Friday, September 30, 2011

Review of Sarah Gorham’s Bad Daughter in The Journal

The Journal Magazine

Nick McRae // 35.2 Autumn 2011 // 09.23.11

Sarah Gorham. Bad Daughter. New York: Four Way Books, 2011. Paper, 80 pp., $15.95.

Reading Sarah Gorham’s poetry brings to mind perhaps the most memorable and oft-quoted lines from Philip Larkin: “They fuck you up, your mum and dad, / They may not mean to but they do.” That analogy, of course, is a humorous oversimplification. Gorham’s work deals with family dynamics and the fact of human imperfection without Larkin’s ironic snideness, but with the wisdom, mature playfulness, and genuine pathos of Larkin’s most compelling work. In her previous collection The Cure (Four Way Books, 2003), Sarah Gorham told us the story of a family bowing under the weight of the father’s alcoholism. Her new offering, Bad Daughter, explores the complex and often fraught relationship between mothers and daughters. In “Homesickness,” the speaker tells us, “Genes are a kind of blue letter from a mother / to her daughter: Good news, bad news.” These are indeed poems of “bad news” and “good news”—of pain and joy—and, as in the best work of many poets, the two work together to form the powerful emotional landscape of this collection.

In Bad Daughter, that landscape is never an easy one—never black and white. There is an exhilarating darkness in poems like “Immortality,” in which the speaker says of a baby, “Remember when the names for little things weren’t sickening? // Touch that fantastic little foot. The baby is an implant, a fresh cutting. / She will take. She will take you away.” The play of violence and wonder in these skillful lines makes plain the irony in them without veering into sarcasm. Even darker is the poem “Barbecue,” which employs a less subtle violence in one of the collection’s most evocative metaphors. Here, the speaker compares four sisters to the four tines of a fork:

[…] Sisters—they were that close,
jockeying for love in a cage
with silver bars. The origin of the fork

was a spear in an animal’s heart.
You’ve heard of knife scars
on a plate? Blame it on the knife,

though the fork held the weakling down.

The metaphor is complicated. The knife here is not the parents, as one might expect, for the speaker will “mind / her parents’ appeal for peace” and “place her knife back on the table.” There is no easy, moralistic reading for poems such as this, and that is the power of Gorham’s work; she investigates the difficult, often unsettling nature of family dynamics without self-pity and without pointing fingers. Bad Daughter reminds us that family is not static but, rather, an ever-evolving relationship: “To my child I become my mother,” Gorham says (in “Accommodation”), “and her mother, and hers.”

The joys of Bad Daughter are not to be found only in these questions of family. Gorham, with the skill and confidence of a master artisan, crafts poems in an array of styles and forms that never impose themselves on the work, but seem always necessary: from prose poems like “After Pindar” and “Bob White” to rhyming, shortened-lined sonnets like “Compost” and “Pond in Winter” to the free verse of “Our House” and “The Sacrifice,” whose lines move elegantly around the middle of the page. Each poem, whether directly addressing the complexities of daughterhood announced in the title or not, plays an integral part in constructing Bad Daughter, a collection that is gracefully made, challenging, moving, and unquestionably whole.

Young of the Year Reviewed in Off the Coast

Rebuke and Consolation

Young of the Year by Sydney Lea

With his first book, Searching the Drowned Man, published in 1980, Vermont-based poet Sydney Lea established himself as one of the finest limners of New England. As an intimate of the natural world, Lea knows how to read signs of wildlife, but he is also an empathetic portraitist, especially of individuals who live hard lives. Like Philip Booth, Wesley McNair and Maxine Kumin, he turns local knowledge into bigger picture verse, defying the regionalist label in the process.

Lea's latest book is part memoir, part portrait gallery, and part a wrestling with old age. The book's opening section features past exploits and encounters filtered through the lens of time. "The 1950s" is something of a confession: members of the high school hockey team took advantage of a homely girl nicknamed Rink-Rat. Here, the ugly braggadocio of youth becomes shame. "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" resurrects a Philadelphia nightclub, Pep's Musical Bar, in 1965 where a young white man, there to hear the Adderly sextet, comes to understand underlying racial divides by way of Wilt Chamberlain, who owned the place.

