New Books from NER Authors

“First books don’t usually take on the world at this level of seriousness and skill”

Hardship_Post2Jehanne Dubrow‘s first poetry collection, The Hardship Post, is being re-released by Sundress Publications

From Stanley Plumly, author of Argument & Song: “There’s a tensile strength of line here—predominantly pentameter—
that underscores the ease of the poetic idiom: just as the heartfelt yet disciplined feeling—life of the content underwrites this collection’s larger themes of Judaism and its ancient traditions. The Hardship Post has a good deal on its mind as well as the load in its heart. Polish history and heritage may be one personal focus, but displacement and identity are the greater subjects. First books don’t usually take on the world at this level of seriousness and skill.”

The Hardship Post includes work previously published in NER. Dubrow’s poetry has appeared in NER 26.2 and 30.2. 



Bangalore“gritty, hard-hitting debut”

NER contributor Kerry James Evans has published his first book of poetry, Bangalore, with Copper Canyon Press. Appearing in Bangalore is “A Good Hunt,” originally published in NER 30.2.

From Publishers Weekly: “Evans’s gritty, hard-hitting debut combines war poems, elegies, and high Southern lyrics to create a new understanding of American identity.”

From Brian Spears of The Rumpus: “Evans spares nothing and no one in his poems, and yet he still finds a way to celebrate what deserves celebrating, and in the end, we’re left with hope.”


Every Possible Blue“tender observation[s] not of the clothing but of the wearer”

We are pleased to announce that NER author Matthew Thorburn‘s new book of poetry, Every Possible Blue, has been published by CW Books. Thorburn’s poem “Proof” appeared in NER 30.1.

From Publishers Weekly: “Saturated with color and light, Thorburn’s second collection celebrates New York with deft, vivacious strokes. Similar to the way a city is always rebuilt, or a painter reworks a canvas, Thorburn’s poems pay special attention to the clothing and adornments that change to fit life’s varied occasions. ‘Oh to be crisply cuffed, / something in fall flannel to flatter / this flaneur,’ he writes in ‘Men Swear.’ An airy poem describing a white blouse—’like a sail’ with ‘two buttons un / done / a peek of pale breast / bone’—becomes a tender observation not of the clothing but of the wearer. But ‘inky / silks, slinky satins’ don’t fool Thorburn. No matter what people wear, whether it is a second-hand tuxedo or a ‘mint green’ sari, he reminds himself, ‘you’re human, / you’re human.'”


The Wallet Lady | By Elizabeth Kadetsky

LandscapeExcuse me, a woman in the hallway calls to us. Do you know where the manager is? I’ve left my wallet in my room and I’m locked out. She carries a sturdy pocketbook, which she holds open for us to show it is missing its wallet. She’s dressed to go out — it’s spring. Miss! Miss! She cries when the aide passes.

You lost your wallet again? The aide is from St. Kitts.

How will I go out?

Terrible. The aide tsssks. It’s not in your purse now?

The woman holds it open to her.

My mother shrugs her SOL shrug and raises her eyes at me. C’mon, honey. We pace to the end of the hall. Where now? She asks.

How about down there? I point to the other end of the hall.

Yeah. Yeah. C’mon. Doopdy doo. She grabs me in an elbow lock and makes a dancer’s kick with one leg for her first step, then the second. I join her. We’re winded by the end of the hall. That was fun. Again?


At dinner, the missing-wallet lady sits with us. She leans forward and cups her mouth in a whisper. I’m terribly sorry. This is awfully embarrassing. I’ve lost my wallet. All my credit cards. I’d meant to treat you.

My mother pats her pocket-less genie pants and gives me an alarmed, private look. Her eyebrows meet in tips between her eyes. She checks the back of her chair. Honey, do you have any… Because… My purse… Do you have keys?

It’s on me, I tell the table, with my magnanimous grin.

My mother sighs in relief. Thank god.

You’re very kind, says the wallet lady. You’re her sister?



My mother is on to the next conversation in her head. She’s staring at a bald man on the other side of the room eating at a table of only men when he starts shouting racial epithets in front of the all-Caribbean staff. All the employees have just stopped everything and started shouting: Enough of that! None of that! You stop that now! They look at each other and some of us and smile and hoot. You don’t say that! Enough of that!

