New Poetry from Richard Siken in NER 35.4

Categories: Poetry

Still Life with Skulls and Bacon | Richard Siken

[view as PDF]

A thing and a thing and a thing held still—Steve Richey
you have to hold something still to find the other
things. This is speculation. You will die in your
sleep and leave everything unfinished. This is
also speculation. I had obligations: hope, but hope
negates the experience. I owe myself nothing.
I cut off my head and threw it on the ground.
I walked away. This is how we measure, walking
away. We carve up the world into feet and minutes,
to know how far from home, how many hogs
in the yard. My head just sat there. Fair enough.

[Read more]

 

Richard Siken’s poetry collection Crush (Yale University Press, 2005) won the 2004 Yale Series of Younger Poets prize, a Lambda Literary Award, and the Thom Gunn Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is a recipient of a Pushcart Prize, two Arizona Commission on the Arts grants, two Lannan Residencies, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. His second poetry collection, War of the Foxes, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in 2015.

New Nonfiction from Laurence de Looze | NER 35.4

Categories: Nonfiction

The Piano is Always There: A Story of Lisbon | Laurence de Looze

Beco-de-garces-Lisboa3[View as PDF]

For the past several months I have been living with my partner, Aara, in the old Alfama neighborhood of Lisbon, Portugal. A maze of tiny alleyways that turn into stairways as the streets climb up the steep hills from the Tejo river, the Alfama was once a Moorish quarter. Tucked behind the Sé, the city’s squat cathedral, the neighborhood survived the 1755 earthquake pretty much intact, and today it is one of the oldest areas of Lisbon. It is a very humble neighborhood—there are pensioners here whose already meager checks are being reduced by the government on an almost regular basis—though I wouldn’t call it “poor” outright. The people who live in the dark little dwellings that crowd these streets love the Alfama. They cannot afford to live elsewhere, but they don’t want to. Most of them were born in the apartments they live in now. Some of them have probably never even been outside the city limits.

Because the cobblestone streets are so narrow and can become escadinhas (steps) at any turn, it is impossible for a vehicle with wheels to get through. Everything is done on foot, and everything is carried in and out, up and down the hill, by hand. At first I thought that this would be inconvenient, even impossible. But I soon adapted to what feels like a nineteenth-century pace of life, and it has become endearing to me, even when I’m carrying provisions and trudging up the hill under a hot sun.

[Read more]

Laurence de Looze publishes fiction, essays, and books on a variety of topics, including medieval literature. A native US citizen, he has lived for years in Canada where he teaches a variety of university courses. His fiction has appeared in Antioch Review and Ontario Review, and his book The Letter and the Cosmos: How the Alphabet Has Shaped the Western View of the World, is forthcoming from the University of Toronto Press. He is sorely tempted to move permanently to Portugal.

Seattle’s Hugo House Hosts NER

Categories: NER Community, Readings

Wednesday, January 28 at 7PM

A release party for NER Volume 35.4 will occur at the Hugo House in Seattle! Poetry editor Rick Barot will emcee, and copies of his inaugural issue will be available. Readers include NER contributors Kelli Russell Agodon, Kevin Craft, Susan Rich, Christopher Robinson, and Michelle Peñaloza.

NER poetry editor Rick Barot has publishRick Baroted two books of poetry with Sarabande Books: The Darker Fall (2002), and Want (2008), which won the 2009 Grub Street Book Prize. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Artist Trust of Washington, the Civitella Ranieri, and Stanford University, where he was a Wallace E. Stegner Fellow and a Jones Lecturer. His third collection, Chord, will be published by Sarabande in 2015. 


 

Kelli Russell Agodon

Kelli Russel Agodon is an award-winning poet, writer, and editor from the Pacific Northwest. Her most recent collection is Hourglass Museum (White Pine Press, 2014) and The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts for Your Writing Practice, which she coauthored with Martha Silano. Her second collection, Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room was chosen by Carl Dennis for the winner of the White Pine Press Book Prize, and was also the Winner of ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year in Poetry as well as a Finalist for the Washington State Book Prize.