The second section offers portraits of neighbors in the author's neck of the Vermont countryside. The opening poem, "Recession," exemplifies Lea's prosodic mastery: a seamless sonnet with nuanced half-rhymes about a local Quik-Stop. "Dandelion Pickers" is van Gogh and Richard Hugo, an homage to figures seen in a passing field. Empathy runs strong here, be it for an elderly pastor losing his grip or for Stump, hauler of refuse, who sports a hideous hernia and mystifies everyone with his cheerful "hail-fellow-well-met" attitude.

Part III, "Birds, A Farrago," is a remarkable 14-section medley of musings of an older man dealing with post-viral arthropathy, a debilitating condition that all but shuts him off from his family—wife, children, grandchildren—and the feathered creatures that are his familiars: tern, loon, crow, jay, grackle, junco, kite. Each bit of progress toward recovery is accompanied by these birds, "future and memory both, / rebuke and consolation."

Lea wraps it all up in the final section with five poems of differing formats that reflect on family, nature, home, time passing. "Dispute with Thomas Hardy" and the title poem, "Young of the Year," are considerations of the poet's life and world, alternately angry—"the cretin / politicians rattling swords, / as if, by counter-logic, war / transmuted the earth into something saintly"—and loving: making a granddaughter smile with the waggle of a tongue.

Don't let the cover of this book misguide. While the photograph of a white snowshoe hare relates to what lies within, its Hallmark cuteness may lead you to believe you're in for a group of nature poems. No, no, no. Beyond the bunny lies a stunning collection by an old(er) master who continues to bring us resonant visions of the north.

—Carl Little

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Jonathan Wells in The Paris Review

Echo in Madison Square Park
by Jane and Jonathan Wells
from the Paris Review Daily

“A poem is never finished, it is abandoned,” said the sculptor Jaume Plensa, quoting Paul Valéry on a sunny September morning in New York City, as he watched Echo, his forty-four-foot sculpture of a female head, being dismantled piece by piece.

My husband Jonathan Wells and I are Flatiron residents. We had lived alongside Echo since she arrived in May and, for Jonathan, she had become an object of fascination and reverence. He had been working on a poem about her for months but found himself unable to conclude it. He had refamiliarized himself with the myth of Narcissus and Echo; he had learned all he could about Plensa and the nine-year-old neighbor in Barcelona who had inspired the piece, a child who had taken shape in the statue with the timelessness and serenity of a Buddha. On this, the statue’s last morning, Jonathan recognized the Catalan sculptor standing between the cranes and the crew.

“I always hoped my work would inspire other artists,” Plensa told my husband, as they discussed myth, marble dust, art collectors, and teaching schedules. “Please send me your poem.” After watching Echo come apart, Jonathan knew he had an ending. Here is what he sent to Plensa:


White as x ray bone she rises through
The trees in stone as if she were sublime,
As if she knew what this grace was
And she was only nine, framed
Between her errands and her games.
Her nymph’s body surges underground
Not knowing what this buried love
Is for.

Beneath her neighbors play Frisbee
On the grass and strangers take her
Photograph. The final sun pours
Into her sealed eyes and mouth as though
She were the saint of radiant stillness
Who says this marble flesh is a prison
Stone yet the mind flies with
The confetti of birds, soars into
The beliefs of summer.
Silence succumbs to air and the blossoms
Sail down, the clocktower’s fretted hands
Notched against her ribs.

Questions flood her blood
And darkness, flee and then she’s gone,
Taken from our vanquished arms but
She still speaks in the autumn leaves,
In the furrowed bark, in the singsong
Of the childrens’ swings.

Jonathan Wells’s collection, Train Dance, will be published by Four Way Books in October.

Listen to Sydney Lea on Vermont Public Radio

Vermont's new Poet Laureate, Newbury writer Sydney Lea has been described as "a man in the woods with his head full of books and a man in books with his head full of woods."

