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Tag Archive: Family history

Red of Split Water: a burial rite

Red of Split Water: a burial rite

Red of Split Water: a burial riteby Lisa Donovan

$16.00 | October 2016

136 pgs, full color images

US Domestic Shipping Only

Judith Hermann observes in Trauma and Recovery that when an individual testifies to trauma, she is asking the bystander to share the burden of pain: to engage and to remember. Red of Split Water shapes this kind of witness into lyric insistence: “It is a locale of verifying the self, a sound recognized by its utterance as instantaneous uncertainty.” In this poetry, language divides from itself and returns: a movement both aghast and obsessed. The patterns of the poetry create repetitions and recognitions that the poet clasps and then releases in doubt, “she   dis/written.” Yet a voice establishes itself here—resolute, wounded, brave. The reader comes to recognize, in solidarity, that we all are “born or brought into the world by un-beginnings or by severance.” Here is the poem as offering, an incantation for survival and healing.
-Elizabeth Robinson

Red Split of Water, a burial rite – a book that is also ritual – to read (write) as ritual, one of waking, and in its two-fold sense: to come into awareness (to be born), and to keep vigil (“a sitting up at night with a corpse”). Here is a rite that allows us to, literally, fill in/enter into the blank spaces created by such waking. Within these shimmering gaps, Lisa Donovan’s constellations of violence and enduring witness are astonishing. In the places drenched by disappearances, you can hear a girl child, all through the long night, humming.
-Selah Saterstrom

“She is light, may not exist. Trees sink with the weight of glassy icicles. Are you here, little one?” Only a few pages into this emotionally epic work, and the chilling effects of this book already rank with, say, Charles Laughton’s The Night of the Hunter. This book of poetry, in various verse and prose forms, is beautiful, important, terrifying, and ultimately satisfying as few books of poems have ever managed to be.
-Bin Ramke

Lisa Donovan’s Red of Split Water: a burial rite is a fearless and graceful work of recovery and release. Her sequences are rhythmic landscapes where lyrical and prosaic forms prepare the ground: “This line of hills your clavicle, your pelvis, knees. This place not extracted is how you lend yourself to be.” Elemental forces chant warnings of and prayers for the body’s “breakdown of buoyancy; the pull you down” while “clouds drift / in and / away all / day like / this.” Line drawings interposed among the book’s five sections offer animistic filaments “wreathed around the bones” as Donovan’s coda and afterword frame harrowing portraits of survival. Red of Split Water is an astonishing invention of farewell that invokes our deepest concern for poetry’s transformative power. “What are you willing to do? To dress the [     ] figure.”
-W. Scott Howard

About the Author

Lisa DonovanLisa Donovan’s work has been a finalist for multiple prizes, including Kelsey St. Press’ FIRST! Poetry Prize. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Denver’s Creative Writing Program, a M.F.A. from Brown University’s Literary Arts Program, and briefly studied at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Dr. Donovan currently teaches non-fiction writing to undergraduates at the University of Colorado, Boulder and to adults at the non-profit Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop in Denver. She lives in the very quaint town of Edgewater, CO where she walks her dog, Beatrice, and wonders about the life and upbringing of Nell Brinkley.

there are boxes and there is wanting

there are boxes and there is wanting

there are boxes and there is wantingby Tessa Micaela Landreau-Grasmuck

$16.00 | January 2016

US Domestic Shipping Only


Winner of the 2015 Bob Kaufman Prize
Selected by Laura Mullen

there are boxes and there is wanting: an indictment of capitalism, of the mental health industry, of our culture’s inability to deal with other sorts of ways that humans are in the world. It is also a book full of ghosts. So it is a book that shimmers and it is an unusually complicated book, but one that is graceful in its negotiations, in its refusals.
– Juliana Spahr

Necessary and impossible books are, perhaps, the most difficult to write and the most compelling to read: Danielle Collobert’s hauntingly staccato syntax in Survie (Survive), published just three months before her suicide on the day of her birth; M. NourbeSe Philip’s unearthing the ghosts of the slave ship ZONG!, their speech the texture of broken glass. And now, Tessa Micaela’s there are boxes and there is wanting. Grief, the kind that fractures your soul, sings an incantatory love song of loss in these poems, the body bent into rocking. It says, there is no language for what I am about to tell you, though I must try because in this attempt, I, and you, reader, might find some solace. there are boxes and there is wanting touches the hand of the “patient” it loves, it kisses the mouth, and pulls us into that space where mystery lives, wrapping its claws around our necks. If a wound is a stroking place, then this stroking will live with you forever.
– Dawn Lundy Martin

