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.

Upcoming Reading in LA With Current and Future Four Way Poets

Here at Four Way Books we're so thrilled to say that a current author of ours, Collier Nogues, and a future one, Louise Mathias (her book comes out in 2013!) will be reading for the Rhampsodomancy: A Reading Series in Los Angeles on April 29th at 7:30pm at The Good Luck Bar. It's for audience members who are 21 and up only since there will be a cash bar. Doors will open at 7pm and the reading will begin at 7:30pm. If you're in the area that night, you must stop by!

You can get more information about the reading and the readers here. Also be sure to check out our website so you can get a copy of Nogues' book and see what other books we have at the moment.

"Vermont Public Radio" on Sydney Lea



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.

"The best Vermont poetry speaks with a characteristic voice that is clear, crisp, and as invigorating as a sunny April morning. Sometimes lyrical, sometimes plain, it bridges many individual styles, but can be heard in poets as different as Robert Frost, Galway Kinnell, Ruth Stone and David Budbill.

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."

To hear more, click here. For a copy of his book, Young of the Year, visit us online.

"Smoky Mountain News" Article on Spring Author Rose McLarney



"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.

Her work poems have the pith, the profundity, the probing of Berry’s, and yet she is very much her own muse, making a new poetry that ever since her appearance on the Western North Carolina scene a few years back has raised the bar for all other poets who have taken note of her range of subject matter and her crafting of the language. Since then, she has gone on to earn an MFA degree from Warren Wilson’s Program for Writers and now teaches writing at the college. Her poems have appeared in The Kenyon Review, Orion, New England Review, Asheville Poetry Review, and others. She has been awarded various poetry prizes and teaching fellowships and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. In recent years she has worked locally with the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project based in Asheville. Clearly, with this first book, RoseMcLarney has arrived."

For more on Rose in this article, click here. And then be sure to check out her book The Always Broken Plates of Mountains on our site. While you're there, see what other books are new this spring.

"The Painted Word Poetry Series" Interviews Tina Chang


Tina Chang, author of Of Gods and Strangers, one of our Fall 2011 titles, was interviewed by The Painted Word Poetry Series.

"Tina Chang has it all going on, she is a mom, leader, poet, strong female role model, and Brooklyn’s 1st Female Poet Laureate. What I found to be most inspiring about my chat with Tina, was how much she is driven to make poetry something everyone can access, and feel excited about. All too often poetry can seem like something alienating, especially if you don’t have a lot of education about it. One of her goals as laureate is to alleviate some of this stigma through community outreach, and art projects around her neighborhood."

Watch the interview and hear more of what the interviewer has to say about Tina. And go on our website to get a copy of Of Gods and Strangers. While you'r there, browse through our Spring 2012 titles.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Amazing Review of "In a Beautiful Country" in "FIELD Magazine"


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!

“From the onset, an uncanny, almost subliminal tension is established between the anodyne references to “beautiful country” and falling in love and the dawning realization that “love” here bears the burden of suicide and war. We may want to interpret the first two images as simply reckless behavior, and indeed the next lines might seem to authorize a more optimistic reading: “The gold-haired girl is singing into your ear / about how we live in a beautiful country. / Snow drifts from the clouds / / into your drink. It doesn’t matter about the war.” But the poem then turns again, this time unmistakably:
A good way to fall in love
is to close up the garage and turn the engine on,
then down you’ll fall through lovely mists
as a body might fall early one morning
from a high window into love…
What makes this poem, like much of Prufer’s extraordinary new collection, so powerful is its command of a multilayered and utterly distinctive tonality; turning repeatedly back on itself, shifting between major and minor keys, it keeps the reader on guard, uncomfortably alert to what will happen next, and in the process implicating us directly in its emotional landscape.”

To learn more about FIELD Magazine and this great review, click here. To get your copy of In a Beautiful Country, visit our site.

Brooklyn Poet Laureate and Four Way Author Tina Chang on Life and Death for Brooklyn Book Festival


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."