VPR's Jane Lindholm talks with Lea about his poetry, his new role, and how he plans to use it to promote poetry around the state, including visiting as many community libraries as will have him. Lea's latest collection of poems, from Four Way Books, is called Young of the Year.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Upcoming Readings with Four Way Books Authors

Friday, September 30 - Debra Allbery reads with Rachel Howard
Warren Wilson College
Asheville, NC

Sunday, October 2 - Monica Youn reads with Matthea Harvey
Chapel of Our Lady Restoration
Cold Spring, NY

Thursday, October 6 - Joni Wallace reads with Mary Jo Bang
Poetry Center - Helen S. Schaefer Building
Tucson, AZ

Tuesday, October 11 - Debra Allbery
Barney-Davis Boardroom
Granville, OH

Saturday, October 15 - Monica Youn reads with Martin Espada
Brooks Memorial Library
Brattleboro, Vermont

Oct 28 - Collier Nogues reads with Troy Jollimore and Dean Rader
7:30pm at Mrs. Dalloway's
Berkeley, CA

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sydney Lea Reads Tonight at Texas Tech University

7:30 PM - 8:30 PM
English 01, Basement Auditorium
Texas Tech

As the first event in this season's Contemporary Authors Reading Series sponsored by the Creative Writing program, poet Sydney Lea will give a poetry reading on Thursday 9/22. Lea’s ninth book of poetry is Young of the Year (Four Way Books, 2011). His book Pursuit of a Wound was finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; another volume, To the Bone, won the Poets’ Prize. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and Fulbright Foundations, and has published poetry, fiction, and nonfiction in major literary journals as well as magazines ranging from The New Yorker to Sports Illustrated. He is the founding editor of The New England Review, and has taught at Yale, Middlebury, Wesleyan, and Dartmouth. He lives in New England, where he is active in conservation and Basic Education movements.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Publishers Weekly Starred Review for Rigoberto Gonzalez's Black Blossoms!

Black Blossoms
Rigoberto Gonzalez. Four Way

The poems in Gonzalez’s third collection are rooted in the female body. Death and decay also thread through the collection, manifesting in lush and sensuous imagery. In the title poem, Gonzalez addresses barren women in dark, graphic language that borders on the grotesque: “when the sun sets next it will// blossom with the blackest mushrooms and the moths/ will lay their eggs on your leathery smiles.” Gonzalez’s poems depict the body as a space that carries burden and loss, the site of a fleeting life: “this is the part where the woman enters./ This is the part where she leaves. Her life/ so quick it could have been missed had she left no evidence of the blackbird to construct/ its nest.” Each of us is insignificant and replaceable, Gonzalez seems to say: “borrowed body, in the time you must vacate,// let another take your space./ Don’t worry about whom or when since the girl/ who comes after is already here.” The last section (of four) is told through the voices of the female characters surrounding a mortician. Lust and marriage, birth and death, weave together in their observations and confessions. The mortician’s wife observes, “sound is death because it’s/ irretrievable and every time I speak I die a little more.” (Oct.)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Forthcoming FWB Author Alex Dimitrov Talks to L Magazine

The L Mag Questionnaire for Writer Types: Alex Dimitrov

Posted by Mark Asch on Thu, Sep 15, 2011 at 8:56 AM

Alex Dimitrov, who lives in Manhattan, reads tomorrow night at Pete's Candy Store as the Multifarious Array poetry series kicks off its fall season. His first book of poems, Begging For It, is forthcoming from Four Way Books, and he is at work on a second. You can read his poems at his blog.

For our readers who may not be familiar with your work, what’s the most accurate thing someone else has said about it?

It’s great when people I don’t know write to me, over Facebook or Twitter or email, and say that they strongly respond to a particular poem. I remember one person told me that he enjoyed the stripped down, accessible nature of my poems and that it provoked a visceral, emotional response in him. I love that. My best friend Rachel recently told me that one of her friends described my poems as Romantic, as being in dialogue with Romanticism. I love that too. It’s really important to me that my poems connect with people on a personal level.

