Returning from a NY trip visiting publishers has brought to mind the unique pleasures and vantage of working in a bookstore. The author, collaborating with their editors and the authors they have read and been influenced by, writes a book. Their agent and publisher agree to produce it, promote it, publicize it and distribute it. The bookseller buys it, displays it, hopefully reads it, and spreads the word along with the reviewers. The bookseller then puts it into the hands of the reader for whom this whole process exists, without whom there would be no books. This ecology of cultural production is a wonder-filled thing.
I have to say that being able to experience the final links in this creative chain, where the rubber meets the road, the reader meets the book, can be such a supreme joy -- a kind of epiphany of the possibilities of shared human imagination and communication. I wish all the other links in this chain could witness the transformative effects of their labor in the hearts and minds and future creations of their readers, the way we do, face to face. To participate in this creative cycle is an honor, a passion, a mission, and a great satisfaction.
It takes a village, it takes a lineage, it takes a long line of creative individuals, and it takes a bookstore. Thanks for supporting us in providing this vital link that completes the circle from authors in the distant past through authors writing today, to you, dear reader, who reads this now and completes this most marvelous of transmissions.
John & all DIESELfolk
Not quite poems. Not quite essays. C.D. Wright's final collection before her untimely death earlier this year is a fitting farewell for -- and arguably even introduction to -- a poet who defied formal identification. In the course of saluting the likes of Robert Creeley, Jean Valentine, and William Carlos Williams, and meanderingly reflecting on her time spent in Mexico and with those who have lost lifetimes in prison, Wright gives us a master-class in modern American poetry. Fans of Mary Ruefle's underground classic, Madness, Rack, and Honey, should take special note. -- Brad J.
Lilting, ethereal, obscure, these poems are not. It's Bukowski after all! They are about as raw and real as you can get -- some so downright dirty you feel like washing after you read them. That said, there is a beauty to them that is utterly tangible. We find here Bukowski sharing a sandwich with his grown daughter, sneaking a sideways peek at her and catching her smiling, and recalling useless arguments with his wife and thinking how splendid these times actually were. Mind you, his remembrances of love are not all about noticing the little moments. Yet even his drunk, lust-filled carnal encounters offer glimpses of caring, and yes, sometimes even love, in spite of the crudeness. -- Cheryl R.
Having tried several times to sit and write something about Women In Public, I have yet to figure out what it is exactly that keeps bringing me back to this book. It is that type of work -- one you keep near for reassurance, fumble for in the dark when you need to escape your body. It is nice to escape your body sometimes. These poems are as varied in content as they are in form, but the string that keeps them stitched together is Kahn's wit and honesty. While they may feel quiet, it isn't due to lack of voice. There is truly careful craftsmanship, but the marrow is still all there -- which I will gladly lap up. -- Katherine D.
This Los Angeles author catapulted to the forefront of the poetry world after winning the 2014 Walt Whitman prize, an award given out by the Academy of American Poets to the best poet yet unpublished. Her debut collection, The Same Different, showcases her ability to play with words and language as beautifully as she plays with emotion. -- Emma T.
Reginald Dwayne Betts, a 16-year old honor student, used a pistol to carjack a man who had been sleeping in his vehicle. Shortly thereafter he was caught, sentenced as an adult and sent to an adult prison, where he served more than eight years (including one year in solitary at a supermax facility).
In his interview with Terry Gross last year, Betts talks about the title of his latest collection of poetry. He states that it is an instinctive, primal desire for human beings (along with every other species on the planet) to protect their young. In the 80's President Regan initiated a program of mandatory minimum sentencing and a draconian cut in outreach, intervention, and other social services. A whole generation of young people were abandoned and brought up on the streets or in the incarceration system. This book of poetry is an anatomy of the process of that neglect and its outcome. -- Terry S.
Olio is unlike anything else I've ever read. How often does a person get to say that? Tyehimba Jess' second book is a mash-up of sonnet, song, and story, and neither the fiction nor fact of American history looks the same again. A celebration of the works, lives, and defiance of African American artists and musicians who suffered (then and today) minstrelizing stereotypes. Olio is an education and encyclopedia. -- Brad J.
Twelve-year-old Timothy was sentenced to house arrest because he stole a wallet and used one of the credit cards from it. He's only allowed at school, home and therapy and he has to keep a journal. This novel-in-verse is his journal, and it's here that we learn the reasons for Timothy's crime. His baby brother is very sick and needs medicine that his mom (abandoned by the baby's father) can't afford. The poetic format gives the reader immediate access to Timothy's emotions, which are complex and constantly in flux. There's also an element of humor and a crush on the girl from down the street that adds a lighter note. House Arrest is a powerful and emotional prose poem with an ultimately redemptive and hopeful message. -- Clare D.