Barrow Street Press

 

O, HEART
CLAUDIA KEELAN

At the center of this fabulous tale of the human heart a tale at once historical, scientific, musical, literary is a wrenched lyric cry, the cry of a particular woman in a particular place, the place uncharted, the woman floating between the remembered ecstasies of youth and the unforeseen rigors of age: I break my heart all by myself. Like the tutelary spirits she conjures Bronte, Dickinson, Bowles Claudia Keelan prefers the heart broken, and the extravagant, multi-voiced drama of O, Heart is itself the evidence that, once broken, the heart is never alone.
—James Longenbach

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UNIONS
ALFRED CORN

He has had the skill and courage to confront, absorb, and renew our poetic tradition at its most vital.
—Harold Bloom

Few poets could sustain, as Corn does, both the fiery voluptuousness of the abstract oracular passages, and the broken simplicity of the late 20th-century voice, tentative, self-conscious, unheroic.
—Wayne Koestenbaum

Seeing the very fact of mobility and diversity as an epic theme, he brings to it a discerning eye and ear, a marvelous memory for detail, and above all an exhilarating range of sympathy.
—Amy Clampitt

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VESTIGIAL
PAGE HILL STARZINGER
Barrowstreet 2012 Prize Winner

"[F]ragments—my/specialty," writes Page Hill Starzinger in her compelling first book, Vestigial, and, indeed, the title implies the book itself is a remnant. But if Vestigial is fragmentary, ("leavinges/and fragmentes...etched and eroded...") it is a flood of fragments. This is a vivid, dynamic, and muscular collection whose poems seem able to sweep everything into themselves--from the etymology of early English to the percentage of homes in Delhi without clean water. Yet the poems are neither anarchic nor hectic. In fact, in counterpoint to their energy, there is a beautiful, almost grave, and measured cadence to this work as Starzinger, like Penelope, weaves and unweaves. As she writes, "I keep trying to shape a story. I keep disappearing." Vestigial is a marvelous debut.
—Lynn Emanuel, 2012 Barrow Street Poetry Prize judge

Vestigial whirls around a powerful magnetic center where particles—or vestiges— of now-living or lost worlds spin themselves. This poet's imagination is the fiery magnetism that revivifies the word-hoarde through these dazzling etymological flashes—ancient and new embodiments of knowledge, science, history—in the paradise furnace of poetry. The velocity of the author's insights stuns the reader: we follow, bewitched, into synaptical leaps that seem impossible to sustain, yet are sustained and unstoppable. Vestigial is a virtuoso performance, learned in the extreme, yet also eloquently empathetic. "Unfold your hands,/fall a/part" she writes. And we open the page and fall a/part—then are re-made, wholly.
—Carol Muske-Dukes

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WRECK ME
SALLY BALL

Wreck Me is a primer of emotional violence—a primer because, as these unassumingly gorgeous poems know so well, we can only be beginners when we confront our wish to be seized, transported, remade...."We love / that ravishment," says Sally Ball of what we simultaneously fear and crave, "we trust it." These poems are ravishing.
—James Longenbach

Wreck Me is an entrancing collection. From the first line to the last, we are tugged into a sensibility and a world as familiar as our own world, and as strange. Sally Ball leaves no line unelectrified. Each poem feels finely wrought and completely newborn, which is exactly the point of poetry.
—Laura Kasischke

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YOU HAVE TO LAUGH:
NEW AND SELECTED POEMS

MAIRÉAD BYRNE

Irish emigrant poet Mairéad Byrne's provocative and unhinged You Have to Laugh showcases, for the first time in one volume, more than twenty years of groundbreaking poetry that ranges from taut lyrics, sustained narratives, prose and occasional poems, to high-wired sound texts. Byrne's brash energy, wry quips, and engaged bittersweet critiques of the overinflated language of consumerism and world-weariness elevate these poems from the laugh-out-loud funny toward understated pathos. The way the work integrates high cultural references with spoken-word intensity, while the syntax swerves with wildly varied diction, is sure to attract a wide audience even as it undermines easy categorization.

