Duet is the first publication by Jacar Press in the Greatest Hits series. This chapbook series was founded by editor Jennifer Bosveld at Pudding House Press nearly two decades ago. It was acquired by Sammy Greenspan of Kattywampus Press in 2010, and will now be published by Jacar Press under the editorship of David Rigsbee.
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“After experience is done teaching us just about everything it thinks it needs to teach us, we come back to desire, the one thing worth knowing. This time around desire shows up as a wild calm, dead center of whatever picture in which we find ourselves. These marvelous, subtle poems go deep, deep, deep into that wild calm. So subtle, so moving! I don’t believe anyone but Cynthia Huntington could have written them.”
— David Rivard
“Difficult as it is to describe honestly the spectacle of living, to describe death and dying is to go almost where language can’t: past knowledge, experience, or the reliable image. Yet what An Elegy achieves, through its own assured music, is this very contradiction: to go ‘in places where you never were,’ to honor the dead as well as to reimagine them, knowing that grief is as much the mind’s ‘calculus of human work’ as it is the heart’s. Here are words worth their urgency.”
— Rickey Laurentiis, Boy with Thorns, winner 2016 Levis Reading Prize
“A Dog’s Life is a delightful romp through Americana by way of ‘real’ America with sly, politically engaged poems. Though this poet issues a rallying cry against ‘siren songs of entertainment,’ his poems are completely entertaining but, at the same time, completely wise. He takes on true love, extinction, our fragile environment, war, technology, porn, aging and our fight against it, cancer, nursing homes, and death. A Dog’s Life is an enlightened look at Doritos, Carson Daly, Walmart, McDonalds, theme parks, and, of course, dogs.”
— Denise Duhamel
“The real singers – whether lamenting or praising – give us a sense of life as larger than we could have expressed before they arrived. With an explorer’s curiosity and drive, Adam Scheffler turns his poems into a treasury. He speaks of the value and wonder in small and large things, and like a dog (the dog he’d have us believe his soul is), meets the world with undisguised exuberance. These poems are spiritual in the way poetry is best suited to be: they articulate our good fortune to be alive.”
— Bob Hicok
“Raising the Sky is unpretentious, attempts no lofty poetic experiments with heavy themes but rather surges with philosophy caked on the sneaker bottoms of young slickster/trickster wannabes, and top-shelf gold standard prose shuffled across army fatigue blankets. Howard Craft allows the reader to perceive the moments, landscapes, and particulars of his own brand of Southern urbanism. He takes us there. Place. Physicality. His poetry becomes the hushed drum carrying the meter of persistence, racial identity, and invocations of the immensity… in which the unavoidable are saddled hip to hip to joy and revelation.
These poems remind us that our ancestors continue to whisper in our ears, remind us that we are at the helm steering ourselves, on our own terms, through yet another Middle Passage.”
— Jaki Shelton Green
“Threshing Floor is a serious book of poems in series. These retellings of the Biblical Naomi are compelling and soulful.”
— Denise Duhamel
“Threshing Floor tells the story of three women, their vulnerability and displacement; it will grip and hold women. But, please God, may the book also be read by men—lots of men—because these poems are models of empathy in a world that sorely needs it.”
— Jeanne Murray Walker, author of Helping the Morning: New and Selected Poems
“Margaret Rabb’s career in poetry was a romance with words…This descendant of Confederates, this servant of transvestites, cloud- chronicler, bibliophile, Anglican and Romantic, knew that the distance between the searcher and the bookshelf was intercontinental and yet intimate, that the time it took to find the special poem, the one addressed to the reader (and written by that same reader), was a lifetime and yet an instant.”
— David Rigsbee, author of School of the Americas, Not Alone in My Dancing: Essays and Reviews, and The Red Tower: New and Selected Poems.
“One of the Ten Best Poetry Books of 2016″*
Proceeds go to a scholarship fund for African American youth,
administered by the Urban League in Washington, D.C.
“Police killings of citizens of color are becoming an American past time way past its prime. But one thing we can depend on in this hour of chaos, confusion, clarity, outrage and sorrow: America’s media will certainly be there to insinuate itself, however crudely, however clumsily and rudely, into the sickness of the American psyche.
No need for me to further enumerate the endless trail of police violations, brutalities, killings. I’ll let the poets sing their names. I’ll let the Tradition say, Amen! For the great and socially committed poets assembled herein have been engaged in call and response; bearing witness to the maladies of a nation whose so-called founding begins with brutality and policing; begins with genocide, confiscation and death in the name of profit, greed and expansion.