 

Kevin CraftKevin Craft is the editor of Poetry Northwest. His books include Solar Prominence (Cloudbank Books, 2005), and five volumes of the anthology Mare Nostrum, an annual collection of Italian translation and Mediterranean-inspired writing. New poems have appeared recently in Poetry, Kenyon Review, Collagist, and New England Review. He lives in Seattle, and directs both the Written Arts Program at Everett Community College and the University of Washington’s Creative Writing Summer in Rome Program.

 

Michelle Penaloza

Michelle Peñaloza grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. Her poetry has appeared most recently in Asian American Literary Review, TriQuarterly, Oversound, Pinwheel, and INCH. She is the recipient of fellowships and awards from the University of Oregon, Kundiman, Artist Trust, Jack Straw, Hugo House, and Literary Arts. Her chapbook, landscape / heartbreak, is forthcoming from Two Sylvias Press in Spring 2015.

 

 

Susan Rich

Susan Rich is the author of four collections of poems: Cloud Pharmacy, The Alchemist’s Kitchen, Cures Include Travel, and The Cartographer’s Tongue /Poems of the World. She has received fellowships and awards from Artists Trust, the Times Literary Supplement, PEN USA, and the Fulbright Foundation. Susan’s poems have appeared in many journals including Alaska Quarterly Review, Gettysburg Review, Harvard Review, and New England Review. She is co-founder of Poets on the Coast: A Writing Retreat for Women and the new Seattle reading series WordsWest.

 

Christopher Robinson

Christopher Robinson’s debut novel, War of the Encyclopaedists, co-authored with Gavin Kovite, will be published by Scribner in May 2015. His work has appeared in Missouri Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Kenyon Review, McSweeney’s Online, and elsewhere. He is a recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf, and the Djerassi Resident Artist program, among others. He earned his MA in poetry from Boston University and his MFA from Hunter College. His secret underground lair is located somewhere in Seattle.

Poems, Crime, and Punishment

Categories: NER VT Reading Series

Gottshall and Katz read poetry and translation

Coming within 24 hoGottshall-River-Authorurs to a coffee shop hopefully near you! Poet Karin Gottshall and translator Michael Katz will read from their most recent work. The event will take place on January 22, 7:00pm, at Carol’s Hungry Mind Cafe (24 Merchants Row, Middlebury, VT). On behalf of all NER afternoon interns: see you there!

Karin Gottshall‘s new book, The River Won’t Hold You, won the Ohio State University Press/The Journal Award in Poetry. Her first book, Crocus, won the Poets Out Loud Prize in 2007 (Fordham University Press). She is also the author of three poetry chapbooks: Flood Letters, Almanac for the Sleepless, and Swan.

KatzMichael R. Katz recently published The Kreutzer Sonata Variations, a compilation that includes his new translation of Tolstoy’s Kreutzer Sonata and the recently discovered “counterstories” written in response by his wife and son. He is currently working on a translation of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, and recently published a translation of Turgenev’s Fathers and Children (Norton).

Samples from past NER Vermont readings are available at our YouTube channel and on Facebook. To sign up for the NER Vermont email, send your address to NER.Vermont@gmail.com.

 

 

New Books for the New Year from NER Authors

Categories: NER Authors' Books, NER Community, News & Notes

coffey“Once I started reading these stories, I couldn’t stop. They absorbed me thoroughly, with their taut narratives and evocative language—the language of a poet.” —Jay Parini, Middlebury College D. E. Axinn Professor of English & Creative Writing and author of Jesus: The Human Face of God and The Last Station

NER congratulates contributor Michael Coffey on his first collection of short stories, The Business of Naming Things (Bellevue Literary Press, 2015), which includes his story “Sons,” originally published in NER 34.1. Coffey’s essay “Waiting for Nauman” has appeared in our online NER Digital series, as well.