To read the poem, click here. To get a copy of her latest book, Of Gods and Strangers, visit us online.

Picture of Daniel Tobin Reading for "Wake Up and Smell the Poetry"


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.

To see some of his books, visit his author page on our website.

Patrick Donnelly's Poem Published by "Mead Magazine"


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.



Read the Signs


When I rinsed my spectacles under the tap and wiped them with my undershirt,

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
none,

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,
When a sign told how at this mission migrants prayed pardonne-nous nos offences,
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,


Click here to read the rest of the poem and to browse through Mead Magazine. If you love this poem as much as we think you will, head over to our website to look at Nocturnes of the Brothel of Ruin.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Close Reading of Rigoberto Gonzalez' Poem in "Pansy Poetics"


"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."

Here's the rest of the article to see what else the writer has to say about Rigoberto Gonzalez' poem "Our Deportees" and what he has to say about Gonzalez' writing.

If you're drawn to the poem and the writing style of Gonzalez, you have to visit Four Way Books to look at his latest book, Black Blossoms. You can get a copy from the site and also see some of our Spring 2012 books. And don't forget to check our our new tumblr as well!

Monday, April 9, 2012

"YARN" Talks With Debra Spark About Writing

Four Way author, Debra Spark talks to YARN, Young Adult Review Network, about writing.

"Is there a writer who doesn’t get stuck? The best advice I have is to write a lousy draft. Don’t even try to do a good job. In fact, make it your assignment to do a bad job. That way, you’ll get something down on paper. Then wait some time—well, if you have some time! Go back to the draft, and you’ll probably find something worth building on. Also, I advise taking notes about what you want to write on, if you’re writing a paper or essay. Another idea: say you had to do something like write what you think about a book you’ve read for class. Instead of doing a paper, imagine writing a letter to your closest friend, someone you speak to frankly and regularly. Start your paper by writing, “Dear Bess, I read this book, and it is really kind of amazing. At first, I thought maybe the characters were a little cliché, because it starts with this sort of blue blood man, who has pretty retrograde ideas about life, but when I got into it, I realized that ….” (I am describing a book that I am reading now.) If you write a letter, instead of a paper, you will write what you really think, in the language you really think in. Then you can go back, neaten up the prose, cut out the salutation and the “Love, Debra,” and you’ll have your paper. Or at least a version with which to work."

Finish the interview here. Visit us online to get a copy of Spark's latest book, The Pretty Girl and see how she takes her advice on writing.

Sydney Lea on Community Library Visits for "Burlington Free Press"


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.

Now I am a formalist myself, something not all that common in our day (though I think and even hope this is unobvious when I read, because I pause in my recitation when the grammar does, not when a line does). I even use a goodly amount of rhyme and half-rhyme. And yet I employ these tools merely because they enable me, not because they represent capital-P Poetry."

Here is the rest of the article. To learn more about Sydney Lea's book Young of the Year, visit us online. While you're there, be sure to check out our more recent books as well.

"Mead Magazine" Reviews Patrick Donnelly's "Nocturnes of the Brothel of Ruin"


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!

Read the review. Visit Four Way Books online for a copy of Donnelly's book and to see what other new books we have this season.

Sarah Gorham on "BOMBBlog" Podcast


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.

"Perhaps Sarah Gorham’s most important contribution is the literary press she created with her husband: Sarabande Books. Gorham writes that, “Our focus is on poetry and short fiction, genres that in the recent past have received less than generous attention from the mainstream publishing industry.” In an interview with Nin Andrews from Best American Poetry, Gorham speaks about the two-sided nature of Sarabande Books, but her comments speak are especially apt regarding Bad Daughter:


