Monday, April 30, 2012
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.
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."
"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."
"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."
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
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
"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."
"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."
Monday, April 23, 2012
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Monday, April 16, 2012
Tom Slayton of Vermont Public Radio talked about Vermont poet laureate and Four Way Books poet Sydney Lea as a writer, a reader and a man.
Most recently, that open, direct voice can be heard in the work of the current Vermont Poet Laureate, Sydney Lea of Newbury, who gave a reading at the State House earlier this month, to open Montpelier's celebration of National Poetry Month.
Lea's poetry is almost conversational in tone, and very accessible: you don't have to struggle or ponder to get the meaning of his words. But that directness can be misleading, because his poems are also very subtle, often slyly humorous, and, sometimes surprising. They work on more than just their explicit, surface level of meaning. Like any good Vermonter, Lea is adept at saying things without saying them, so his poems resonate in your mind long after you've heard them or read them."
"Rose McLarney grew up in rural Western North Carolina, where she continues to live on an old mountain farm. Daughter to a somewhat legendary biologist who founded the international conservation organization ANAI, she is a female reflection (a generation or two removed) of Kentucky farmer/poet Wendell Berry.
Tina Chang, author of Of Gods and Strangers, one of our Fall 2011 titles, was interviewed by The Painted Word Poetry Series.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
We are thrilled to share with you an excerpt from an amazing review of Kevin Prufer's In a Beautiful Country that was published in FIELD Magazine's most recent issue. Congratulations to you, Kevin!
Tina Chang, a Four Way Books poet and the Brooklyn poet laureate talks about life and death and how she represents both in a poem of hers for the Brooklyn Book Festival "OnePage".
"In my poem, I contemplate both life and death. When my daughter was born, her grandmother passed away. In the same year, my children lost their grandfather. It was a confusing time but I imagined the lives that passed gave me, as a mother, a mythical strength. In this poem, a son is about to be born and the speaker envisions him as if he were a cosmic dream about to happen. The birth is as turbulent as it is blissful which is what I envision the origin of life to be."
For a closer look at this photo of Four Way Books author, Daniel Tobin and to learn more about the reading for "Wake Up and Smell the Poetry", go to this link.
Patrick Donnelly, the author of one of our Spring 2012 books, Nocturnes of the Brothel of Ruin, has his poem "Read the Signs" published in Mead Magazine.
When every night the striped spider rebuilt her web, triangulating with a car
aerial that every morning pulled the work apart,
When a man, and then a woman, with orange flags flapping from their
motorchairs rolled under the kitchen windows, he with one leg, she with
When the poor streets bore names like Gold, Paris, and Temple,
When from the Second Baptist Church came a song of dissatisfaction with the city of
men, in which one tenor predominated, especially when he paused to breathe,
fed on franks and beans, were handed a few dollars to tide them till they
disappeared into the mills lit all night,
(mills long shut, town folded for years at dusk),
Here the brightness that caught the eye by the river was only a marble in the
grass, a wish-fulfilling jewel I put in my pocket,
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
"The eerie thing about Rigoberto Gonzalez's poem "Our Deportees" in the current March/April issue of The American Poetry Review is the names of particular immigrants are almost never invoked. There's one brief stanza about a common burial that lists some in the most cursory manner. But that's it. This is a poem that boldly refuses to use narrative in the conventional sense; we aren't given particular plights of particular victims. The United States' treatment of illegal immigrants needs more attention than a litany of faceless entities, according to Gonzalez's poem. By surveying the entire world --from a single apple tree to the path of a red-tailed hawk to strange flowers "with no petals" --he effectively illustrates how the entire fabric of the world is harmed through the persecution of immigrants. Through Gonzalez's trademark of jam-packing stanzas with a particular figurative device--in this case, most often personification--he succeeds in creating what may be the best poem I've read in the last couple months. Let's hope it doesn't get overlooked when the inclusions for Best American Poetry and Pushcart Prize volumes are finalized. Along with Jee Leong Koh, he was already robbed of a Lambda nomination."
Monday, April 9, 2012
The poet laureate of Vermont and Four Way Books author, Sydney Lea, talks about visiting community libraries and writing poetry in the Burlington Free Press.
