Poetry

Veiled Spill: A Sequence

veiled-spill-cover

Veiled Spill:A Sequence
Jan Clausen

GenPop Books
Poetry, 7.5″ x 9.5″, 92 pp, trade paperback
ISBN-13: 9780982359471
October 2014

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Begun in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster and European laws banning the full face veil, Jan Clausen’s Veiled Spill unfolds a meditation on the links and gaps between interior glimpses and sprawling histories, between the beauty of the moment and the terror of the plot. Bridging poetry and prose, lyric and documentary, sampling and improvisation, it tracks the brooding presence of brittle technologies, the obdurate contingencies of gender and race, the fate of religious questions in the absence of gods, and the desperate freedom of art at a time when conventional social action seems powerless to avert the wreck of the biosphere. Transfixed by the pressure of wildly cascading events that engulf the very possibility of narrative order, the sequence hints, as well, that in a world where “what is veined/is spilling everywhere,” we are already in the revolutionary situation.

The veils and spills in Clausen’s book are myriad: Muslim niqabs, toxic overflows of radiation, suppressed desire, information leaking through redacted military documents, the fluidity of gender, sugar—and then poison—left out in the kitchen for ants…. As Clausen’s sequence cartwheels from found and collaged government documents to litanies to homophonic translations, it acknowledges the limitations of such experimentation in the face of environmental and other impending doom: “I can do what I want with form but not for long,” she writes….

—Arielle Greenberg, “What to Read Now — Some Vital Books from 2014,” in American Poetry Review

Below the surface chaos of Clausen’s Veiled Spill lies a complex ecosystem of balanced binaries: between narrative and fragmentation, between spectacle and interiority, between linguistic playfulness and the major social and political issues of our time. Throughout, Clausen invents forms which perfectly place her poems at home on the page, each new structure appearing to arise autonomously and revelatory from its subject matter. Equal parts thoughtful, analytical, and passionate, Veiled Spill welcomes the reader with a handshake and a smack across the face.

—Amy King

Veiled Spill is a work of exquisite, evocative language, and frightening insight. Clausen has created a dire warning to all of us living on this planet of the dangers of extinction of life itself. Yet, somehow at the same time, she offers a lyrical tribute to the power of voices spilling over, breaking out of veils, speaking truth. Then, once again, we are warned — of the dangers of silence, the losses already incurred. I felt haunted by the imagery and musical repetitions, emotionally shaken by a sense of fear and rage at hypocrisies laid bare, the losses to which we are growing dangerously accustomed. Language itself is a metaphor — fractured and torn, then suddenly put back together, veiled and spilled, broken and gathered again. Jan Clausen is a poet I want to listen to and read as closely as I can, to understand, with heart and mind, what she has seen, what we are all faced with.

—Jane Lazarre

Jan Clausen in Veiled Spill writes of complicated vulnerability and feminist resistance and as she does this, she looks for allies and alliances with such a deep love, with such a lyric invocation.

—Juliana Spahr

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Maleficae

bolden maleficae cover

Maleficae
Emma Bolden

GenPop Books
Poetry, 6″ x 8″, 80 pp, trade paperback
May 2013

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During the European witch trials, over one hundred thousand people were prosecuted for maleficia. The vast majority were women. Many were unmarried. Many owned property. Some were midwives who counseled village women about their health, their pregnancies, and their marriages. Others were simply non-conformists. Maleficae tells the story of one so-called witch: a woman who, like many others, was once seen as her village’s savior, but became the focus of the villagers’ fear and rage when disaster struck.

This book-length series of poems seeks to re-create the terror and inhumanity of the trials. Incorporating language from trial records to papal bulls to incendiary theological documents, these poems explore the intersection of forces that led to the persecution of people who were deemed different and therefore dangerous—forces alarmingly similar to those still operating today. At the center of all of this is the woman who was called a witch: her story, her wail from the center of the flames. In allowing her new testimony, in allowing the dead to speak, Maleficae gives voice to the voiceless victims of the trials.

In this incantatory series of lyric poems Emma Bolden finds a new way to write about an old (though still current) subject. This book speaks in many tongues, many vivid, and living tongues.

—Thomas Lux

Emma Bolden’s Maleficae is an ambitious and powerful accomplishment. Informed by historical records of European witchcraft trials, it is wholly contemporary in its layered complexity and poetic craft. Incantatory rhythms, shifting perspectives and voices, and vividly rendered dream/nightmare imagery make these poems hypnotic and haunting. The contrast between historical content and contemporary form—between fact and imagination—intensifies the dramatic impact and reminds us that the past is, in one form or another, always present.

—Eric Nelson

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The Kangaroo Girl

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The Kangaroo Girl
Judith Baumel

GenPop Books, 2011
ISBN: 9780982359433
Poetry, 6″x8″, 78 pages, trade paperback

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Starting with a photo that spent four decades in her father’s wallet (“Photo of Author In Kangaroo Pajamas”), Judith Baumel shows us new ways of understanding family and history. In this quintessentially modern book, her third, The Kangaroo Girl detects religion at the scene of many crimes: from the great disasters of the past—Edward I’s edict of expulsion in 1290, the War Between the States, the catastrophes of twentieth century Europe—to the small calamities of Jewish American life in the ethnic neighborhoods of New York City. The Kangaroo Girl is also a personal book, a meditation on being a daughter and a mother, and, in a series of moving elegies, what it means to survive loss. Judith Baumel’s love affairs with the visual—great buildings, great paintings, great art—and with the mysteries of language in great books and great conversations combine in this testament to human inventiveness and resilience.