Publisher’s Weekly: There is no conventional narrative here… This collection which features first-, second-, and third-person narration, is vibrant and unsparing.

Edmund White, author of Inside a Pearl and A Boy’s Own Story: “Michael Coffey brings us so close to his subjects it is almost embarassing. Whether he’s writing about a sinning priest or a man who’s made a career out of branding or about himself, we can smell Coffey’s protagonists and feel their breath on our cheek. Like Chekhov, he must be a notebook writer; how else to explain the strange quirks and perfect but unaccountable details that animate these intimate portraits?

Michael Coffey has published three books of poems, a book about baseball’s perfect games, and co-edited a book about Irish immigration to America. He is a former co-editorial director of Publishers Weekly.

 

watch me go“Mark Wisniewski has constructed a fabulous noir that touches on the third-rail of American life and the inside rail at the track. His voice is down-to-earth and sharp, delivering swift, salty pages concerning murder and jails, justice and damaged souls.”—Daniel Woodrell, PEN Award winner and Edgar-nominated author of Winter’s Bone

We are pleased to announce the publication of NER contributor Mark Wisniewski‘s newest novel, Watch Me Go (Penguin Putnam). His story “Karmic Vapor” appeared in NER 25.1.

Mark Wisniewski has published two novels, Show Up, Look Good and Confessions of a Polish Used Car Salesman. His stories have appeared in a number of publications including Southern Review and Antioch Review.

“The pure, muscular story-telling of Mark Wisniewski’s Watch Me Go made it irresistible.”New York Times bestselling author Salman Rushdie

 

muldoonCongratulations to NER contributor Paul Muldoon on the publication of his newest book of poetry, One Thousand Things Worth Knowing: Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015). Muldoon, originally from Ireland, is Howard G. B. Clark ’21 Professor at Princeton University and poetry editor of the New Yorker. His most recent collections are Moy Sand and Gravel, for which he won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, Horse Latitudes (2006), and Maggot (2010). His essays on Fernando Pessoa, Emily Dickinson and Seamus Heaney have appeared in NER 23.4, 24.2, and 34.2, respectively.

“. . . another wild, expansive collection from the eternally surprising Paul Muldoon, 2003 winner and poetry editor at the New Yorker. ‘Watchfulness’ is the buzzword surrounding this one, and it seems as great a place as any to start the 2015 reading year.” —Publisher’s Weekly

 

sandoperaIt is with pleasure that we announce the release of NER contributor Philip Metres‘s newest poetry collection, Sand Opera (Alice James, 2015), an exploration of war in the modern age through examinations of the Abu Ghraib prison, childhood perspectives, and the role of the US government. Metres is the author of A Concordance of Leaves, abu ghraib arias, To See the Earth, Behind the Lines: War Resistance Poetry on the American Homefront Since 1941, and other books. His work has appeared in Best American Poetry and has garnered numerous awards, including two NEA fellowships, four Ohio Arts Council Grants, the Arab American Book Award, and a 2014 Creative Workforce Fellowship. He teaches literature and creative writing at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio.

Metres’s translations from Russian were published in NER 34.3-4, and his poetry has appeared in 22.3, 23.4, and 25.4.

“Phil Metres transforms our prostrate sorrow and gracious rage against the banal evil of the administered world into aria and opera.” —Fady Joudah, author of Alight and The Earth in the Attic

 

Announcing NER 35.4

Categories: News & Notes

 THE NEW ISSUE OF NER HAS ARRIVED!

POETRY
Rick Barot
‘s inaugural issue as poetry editor introduces twelve poets who have never before published with NER. We welcome Rick and his poets, and the exactitude and joy he brings to these pages.

Luke Brekke Kevin Craft Andrew Grace • Ela Harrison • Joanna Klink • Joan Larkin • Michelle Peñaloza • Patrick Rosal • Richard Siken • Austin Smith • Arthur Sze • Eleanor Wilner

FICTION
Fiction writers Allegra Hyde and Susan Engberg make their NER debut alongside returning NER authors Matthew Baker, Castle Freeman Jr., and William Gilson, with stories of shark fishing, squirrel trouble, and a Sensei gone on the lam. 

