Flipping through the various university press catalogs, it’s disheartening to see how many don’t have a poetry list at all. It’s bad enough that the large commercial presses are abandoning poetry — more and more, poetry is becoming the province of the small presses, unless you’re that Anomaly, a poetry cash cow. You know who I mean. I’ll devote some future posts to those wondrous lovers of poetry, the small presses. But there are yet some university presses supporting the cause:
Arkansas University Press
- Inclined to Speak: An Anthology of Contemporary Arab American Poetry, edited by Hayan Charara. March, paperback, $24.95. 39 poets offering 160 poems. Poets include: Naomi Shihab Nye, Samuel Hazo, Kazim Ali, Lisa Suhair Majaj, and others.
- Rift, by Barbara Helfgott Hyett. February, paperback, $16.00. Excerpt: “What is the purpose of flesh if not/ to exhaust me? How else to achieve/ the full extent of the soul? I run/ fast enough to keep her before me…” from “Apollo.”
- Now You’re the Enemy, by James Allen Hall. January, paperback, $16.00. Excerpt: “If I could turn the photograph, bring my mother’s face/ to the bright eye of myth, my unflinching lens…” from “Family Portrait.”
- Arkansas’s backlist includes some notables, such as David Baker, Jo McDougall, Eldon Glaser, Greg Rappleye, and oho! would you believe it! Robert Mezey (Collected Poems 1952-1999).
University of Wisconsin Press
- Meditations of Rising and Falling, by Philip Pardi. April, paperback, $14.95. Winner of the 2008 Brittingham Prize in Poetry. This has a beautiful cover. Seriously, I would buy this just for the cover, which has a detail from what looks to be a Da Vinci drawing of flying apparatuses. From the catalog copy: “Pardi’s collection is a testimony to faith and resistance in a world where ‘falling is the given.'”
- The Royal Baker’s Daughter, by Barbara Goldberg. April, paperback, $14.95. Winner of the 2008 Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry. From the catalog copy: “With nothing but her two deft hands to guide her, [The Royal Baker’s Daughter] embarks on a journey into the dark forest, ‘where sticks and stones and absolutes reign and nothing, even sin, is original.'”
University of New England Press (which also distributes Wesleyan University Press, CavanKerry Press, Fence Books, Four Way Books, Saturnalia Books, Sheep Meadow Press, and others [!])
Wesleyan University Press
- Grace, Fallen From, by Marianne Boruch. February, hardcover, $22.95. I love Marianne Boruch, but Wesleyan has this bad habit of publishing their new poetry books in hardcover only. This kills me.
- The Collected Poems of Barbara Guest, edited by Hadley Haden Guest. May, hardcover, $39.95. Exceptions: Collected’s should absolutely be published in hardcover, yes. Excerpt: “We have built no large hall to labor in./ We sleep on small cushions for as long as we wish./ Our lives are composed with magic and euphony.” from “Composition.”
- The Poetry Life: Ten Stories, by Baron Wormser. April, paperback, $18.00. Catalog copy: “Baron Wormser brings to life the immense force poetry can have in people’s lives. In stories funny, tender, sad, and edgy, the narrators register how poetry has changed how they see themselves, how they live, and what they care about. As it bends genres by adapting aspects of fiction, biography, essay and monologue, The Poetry Life shows how poetry can be lightning in the soul.”
Four Way Books
- National Anthem, by Kevin Prufer. April, paperback, $15.95. The editor of Pleiades has a new book of poems.
- Shadow Mountain, by Claire Kageyama-Ramakrishnan. April, paperback, $15.95. Winner of the Four Way Books Intro Prize.
I realize that there’s not a lot of space in a catalog to describe a book of poems, so I’d like to state for the record that if you must choose between writing a blurb or excerpting a poem, I’ll always prefer to read the poem. Always.