I think what I like most about Byrne's poetry is that it makes me laugh like a monkey (baring my teeth, mad with fear, involuntary, like something being electrocuted) and like a human being (subsiding into my chair, telephoning someone to read it to them straight away) at the same time.
—Luke Kennard

Mairéad Byrne's poetry is linguistically dazzling, each poem a tactile ecstasy.
—Deborah Tall

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BLIGHT, BLIGHT, BLIGHT, RAY OF HOPE
FRANK MONTESONTI
Barrowstreet 2011 Prize Winner

Frank Montesonti's wit reminds me of the Depression, when all the great novelists wrote dialogue for movies. He can be as glib as the blonde bomb-shell in a 1930s suspense film or as deadpan as the morose sidekick. Not only will he help dump the body, he'll add the necessary wry comment. 'It was a very good year *long pause+ for the wine.' Or, better still, 'I need to tell you something before it's too late:/It's too late.' When the speaker in one poem is asked what a poem should be like, all of his examples include piranhas. In-deed, the dangers of the world are presented as an integral part of a grand comedy. 'You see, I'm after what's behind the low-budget scene,' he writes in 'Film Noir.' And, despite all the tricks and effects and zingers, that ingenious mind at work is also revealing the clown's sadness. That, too, is part of the show. The part where he is one of us.
—D.A. Powell

Frank Montesonti is the author of the chapbook A Civic Pageant (Black Lawrence Press, 2009). He has been published in literary journals such as Tin House, Black Warrior Review, AQR, Poet Lore, and Poems and Plays, among many others. Blight, Blight, Blight, Ray of Hope is his first full-length collection. His second collection, Hope Tree, is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in 2014. He has an MFA from the University of Arizona and teaches poetry at National University. A longtime resident of Indiana, he now lives in Los Angeles, California.

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SELF-EVIDENT
SCOTT HIGHTOWER

The very title of this fourth volume of Hightower's verse, we are told, is Ben Franklin's revision of Jefferson's proposed opening of a famous document which originally characterized "these truths" as sacred, but which cool-headed Ben changed to self-evident. Perhaps there is some savor of Jesus in these breathtaking poems after all. Read 'em and wipe away your tears.
—Richard Howard

Hightower's newest collection of poems boasts a vivid theatricality. He invokes characters as diverse as Stanley Kowalski, Tosca, and Peter Pan; not in mere homage, but to his own authorial purpose: to shed light upon the private revelations and idiosyncratic musings that constitute our inner lives. These poems linger in the memory like great performances.
—Doug Wright

Scott Hightower teaches as an adjunct faculty at NYU and Drew University. A native of central Texas, Hightower lives in Manhattan and sojourns in Spain. His Translations of poems by the Spanish-Puerto Rican poet Aurora de Albornoz garnered Hightower a prestigious Willis Barnstone Translation Prize. He is the author of four books of poetry in the U.S and a bilingual collection of poems translated by Natalia Carbajosa (Devenir, Madrid).

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EMBLEM

RICHARD HOFFMAN



If Anton Chekhov returned as a modern-day poet, Richard Hoffman would be his name. His poems reverberate with the same lucid witness and precision. Bridging histories local and cultural, they draw on literary traditions while simultaneously heralding experiment and invention. Both rooted and transcendent, Emblem is a marvelous new book.
—Terrance Hayes

Richard Hoffman is a fiercely gifted poet whose stanzas revel in the infinite possibilities of language, and jolt, surprise, and satisfy at every turn. Each syllable in Emblem is stamped with the poet's signature, a heady combination of skill, vulnerability, and unerring wit. This is work to be savored and embraced.
—Patricia Smith

Richard Hoffman earns highest praise for brilliantly resuscitating emblems, a genre that flourished from the Renaissance until the 19th century...
—Seymour Slive

Richard Hoffman is the author of the poetry collections Without Paradise and Gold Star Road, winner of the 2006 Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize and the 2008 Sheila Motton Award from the New England Poetry Club, as well as Half the House: a Memoir. A fiction writer as well, his Interference & Other Stories was published in 2009. He is Writer-in-Residence at Emerson College and currently serves as Chair of PEN New England.