What have you read/watched/listened to/looked at/ate recently that will permanently change our readers' lives for the better?

So much. I love Henri Cole’s new book of poems, Touch. Owen Jones’s new and first book, Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class. I like Nico Muhly’s last CD, A Good Understanding. I’ve been raving about Riccardo Tisci’s last collection for Givenchy to everyone. Anthony Goicolea’s photographs. Terence Koh’s recent work. I’m so into Dorothea Lasky’s poems. This one, “The Poetry that is going to matter after you are dead” is one of my favorites and you can hear her read it here.

Whose ghostwritten celebrity tell-all (or novel) would you sprint to the store to buy (along with a copy of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius so that the checkout clerk doesn’t look at you screwy)?

Leigh Bowery. He should be more famous than he is. I’m sure many of you guys know about him, but for the people who haven’t had the pleasure to know, he was a performance artist—and all around star, dandy, queer goddess—in the 80s and 90s in New York and London. My friend Mark Bibbins, whose poems I also love, introduced me to him by showing me the documentary Charles Atlas made about Bowery, The Legend of Leigh Bowery. Everyone should see it. It’s crazy and inspiring.

Have you ever been a Starving Artist, and did it make you brilliant, or just hungry?

When talking about her early years in New York, Madonna said something like, “If you can’t say ‘I’ll die if I don’t do it,’ you should not do it.” I don’t really see the point of being alive if I can’t create, if I can’t make something out of life. For some reason that translates to writing poems. If my creative work has even the minor possibility of bringing relief or pleasure to me and other people, I’m going to keep doing it. Many days I’m paralyzed by the thought that I have all these graduate school loans as a result of my MFA degree, and that we live in a world that doesn’t value the arts and artists as much as it should, and values poets even less so. But being a poet and living in New York with my friends are the most important things to me. I’m not really interested in living another life, even if that other life is easier or more stable and secure—whatever that means. I don’t really feel like I have a choice, is I guess what I’m saying. I have to live this life. I have to be a poet.

What would you characterize as an ideal interaction with a reader?

Off the page, it would be talking to someone who’s had an experience with a poem after hearing me read it. I wish there was less of a barrier between the poet and the audience at a poetry reading. I wish we could talk about what poems actually mean to us, and how they help us live. I’d love to just pass my poems around before a reading and ask people which ones they’d like to hear, even if their responses were based only on the titles. The visual artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres said that, “For most of the work I do, I need the public to become responsible and activate the work.” I think about that a lot. How can I do that with poems? I want to. I really believe that poetry can enrich people’s lives, especially today when consumer culture is constantly pushing us toward soundbites and the same ten words, toward instant gratification and not thinking or reflecting about our emotional and intellectual lives and what’s actually happening in the world. It’s the culture of emoticons. I hate emoticons. We’re not encouraged to express or think about how we really feel and investigate those feelings. We’re encouraged to rely on easy and empty symbols, words, images, etc., that have become a norm and fail at any kind of real or meaningful communication. And every day I have to fight, quite consciously, like everyone else, against all those negative impulses we’re told to give into. Poetry helps me do that.

Have you ever written anything that you'd like to take back?

Not yet! But I’d like to sleep with Owen Jones, whose book I mentioned earlier. I’m probably going to regret telling you that. It’s ok, he lives in London so I can’t run into him on the street. I’ll have a new crush by next week anyway.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

First Books: A Conversation with Jennifer Denrow in Thermos Magazine

First Books: A Conversation with Jen Denrow

A number of THERMOS contributors have recently published first books. Stay tuned for conversations with them here. First up is Jennifer Denrow, who appeared in our second issue and whose book California was published by Four Way Books in 2011.

TH: How do you see your work in what’s happening now in poetry? Are there other first books out there that you feel like yours is friends with?

