author of What the Right Hand Knows. For a full listing, please click on the link above.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Meg Kearney, Home By Now

Meg Kearney's Home By Now is reviewed by Publishers Weekly. Clink on the link to read her full review, and while you are there, check out the reviews of our other Fall books: Tom Healy's What the Right Hand Knows, Sandy Tseng's Sediment, and Daniel Simko's The Arrival. Of Kearney's collection PW says "Fluent and easy to like, serious in its take on the American life course, this second collection of poems for adults from Kearney (she's also the author of young adult verse) looks hard at the troubles and changes of Kearney's own experience..." (Nov. 2009)

Daniel Simko, The Arrival

Daniel Simko's The Arrival is a starred review in Publishers Weekly. Of Simko's debut posthumous collection, PW writes "these poems are fragmentary but always sharp, their emotional weight clear. [...] This book will be a bittersweet discovery to many who will wish this poet had more time." (Nov. 2009)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tom Healy at the Miami Book Fair International

Tom Healy, author of What the Right Hand Knows, will be a participant at this year's Miami Book Fair International, an eight day literary festival. If you are in the Miami area, catch Tom's event this Saturday, November 14 at 3:00 PM at Auditorium Pavilion B. For directions and more information visit

Friday, November 6, 2009

Mark Halliday on Kevin Prufer's "National Anthem"

"In National Anthem Kevin Prufer offers something that we may call political poetry, though it might better be called “post-political” because he imagines a world in which it is far too late to improve life via politics. National Anthem tries to express what it’s like to live in a society that provides, for now, apparent physical safety and material well-being, but which seems to be generating irresistible forces that will bring all-encompassing disaster." Check out the link to "Contemporary Poetry Review" for the rest of this review.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Joel Brouwer on Daniel Simko's "The Arrival"

"Tonally and formally, the poems are clear kin to the Soviet Mitteleuropa house style of Popa, Sorescu, and Holub: simple sentences, stark and dramatic imagery, wry fatalism, winks of humor. In terms of content, of particular note is the poet’s (wholly understandable) obsession with deracinations both geographical and lingual. The poems of displacement — from the homeland and from the mother tongue — are . . . well, stunning. They leave me speechless. They sound like poems trying to carve themselves into my head." Clink on the link for the rest of this review.

-September 23, 2009, from Harriet, a blog from the Poetry Foundation

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sandy Tseng, Sediment

Sandy Tseng's debut collection Sediment is reviewed by Publishers Weekly.

Publishers Weekly

This vivid and clean-lined debut weaves strands of personal and family narrative into short poems with wider symbolic force; the best of them contemplate both autobiography and ecocatastrophe. Tseng's free verse creates strong moods: “Apple season, the dog eats his fill and falls asleep beside the space heater./ I thought the world was going to end years ago.” Questions of East Asian immigration and assimilation dominate some early poems before giving way to more abstract spiritual dilemmas: “if our books burn up,/ we will suffer loss and still be saved,/ as those escaping through the flames.” Tseng is equally at home depicting modern cityscapes and presenting far-flung rural locales. In both, she seeks sublimity while restricting herself to familiar words; in both she is able to see impending doom, as when the title poem presents the Indonesian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina in two haunting pages (“The last thing we see is a wall of white crashing... Oil rig evacuations. Cars and cars against the sea wall”). In Tseng's strongest work, everything takes on a surprising, religious dimension as the book drives to a close: “The voice of the Lord is upon the water,” she warns: “he intends to strip the forests bare.” (Nov.)

Publishers Weekly, 10/19/2009

Tom Healy, What the Right Hand Knows

Tom Healy's debut collection What the Right Hand Knows is reviewed by Publishers Weekly.

Publishers Weekly

Laconic yet passionate and sparely personal, the poems in this first book set urbanity and unfolding tragedy in common words and slow-moving, short lines. A gallery owner since the 1990s
and a significant figure in New York City's art scene, Healy unsurprisingly sets some poems there; his real gifts emerge, though, in allegorical or remembered rural locales. In one poem “mother and son” take “a Sunday drive on Tuesday” through the land where they grew up, “their remembered selves waving,/ as farmers do.” The specter of chronic disease, likely HIV, looms over that and other verse (“Everyone is so involved/ keeping track of my pills”), while the shadow of time passing besets them all; readers who admire Mark Doty may find far more concise versions of Doty's effects. Healy's finest moments make him spare, elegiac and wry all at the same time: “What do we do when we hate our bodies?/ A good coat helps.” So often interested in bodies, their pleasures, their troubles, Healy frequently decides that neither poetry nor anything else can console us when bodies don't work: “sleep, vegetables, short walks” or even poems all seem to lead “to the logic of failure,// the panic that mind/ is not enough.” (Nov.)