Where storms are stories that “cannot be pulled apart from one another,” and stories storms swirling up around “precarious” bodies (“if the body doesn’t end at the skin”)—this book: hybrid of play nonfiction and poetry. Where “at least we are dancing. at least we are not separate from one another”—this book: a description of, also a resistance to, the reduction of “the body” to “the patient.” This book: urgent attention given to the restoration of visibility in the theatrically lit stage space of a deep concern about surveillance. Intimate and performative, finding doorway after doorway, the embodied, hyper-vigilant, proposals of there are boxes and there is wanting reveal a lyric speaker who goes from particle to wave, subject to object, interior to exterior and back with extraordinary speed and fluidity, with an astonishing control and an equally impressive wildness. “when it is our turn to speak a kind of breaking happens.” This book: “any investigation of skin must start here.”
-Laura Mullen

About the Author

Tessa Micaela Landreau-GrasmuckTessa Micaela Landreau-Grasmuck was born in Philadelphia and currently resides in Oakland with her dog, Ramona Pickle. Tessa has waited tables, bound books, worked as an abortion counselor, reproductive health educator, and birth doula, taught writing in the San Francisco county jail, studied herbalism, and carved out time to write between it all. Tessa was granted the first Community Poetics Fellowship from Mills College, where she received her MFA in 2013. Tessa is the author of the chapbook Crude Matter (ypolita press, 2015). Other writing has appeared in Make/shift, Dusie, Open House, Sink Review, and various other jars and corners. there are boxes and there is wanting is her first book.

May Apple Deep

May Apple Deepby Michael Sikkema

$16.00 | June 2015

Available on SPD and Amazon

Michael Sikkema’s May Apple Deep, both sweet and tart, is the pastoral for our time. Filled with the energy of opposites, with “a gangsta soundtrack” where “overpasses / become sniper towers,” is a book length lyric punctuated by grids or fragments of the grid-like structure. Electric and challenging, quietly terrifying in places, trying to break through (“trespass”) “all this noise,” desire (“household magic”) makes a run for it and, in the end, wins out.
-Norma Cole

Walker Percy was fond of declaring serious writers as ex-suicides—“he starts with himself as nothing and makes something of the nothing with things at hand.” The emptying of this egoistic self allows writer and reader to gather into the unknown tethered to an enigma. In Mike Sikkema’s May Apple Deep, readers encounter a world we know and have forgotten: a snowed-in town of the cut short and war-torn, where taxidermy, twang, porch talk, and a “fixing of the light” are shared territory. Here, the house you most know becomes a rifle, reckless under the surface, wild dogs on the other side of the street: all a lie or it’s a lie: this town where you can run into your own ass. Spaces enact gut punches in the fragmentary spaces of your living. Post-your dreaming, after your remembering, “we,” when “we” forget, Sikkema’s collection brings us back from this nothing into a world known, fast, trembling.
-Shelly Taylor

About the Author

Michael SikkemaMichael Sikkema is the author of Futuring and January Found (Blazevox Books), as well as several chapbooks, most recently the forthcoming 3003 Houses (Little Red Leaves Textile Series), Time Missing (Grey Book Press), and a collaboration with Elisabeth Workman entitled Moon Poon(Pity Milk Press). He is a co-editor of Horse Less Press, the editor of Shirt Pocket Press, and co-hosts the Poetry and Pints reading series in Grand Rapids, MI with Jen Tynes.

Natural Subjects

Natural Subjectsby Divya Victor

$16.00 | November 2014

Also available on Amazon and SPD

Winner of the 2014 Bob Kaufman Book Prize
Selected by Anselm Berrigan

“May I see your passport, please?” What are you a citizen of? What subject to? Are you natural or naturalized? What have you sworn to and will you tell true? Divya Victor, true to form in wit and poetic acuteness, has made a book about nations, nationality, and their notions by showing documents, facts, fictional and real heroines, instructions for assembly, and lyric lists that makes readers acknowledge their own disassembly, distribution, and/ or dispersal in an on-going diaspora. This acute work by Victor teases civic ideologies in all their motley, pervasive constructions by writing from multiple subjectivities and engineering defiance, struggles with agency, language play, appropriated commentaries, and revelations of loss. A multi-faceted book of high interest.
Rachel Blau DuPlessis, author of Drafts

A mandala of homeland motifs and constellations that are numbered but not named bursts, at the start of Divya Victor’s strangely painful and real new book, to reveal: talons, attempts, a “pose.”  These initiating frames take us through a naturalization process – from the gathering of biometric data to the duplex-pomegranate-linoleum reverie of the pledge ceremony itself.   Questions of “exit” and “enunciation” accrue a “blunt hum” as the book progresses.  Lit from within by an “opal glass shade” or the “violent and excited” intake.  Yet never clarified.  Here, for example, is Dimple Kapadia, taking the stage like late onset “logopoeia.”  Are you a “great scholar”?  Are you a “lover”?  Did you make your home in the trampled lot behind the Edison IKEA?  Did you “maybe write things”? Victor has written a book that is both heart-breaking and a brilliant, effervescent and dark joke.
Bhanu Kapil, author of Schizophrene. 