JD: I’m always trying to think about that: what’s happening now. Sometimes I will write down the first or last sentences in a book of poems and then do that to other books of poems and compare them. There’s something in the syntax of some of the poetry now—a directness that the language, filled with indefinite references, counteracts with. Maybe it’s an intelligible indefiniteness—I feel like the poems are disclosing everything through the syntax, while at the same time creating, through diction, an environment where nothing can be known.


In terms of how this obsesses me in my own work, I guess the first poem in California can be considered. Or, it may be easier with something smaller: “Things Reappear”:

Because the chair in front of you isn’t a base you don’t touch it when you pass by. The other players foul you for this.

See. What is, isn’t, but it also still is. It’s so hard to tell anything now. Everything means. And it means a lot. Also it is empty. The chair is the base that needs to be tagged because the players are there and they say it is, but also it’s not because it’s just a person standing in her living room. Basically this is what keeps happening through the book. Over and over again. Really in everything I write. I’m always trying to get inside the center of what something is, but I also need it to always have the possibility of being everything, or at least something else. It would be claustrophobic if I did understand something as itself. So I keep doing this thing where I need to arrive at a certainty through my correspondence with what is external to me, but I also need it to never be one thing. Is this about God, I wonder?

Read the whole conversation at Thermos.

Headed to the Brooklyn Book Festival this weekend? Head to the Main Stage Sunday at 10am to hear Brooklyn Poet Laureate Tina Chang read with Justin Long-Moton (New York Youth Poet Laureate), Mark Strand (US Poet Laureate 1990-1991) and Jean Valentine (New York State Poet Laureate). Introduced by Alice Quinn of the Poetry Society of America.

Sydney Lea Reading in Arkadelphia, AK September 20

September 20, 2011 at 7 p.m.
Arkansas Hall Big Stage
Henderson State University
Arkadelphia, AR

(also: free coffee & fancy cookies!)

Sydney Lea's ninth collection of poetry, Young of the Year was published by Four Way Books in April of this year. Lea was founder and, for thirteen years, editor of New England Review. Recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim, Rockefeller and Fulbright Foundations, Lea was a poetry finalist for the 2001 Pulitzer Prize. He has published a novel, A Place in Mind, and two collections of naturalist nonfiction. In 2011, he retired after forty-two years of teaching at various American institutions: Yale, Wesleyan, Middlebury and Dartmouth Colleges, and for thirteen years, the Vermont College MFA program. Lea is active in conservation efforts in Maine and Vermont, and is a longtime board member of Central Vermont Adult Basic Education.

This event is sponsored by the Ellis College Margin of Excellence Fund and the Office of Student Services.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Four Way Books' First Silent Auction!

NYU's Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House
58 West 10 St. NYC
Doors open at 6:00,
viewing begins at 6:30,
Bidding from 7:15-8:15.

$20.00 admission / $25.00 at door

Bidding Tables open at 7:15 and close at 8:15
Wine and cheese and fun!

Among items up for auction:
Tickets to the 2012 US Open / Tennis
Fine wine
Art: prints and paintings
Fancy chess Set
GIft baskets
Gift certificates
Poetry manuscript editing by Jason Schneiderman and April Ossmann
Vintage pocketbooks
Glittery scarves
and more being sent to us every day . . .

Friday, September 9, 2011

More Sydney Lea: Shenandoah Lists Young of the Year as Recommended Reading

Young of the Year by Sydney Lea (Four Way Books, 2011)

How often do I see that a poet (or even a mystic) has written with conviction that he or she accepts, even embraces the grand circle dance of the natural world, which will of course guarantee the poet’s eventual demise, dust to dust and all that? And how often do I respond “bullshot,” or something similar? But when Sydney Lea concludes the final, title poem of this collection with accepting “of course”s – “Of course the glorious earth// will take me back, of course the young-year hare give profligate birth” – I nod and am wholly persuaded. This is in part due to the ways the poem’s previous forty lines address what is past and passing and to come and partly because the whole volume weighs the woe and the weal of life with such meticulous honesty and imagination, right down to the “steaming purple pip” of a sparrow’s heart, but my response is also a function of my on-going admiration of Lea’s poetic stamina, his decades of poems that run without rushing, his extended narratives that haul along a whole landscape and an invisible world of delicious and perilous particulars, not call and response so much as cry and “countercry.”

