Saturday, September 13, 2008

New Books from Otoliths—Beckett, Edmond, Fieled, Huth, Manning, Puckett, Rosenberg

A September septet of new books from Otoliths. The direct URLs are given below. The full catalog can be found at The Otoliths Storefront.

E-X-C-H-A-N-G-E-V-A-L-U-E-S: The Final XIV Interviews + One
Tom Beckett (curator)
372 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9805096-1-8
$19.95 + p&h

E-X-C-H-A-N-G-E-V-A-L-U-E-S: The Final XIV Interviews + One contains interviews with Ernesto Priego, Catherine Daly, Karri Kokko, Jill Jones, Javant Biarujia, Barry Schwabsky, Peter Ganick, Joseph Lease, Stephen Vincent, Alan Davies, Noah Eli Gordon, the late Mary Rising Higgins, Jessica Grim, & Tom Mandel, plus more than 100 pages of poetry from those interviewed, much of it new. The interviewers this time around are Tom Beckett, Bruce Holsapple & John Tritica, Thomas Fink, & Sheila E. Murphy.

The + One is the shoe on the other foot. Done especially for this final volume is an interview by Nicholas Manning with Tom Beckett, the creator & curator of this important resource for contemporary poetics.

The Evolution of Mirrors
Martin Edmond
108 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9805096-6-3
$12.50 + p&h

“To dance we need those three original muses: memory, voice, occasion ...” Martin Edmond begins his new book of prose meditations, The Evolution of Mirrors with an account of the evolution of the Muses, the daughters of Memory. As his own memory moves from Ohakune to Alexandria, Sydney to San Francisco, we are invited to look into a series of mirrors trained upon the past. “We remember in order to write but we write to forget,” he quotes himself. At times his lapidary prose echoes Borges, elsewhere he appears to be channelling Pessoa. Whatever he writes, though, he remains one of the true originals of our epoch, a stunningly inventive writer whose prose is as haunting as any poem, whose poetry is as circumstantial as Thucydides. As memory folds into memory, mirror into mirror, something starts to come into focus, some justification for our – perhaps quixotic – belief that “across all versions there is something incontrovertible, a substratum of truth.”—Jack Ross

When You Bit...
Adam Fieled
72 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9805096-3-2
$12.50 + p&h

Not all vampirism transpires on a grassy hill deep in the Carpathians. We may all, in fact, be vampires: blood-crazed, hungry, equipped with sharp teeth for a life-and-death struggle. The struggle is for love, in all of its myriad manifestations: physical, emotional, spiritual. In When You Bit…, Adam Fieled has crafted what may be the first post-avant sonnet cycle. It concerns these themes; how we feed on each other, consume each others’ vital resources, prey upon weaknesses to get those first teeth-marks in. In these sonnets, we see a sensibility equal parts Barrett Watten and Sir Philip Sidney; the post-avant impulse towards openness meeting a Renaissance-like ideal of courtly love, phenomenological inquiry, and good old-fashioned heartache. The goal, perpetually renewed in the text, is always the same: to make the reader complicit in attacks on frigidity and an embrace of the artfully carnal.

Longfellow Memoranda
Geof Huth
148 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9804541-9-2
$13.50 + p&h

"This book is an accident of the imagination. The poems were originally written within the pages of a tiny book I had ordered online to serve as my diary for 2007. What I needed was a blank or near-blank journal whose structure fitted 2007, and this offering was from 1917, a year that met my requirements.

"Once I had the book in hand, however, I realized that the four short lines allowed for each date would not serve me well as a diary. The book was primarily a place to note the birthdays of important people in one’s life, with an extract, facing each day’s entry, from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a poet whom I do not much admire.

"Nevertheless, I spent 2007, the 200th anniversay of the birth of Longfellow, creating a poem for each day of the year, a poem based on or inspired by the bits of Longfellow’s verse that faced me each day. My goal was to use his archaic poetic diction, and the British spelling of the book, to create modern poems with a scent of the past." —Geof Huth

Nicholas Manning
160 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9805096-2-5
$13.50 + p&h

Paul Valéry wrote that “a poem is a really a kind of machine for producing the poetic state of mind by means of words.” Novaless is a device for producing reveries composed of precognitive, poetic thought constructed as a schematic screen of letters and symbols flowing continuously across several axes. Each generation of poets must crack the codes for detecting culturally jammed poetic wavelengths. Like Ray Di Palma’s ur-texts, The Sargasso Transcries and Marquee in the early 70s, Manning’s Novaless permits us to listen directly to these currently camouflaged poetic bandwidths, where strata of definitions, distortions and dreams may be accessed and deciphered, tracing an essential foundational blueprint for future visual/verbal poetic wordscapes. — Nick Piombino