My god, some people have not even a little bit of class, the wallet lady says.

I’ve seen that man before, my mother says, staring at the racist. I feel like I know him. It’s like déjà vu but something else. Do you recognize him, honey?

Yes, he’s always here. He lives here.

What!? No. I mean, it feels… misty… I have a vague memory… like from a past life.

After dinner I sit on the other double bed in her room and she strips off her clothes for no reason and asks when we’re leaving.

I’ll have to go home pretty soon, I confess to her.

You’re taking me with you, right? You have the keys? Her eyes are lost and angry and panicked. Also, she’s topless. Take me home.

There is no home. And you’re not dressed.

Then with you. She slips on a white tunic from the closet. I have to go. We’re leaving. Okay? C’mon, honey. She walks to the door and peaks out, then peers back with the conspiratorial expression. C’mon honey. Now. We have to go.


Secret Americas features writing about images from the U.S. National Archives.

Image via Flickr: “Lunch-Hour Nap in Battery Park, 05/1973,” National Archives and Records Administration.

Elizabeth Kadetsky’s short stories have been chosen for a Pushcart Prize, Best New American Voices and two Best American Short Stories notable citations. Her personal essays have appeared in the New York Times, Guernica, and elsewhere. Her memoir First There Is a Mountain was published by Little, Brown in 2004. She is assistant professor of fiction and nonfiction at Penn State.


Floor Models | By Elizabeth Kadetsky


Tante Annette was a model at Peck’s, where there’s an L.L. Bean outlet now.

Annette was so tall, Grandmaman used to say.

Oo, ooo la la, my mother said. Tante Annette was my role model, said my mother.

Peck’s was near the mouth of the Androscoggin, just inland from where the Bates Mill gave off its effluent to the river. The Androscoggin, during the mill days, was the most polluted waterway in America. On the town side of the factory, girls called out the windows to the boys from Bates College, my father’s alma mater. Oooo mechant canard — Oh, wicked duck. Alouette, gentille Alouette…— Oh, pretty goose. They made thick, navy wool blankets. I still have one, with a red and white striped satin border and my name on a white label sewn for summer camp.

My mother was a model, too, and she made it out of Maine and went on to New York, where she became the floor model at Lord & Taylor, circa 1976. She walked the main floor greeting people and looking tall, in Charles Jourdan shoes.

Your mother was a floor model at Peck’s, Grandmaman said to me, another time.

That was Annette, I say. Mom worked at Lord & Taylor.

She was so tall and pretty. Jolie. Mon dieu, Grandmaman said, crying, drinking straight from her bottle. Why was Grandmaman crying? Why did she ever cry? Life, joy, remorse. Her second baby died of a disease. Congenital, or environmental, perhaps.

It’s my mother who worked in New York, I repeated, and she looked at me and said, You’re so pretty. The bottle was Grandmaman’s pollution.

After 1917, every mayor in Lewiston was French. Grande-grandmaman Léa came by Grand Trunk Rail in 1895, a middle child among nine. Féline, her sister, worked at the mills. No one else in the family worked in the mills, said Grandmaman, only they did. The family talks, instead, about the cousin who also became mayor, and how Léa made magnificent hats for Anglos and was tailor to the wealthy of Auburn, across the frothy Adroscoggin. She rode in a carriage with her hair piled high wearing tailored dresses. They talk about Grand-grandpapa Philippe, who died early, of meningitis or some other toxin, possibly alcohol.

My mother talks about how she used to be the floor model at Peck’s.

No, that was Tante Annette, I remind her. You were the floor model at Lord & Taylor.

Oh, Annette. I loved Annette. She was so elegant. Who did you say?


Ohhh. My mother peers off. Who’s Annette? She looks round. We’re at a family reunion, hosted by Cousin Roger with the Gallic chin and Vichy mustache. Tante Terry is here, and my mother’s childhood best friend, Cousine Raimonde, who lived with the family in Lewiston. Tante Simone, Tante Annette, Tante Fleurette: they have all passed on by now, of old age. Oncle Roger, he died jumping from a train near a lumber farm outside Montreal. Oncle Raymond, who never got over World War II, they say alcohol took him as well.