This volume offers a whole trophy case of excellent poems, some of which appeared in Shenandoah, but I want to call particular attention to “Dubber’s Cur,” in part because it’s dedicated to the late John Engels, a poet deeply mourned but not widely enough remembered, or memorized. Lea’s narrative recounts the sophisticated (“French bread,” “organic,” “foreign car”) speaker’s on-going scraps with a less polished (“common law,” “Scrawny pony,” “junkheap ramble”) neighbor’s dog, the cur of the title, who makes sorties into French bread’s yard, snarling and pissing and annoying the house dogs no end. In what could easily become a class war concluding with shotgunned rocksalt and the narrator’s victory strut, Lea finds a stronger virtue than protecting one’s demesne. He does not blame the renegade, but turns the question of passion and mission on his reader who “may have sensed/ a near-exalting rightness/ in doggedly keeping at it, just as Dubber’s cur/ keeps at his climb, shows up.” The extended empathy and forgiveness, the willingness to project and understand are all important to the poem and in some way a tribute to Engels, one of our most sorrowful losses of recent years, but the real point is the poetry, the pace and shift of language, the restraint and abundance, the interrogated certainty. I can think of people who would read “Dubber’s Cur” and not want to devour the whole collection, but I might not much care for their company.

The Brooklyn Paper: Tina Chang on 9/11's Legacy of Words

After 9-11, I encountered battles both internal and external. As a writer, I felt that words had begun to fail me. Theey seemed flighty, ephemeral, opaque, misleading, and ultimately powerless. Approaching my art form after the loss of so many lives felt like an impossible task. Journalists sought just the right vocabulary to guide and nurture the country, but I was unable to comprehend how grammar, syntax, or how the use of stanzas or line break would do their larger job. I was confronted with the question, “What is the role of poetry?” or “How can my words matter now?” It all felt insufficient to describe what happened to our city and its people.

I closed my books. I put my pens away. I placed my writing journals in storage boxes. I even stopped reading. I wandered my apartment looking out the window, occasionally making phone calls to loved ones, and then I sat for hours without sound.

But a friend had a project, an anthology called “Language for a New Century,” which gathered the voices of poets from the Middle East as well as poets in the United States. Editing it took almost 10 years — but it was necessary to get me to believe in words again: their meaning, their significance, and their sheer power. All the struggles between reality and imagination played itself out on the pages as I read poems of outrage, redemption and, yes, love.

I cannot say for certain whether we are stronger or weaker as a people. We live within a shared experience, but I also realize there are losses I cannot comprehend though poetry. Our humanity which, like the word, is as resilient as it ever was.


By Perveen Shakir

(Translated by Baidar Bakht and Leslie Lavigne)

Now, that I have closed the doors

of the city of love

upon myself

and have thrown the key

of each gate

into the jade-eyed sea of oblivion,

this little timorous feeling

is so consoling.

Beyond the forbidding walls of the prison,

in a small lane

of the old walled city,

there is a little window

still open in my name.

From “Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond.”

Tina Chang is the poet laureate of Brooklyn and author of “Half-Lit Houses” and the forthcoming, “Of Gods & Strangers.”


Congratulations to Sydney Lea, the new Poet Laureate of Vermont!!

The Vermont Arts Council is pleased to announce that Governor Peter Shumlin has appointed Sydney Lea of Newbury, VT as Vermont’s next Poet Laureate to succeed Ruth Stone, whose four-year term ends in 2011. A public ceremony honoring Mr. Lea will be held on November 4 at the Capital Plaza Hotel in Montpelier. The ceremony will be attended by Governor Shumlin as part of an evening celebrating the arts in Vermont.