Nicholas Manning’s gifts of a poetic intelligence and sensibilities are immediately apparent in this diction, this sense of relation and proportion, and overall in the choices he’s made. Here, in Novaless, he sets forth his cosmogony, and it is boundless and it is brilliant, and it is on the tips of our tongues. All things, divine and physical, grammatical and pragmatical, and in line with Theogony and Metamorphoses . . . — Gregory Vincent St. Thomasino

Like stars sending light beyond their time to us, Nicholas Manning’s Novaless reads like a constellation of remnants of geometric form, metaphysical lingo and traditional lyric, making and unmaking voices of these almost-characters, in these practically-places, painted in variable gradations using a vast pallet of colors. In the end, the narrative (mythic, intertextual, anecdotic) defaults to the way these poems function “by reason of their own noise”, as they come at us “in excited semitones” from worlds made and unmade. Languages, history, landscape fold in and over themselves, interjecting, unbalancing, as all the while some ultimate equilibrium – physical, intellectual, global, universal – is sought within the units and disjunct unities of these carefully-wrought verses. – Jennifer K. Dick

Novaless is “wild reportage” of experience and perception. This serial poem re-visions narrative, delimits boundaries, refracts syntax, weaves languages, and re-imagines punctuation — with “all perfectly attuned”. In this space, we traverse “across * the field * of visions : / the distance of the world its / latitudes and longings / in glowing lines”. Novaless is a luminescent first collection. – C.S. Perez

Tales From The Hinterland
Caleb Puckett
60 pages
Cover design by Mary Ellen Derwis & Joe Balaz
ISBN: 978-0-9805096-4-9
$10.00 + p&h

In Caleb Puckett’s Tales from the Hinterland, prose and poetry swim among the blocks of text. Is “Paolo’s Politics” – a lovely lyric of a piece – flash fiction? A prose poem? Some fascinating hybrid that has characteristics of both parents? Puckett’s collection leaves a reader contemplating these kinds of questions, even as its whimsical realism deftly dodges similar ones: is “The Case of the Missing Chin” surrealism? What about “Make the Man,” with its sympathetic characterization of a very odd protoganist? “Claims,” given line breaks, would be a recognizable poem. Certainly words like “slither-love” and the play with language and syntax in “A Latin Maxim” are more familiar from poetry than prose.

But Puckett’s collection resists easy categorization. “The Assault,” one of my favourites, offers a staccato beauty in the musical language; its images speed by as if seen from a swiftly moving train. There’s a similar resonance with other art forms in “Postmodern St. Louis.” Authors interact as if on stage. That sense of framing – the theatre, a window, a single moment – connects several of the narratives in Puckett’s collection. “Magician’s Commiserations” (another favourite) is the closest to a ‘traditional’ narrative, but like its siblings in the collection, the voice is haunting, ironic, and exquisitely drawn. Prescient undercurrents – vaguely foreboding, mercurial and sometimes almost capricious, but never quite – move heavily beneath the tightly crafted surface. It’s a description that fits Tales quite well: vaguely foreboding, tightly crafted, and often hovering above its own darkly musical undercurrents. An excellent collection. —D. Britton Gildersleeve

Marilyn R. Rosenberg
56 pages, full color, 9" wide x 7" high, coil bound
ISBN: 978-0-9805096-5-6
$19.95 + p&h

RED is blood, passion, life. Yes.

Circles and eggs, although squeezed are repeated, and imply renewal. Some have the illusion of cut-outs, holes. We feel like we can see through areas, looking back or hinting to the future. The muse hides as time flies.

Rosefish represents M. Rosenthal Rosenberg; the Granny apple is transparent. Uninvited, the mouse brings annoying problems. Asides abide.

Calligraphic marks, the living line, become beings, ghosts, are language. Bold letters become organic and architectural objects in each underwater and sky atmosphere, the mindscapes; fragmented words are strong entities. The reader is enticed to turn the page and read on.

Reading upside down excites, as it irritates the reading process.
      Circular-like images are fragmented. Half of the visual poem suddenly overlaps its capsized other half; read in one direction, turn, now differently reread each strong colored panorama.
      RED has a beginning, middle and a starting again.


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