My mother takes my hand. She never drank, never worked in the mill. What was her toxin? Who are all these people? She asks me. They keep hugging me and asking How do you do? She is very slim and her hair is dark and dramatic, and she is beautiful so people hug her.

They’re your cousins. Remember Raimonde? You called her Taffy.

Taffy, my mother says. The past is there before her, across a spray of water.


Secret Americas features writing about images from the U.S. National Archives.

Image via Flickr: “Foam on the Polluted Androscoggin River, Seen from the North Bridge at Lewiston, 06/1973.” Photograph by Charles Steinhacker, National Archives and Records Administration.

Elizabeth Kadetsky’s short stories have been chosen for a Pushcart Prize, Best New American Voices and two Best American Short Stories notable citations. Her personal essays have appeared in the New York Times, Guernica, and elsewhere. Her memoir First There Is a Mountain was published by Little, Brown in 2004. She is assistant professor of fiction and nonfiction at Penn State.

Wave | By L. S. McKee


That day, the water bent the sun like radio waves. We’d learned it was how voices reach across distances. In class, when we asked how things worked without wires, Mr. Jones outlined in chalk what sound would resemble if you could see it—not like a tide’s in-and-out or an elevator’s lowering, but like the mountains’ undulations, their ridges mumbling at dusk.

At the pool’s edge, I closed my eyes. But I could hear nothing except the gulp of the surface divided, the splash of a cannonball, a tangle of boys vying to hold their heads above water. The ones who lost snotted out chlorine and punched at the surface as if it would hold.

I wonder how far the ruckus traveled—if our fathers could hear our yelping in the rooms of the mountain. Over the coughing shovels. Or veins crumbling in their hands.

We practiced their curses, the work-shirts of their language, even the voices we couldn’t remember—like Billy’s dad who was somewhere in France, buried by the only ocean he’d ever seen. His son swam the hardest, demanding race after race until he collapsed on the bench. His face turned away from the chain-link fence.


Secret Americas features writing about images from the U.S. National Archives.

Image via Wikimedia Commons – “Miners Memorial Swimming Pool, West Virginia, 1946,” Photograph by Russell Lee, National Archives and Records Administration College Park.

L.S. McKee’s work has appeared in Gulf Coast, BODY, Indiana Review, Ninth Letter, New South and elsewhere. Originally from East Tennessee, she lives and teaches in Atlanta.

Short, Unhappy | By Imad Rahman

5008809952_a7ee933d8c_o1971. You are born. It is Pakistan, and it is hot. Ceiling fans hum overhead in the small, cramped rooms and small, cramped corridors of a small, cramped hospital. There is a war on. Move, they say, we need storage space for the dead. Spend a week in the home basement while outside planes swoop and weave in the sky. Someone sings you to sleep, an androgynous croon.

1975 is just like 1974.

1979. Riots in the street. At school, a girl tells you a ghost story and you believe it. Gummy worms snake out of stumped arms in your dreams. Next day, refuse to go to school. Lie, say you miss your mother. Realize right away it would have been better to have just told the truth, mama’s boy.

1983. Move, Karachi to Kansas with your father after your mother disappears – supposedly there’s been a plane crash. Your new town is all strip clubs and churches, the geometry of sweaty desire bisected by loud faith. Later, you learn she is still alive and living in Amsterdam under an assumed identity. At school they have a hard time with your name. Your father, of course, is a liar, but your mother is crazy.

1987. First kiss, at dusk, leaning up against the crumbling white brick wall of a café known for loose meat sandwiches. She can’t pronounce your name either. Don’t care. Your father has found religion. Arguments ensue. Your mother shows up. Legalese ensues. You hang out with others displaced, others dispossessed, drift into the second kiss. Then the third. Every time you look into someone’s eyes you feel empty.

1991. Don’t go home for Thanksgiving. Get money wired to you for a root canal and spend it on a flight to Amsterdam. One night, lose your virginity to a prostitute. Like you, she is from someplace via someplace. Your bicuspids, once sturdy, start to hurt.

1995. Get a job.

1999. Go back to Amsterdam. Take money from dad’s wrongful death settlement, invest in a bar called Café Kansas. It is big and made of brick, which reminds you of both a church in Kansas and of your mother. In 2006, all potential immigrants of Pakistani origin will have to demonstrate fluency in Dutch. Lucky for you this is 1999.