The poet-witnesses in this collection distill the horror and let in the light of our common humanity. They remind us of a universal hurt, grief, anger, rage, shame and love that we all can recall when confronting the blunt reality and the savagery of abuses associated with corrupted power, indifference and intolerance.
This is not a catalogue of death and despair. This is a work of resistance and resilience. These poets sing songs of love, which is what this book is, essentially.
— Tony Medina
Poems by, in order of appearance –
Martín Espada, Joel Dias-Porter, Afaa Michael Weaver, Sonia Sanchez, Camille Rankine, Patricia Spears Jones, Rae Paris, Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Roger Bonair-Agard, Kwame Dawes, Nile Lansana, Keith Gilyard, Ana Castillo, Jabari Asim, Derrick Weston Brown, Mahogany L. Browne, Venus Thrash, Kelly Norman Ellis, T.J. Anderson, Reuben Jackson, Phillip B. Williams , giovanni singleton, Jericho Brown, Ching-In Chen, Niki Herd, Metta Sáma, Frank X Walker, Khadijah Queen, Danny Simmons, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Jaki Shelton Green, Raina Leon,Veronica Golos, Marilyn Nelson, Kenji C. Liu, Marilyn Singer, Adam Falkner, L. Lamar Wilson, Jon Sands, Cornelius Eady, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Quincy Scott Jones, Douglas Kearney, LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs, Howard Craft, Malcolm Friend, Kamilah Aisha Moon, Brian Gilmore, Lynne Thompson, Kim Roberts, M. Askia Toure, Mitchell L.H. Douglas,Ricardo Nazario y Colón, Tara Betts, Jamaal May, Rashidah Ismaili, James E. Cherry, Quraysh Ali Lansana , Bao Phi, devorah major, Khadijah Queen, Yusef Komunyakaa, Abdul Ali, Allison Joseph , Reuben Jackson, Minal Hajratwala, b: william bearhart, Jane Alberdeston Coralin, Esther Iverem, Jerry W. Ward, Jr., Ishmael Reed, Howard Craft, Quincy Troupe, Thylias Moss, Haki Madhubuti, Everett Hoagland, Tennessee Reed, Onam Lansana, Marvin K. White, Zeina Hashem Beck, Lauren K Alleyne, Rita Dove, Mark Doty, Ruth Ellen Kocher, Ross Gay, Joy Harjo
*Beltway Poetry Journal
“The poems in Creeks of the Upper South rely on call and response—both within individual poems and from poem to poem—which seems fitting, given the collaborative nature of the collection. At times, the voices and personal narratives are alive and burgeoning, and at the same time fragile. Other times, primal and colloquial language fuses into a lexicon of ecological anxieties and understandings. This collection calls us to take off our boots, roll up our britches, and follow the creeks and voices meandering and forking through these poems. We can’t help but respond.”
— Adam Vines
“Creeks of the Upper South is collaborative poetry at flood-surge. It is a braided stream, the skitter-flight of water fowl, a storm event of vowels, childhood as rocky shoals, cut-bank in language’s flow. Amy Wright and William Wright walk back the postmodern idea that word and place, signifier and signified, can’t roil the same deep channel.”
— John Lane
This book is being published collaboratively with Unicorn Press.
In After the Three Moon Era, Gary Fincke keeps returning to the missing, the vanished, the disappeared. The speaker of his sharply-etched poems is a man in late middle age, caught between a grandchild who whirls unafraid on an open staircase and a disheartened father of ninety who asks, “What’s next?” Fincke brings a penetrating gaze and an elegiac tenderness to the telling “news items” he discovers in a world haunted by intimations of mortality.
— Chana Bloch, author of Swimming in the Rain, New & Selected Poems, 1980-2015
Gary Fincke’s sweeping After the Three Moon Era is a razor-edged investigation of our modern reality: its wars and chemical plants, its familial aches and obligations, its daily reminders of mortality’s inescapable pull. These poems see clear-eyed into the darkness, but maintain an abiding wonder at the mysteries (the earth’s once-upon-a-time three moons; sinkholes’ habit of appearing on Thursdays) that grace our mundane lives so that they, like these poems, quietly glow. Incisive, empathetic, and arresting, this is an absolute knockout of a book.