--Publishers Weekly 10/19/2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tina Chang Receives NYFA Annual Fellowship Grant!

Congratulations are in order to Four Way Books author Tina Chang, who was awarded the 2009 NYFA Annual Fellowship Grant! Tina's Most recent collection, Half-Lit Houses, was published in 2004.
See what Timothy Liu and Li-Young Lee have to say about Half-Lit Houses:

Her mouth is fertile, seeded with incidents from a family history that lay scattered about like grains of rice upon which our poet kneels. Misfit and starlet, she wrestles with her father on earth and in Heaven. Whether seasoned with gunpowder or with sugar, Tina Chang's legacy is neither entirely Chinese nor American but an inheritance to be spoken through dialects—a composite language forged out of her many lyrical selves.

—Timothy Liu

Tina Chang's poems perform the ancient tasks of remembrance, recovery, and praise. This work seeks to account for a life in the context of the myths, cultural and familial, that both nurture and threaten that very life and the voice that might sing it into legend. This is a poetry of amazing lushness, melancholy and affirmation.

—Li-Young Lee

Tina Chang's newest collection of poems Of Gods & Strangers is forthcoming from Four Way Books in 2011.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Eileen Pollack wins Silver Medal for Best Short Fiction

Eileen Pollack's collection In the Mouth, published last Spring, was awarded the Silver Medal for Best Short Fiction by Foreword Magazine. Congratulations to Ms. Pollack!

"Pollack writes about tragedy and transition with pathos and insight. Her stories acknowledge the everyday qualities of grief while according it gravity. Honest enough not to promise the false reassurance that everything will end happily, Pollack offers resolutions that have the character of a hard-fought, fragile peace with the world: 'a pleasant exhaustion,' or the knowledge that 'I would no more want to open that safe than I would want to dig up my mother’s coffin, pry open the lid, and see if her diamond wedding-ring is still on her finger and my father’s perfect fillings still inside her teeth.'
In the Mouth shows us how the secrets that might sunder a family often become its strongest connections. Whether in the guise of the unopened safe a family is selling in a yard sale, two married strangers forlornly attracted to each other at a resort, or a mother unable to express her fears about lavishing physical attention on her baby, these electric stories explore the nerve endings of human relationships."
-- from the Press Release for In the Mouth

Friday, May 29, 2009

Daniel Tobin recieves Guggenheim Fellowship

Congratulations to Daniel Tobin who has been awarded a 2009 Fellowship in Poetry from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation! Daniel's collection, Second Things was released this past fall. 

"Second Things is the work of a mind intimate with such forces—such reckonings—a mind able to hear the first bloom of the clematis and think, “Regard me, I would have it say, abiding here /
among the second things bright and perishing.” Tobin’s supple mind and deft line hold in perfect poise both the bright and the perishing, the history of Ireland and Irish-Americans alongside
today’s present moment. In the Harvard Review, critic Christopher Bock writes that “Four Way Books is known for taking risks with aesthetically challenging and important work, and Tobin
seems more ambitious than many of his contemporaries.” In Second Things Tobin demonstrates that striking ambition, and this collection is a testament to the rich rewards it brings." -- from the Second Things Press Release

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Farrah Field, Rising (Levis Prize winner)

Farrah Field's new collection Rising is reviewed by Publishers Weekly and featured in Coldfront Magazine. Farrah Field is the Levis Prize 2007 recipient.

The cover of Rising was mentioned in The New Yorker "Well Covered: Poetry Bonanza" in the April 10th issue.

Publisher's Weekly
While it might be possible, on first read, to assume that Field's quirkily, aphoristic poems are some kind of ode to a simple and innocent Southern aesthetic, with titles like “Self Portrait in Toad Suck, Arkansas” and “Possums and Critters Gets Back There,” her debut book is nothing of the kind, immediately assuring the reader that she “has already outlived her older sister/ and determines: I am blessed but not by God.” At the core of these searing poems is the story of Field's sister who was brutally murdered, which Field tells and retells in poem after poem, as if it could finally be got off her chest: “Only so much is let out/ of a face and I read in folk Someone killed your someone too.” The saddest of these poems see with eyes that “are big for wrong reasons,” but Field also has a warmth and humor that refuse to let every poem be sad. There is no wallowing, just cold observation of a hurt heart's deep life (“admit you feel as though you never wear shoes”), where there is no simple consolation for the things that shouldn't happen but do: “Murders happen all the time./ I really lost it walking from her new grave// to the car. Then the subject changes./ Someone tells me I'm so strong.”(Apr.)
Starred Review Publishers Weekly 4/19/2009