Sydney Lea lives in Newbury, Vermont, and has been a Vermont resident since the early 1990s. He is the prolific author of a number of collections of poetry, including Young of the Year (Four Way Books, 2011); Ghost Pain (Sarabande Books, 2005); Pursuit of a Wound (University of Illinois Press, 2000); To the Bone: New and Selected Poems (University of Illinois Press, 1996); Prayer for the Little City (Scribner’s, 1989); No Sign (University of Georgia Press, 1987); The Floating Candles (University of Illinois Press, 1982), and Searching the Drowned Man (University of Illinois Press, 1980).

Syd Lea has been described as “a man in the woods with his head full of books, and a man in books with his head full of woods.” Renowned as a prose writer as well as poet, he has also published a novel and two books of essays that combine the precision of an active naturalist and ecologist with the erudition of a multilingual professor of literature. His stories, poems, essays and criticism have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic, The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, Gray’s Sporting Journal, and many other periodicals, as well as in more than forty anthologies. Lea co-founded the literary quarterly New England Review in 1977, oversaw its move to the Bread Loaf Writers Conference at Middlebury College, and edited this esteemed journal until 1989. His poetry collections have earned special critical acclaim, with Pursuit of a Wound, (2000) named one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. His preceding volume, To the Bone: New and Selected Poems, was co-winner of the 1998 Poets’ Prize, one of the nation’s highest honors for a single collection of poems.

Lea has received fellowships from the Rockefeller, Fulbright, and Guggenheim Foundations, and has taught at Dartmouth, Yale, Wesleyan, Vermont and Middlebury Colleges as well as at Franklin College in Switzerland and the National Hungarian University in Budapest. Lea has also been very active for the past quarter century in land conservation and the promotion of literacy. (

The Advisory Committee found Sydney Lea’s poetry to be virtuosic in texture and form, yet likely to be engaging to a diversity of readers and listeners because of the work’s dramatic intensity, narrative momentum, and musicality, and because of this poet’s extraordinarily evocative descriptions of northern New England’s landscapes, animal and plant life, and the seasonal panorama. Through all of his books, Lea has paid particular attention to the stories of generations living alongside one another in north-country villages, including the interactions of “old-timers” and relative newcomers. He continues the tradition of Vermont poets who are both singular — one of a kind — and broadly accessible.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Notre Dame Review on Kevin Prufer

From the Notre Dame Review:

Since Fallen From a Chariot (2005), NDR contributor Kevin Prufer has gone on in National Anthem (2008) and the present volume to complete an impressive trilogy of post-9/11 books that demonstrates how a deep vision and an often stunning lyricism need not be incompatible in poetry. Marie Howe spoke of the “courage and compassion” of his poems in National Anthem, adding that his poems “should be read on Fox News and CNN.” The poems in In a Beautiful Country would be too much for either, but his treatment of love and art in the context of contemporary history and the imperatives of moral witness should be read in our hearts. Prufer is an absolutely necessary poet.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Visiting Writers Series with Poets Rigoberto Gonzalez and Amanda Auchter

September 15, 2011
at Austin Peay State University

The Zone 3 First Book Award winner Amanda Auchter reads with the Zone 3 competition judge Rigoberto Gonzalez.

Amanda Auchter is the author of The Glass Crib, winner of the Zone 3 Press First Book Award for Poetry, and of the chapbook, Light Under Skin (Finishing Line Press, 2006). Recipient of awards and honors from the Bread Load Writers’ Conference, Bucknell University, BOMB Magazine and elsewhere, her poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Best New Poets, and on Poetry Daily. Auchter lives in Texas, where she teaches at Lone Star College-Cy Fair and edits the literary journal, The Pebble Lake Review.

Rigoberto González is the author of the memoir, Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa, winner of the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. He is also the author of two award-winning poetry collections, two children’s books, the story collection Men Without Bliss, and the novel Crossing Vines, winner of ForeWord Magazine’s Fiction Book of the Year Award. The recipient of Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, he is a contributing editor for Poets & Writers Magazine and on the Board of Directors for the National Book Critics Circle. González is Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University.

This event takes place in the Gentry Auditorium, Kimbrough Building.