"I’ve especially enjoyed that audience members at the libraries tend to ask not the allegedly sophisticated questions, which I’ve heard more than enough of in four decades of professorship; their questions are more basic — and thus more important, in that they represent concerns that everyone feels on contemplating a poem for the first time: who’s talking? why? where? And so on. For my taste, too much current poetry can’t answer those questions on the page, and even as a lifelong lover of poetry, I turn away from such obscurantism.
The most frequent questions I hear, however, involve form and meter. There are those who wonder if something can be called poetry if it does not have a regular meter, regular stanzaic shape, and often as not, a rhyme scheme.
One of Four Way Books' new books this spring, Nocturnes of the Brothel of Ruin by Patrick Donnelly got a lovely short review in Mead Magazine. Congratulations, Patrick!
Four Way Books author, Sarah Gorham, read from her latest book, Bad Daughter, on "Phoned-in", a podcast for Bomb Magazine. She also talks about Sarabande Books, the publishing company she began with her husband and more in an interview.
The word sarabande has such an interesting history. A “sex dance” originating in the New World, imported to Spain, where it was banned in 1583 under penalty of death. Later, civilized by the English, German, French. The word suggested the kind of literature we look for: accomplished and elegant on the surface, with a wild underside.
"In celebration of the publication of her book of poems, “The Always Broken Plates of Mountains,” Rose McLarney and poet Debra Allbery will give a reading at Warren Wilson College on April 11 at 6:30 p.m. The reading in Canon Lounge is free of charge and refreshments will be provided. More details are available from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Set in the Appalachian landscape, McLarney's debut collection gives voice to a chorus of speakers – at once plainspoken, reverent, and musical – who navigate what it means to be faithful both to a place and to one another. Allbery's lyrical poems from her book “Fimbul-Winter” traverse the terrain between what persists and what is "long gone," between "the promise with its pulled thread" and "the wind that sang through the weave.”
Reginald Gibbons says of Allbery, “A verbal Vermeer of quiet ordinary moments when time uncannily pauses, Debra Allbery has with the keenest sensitivity caught the sound, the scent, and the look of intense and yet elusive meaningfulness…. This is a delicate, artful, haunting book.”
"The Fleming Museum hosted Tina Chang on March 28 as part of the monthly Painted Word Series led by professor Major Jackson.
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Rigoberto Gonzalez, a Four Way Books author, wrote a beautiful piece for the Poetry Foundation on his experiences reading Adrienne Rich as a touching tribute to her.
I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.
The words? Of all the extraordinary things to discover in the deep–sunken ships, coral reefs, hammerhead sharks, pale white fish like stowaways from another planet–there were no words. What words was he talking about? From the book of myths previously alluded to? What myths? The Brothers Grimm? When I was asked to explain what was meant by “words” I had none to fill in that blank. And then came the second stanza that sent me into another layer of darkness:
This is the place.
And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
streams black, the merman in his armored body.
We circle silently
about the wreck
we dive into the hold.
I am she: I am he
What in the name of gender-shifting was this? An entity that is both male and female. I pictured creatures from the sea, their androgyny, or rather their genderless forms. Was this speaker a soul, a spirit, a ghost? I pictured Patrick Duffy in Man from Atlantis, who could breathe underwater, swim like a fish with his webbed feet and hands–the only survivor from his fallen city. But clearly he was a man. The title of the television series I watched in Mexico dubbed in Spanish said so. My pre-pubescent homosexual fantasies told me so. In any case, I could not fit this poem into my frames of reference. I had no answers, right or wrong. To this day I am convinced this is why I began my college education in English 1A–the only English major who didn’t skip over the basic humanities requirement. And for decades I avoided this poem, even as I learned to appreciate Adrienne Rich."
"Even though I am a poet laureate, it is still very hard to call myself a poet. I was speaking to these young girls as part of a leadership program and a girl asked me this question, “When did you decide you were a leader?,” and I hadn’t realized I was a leader until that moment. It took a 13-year-old girl to ask me a question in my 40s to realize I was one.