Matthew Baker • Susan Engberg • Castle Freeman Jr. • William Gilson • Allegra Hyde

ESSAYS
The essays in this issue range from a struggle to say hello to the struggle to say goodbye, and in between reach out to a family’s past, a nation’s past, and a literary past. 

  • Elizabeth Kadetsky investigates the ether of her family’s imagined past
  • Kelly Grey Carlisle solves for X
  • Philip F. Gura reignites the reputation of an early Native American orator
  • Norman Mailer reads and writes the twentieth century
  • Chris Nelson articulates the stuttering of Neil Young’s guitar
  • Laurence de Looze loses himself in the enchanted alleyways of the Alfama
  • John Cowper Powys presents the “best books,” 1916
  • Bill Johnston translates the story of everyone’s old family dog by Polish author Andrzej Stasiuk

COVER ART
Margaret Withers

Don’t miss this ambitious and unpredictable collection of writing—just published.

See the full table of contents, and order a copy today. Or better yet, subscribe!

New NER Digital | Jeff Staiger

Categories: Confluences, NER Digital

 

Fifth Down: Reading Don DeLillo’s End Zone | Jeff Staiger

It was a thin paperback novel, creased, softened by wear, part of the Penguin series of Contemporary American Fiction, dirty white with big letters hard-shadowed in red: DON DELILLO and below, bigger yet, END ZONE. This was on a gray Saturday morning in Pittsburgh, where I had landed not long before at the end of the 1990s. In my free time during those first months in that city, when I didn’t really know anybody, I would often find myself divided between a sense of being able to do anything and the feeling that doing it alone would be insipid. The morning had been cold and rain seemed imminent, but I needed to get some activity. The form that took was a walk leading to the upstairs “literature and fiction” room of a converted house in a small patch of residential neighborhood squeezed on two sides by universities. And there was a tattered, smudged copy of End Zone. The novel was from the early 1970s, and I guessed it would harbor some of the free-wheeling absurdity that was familiar to me from that era, when I was growing up and the world seemed so much more open and honest.

I got home just ahead of the rain and, now feeling sickness coming on, got into my bed, which was in the far back of my attic apartment, in an old converted Victorian whose sharply pitched ceilings gave it the feel of a garret, a good foil for furtive intellectual flights. Thus I embarked on what was to be a kind of controlled experiment in which, all extraneous variables removed, I could test the chemistry among three primary reagents: the stillness, the book, and my mind—the only thing stirring in that little tucked-away pocket of world. There I alternately read and dozed and sometimes peered into the gray silence until there was nothing for it but to read some more, traversing in this manner the vast expanse of the afternoon all the way into evening.

It was a stripped-down chassis of a novel, about a college football team, without much plot or development or investigation of character, which nevertheless moved along just fine on the witty scuffle of words with meaning and the rhythm of the shapely vignettes of which it was composed. The characters are skimpy, slivers of people defined by the quirky obsessions they circle around, à la the damaged menagerie in Catch 22. Mostly the action consists of their skewed speeches and rapid exchanges in which big ideas are undercut by well-timed non sequiturs: Gary Harkness, the narrator, and the team’s running back, is fascinated by repellent accounts of nuclear war and mass death; his occasional companion, Myna Corbett, keeps herself chubby in order to evade “the responsibilities of beauty”; the head coach, Emmett Creed, preaches discipline and self-abnegation with religious fervor. Their motives seem arbitrary, bereft of higher rationales, just as the terminologies they brandish have come free of the reasons that once sanctioned them.

End Zone takes place at Logos College, somewhere in the blasted, rock-strewn landscape of West Texas, apt setting for a meditation on nuclear destruction. Logos: word, logic, reason, except in this illogical world, the world of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction), the logos has come to a kind of blithering end, gone to scruffy seed.