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MECHANICAL FIREFLIES

DOUG RAMSPECK
Barrow Street 2010 Prize Winner


Mechanical Fireflies is the perfect collision of James Wright's anti-pastorals with Wallace Stevens's meditations on the real.
—Kathy Fagan

For those whose eyes remain open, whose hearts are not afraid to come closer, let them come and be pierced, let them come and read and turn the pages and be beholden to a poet who seems born to mes- merize, having learned from The Great Mesmerizer — the moon itself — that we are all one person, no matter who we are or when we lived."
—Mary Ruefle

Often, the narrators of these poems look over their moonlit landscapes, finding in them opportunities for profound, unpredictable meditations on sex, childhood, history, poetry, and violence. Inhabited by the ghost of Walt Whitman and imbued with the pleasures of nuanced observation, this is a richly imagina- tive, energetic poetry collection, one I will return to with pleasure.
—Kevin Prufer

Doug Ramspeck is the author of four poetry collections. His first book, Black Tupelo Country, received the John Ciardi Prize. He teaches at The Ohio State University at Lima.

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WARRANTY IN ZULU

MATTHEW GAVIN FRANK



In Matthew Frank's brilliant collection of new poems, it seems all the patents on reality are evaporating beyond a mere novelty of image or music into another idea about things that are original and memorable—it's like H.D. is here insisting, finally, that knowledge has soured, happily, into wisdom.
—Norman Dubie

Matthew Frank's Warranty in Zulu is a work of wit and poignancy. His poems have the feel of fable in the best sense, often crossing over from this world into the surreal or mythic without losing sight of the moment. His language is rich and engaging. His roast lamb is delicious.
—Beckian Fritz Goldberg


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HETEROTOPIA

LESLEY WHEELER
Barrow Street 2009 Prize Winner


For philosopher Michel Foucault, "heterotopia" designates a real or imagined space of escape, transformation, or revelation. In Lesley Wheeler's prizewinning second collection, the heterotopia is Liverpool, England, during the middle of the twentieth century—a time and place defined by the Blitz and the privations that followed. Her imaginary Liverpool, however, has a complicated relationship to the real city and to her own life in the United States: it makes visible what was gained and lost in the transition from poverty to prosperity, from oral culture to print overload.

During a time when so many collections of verse seem tonally and formally monochromatic, it's especially refreshing to encounter a writer who works with such considerable facility in several different modes—deeply felt personal lyrics, challenging sonnet sequences, and documentary-historical poems of intelligence and depth. What's more, these various concerns and approaches not only complement one another, but seem inextricably linked. Heterotopia is a collection of unusual distinction.
—David Wojahn, contest judge

With acute formal awareness, Lesley Wheeler makes urgent and undeniably present the "sedimentary language" of an inherited past.... This work fuses lyrical invention with the "blitzed, hungry, smoke-thin world" of memory—the poems richly drawn intermixtures of narrative and place.
—Claudia Emerson

Lesley Wheeler is the author of Heathen, Voicing American Poetry,and other books; she co-edited the anthology Letters to the World with Moira Richards and Rosemary Starace. Her poems have appeared in many journals, including Poetry, Slate, and Prairie Schooner. She is Professor of English at Washington and Lee University and lives in Lexington, Virginia.


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THIS NOISY EGG

NICOLE WALKER



This Noisy Egg makes us consider a new world constructed by an intrepid “I” armed with her own brand of sassy humor.
—Cole Swenson

This is a book of luscious verberations. Of sonic and imaginative exuberance. Of emotional and grammatical restlessness.
— Bob Hicok


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BLACK LEAPT IN

CHRIS FORHAN
Barrow Street 2008 Prize Winner


Open Black Leapt In to any poem for the thrill of finding a poet of eerie energy breaking new ground. These pages are full of unexpected images, passionate energy, and entirely new ways of making the homely, heartbreaking world as beautiful and odd as it deserves to be. The lines and their grief-stricken cadences invent a new music for the American experience. “Improbable: our toes and shoes, the tongues and laces …” of “Fourth Grade Science.” “That billowy thing in flames back there?/That’s not my circus tent. Never seen it.” I have been reading Chris Forhan's poetry with pleasure for many years, but this new book kept me up late with its tricks and terrors as no recent collection has, thank God, for a long, long time.
—Laura Kasischke