Coldfront Magazine
Census mumbo-jumbo tells Americans that the average (more privileged) human being changes career types an average of seven times. To transliterate that statement: the average American with the normal amount of spoonfed opportunity gets all sorts of various jobs to pay the light bill – and thinks they are solely one thing – but they are at least seven things in the helix of a lifespan. Poets are different, however. Because in the U.S., to be a poet is a fringe identity; it’s not a forklift driver, not an ad-exec either. And within that, there are types of poets: NeoFormalists, narrative poets, language poets, swiss cheese poets, flarfers, etc.

Farrah Field claimed, when I recently interviewed her, “Like Anna Akhmatova, I thought I was one kind of poet, but realized I was another. Two things were at stake for me--writing about Heather and making my poems do something they hadn't yet done.”

Heather is her sister and a recurring sort of device or protagonist in the book, also the victim of a brutal murder (in reality and the book). This is a key thing to stay aware of as Heather pops in and out like the kernel of a phantom haunting both poet and reader. A grandmother dies; phones explode; orgasms elude, deteriorate, and detonate.
Rising was unmistakably chosen by Tony Hoagland as the 2007 Levis Prize winner. The book feels like a fist plummeting backwards through at least six (if not eight) feet of mud. The poems come up from behind, whispering and seducing; but as soon as you turn around and arrive at the departing end of a piece, you get punched in the lip. Here is one of those Tyson-fisted endings, from one of the best poems of the year so far, “Weird Luck:”
Once you will be lost in prayer
and will be found craving muffins.
Hope exists. It’s the taste of boy in your mouth.
[. . . ]
A child will die in your arms
and whiskey will disappear from your glass.
Your sister is a ghost with a broken skull.
You are allowed one good memory
in a pumpkin patch.
It’s an apotheosis of the surreal and the narrative, juggling skeletons inside the various closets of memories. Rising also requires the reader to laugh at the grotesque, the perverted, the grave and morbid. Field told me that she has an “unpuritanical attitude when it comes to writing about violence and sex; and I have a pretty sick sense of humor to boot.” At least she is self-aware.
Pieces like “The Telling” and “Your Lordship Spirals,” as well as “Malvern, Arkansas” all prove this grit buried deep in a gray heart. Even more sordidly unfeigned are these gems from “He’ll Have Surgery on His Brain in the Future”: “He looks like a nice boy and acts like a smart person.” She also stakes, “my eyes are big for wrong reasons . . . At home, I mix bleach to clean up maggots.”
A majority of the book is place-based. If an event or a memory is not explicated in Louisiana, Arkansas, Wyoming or Belgium (all places the Air-Force brats grew up) then it is in a backyard, on a porch or in a trailer. This tends to zip a reader into a centrifugal chaos but can also wrap a comfortable quilt around the reader’s sensibility. Overt sentimentality takes on its usual, angular, undervaluing shape in many poems as well. One of the best/worst poems in the book (worst, due to its sentimental hooks and best, for its politics) is “Hard Times in Animas Forks.” The awfully upright goes: “across my feet. At a mine shaft entrance,/I hear the voices of men who have worked/in the earth: we can’t withstand the soot,/the shitty wages, the constant collapse.”
Her endings are so fierce that it makes the poems’ beginnings and middles feel disjointed and contused. Basically, some feel like the endings were written first. There is also a second person drone in many of the poems that creates a mechanical ambience. And the role of the South is strong; without its grandiosity, Field begins to approach something like a Nietzsche without a Germany.
In our interview, Field compared herself to Ahkmatova getting at the point that an artist posits the idea of one crescendo but hears others. I’d rather hear a Field crescendo any day of the week than one from Ahkmatova.
-- Reviewed by Ken Walker, Feb. 23, 2009.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Interview with Alissa Valles, author of Orphan Fire

Alissa Valles' Orphan Fire (Nov., 2008) received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, which wrote: "Valles's terse, learned, harsh collection is one of the standout first books of the year." Claire McQuerry recently interviewed her, and the interview is published here on the Four Way Books blog for the first time.