Divya Victor’s Natural Subjects, a tough-minded, audaciously structured, & subtly open-ended poem, closes in on the naturalization process by locating the small but bureaucratically nebulous frame of the passport photo and opening up the multi-layered points of stress and dislocated violence that frame marks. But that only gets at a little bit of what Natural Subjects does. I register things like an offhand cubist tonality, a witty examination of scale, a spin of the frame to let character-versions of Eliza Doolittle, Hedda Gabbler, and fräulein Maria in, and the shaping of poetic material that comes from many sources without leaning on them. Nothing is telegraphed. The book keeps opening each time I pass through.
Anselm Berrigan, author of Notes from Irrelevance

About the Author

Diyva VictorDivya Victor is the author of Things To Do With Your Mouth(Les Figues, 2014), Natural Subjects (Trembling Pillow, 2014), and Unsub (Insert/Blanc, 2015). She is also author of the Partial series (Troll Thread), Punch (2011), Goodbye John! On John Baldessari (2012), and Swift Taxidermies (2014), all from Gauss PDF; and the chapbook Hellocasts by Charles Reznikoff by Divya Victor by Vanessa Place (2011). She divides her time between the United States and Singapore, where she is Assistant Professor of Poetry and Poetics at Nanyang Technological University.

Felix Bernstein reviews Divya Victor’s Natural Subjects at Jacket2.
BookThug selects Natural Subjects for its 2015 Summer Reading List.

Other Books by this Author:

Things to Do with Your Mouth, Les Figues Press, 2014
UNSUB, Insert Blanc Press, 2015

loaded arc

Loaded Arc

loaded arcby Laura Goldstein

$16.00 | September 2013

Also available on Amazon and SPD.

loaded arc is so fine it will rain owls and fathers.
-Bernadette Mayer

What can the lyric postmodern do in the face of large-scale violence and micro aggressions? Laura Goldstein knows. loaded arc, in pages of intense music, pulls us sonically down deep into truths that are knowable because of beauty. This poetry enacts relationships: hurricane Katrina and inequality, fluctuating bank balances and television, attempts at accounting for everything “because the world/is for falling in love with…” and anxious conceptualizations of fatherhood/homeland. In sure sculpted lines, calling up multiple voices and a wide array of sources, and always maximizing The Word’s out-loud potentials—because utterances can be simultaneously sacred and secular—this book is buoyant, is hope, “is clearly room for action and alternatives can be planned … ”
-Jill Magi

Laura Goldstein’s loaded arc is a musical triptych, one powered by an engine equal parts surging internal rhyme and propulsive alliteration. Here, rain’s rhythmic patter mirrors reportage’s inability to render in language the contours of event, then our alphabet goes all allegorical, and we’re left to contend with the historical aftermath of a few more burning bushes. Look out whorled, Goldstien’s parting some sees.
-Noah Eli Gordon

It is written that agony makes for a more earnest prayer. And this is some grindingly earnest prayer here. In the gospels when Jesus is in the garden before his crucifixion, knowing that the time for Judas to “betray ” him is soon nigh, which will lead to his torture and death, he retracts from his homies and prays (as he is wont to do throughout the gospels). The line that I love from this passage is “Because he was in an agony, he prayed more earnestly.” And what follows is the only Biblical record of Jesus petitioning God in prayer, asking God to change his situation. This is an example of why John Donne, I think, said “Prayer hath the nature of violence” or something like that–because the person praying is sort of working against God.
-Nick Demske

“[Like water, these poems fold multiple stories together in a, yes, a flood. As this is poetry, it’s a constrained flood – deftly artifactual.] What I love about Goldstein’s work here is that she enacts philosophical quandaries regarding time, space, thought, and matter AND ALSO conveys a nuanced political posture. This is uncommon: a tightrope feat, loaded and carrying. Enter and be counted.
-Cara Benson

About the Author

Laura GoldsteinLaura Goldstein has published six chapbooks as well as poetry and essays in the Denver Quarterly, American Letters and Commentary, MAKE Magazine, How2, Jacket2 and other fine publications.Laura holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania,Temple University and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She teaches Writing and Literature at Loyola University and co-curates the Red Rover Series with Jennifer Karmin. She lives in Chicago with her husband, artist Brett Ian Balogh. loaded arc is her first full-length collection of poetry.

Also by this author:

Camera (Make Now Books, 2014)