[A] book of rare power and beauty…. a playful nostalgia and a haunting regret…. a meditation on worlds and people lost…. Baumel’s subtle art is to pair lightness with gravity, touching on matters of mortality, faith, and history with extraordinary fluency….

Poet’s Quarterly

Judith Baumel’s new poems are inspiring cabinets, loaded with gorgeous sounds, startling juxtapositions, and emotionally intricate quests. Sophisticated and subtle prosodic effects find their match in the poet’s intellectual alertness, her endearing inquisitiveness: her carefully modulated lines bend, hurry, linger, exult, and effloresce, with idiomatic inventiveness and grace. The Kangaroo Girl is an important achievement by a remarkable poet.

—Wayne Koestenbaum

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then, we were still living

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then, we were still living
Michael Klein

A 2011 Lambda Literary Award Finalist

GenPop Books, 2010
ISBN: 9780982359419
Poetry | 6″x8″, 68 pp., trade paperback

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In these roughly whispered poems, Klein somehow—miraculously—manages to evoke a past of empty suitcases, of ghosts, while being fully present in the moment, in the now. In this way each phrase, each utterance, is completely weighted-their music enters us deeply, even as they seemingly drift past.

—Nick Flynn

Every once in a great while, someone writes a book that changes the way I read poems. Michael Klein’s then, we were still living is one of those books. Its language is so close to the bone, there’s nothing to interfere with or soften the intimate transactions between reader and poem. When the subject is death, or love, or the great metaphysical questions asked by the soul—and every poem in the book is on that scale—we see that meaning and language are one and the same. I’m going to give copies to everyone I know.

—Chase Twichell

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Robert Farnsworth, Rumored islands

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Rumored Islands
Robert Farnsworth

Harbor Mountain Press, 2010
ISBN 9780981556031
Poetry, 5″x8″, 88 pp., paperback

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More than 20 years after his last book, Farnsworth (Honest Water) returns with poems of wonder and shame, loneliness and “the strange, sun-spun fabric of the world.” In carefully sculpted lines, alternately lyrical and narrative, cultured and stripped down, he offers poems that arrive unannounced and track the unexpected turns life takes, the way an unanticipated moment can become part of a story we were meant to hear. He captures the long sigh of a stoplight, thoughts from Westminster Bridge, finding someone drowned staring up from the bottom of a pond, and the complicated distances and intimacies of family life—fathers and sons, husbands and wives—with grace and muscular music. Farnsworth knows his way around a stanza and is capable of lines that both surprise and seem inevitable, whether he’s “full of the melancholy/ pleasure of being far away from home” or stating that “The past should always be/ this allusive gift.” Near the end of the book comes “At Sea,” a tender, restrained and stunning poem in which, four years after his father’s death, Farnsworth begins to find him. Rather than ask forgiveness—presumably for the many unnamed separations between a father and a son—the writer acknowledges, “I recognize the things I know that you’d have loved.”

Publishers Weekly Starred Review

In the Architecture of Bone

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In the Architecture of Bone
Alan Semerdjian

GenPop Books, 2009
ISBN: 9780982359402
Poetry | 6″x8″, 120 pages, trade paperback

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Alan Semerdjian’s In the Architecture of Bone reads like a long poem cycle that pulls the reader into an open field in which Semerdjian weaves his explorations of language and art, Armenian history and family. These dynamic poems mingle the ghosts of the past with the pace of contemporary life. This talented, young poet is well worth your reading.

—Peter Balakian

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Rhapsody of the Naked Immigrants

Rhapsody of the Naked Immigrants
Elena Georgiou

Harbor Mountain Press, 2009
ISBN 9780981556024
Poetry, 5″x8″, 88 pages, trade paperback

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Award-winning poet Elena Georgiou’s second collection, Rhapsody of the Naked Immigrants, prompts us to look beyond the question, “Where are you from?” to a more complicated array of questions regarding multiple migrations, invasions, post-colonial freedom, and the ability to board international flights. As the child of Cypriot immigrants, as a British immigrant herself, and as an ex-dancer, Georgiou is an expert in the art of moving—the choreography of words is the hallmark of this collection. Her poems invite us to consider what it is we are looking for, hoping for, and what we expect to find in the ever-changing landscape of our lives.

Elena Georgiou has the unbordered tongue of an immigrant. Her poems travel through the public and private geographies of citizenship, building homes made of bodies and language. Her work is an alphabet, a Greek chorus, a praise poem for the English language and its many tongues. It is your visa to the poetry of immigration.

—Lisa Birman, author of For That Return Passage: A Valentine for the United States of America, and co-editor (with Anne Waldman) of Civil Disobediences Poetics and Politics in Action

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