Claire McQuerry: From what I understand, you were raised in a multilingual home, and I know you have done quite a bit of translation work, most notably the Collected Poems of Zbigniew Herbert. Yet, unlike work by a number of multilingual poets I can think of, the poems in this collection almost never slip into your other languages. Have you purposefully avoided this? In what ways do you think your multilingual background manifests in your poetry or influences your approach to writing?

Alissa Valles: I feel that to slip into other languages (either in speech or print) is a form of either snobbishness or laziness – either you are showing off or you can’t find the words, or both. Although I owe a lot to Pound, I find his kind of phrase-dropping irritating. Yes, some things are untranslatable, but a poet’s job is to push his or her own language farther, to expand it. Shakespeare didn’t quote; he assimilated.

English is my first language. I was born in Amsterdam but taken to the US almost immediately. I learned Dutch when I was eight, when we moved back to Holland. In my teens I started translating Dutch poets: Faverey, Achterberg, Kopland, and the wonderful South African poet Ingrid Jonker, who wrote in Afrikaans, which I can read but not speak. For me the impulse to translate came from being plunged into a new language element and wanting to draw correspondences back to my bedrock language, which was English. One basic reason not to do this in my own poems is that virtually no one knows Dutch. It’s not like throwing in French or Spanish words. No one (except maybe my mother) would get it if I did mix my languages.

Multilingualism, which may soon be the rule rather than the exception in the U.S., does fuel a private inquiry into the nature of language, and maybe that shows in what I write. It turns some children into little epistemologists. Polish and Russian are acquired languages for me, and I have been reading and translating Polish and Russian poetry and prose quite a long time, but I still don’t really understand how they may or may not affect what I write in my own name.

CM: There is a tension in your poems, particularly in “Orphan Fire,” regarding the limitations of language and communication. The speaker wants pure, unrestrained expression but recognizes that “what is real” and expressible are definitive particulars: “the place on the wall someone’s hand wore away, a cat’s eye….” Earlier in the poem the speaker also recognizes that there are limits to what language can accomplish: “you can’t find/ a word in any language that would/ both bind a man to his own world/ and lead him, trusting, into another.” Some of these limitations seem to be linked to the boundaries of what the self can know and therefore express: “So far it is my eyes, my judgment and my searching that speak these words to you” and, later, “tell me to what oracle/ I pay tribute, who is speaking through me.” There is, of course, an epistemological uncertainty inherent in such recognition. Yet, your closing poem in the book, “Homage to Sextus Propertius,” insists, “there are things only I can tell you.” Do you find that your background in languages informs your sense of these limitations in language, and your poetics? How do you reconcile the fact that individual perception and experience are both limiting and enriching, particularly in terms of the poem as communication?

AV: Studying languages certainly contributes to a sense of the boundaries of language, but it also forces you to think or dream about a possible underlying unity, some kind of deep grammar, built into the mind. I for one am very susceptible to metaphors drawn from the Chomskian theory (or myth). At the same time, language is so bound up with “who we are” that it makes a good framework for exploring the ambiguities of selfhood.

As for Herodotus (“So far it is my eyes…”), the next phrase in that passage is “From this on, it is the accounts of the Egyptians that I will tell to you as I heard them….” It’s about two kinds of speech, one based on one’s own sight and sense, and another which relies to a great extent on things we have heard (or read) and take on the authority of others. I think one of the reasons that contemporary poetry, at least in the U.S., is so hesitant to venture beyond the personal is that there is a great confusion about tradition, about who speaks ‘through us’. What is called postmodernism – at least in literature -- has tended to deepen the confusion, while veiling it, I think.

CM: In your introduction to the Collected Poems of Zbigniew Herbert, you consider his poem “Apollo and Marsayas.” You suggest this poem is built around the sound that the flayed Marsayas makes—A. One vowel—arguing that Herbert’s refusal to sound this cry out is an important part of the poem’s complexity, that Marsayas’s pain finds its expression instead in “a series of metamorphoses.”

I compare this to your poem, “In the North (Westerbork),” which presents a series of harsh images that describe a landscape lacking any human presence. “Westerbork” is inhabited by personified things: “a stick probes the exhausted mouth of morning,” “the North shaves and washes in its cold mirror,” “The wind…wanders,/ a wakeful child in a house deserted by the elders.” The only living thing in the poem appears in the last line: “an oriole…punishing its one vowel.” While the anthropomorphized landscape echoes the lives of victims, the poem ends on the act of victimization and its resulting utterance: “one vowel.” This is the only sound in the poem. The landscape points to the unvoiced pain—wind rubbing its face raw, trees clawing at earth and air—but the oriole’s vowel is unsounded, only described. Can you speak to this? In what ways do you see “Westerbork” as being in conversation with Herbert’s poem?