In the emptiness, the result of my own strange self-abnegation, I read on and on, letting the gray patter of words steadily rain through my head. Reading this way was like being home all day from school when I was sick, doing a puzzle on the floor of my room, only vaguely conscious of the songs coming and going on the AM radio and then coming round again. I discover now that I know the words to many of those songs, some of them preposterously banal. What have I retained from my mingling with that book on that day, a book that I have remembered ever since as one that sank into me deeply? The book had, and has, its sportiveness, a kind of scrambled absurdity I would now say—an absurdity mixed with psychic murk, an absurdity not hoisted as a theme but already assumed, intrinsic to the author’s vision of a world awry, and therefore more unsettling even while comic. The novel has a loose, broken-down form that seems to say things are too far gone for the ambition and purpose that would go into amply bodying forth a world.

I don’t know whether a work such as End Zone would see the light of day if it were submitted to agents and publishers now. Maybe not—though I like to think that the novel’s consistent, perverse wit would see it through. But I don’t think that such a work would have been created now anyway. For End Zone gives me a reference point—one of many, actually, but one that is particularly distinct—for my sense that today’s generally more “finished” novels, with more narrative arrangement and more observance of the traditional obligations of the novelist, are a falling off of the truth available at that more casual, more reckless, moment in time. That moment, that mood, conducive to the emergence of a work of such compelling and somehow encouraging oddity, is now long past. But a dose of it is decanted in the pages of DeLillo’s slim novel.

 

Jeff Staiger has a PhD in English from the University of California at Berkeley. His critical writings, on such topics as Harold Brodkey, Thomas Pynchon, and Homer, have appeared in recent years in various literary reviews. He is writing a book on the plight of the contemporary novel and also, naturally, a novel. He is the Literature Librarian at the University of Oregon.

NER Digital is New England Review’s online project dedicated to original creative writing for the web. “Confluences” presents writers’ encounters with works of art such as books, plays, poems, films, paintings, sculptures, or buildings.  

 

Midweek Break | David Baker Reads at Bread Loaf

Categories: Audio

David Baker reads his poems at the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference.

davidbaker

“Simile” was first published in NER 32.2.

“Magnolia,” from Southwest Review.

David Baker is author or editor of sixteen books of poetry and criticism, including Scavenger Loop (W. W. Norton) and Never-Ending Birds (W. W. Norton), for which he was awarded the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize in 2011. Other honors include fellowships and awards from the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Society of Midland Authors, Poetry Society of America, Mellon Foundation, and others. He holds the Thomas B. Fordham Chair at Denison University and teaches regularly in the MFA program for writers at Warren Wilson College. He is poetry editor of Kenyon Review. 

All Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference readings are available on iTunesU. To hear more, please visit the Bread Loaf website.

NER + NEA = More Support for Writers

Categories: News & Notes

NEA-logo-color-e1320093807889New England Review is delighted to announce that we’ve won the support of the National Endowment for the Arts for 2015 through an Art Works grant. In 2014 we were able to double our payment to writers for the print journal—the first increase in 20 years—and because of this grant we’ll be able to continue paying this higher rate through the next volume. But this year we’re going to do even better: beginning in 2015 we will pay contributors to NER Digital, our feature of original writing for the web. Up until now writers have been gracious enough to allow their work to be published there for the gift of a subscription to NER, but now we’ll be able to pay them an honorarium in cold hard cash as well. We’d like to thank associate editor J. M. Tyree for his dedication to the NER Digital project—for masterminding the idea and building it through its first years.

The NEA’s fellowships for writers, which in 2015 will be awarded to 36 poets, will honor a number of NER contributors. Congratulations to all who earned a place on the list this year, including Sean Hill (NER Digital), Eliot Khalil Wilson (29.4), Kerry James Evans (30.2), Anders Carlson-Wee (forthcoming, 36.1), Sara Eliza Johnson (29.4), Shara Lessley (33.1), and Melissa Range (34.1).