These poems have in them something of Theodore Roethke’s excitement at being alive in the physical world—how much there is to see!—as well as Roethke’s certainty of the darkness threaded all through that world. Yet they remain wholly Chris Forhan’s poems—brooding and exuberant, tender and amazed. “The heart gets sad, you slap it,” he writes. Fiercely observant, richly inventive, and sometimes very funny, Black Leapt In is a terrific book.
—Lawrence Raab

Barrow Street Press is pleased to announce Chris Forhan's book Black Leapt In has been named a finalist in the 2010 Indiana State Book Competition. Congratulations to Chris! Click here for details.


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BOY WITH FLOWERS

ELY SHIPLEY
Barrow Street 2007 Prize Winner


Ely Shipley’s Boy with Flowers won The Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry at The Publishing Triangle’s 2009 Ferro-Grumley Literary Awards at the New School in New York City, on May 7, 2009.

Of camouflage, of appearance versus reality, of that darkness out of which
we hope to draw forth a self we can recognize as our own—these are
among the concerns of these beautifully eerie poems that over and over
purport to navigate one space even as they carry us to spaces the poems
themselves seem startled to have arrived at.
—Carl Phillips


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GOLD STAR ROAD

RICHARD HOFFMAN
Barrow Street 2006 Prize Winner


In October 2009, The New England Poetry Club selected Gold Star Road for the Sheila Motton Award for the best book of poetry published in the past two years! Please see http://www.nepoetryclub.org/

With range, craft, and a dreadful curiosity about how human beings work, Richard Hoffman gives us Gold Star Road. Gold Star—an apt title for this collection, my hands-down favorite for the Barrow Street Prize 2006. Hoffman’s poems tap into moments when civilization dissolves, not superficially, but at its emotional roots. Simply reading this book becomes an engaged, passionate experience. Time and again through the poet’s weary irony comes the bite of life. In short lyrics like “Refugee,” “Psalm,” and “Humility,” and in longer lyrics like “Founder’s Gallery” and the title poem, “Gold Star Road,” he makes the world seem, in the words of Wislawa Szymborska, whom he quotes: “just a room away.”
—Molly Peacock

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HIDDEN SEQUEL

STAN SANVEL RUBIN
Barrow Street 2005 Prize Winner


The man who shoots/at another man has forgotten/what the student who sits all day/is trying to remember.” Will someone please place this book on the steps of the White House? The poems of Stan Sanvel Rubin move with unobtrusive delicacy and deep grace through the mysteries of time and being. He’s a wise guide, rich with luminous beckonings, unflinching in the face of complexity. One feels more peaceful, reading these fine, compelling poems.
—Naomi Shihab Nye

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ANNUS MIRABILIS

SALLY BALL
Barrow Street 2004 Prize Winner


Sally Ball grew up in New Jersey and now lives in Arizona. Annus Mirabilis is her first book.

"In the provocative, finely wrought and, at every turn, original poems of Annus Mirabilis, Sally Ball examines the human impulse to know-to master a thing by knowing it-and to make of mastery and knowledge a clean equation. A bracingly keen observer of human nature, Ball uncovers the limitations of that thinking, the many ways in which it can only bring us face to face with near unbearable truths-about ourselves, about those we love, about the world as we'd all this time thought we knew it. How to reckon with that part of us that we suspect is merciless?"
-Carl Phillips

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A HAT ON THE BED
CHRISTINE SCANLON


Christine Scanlon was born in New York City in 1971and, except for a brief time in Montréal, has lived there ever since. She received her MFA from The New School, and is currently doing graduate work in literature at The City University of New York. A Hat on the Bed is her first book.

