Lets start with what BLAST PRESS is not. BLAST PRESS is not a community. It is not a community-building venture. It is not by, about, or for the people. Unlike the pretentious anthologies that weigh down the shelves and slander the individual by gluing him into some historian’s scripted story, BLAST PRESS is not a collection of individual voices expressing the vibrancy, meaning, and tradition of the creative community, nor of any community. In this respect, BLAST PRESS, as it critics have bitterly asserted, is nothing at all.
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To experience Jacko Monahan reading his poetry live, which he did every month for more than twenty years at the Brighton Bar in Long Branch, N.J., was to experience what a number of auditors have called his “word-uzi.” In One-Legged Poetry: Tragedy, Politics & a Sea Monster, Monahan has published his first full collection of poems, so that readers can experience his highly readable work in print virtually for the first time. Jacko once said, “Life is pain, and you have to learn how to survive it.” The poems in One-Legged Poetry are, more than any others he has written, about working through pain—the pain of losing his sight, the opening of old tar burns on his legs, and the loss of his leg to flesh-eating bacteria, all the while remaining intensely alive, human, and creative. Monahan’s voice is unique and powerful and these poems break new ground.
These poems embrace the wilderness around us and the wildness within us. Once all wilderness was innocence. Later, all wilderness was sin. What does it say about wilderness, that it could be both sin and innocence—a space of condemnation and reprieve—at once? What does it say about us, limber interpreters of vastness? Every day someone takes a snapshot of themselves with the Statue of Liberty on his shoulder, or the moon upheld in her palm, the violent grandeur of the universe turned by metaphor and pixel-flash into a beachball. Now we find our wildness in suburban glimpses: long weekends away to a campsite, the unwonted sting of a bee. Yet we were made by wildness; we were wolves before we mellowed to dogs.
Call It Sleep contains a final section of poems about a son's experience of a father's illness and death. It give us a snapshot these events in a series of moments, from the onset of the illness to the final moment of death. The book is full of small and large acts of understanding, resonance and respect for one who has gone before. The book touches areas of feeling and experience that confront universal passages of living in a way only very fine poetry can do. The controlled language, the integrated images, the sense of connectedness with life are undeniable. H. A. Maxson transforms harsh reality into indelible art with truthfulness and beauty-and an edge of, if not bitterness, perhaps a tragic clarity. There are also poems that continue to express Maxson's hallmark interest in the natural world. Swans, ducks, goldfinches and gannets all get their own poems. The processes of nature are examined with astute feeling in poems like "A Braille of Ice" and "The Snake." A passionate conversion with the natural world is what this book delivers: deftly observed, and always aware of of nature's human resonance.
From the intro: Our legs look broken when light bends them in the swimming pool. Once our heads are under, immersed in the experience of wetness, the illusion disappears. Our legs are restored to us in their wholeness, where they can be repurposed as impromptu fins to propel us elsewhere. Which of these sets of legs are our “real” legs? The broken set, the restored set, or the Aquaman set?
Entering a poem is like entering that other, underwater world. The act of writing is a way for poets to break the surface tension, to transform and explore with all of their sets of legs at the same time—water-skimmer and octopus at once. The act of, not just imagining, but creating the distortion of a written record, a pool for others to enter, is part of the mystery. This writing things down, however, is not what may be called a clarification; that’s a mistake many neophyte divers make, arriving back at the deck of their exploration vessel with the bends.
Nonsense is often the most sensible kind of sense. Nonsense reveals all of us—our self, our situation—in a single pop of recognition as we are trampolined from our usual assurances and then forced to regain our footing, to regain our meaning, on the fly. Like an old-fashioned photographer’s flash powder, we are exposed to an extreme of light, with no visible space left for secrets or lies. This is part of the odd exhilaration of nonsense. The puzzles that nonsense reveal are genuinely unsolvable. What nonsense reveals, at its best, are genuine mysteries.
A girl loses sight of her three sisters while shopping at the mall. She will stop at nothing to find them again, but will it be enough?
"The Changing Room is full of underground rivers we feel but cannot see. It's a book for all the siblings of the world."
—Peter Sís, MacArthur fellow and three-time Caldecott honoree whose many books include Tibet through the Red Box and The Conference of the Birds
"Hellgrammite" masquerades as a humble book of fishing poems and tales, but it is much more than that. It is a mythological multi-legged creature, creeping and crawling with vivid nature poems, ink drawings, sensitive haiku and two remarkably crafted short stories. By turns terrifying, tragic, witty and surreal, author Mathew V. Spano serves as the reader's guide, turning over river rocks of the unconscious and inviting readers to reach down into the wet darkness to probe mysteries of Mother Nature and human nature.