— Catherine Pierce, author of The Girls of Peculiar and Famous Last Words
W.S. Merwin believes “Haskins writes with the startling freedom and grace of a kite flying, and with the variety and assurance of invention that reveal, in image after image, the dream behind the waking world.” In this, her 14th collection, she focuses on the natural world of inland Florida, writing poems “close to plein air” experiences. The winner of 2 NEA Fellowships, as well as 4 Florida Cultural Affairs fellowships, “Haskins latest collection is as beguiling as the Florida creeks, tupelo trees and wading birds that grace its pages.” Cynthia Barnett. Publication date January, 2016.
“The poetry of Julie Suk is at once deceptively spare and metaphorically rich, and the sensual mystery of her perfectly pitched and etched lines is haunting, elemental, and wild,” says R. T. Smith. In her 6th collection, Suk continues to write poems that are deeply sensuous and unflinching. Her awards include the University of Arkansas Poetry Competition, the Roanoke-Chowan Award, the Brockman-Campbell Award, the Bess Hokin Prize from Poetry magazine. She is a former managing editor of Southern Poetry Review. Publication date January, 2016.
Intimacy is a state of closeness that transcends explanation. It is a feeling of being at home emotionally and physically, a biological need so severe that when we don’t have intimacy with those who are most significant in our lives, the effects can be devastating. When we do find intimacy, it can be transcendent.
This collection brings together poems that explore intimacy between lovers, friends, parents and children, people and their pets, humans and the environment, and more. Work by dozens of writers including Chana Bloch, Maxine Chernoff, Toi Derricote, John Balaban, Thylias Moss, Leanne O’Sullivan, Richard Jackson, Kathryn Stripilng Byer, Jaki Shelton Green and over 70 more poets.
“The philosophy and emotional pulse moving behind the words—that and the flawless lineation of the music—just wouldn’t let me go.”
— Jamaal May, Hum (Alice James Books) American Library Association Notable Book Award
“Kelly Michels’ collection takes us to an amazing elsewhere that is both palpable and magical, incantatory, tragic, and beautiful. Beneath the swirl of linked images and the muscular movement and music of the language, throb the stories these poems undertake, not confessional, not pain style, not complaint, not even recounted but instead revealed in a voice with its own clarity and the logic of metaphor holding, even as the real becomes surreal. The images catch the light as they turn together in unlikely yet nearly perfect partnership.
The journey taken here is harrowing, perilous, darkly graceful, and bears truths beyond boundaries. I would follow these designs on the world, these honed knives, these desperate memories anywhere. The journey ends with Tonight in D minor, and I raise my head from these poems with Mystery ringing in my ears. These phrases occur to me: dazzlingly original, deft and wildly successful gamble. Let’s just say that Disquiet is a truly remarkable gathering by a very gifted new poet.”
— Betty Adcock
“There’s a clean, lively language at work here, full of fine words clearly relished, while those poems lodged in Irish landscapes, both physical and literary, shine with the virtue of authenticity: they see, feel and communicate what’s actually there, what’s been experienced with sharp eye, responsive ear, imaginative understanding. Powered by such energies, Staying Blue stays satisfyingly alive from start to finish.”
— Eamon Grennan
“Gibbons Ruark is a yea-sayer. Here is poetry to give us heart, full of serious praise for life and humankind, in language strong and beautiful. It seems a lovely irony in a time when Irish poetry is thriving that Ruark, with his roots in North Carolina, should stand so high among those contemporary poets who can write of Ireland with the most sympathy and understanding.”
— X. J. Kennedy on Rescue the Perishing
“The Vishnu Bird is both a memorial and a memoir in lyric poetry. This clean-spoken, deeply-felt chapbook remembers the poet’s dear friend by tracing his vocation of anthropology, and honoring his spiritual depth, through vignettes from the speaker’s own past. Yet if this is a collection of last things, and past things, it also imagines next things.
The Vishnu Bird is above all a book of making—fabrics and lyrics, images and memories—whose textures are richly humane. Kathryn Stripling Byer’s elegiac articulations become, like all true poetry, ‘the hoop / in which we cast our stories’ in order to ‘hold [us] fast.’”
— David Baker
“Rich in detail and attentive in focus, Kevin Boyle’s poems rock back and forth between tenderness and irony. In language both fluent and metrical, they explore what it’s like to be alive and awake in today’s shifting cultural environment. Leavened with a fine wit and possessed of a restrained compassion for the male self coming to terms with the layers of his life, these are the sturdy poems of a grown man.”
— Dorianne Laux, author of The Book of Men
“Kevin Boyle’s poems come at you from a variety of angles: fatherhood, childhood, man in the street. Memories of a Philadelphia neighborhood, a boy with his paper route trying to collect, ice on the Delaware River. These are the poems of an America that’s changing and they cover a long arc of time, diverse in method, restless, inventive. They are not without their dark moments, but Boyle’s generosity and humor keep shining through the lines.”