AV: I think my poem, at least on the conscious level, is more directly in conversation with Stevens’ poem “The Course of a Particular”, an extraordinary poem that describes a bleak landscape, and a cry which is ‘not a cry of divine attention,/ Nor the smoke-drift of puffed-out heroes, nor human cry.’ But there may be a connection with Herbert’s poem. Of course the scary thing about “Apollo and Marsyas” is that the cry seems actually to murder the landscape, rather than entering and animating it, as it does in the original myth. Both poems are about the failure or refusal to participate in a pain not “ours”.

But my poem is mainly a response to the specific landscape, or one of the landscapes, in which I grew up. Westerbork is a place in the province of Drenthe in the north of the Netherlands near where we had a house for a number of years when I was a child. It was the site of a camp that received refugees from Germany in the thirties and was then turned into a transit camp for the huge numbers deported deathward during the war. That countryside in winter is extremely bleak. Van Gogh painted it in dull shades of brown and grey. I don’t know what the oriole is doing here, but it’s not helping.

CM: As I just mentioned, the landscape in “Westerbork” recalls not only the atrocities inflicted upon individuals, but also those inflicted by individuals. I see this lack of denial paralleled in “Ev’n in Their Ashes (Srebrenica).” This poem weaves in echoes of Gray’s “Elegy in a Country Churchyard,” yet while the speaker of Gray’s poem imagines his way into the lives of the churchyard’s dead, the speaker of “Srebrenica” does not imagine herself into the victims’ experience.

Instead, in the closing lines, the speaker seems to consider the massacre from the perspective of the killers, to whom the victims are like sheep “bleating…under a knife.” I think too of Frank Bidart’s poem “Curse,” addressed not to the victims of 9/11, but to the terrorists — not identifying with them, but entering into their perspective, nonetheless. Did you choose to do this consciously? Would you consider this a part of your approach to witness poetry?

AV: I have to say that I resist the notion of ‘witness poetry’. It makes no sense to me to separate off a category of historical events that require or deserve ‘witnessing’ by virtue of their extremity. I write about violence in the world because it’s part of everyday reality. In the 1990’s both London, where I studied, and Amsterdam were awash with ex-Yugoslav’s of all descriptions and I had a lot to do with them, in various capacities. The Dutch Institute of War Documentation, for which I worked after college, did the official investigation into the responsibility of the Dutch forces for the Srebrenica massacre. I felt the report was too complacent, and (like many others) I was angry about it. The poem I wrote was simply a continuation of conversations I was having at that time. I was trying to describe the people I knew, the ones who got away. You came across both thugs and victims, and they were both haunted by images of violence, sometimes the same images.

CM: Place seems to be an important element in this book: you have poems set in Amsterdam, Paris, London, Warsaw, Chicago — and there is a definite sense of the particular qualities of these physical environments. (The snow’s “white sheets” on Vasilevsky Island, “windows lit up/ with pink neon” in Amsterdam, bark peeling from the plane trees in Paris, etc.). Do you find place/setting to be an impetus for your poetry? How does place factor into the way you conceptualize this collection?

AV: I’ve moved around a lot, first under parental duress and then by choice. Places come to embody certain experiences or discoveries which themselves are logically independent of place. I don’t usually like poetry driven entirely by the thrill of foreign travel. I’ve written mainly about places where I’ve lived and worked for a length of time - with the exception of ‘San Juan del Duero’, a little poem that came out of traveling in Northern Spain with my mother. But the country looms large in my family history, and for me there’s a huge charge in visiting Spain. The book’s middle part is a kind of travelogue, it starts inside the house in San Francisco where we lived when I and my brother Gabe were kids, and it ends in the city where I was living when I finished the book, Warsaw.

CM: In the stunning title poem for this collection you allude to creation mythology, particularly the notion of a fall: The epigraph, from Blake’s “Song of Thel;” a child’s dress, like wings, “without memory of a fall;” the “Constant fire, passing into the created world,” which destroys its end and encounters the pain of limitation. These allusions seem to work as metaphor for the distance between the openness of possibility and constraints of reality. One specific manifestation of this distance is the separation of the self from other selves: “the nearest you get to purity is the pain/ of division.” While these lines literally describe the pain of birth, the physical separation of mother and child, they also figure the pain present in the separation of the self from any other self.