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.
Many of Gorham’s poems (e.g. “Scaffold for a Sonnet” and “Barbecue”) aren’t experimental with form, but what lies beneath is a certain untenable wildness.
If one were to say one thing about Bad Daughter, it wouldn’t be about daughters at all, but the way in which humans interact with their imaginations as well as their memories. For instance, Gorham imagines a well that “seeps rather than contains,” drawing people in with its mystery and foreboding. She ends with a further re-imagining of the “well” with, “Imagine a sunset, lavender and red / as battered morals, the underworld, / eager to drink.” While imagination can lead us to fanciful and foreboding places, it can also lead to incomplete and faulty attempts at memory and perception, as in “Doppleganger,,” “Bust of a Young Girl in Winter,” and “Barbecue.” In each of these a daughter is remembered in an almost perverse way—perverse in the sense of so far against the reality of the situation—by those around her. She is consistently the subject—not the creator. In the end, daughters seem to be a lens through which Gorham examines the art of writing (e.g. “Scaffold for a Sonnet”) and memories, the stories which we write ourselves."


Read more of the interview and listen to the podcast here. For a copy of Bad Daughter and see what is new at Four Way Books (like our Spring 2012 titles!), go here.

Upcoming Debra Allbery and Rose McLarney Reading on April 11th

Two Four Way authors, Debra Allbery and Rose McLarney, will be reading together at Warren Wilson on April 11th.

"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 rmclarney@warren-wilson.edu.

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.”


Learn more about these wonderful writers and this exciting event. And be sure to visit us online to get your copies of their books and to take a peek at the other great titles we have this spring at Four Way.

Great Response to Tina Chang's Reading at The Fleming Museum


"The Fleming Museum hosted Tina Chang on March 28 as part of the monthly Painted Word Series led by professor Major Jackson.

Varied speakers presented her poetry to the audience.

In Tina Chang’s second book of poetry, “Of Gods and Strangers,” the taste of the discoveries made in Chang’s poems lingers with the audience.

The sounds and images in Chang’s collection are electric: we are drawn across borders and time, and when we reenter the world, we remember vividly what we experienced in the lives of the poems.

A current Brooklyn poet laureate, Tina Chang writes with a richness and lucidity that extends throughout her poems and with a collectivity that claims us.

We become one with the Empress dowager, the young girls, the first-person speaker in a club whose clear voice seems to rise up from the shadows.

As the audience of the poems in “Of Gods and Strangers,” we experience such an intimacy with the experiences and atmospheres created that it is almost as if we, too, become written into the collection by its conclusion. "


Click here to hear more about the reading and be sure to visit Four Way Books to learn more about Tina Chang's poetry books and get copies.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Rigoberto Gonzalez on Reading Adrienne Rich for the Poetry Foundation


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.


"When I came upon the phrase “not like Cousteau,” my world collapsed. Was this the Jacques Cousteau? I remembered his deep-sea exploits on television, watching with my grandparents as the three of us marveled at the universe he was showing us. But the explorer was not like Cousteau–he was going at it alone, without a support team. (I didn’t catch on to the possibility that this explorer might be a woman, not like Cousteau, dummy.) In any case, I thought I was on board this journey when suddenly I came across the first stanza that did me in:

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."


For more of the article, click here. To learn about Rigoberto Gonzalez as a poet, get a copy of his latest book, Black Blossoms from Four Way.

"She's the First" Interviews and Welcomes Tina Chang to the "She's the First" Campaign


"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.

That actual claiming of being a leader and being a poet and being a woman is so important. Once you claim that you will gain so much power.

I have to be honest, I think the poet’s life for many is a struggle. I ask a lot of my poets friends, “What have you sacrificed to be this thing, which is this human, which is a poet, that is a lot different than other lives?” It inhabits your imagination all the time.

For a long time I tried to deny that calling because, in my life, I wanted to fulfill the things my parents wanted of me, and those were always traditional roles. I tried to fit myself, or wedge myself into that role, and it was sort of like ill-fitting clothing that never fit me. It was a matter of trying on lots of different outfits. The poet was never anything I had to fit into. It was just naturally me, myself, walking in the world, sitting down and giving life to my ideas."

To learn more about Tina Chang and She's the First, finish the interview here. If you want copies of Chang's books, including her latest book Of Gods and Strangers (which you do), visit Four Way Books.