2003. They mispronounce your name.

2007. There is a woman. The color of your skin turns her on. The color of her skin turns you on. She has firm breasts and sings unfamiliar songs in unfamiliar languages in bed before the lights go out. A ceiling fan whirs. The woman has a husband with powerful arms. You have an upset stomach. He works construction. You do yoga. Find yourself in an unfinished construction site suspended from a great height, the wind slipping through the hollow cavity of your body in great furious swoops. As you fall, imagine yourself swooping and weaving. When you drop, think nosebleed. Below, concrete closes hungry, like an unexpected lover.

There is no 2011.


Secret Americas features writing about images from the U.S. National Archives.

Image via Flickr – Wonderland Arcade, 1200 Grand Ave. Kansas City, Missouri, 1968,  National Archives and Records Administration.

Imad Rahman is the author of I Dream Of Microwaves, a book of connected stories. His stories have appeared in One Story, Gulf Coast, The Fairy Tale Review, Willow Springs and Chelsea, amongst others, and in the anthology xo Orpheus: Fifty New Myths. He currently teaches creative writing at Cleveland State University.

Recent Poetry Collections by NER Authors

We are pleased to announce four new collections from poets previously featured in NER.

9780547928289Charles Simic’s new collection, New and Selected Poems 1962-2012 has been published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Simic’s poetry was featured in NER 24.4 and his translations of Novica Tadic appeared in NER 29.1.

From Los Angeles Times: “It takes just one glimpse of Charles Simic’s work to establish that he is a master, ruler of his own eccentric kingdom of jittery syntax and signature insight.”

New and Selected Poems 1962-2012 is available from Powell’s Books and independent booksellers.

headwaters.inddHeadwaters, a new collection of poetry from Ellen Bryant Voigt, has been published by W.W. Norton & Company. Voigt’s poetry appeared in NER 25.3.

From Publishers Weekly: “Voigt’s…eighth collection of poetry is defined by a liquid precision.” 

From Library Journal: “A highly recommended book by an important poet.”

Headwaters is available from Norton and independent booksellers.

9780393239157_custom-b74df594bf7ff45a6d55ca31a0d9bb20f477975c-s6-c30A. Van Jordan’s new poetry collection, The Cineaste, has been published by W.W. Norton & Company. Van Jordan’s work appeared in NER 28.1 and 32.4.

From Publisher’s Weekly: “Drawn from his experience as a moviegoer, these poems prove anything but safe—each film is its own playground of dangers, of ‘strangers who mistake me for someone/ they owe.'”

The Cineaste is available from Powell’s Books and independent booksellers.

trace-webTrace, a new collection of poetry from Eric Pankey has recently been published by Milkweed Editions. Pankey has been featured in NER numerous times, most frequently in NER 34.1.

From Chase Twichell, author of Where the Answers Should Have Been: “In this age of both religious extremism and cynical atheism, Eric Pankey’s poems gleam with authenticity.”

Trace is available from Milkweed Editions and other booksellers.

Cut the Cables | By David Hamilton

LandscapeIn a theatrical moment during the 1854 New York Exposition, Elisha Otis, a Vermonter with a checkered past, mounted an open elevator cab, hoisted himself above the assembled crowd, and, with a flourish, cut the cables. Otis dramatically failed to die, as the car plummeted downward just six inches and jolted to a stop. Patents followed, and cities were reshaped into the vertical skyline we now regard as inevitable and desirable.

Otis invented neither the concept nor the basic technology of the elevator. Rather, he contributed a device to assure passengers that they most likely would not perish on the way to work, having ascended hundreds of feet above the ground in a trice, an act of technological magic made mundane.

The introduction of Otis’s brake loosed the floodgates, enabling the vertical growth of New York and Chicago that we now see as natural. Half a century later, the automobile began to exert a horizontal pull on the city. In the twentieth century, good roads and airbags pulled suburbs out, while elevators and fire departments pushed towers up, in a dynamic opposition that has confounded great minds of urban planning on both sides.

Take your pick of “cars” – automobiles or elevators – or combine them until you end up with the basic parameters of the built environment we inherited from the twentieth century. The most humble safety inventions drive us out of town or send us floating above the streets. Maybe the fear of death – or, rather, our ability to allay that fear on the everyday level – is substantially more motivating than abstract ideals like “population density” or “decentralization.”