In what ways do you see poetry, another act of creation, as undoing or in some way healing that rupture between self and other? In addition to the creation mythology of “Orphan Fire,” art and artists, composers, poets, other kinds of creators, figure significantly in a number of the poems in the collection. Could you discuss your sense of the myth - and the act - of creation as they recur in Orphan Fire?

AV: In trying to give an account of birth, one can find it helpful to invoke a creation myth – and to understand birth as a kind of recapitulation of that story. On the other hand, perhaps creation myths are a [projection] on world history of the experience of being born – being first divided from the mother, and then from the self by consciousness. But I am not a psychoanalyst, nor do I build any coherent mythology.

I used the Hebrew beth, an expression of creation-as-division: the first letter of the Hebrew Bible corresponds to the number 2, according to the counting Cabalists, and has been read to mean that everything in creation is dual. The experience of being born seems to be so traumatic that people spend their lives seeking for a pre-birth condition of unity. Some artists do in their art. For my own part, I do not experience writing as healing.

CM: Fire is an important motif in the book, and in the title poem, especially, it’s connected with creation mythology. There is that line in the poem’s first section in which you describe this mythological fire as “twice orphaned, by gods and by earth.” What brought the notions of orphanhood and fire together for you, and how did you arrive at this marriage for the title of your book?

AV: I’m trying to describe a condition of existing outside of an intelligible relationship to God or nature. The Greek word orphanos means simply ‘bereaved’.

Claire McQuerry writes and translates poetry. Recent publications include Double Change and Harpur Palate, where she was a finalist for the Milton Kessler Memorial Prize. She lives in Seattle.

Alissa Valles is the editor and co-translator of Zbigniew Herbert’s The Collected Poems 1956-1998 (Ecco) a New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year in 2007. She was born in Amsterdam to an American father and a Dutch mother. She grew up in the U.S. and the Netherlands and studied at the School of Slavonic & East European Studies in London and later at universities in Poland, Russia, and the U.S. She has worked for the BBC, the Dutch Institute of War Documentation, the Jewish Historical Institute and La Strada International in Warsaw. She has contributed to Polish Writers on Writing (Trinity University Press, 2007), The New European Poets (Graywolf, 2008), Documentary Theatre on the World Stage (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008) and served as editor for the web journal Words Without Borders. Her poems and translations have appeared in The Iowa Review, The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, Poetry, Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, Verse, and elsewhere.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Eileen Pollack wins Lewis Wallant Award!

In the Mouth: stories and novellas by Eileen Pollack has been announced as the winner of the Edward Lewis Wallant Award! Past winners of the award include Chaim Potok, Cynthia Ozick, Curt Leviant, Allegra Goodman, Myla Goldberg, Thane Rosenbaum, and Jonathan Rosen. There will be an award ceremony and reading on April 13th 2009 at the University of Hartford.

Congratulations to Eileen on yet another moment of acclaim for this witty, darkly comic, and engaging collection of stories, one of which ("The Bris") was featured in Best American Short Stories 2007 . and Eileen was also described in 2008 as "an American talent" by Stephen King in the New York Times Book Review .

You can buy her critically-praised and much-loved collection of short stories and novellas, In the Mouth (Four Way Books, 2008), direct from Four Way at two-thirds of the retail price, 32% off.

Or, ask your local independent bookstore where their copies can be found!

National Anthem Best Poetry Book of the Year

Congratulations to Kevin Prufer, whose new book, National Anthem, has been selected by Virginia Quarterly Review as the Best Poetry Book of 2008! This is on the heels of Publishers Weekly naming it one of the five best poetry books of 2008

The list is a wonderful place to start for anyone looking to catch up on their 2009 poetry books. Ted Genoways describes National Anthem as "the collection of the year" and writes

These poems look back on America from a not-so-distant future during and after the apocalypse that toppled our empire. Prufer’s speaker shuttles between anger and ironic bemusement as he catalogs visions of destruction and the survival of the worst of us. When the speaker sets off to find what’s left of America, for example, only the Motel 6 and Waffle House seem to be thriving. It’s like Omega Man meets The Waste Land—which is to say that’s it’s a biting social critique of our times, but it also feels legitimately visionary (and scary)

You can listen to Kevin Prufer talking about National Anthem and his other books over at New Letters On The Air.

National Anthem is available directly from Four Way Books at a 32% discount. Order it, and all our other titles, here . We hope you'll take a look at Kevin's work, and the exciting books we've got lined up for 2009.