— Joseph Millar, author of Blue Rust
— Kathryn Stripling Byer, Descent, Coming to Rest, Catching Light and 3 others from LSU Press
“Which universe does Debra Kaufman inhabit? The “dark, indifferent” one or the one in which “The white pine waves/like a kind neighbor”? Perhaps her universe changes with time and she records these changes in her graceful, thorn-sharp lyrics. What happens around her also happens within her and what she remembers she makes memorable. Perhaps she embraces what her friend once said, “If you listen closely … you can hear things.” Passionate in its angers as well as in its affections and as closely tuned as a clavier, Delicate Thefts is a trove of classy gifts.”
— Fred Chappel, author of Familiars, Shadow Box: Poems and over a dozen other collections from LSU Press.
“Catherine Carter’s poems wrestle with contemporary human dilemmas: identity, aging, nostalgia, desire, as well as our place in the natural world. I’m drawn to her diction, spiky and sharp, grounded in the imagery of experience.”
— Joseph Millar, author of three books, including Blue Rust (Carnegie Mellon University Press), recipient of Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts fellowships.
“Stephen Spender once described poetry as ‘enchanted utterance.’ Few contemporary poets write poems that come as close to Spender’s definition as Catherine Carter. Call it enchantment or call it witchery, the poetry in Carter’s Marks of the Witch creates through its incantatory rhythms and startling imagery a voice that reveals nothing less than the mystery residing in even the most ordinary detail of our daily lives.”
— Kathryn Stripling Byer, author of six books of poetry
including Descent (LSU Press), winner of the SIBA Award
and the NC Poetry Award
“What I love about these poems is how they manage to be so eloquent without being pretentious. I’m also drawn to the way Maginnes juxtaposes fire and its quick losses with fire’s complement, slow vanishing. Not all the poems in this collection directly address either of those ideas — Maginnes is too smart for that — but I finished these pages thinking it was change that infuses the finest of them and that Maginnes, like so many of us, has striven to accept what is, even when it’s transition, and through that acceptance find peace. I admire that, and this book.”
— Lola Haskins, The Grace to Leave, Still the Mountain, Desire Lines, New and Selected Poems
“Rooted in hypnagogic logic and deeply seated in the tradition of Jayne Cortez, Quincy Troupe and Ntozake Shange, Jaki Shelton Green’s verse narratives pay homage to the orphic ethos of the mythmaking South with all the viscous verve of Van Gogh with a palette of syllables, images and words blurring through our senses like the thick, sleek wax of magnolia leaves. Her images conjure cultural beauty from a world-weary—yet ecstatic—kaleidoscopic lens while sustaining a pained relevance that serves up love from every angle of human anguish: the forced marriage of a child bride; memories of grandmothers and mentors, praiseworthy and proud. In Feeding the Light, Jaki Shelton Green captivates with a global vision. Her poems are totems and tomes; they are percussive, convulsive and constructive.”
—Tony Medina, author of Broke Baroque, The President Looks Like Me & Other Poems, and An Onion of Wars.
An intimate, tender and lyrical chapbook that looks back at a childhood, where friendship, family, and slavery intersect. These poems ponder the conflicted emotions, from joy to sorrow, that come from meditating on one’s legacy.
Shelby Stephenson’s Family Matters: Homage to July, the Slave Girl won the 2008 Bellday Poetry Prize, and the 2009 Oscar Arnold Young Award from the Poetry Council of North Carolina.
These sly, beautifully crafted poems inhabit and haunt the heart-land. Sandy Longhorn is a poet with the gifts of observation and imagination. An original voice with a knack for telling tales.
— Stuart Dischell, Backward Days, Dig Safe, Evenings & Avenues, Good Hope Road (Viking Press)
The Girlhood Book of Prairie Myths is a stunning collection of poems. With her gift for startling images and precise music, Sandy Longhorn converts the normally peaceful vision of the prairie into a place that perpetually threatens to turn innocence into a cautionary tale. In these poems, young girls discover haunting consequences for “refusing to mind.” Disobedience transforms girls through underground language or the bright forgetfulness of poppies. In this landscape formed by elegy and glaciers, everything worshiped is dead or wounded, yet Longhorn’s imagination and lyricism resurrects these myths so you can “taste the light his body had foretold.”
— Traci Brimhall, Our Lady of the Ruins (W.W. Norton), selected by Carolyn Forché for the 2011 Barnard Women Poets Prize
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