Welcome to the future. It probably won’t kill you.


Secret Americas features writing about images from the U.S. National Archives.

Image via Flikr – “Elisha Otis’s Elevator Patent Drawing, 01/15/1861,” National Archives and Records Administration.

Trained as an architect, David Hamilton is a homebuilder and developer. He also writes and lectures on urban design and economics. Most recently, he is the co-author, with Prof. R. Peiser, of Professional Real Estate Development.

NER Vermont Reading Series: November 21, 2013

Please join us on Thursday, November 21, 2013, 7 p.m., at Carol’s Hungry Mind Cafe for the fall reading in our quarterly series, with Julia Alvarez, John Elder, Jessica Hendry Nelson, and Christopher Shaw.

Julia-AlvarezJulia Alvarez (Weybridge) has been practicing the craft of writing for over forty years. She has brought a variety of work to readers of all ages, including novels, picture books, novels for middle readers and young adults, collections of poetry, and nonfiction—most recently A Wedding in Haiti: The Story of a Friendship. She has taught English and creative writing at every level, from elementary schools to senior citizen centers. She is currently a writer in residence at Middlebury College.

JE_2726webJohn Elder (Bristol) taught English and environmental studies at Middlebury College from 1973 until his retirement in 2010. His books Reading the Mountains of HomeThe Frog Run, and Pilgrimage to Vallombrosa explore the meaning of Vermont’s landscape and environmental history for him as a teacher, writer, and householder. Recently he has also completed a memoir called Picking up the Flute that chronicles his obsession since retirement with learning about and playing traditional Irish music.

Jessica_Hendry_Nelson_courtesyJessica Hendry Nelson (Colchester) is the author of the forthcoming memoir in essays, If Only You People Could Follow Directions (Counterpoint, 2014). Her work has appeared in The Threepenny Review, PANK, Carolina Quarterly, Best American Essays 2012, and elsewhere. She teaches writing at Johnson State College. She is also the managing editor and nonfiction editor of Green Mountains Review and the cofounder of the Renegade Writers’ Collective in Burlington.

chris_shawChristopher Shaw (Bristol) is the author of Sacred Monkey River: A Canoe Trip with the Gods and a former editor of Adirondack Life. He teaches creative writing at Middlebury College and codirects the Middlebury Fellowships in Environmental Journalism. His essay “At Panther Gorge with William James” appeared recently in NER.

Videos from August 2013 Vermont Reading Series

CarolsrainbowThis past August, NER hosted a night of poetry and prose from Vermont writers at Carol’s Hungry Mind Cafe as part of the Vermont Reading Series, with authors Partridge Boswell, Michael Collier, Cleopatra Mathis, and Angela Palm.

A video recording is now available for viewing on the NER Vermont YouTube channel.

The next event in the series takes place November 21, 7 p.m., at Carol’s. This special all-nonfiction event will feature Julia Alvarez, John Elder, Jessica Hendry Nelson, and Christopher Shaw.

New Books from NER Authors: Poetry,

Royal-nonesuch3We are pleased to announce that NER contributor Steven D. Schroeder’s new book of poetry, The Royal Nonesuch, has  been published by Spark Wheel Press. Two of Schoeder’s poems, “How do you like Your Blueeyed Boy” and “Uncertain Stumbling Buzz” originally appeared in NER 30.3, as well as his poem “Trolls,” in NER 33.2.

From Oliver del Paz, author of Requiem for the Orchard: “In Steven D. Schroeder’s remarkable second book, The Royal Nonesuch, ‘Everything is falling up or sideways.’ The miraculous cavorts in the attic while the endlessly possible rolls on and on in the dots of loaded dice. Ever present among the springs of Schroeder’s lyrical language play are the assemblages of his literary legacy. A line from a beloved book triggers a flirtation. A sentence blossoms into a map to stolen gold. And with the striking of a match, the gears of Steven D. Schroeder’s Rube Goldberg machine turn in their glass box. The lights blink and creaking wheels spool into beautiful sounds. The Royal Nonesuch is an exquisite joy.”

This is Schroeder’s second published book of poetry, following 2009’s Torched Verse Ends (BlazeVOX Books). He currently edits the online journal Anti-.