A Manipulation of Seams aims to probe meaning in order to get at deeper meaning. Like the physicist in her title poem, Christine Scanlon believes that "If the relationship holds/it radiates./If it endures a new second/it matters." Everything the poet's keen mind lights on becomes "a gentle apocalypse": theology, (auto)biography, science, Danny Kaye, grilled cheese sandwiches. This pensive and winning book manipulates only in the sense that very fine skills are deployed with infinite care. From somewhere, Gertrude Stein is blessing this poet's inception. Read her book; it will reward you.
-Kathleen Ossip

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SELAH

JOSHUA COREY
Barrow Street 2002 Prize Winner


"With Selah Joshua Corey joins a generation of exciting first-book poets (Jennifer Clarvoe, Joanie Mackowski, Cate Marvin come to mind) who apply the fundamental poetic gift of the ear, in new ways. Sheer richness of language, and in the best poems cadences layered like those of Wallace Stevens, guide the reader through Corey's extravagant, playful, fantastical and profuse otherworld." -Robert Pinsky

"Joshua Corey's book maps new territory in the indefatigable search for an adequate form of elegy. These poems meditate in a timeless manner on the terrible NOT at the center of death, but they do so to new music, one that embodies sly humor, formal invention, and rhetorical bravado. They are original, sophisticated and unabashed." -Mary Jo Bang

"Deep engager, Joshua Corey seeks to redeem what is 'singed' and 'wared' in us with 'the pupa's word. Dazzled weresong' ('man' song, a 'we're' or 'we are' song), one made strange from the straits of the problem. Through a ravishing compact formal beauty comes 'white sound crashing . . . on the shoals of . . . sleep.' He has gone so far into disillusion and aporia that he seems about to emerge out the other side, as through one of those suddenly wavering, watery space- and time-walls in a science-fiction film. What if it really is as he says: 'my mouth is full of his breath. / His tongue is in my mouth, and his name / is every body I see'? Selah: lift up! He keeps you hooked; he keeps you tantalized."-Cal Bedient


Boston Review

Timeout NY review February 12, 2004

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Joshua Corey update:
Joshua Corey’s second book, FOURIER SERIES, has just won the Fitzpatrick-O’Dinn Award for Best Book-Length Work of Constrained English Literature, as judged by Christian Bök for Spineless Books. Please visit Spineless Books for more information.

 

HIATUS
EVELYN REILLY


Evelyn Reilly lives in New York City and writes poetry, as well as text for museum exhibits on historical and cultural subjects. She received a degree in zoology from the University of California, Berkeley and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Writing Program at Columbia University. Her literary work has appeared in ACM, American Writing, Barrow Street, Parnassus, The New Yorker, 6ix, Salamander, and 3rd Bed, among other journals. Her poetry was selected by Heather McHugh for the anthology Sad Little Breathings & Other Acts of Ventriloquism and has also been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Hiatus explores the fascinating, frustrating, often tragic, and sometimes comic “gap” between words and world, human being and human being, and the human species and its cosmic setting. At times writing “between the lines” of older traditions, at others opening new spaces for writing to inhabit, Reilly has created a book that is both playful and scholarly. Leslie Scalapino describes Hiatus as “a social comedy by lines delineating contrasting roles interior and exterior.” Elaine Equi applauds its “intentionally wayward and witty poems.” Rachel Blau DuPlessis calls it “a way of working through life’s multiplicities in inventive, particular and discerning language.” Hiatus was a semi-finalist for the Walt Whitman Award and a finalist for the National Poetry Series.


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3.14159+
LOIS HIRSHKOWITZ


Lois Hirshkowitz, who lives in New York City, is a founding editor and trustee of Barrow Street, has taught at the Writer’s Voice in New York City, and has worked as a New Jersey Poet-in-the-School and as a Dodge poet. In 1973 she founded an independent day school, Lakewood Prep, which she still ‘attends.’ She has published three books of poetry: Nurture & Torture (San Diego Poets Press, 1992), Marking Her Questions (Mellen Poetry Press, 1993), and Pan’s Daughters (Chi Chi Press, 1998).

“There’s poetry in the very idea of p, the infinite number which shows us constancy of mathematical relationship. If you know the radius, p guarantees the circumference of a circle, and Lois Hirshkowitz guarantees us a remarkable radius of pleasure in these quirky, dream-like poems about the circumference of a life, and how to calculate it. Sounds abstract? It is, but this is a full-bodied abstraction with a sensuous apprehension of the world. Hirshkowitz’s poems are mature work in peak flower, radiant on the landscape of contemporary American letters.”
-Molly Peacock

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