As the title "Palisades, Parkways & Pinelands" implies, the book at hand has grown from New Jersey roots. More specifically, it is an outgrowth of the Pier Village Poetry Festival, held in view of the Atlantic in Long Branch, New Jersey, on the Fourth of July 2015. For that event, organizer and Long Branch Poet Laureate Emanuel di Pasquale called together some twenty poets from the far-flung New Jersey poetry tribe. A sampling of their work, along with that of others who could only be present in spirit that day, is included in the present volume. As its genesis and development suggest, "Palisades, Parkways & Pinelands" is meant to be a celebration of contemporary New Jersey poetry and a continuation of a long poetic tradition in the Garden State that stretches back to colonial times.
In 2007-2008, I concocted an experiment I called the Quotidian Project in which I wrote the first draft of a new poem every day for a year. In fact it went beyond a year and I wrote 411 new poems in 389 days. Much was dreck—as would be expected—but many poems, revised, were better than I could have expected. To jumpstart a poem-a-day I came up with a number of prompts—some more successful than others. One that yielded some very interesting poems came from borrowing passages from Dorothy Wordsworth’s Grasmere Journal, excerpts of which appeared in a textbook I was using at the time. ~~H. A. Maxson
As this earth marches toward another twilight ravaged by greed and ignorance, I write these poems to convey to the besieged generations to come, those that will preside over the final plunder and irrevocable destruction of our once green planet, to provide a sense of what was once best in man. I do this so that we will not be judged and remembered entirely for our failed guardianship and conveyance of the unearned riches that were once bestowed upon us, but also for the occasional and rare flickerings of nobility that animated some of our kind.
From the introduction: Emotional suffering gives us access to the real world in a way that ideas, and even love, cannot attain. We turn death and generation into a fable of sacrifice. Plants are buried and honored in their going, the Crop King is executed, and from his everlastingly renewed body the spring stalks arise to be culled again. His death is willingly embraced by him, or by his stand-in chosen from among the farmers--and this freely chosen death is overcome, in the Christian story, by God's intervention. Or the sacrifice is invested with meaning by the very act of undertaking the self-imposed burden of sacrifice. Perhaps by the pagan anti-wish-fulfillment of tragedy--their heroes marching off-stage with a chin-lifted "tragic gaiety."
"West of Home" is a collaborative book of poetry which reflects the present and ongoing sentiments of Joe Weil and Emily Vogel. It includes 14 "responsorial" poems (call and response), between the two poets, as they respond to one another's themes and ideas, as well as two sections of poems, one for each poet's individual work.
Inspired by listening to the four symphonies of Johannes Brahms, Daniel Weeks's Self-Symphonies explore the landscapes, cityscapes, and seascapes that are the backdrop to a life lived on the New Jersey shore. The four long poems in this collection provide meditations on family, inheritance, and loss, society, nature, and culture, and stasis and change all of the elements that Coleridge said bething the individual self.
"Surfing for Jesus" is a 3-D IMAX picaresque where J.C. Penney is the tabernacle; Walter Cronkite, a confessor; and drivers express their "Lordy-Lord" perfections by hugging the speed limit (exactly). These poems variously mourn, moon, lampoon, side-step, meditate, bash, tweak, and imagine their way through the thickets of contemporary commerce and religiosity-to find meaning with the Dalai Lama on the basement bowling alley of a defunct Jesuit seminary; with a sand dolphin and mermaid on a New Jersey beach; and with Jesus resurrected as a Laotian drag queen. Ultimately, "Surfing for Jesus" celebrates that the personal lyric is both a vehicle for and the destination of spiritual authenticity.
There is something elemental about the poetry of Emanuel di Pasquale, an immediacy that comes from a direct and visceral relation to whatever he is writing about-whether nature or human interaction. It is the kind of directness that di Pasquale admires in Whitman and Dickinson-evidence that he, like them, has more than an academic acquaintance with the world and its changes. He has experienced them and understands how to make us experience them, too, through words.
We live in a mist of continual whispers. And these whispers bring us news of the world, and arm us, Galileo-like, with telescopes to view our inner landscapes: our pasts, our nattering presents, our dreams and desires-all at once, or in a movie-montage series that takes on the serried wheels of the kaleidoscope for its deployment and re-deployment of pattern in the search for meaning. Childhood faces, lovers breathing intensely close, the lick of an insistent pet, all compete for their place in the panorama, their time in our arms at the square-dance of selfhood. What fiddler calls the tune? Will we always respond, stomping in time to the quibbling ifs that life presents? This is all process, the creation of context from which our daily self emerges: the hourly display of faces from which Shakespeare chose his masks, and where Dickens lived amid Pickwickian semi-visionary laughter.