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A suicidal father looks to an older neighbor -- and the Cookie Monster -- for salvation and sanctuary as his life begins to unravel. A man seeking to save his estranged, drug-addicted brother from the city's underbelly confronts his own mortality. A chess match between a girl and her father turns into a master class about life, self-realization, and pride: "Now hold on little girl.... Chess is like real life. The white pieces go first so they got an advantage over the black pieces." These are just a few glimpses into the world of the residents of the fictional town of Cross River, Maryland, a largely black settlement founded in 1807 after the only successful slave revolt in the United States. Raw, edgy, and unrelenting yet infused with forgiveness, redemption, and humor, the stories in this collection explore characters suffering the quiet tragedies of everyday life and fighting for survival. In Insurrections, Rion Amilcar Scott's lyrical prose authentically portrays individuals growing up and growing old in an African American community. Writing with a delivery and dialect that are intense and unapologetically current, Scott presents characters who dare to make their own choices -- choices of kindness or cruelty -- in the depths of darkness and hopelessness. Although Cross River's residents may be halted or deterred in their search for fulfillment, their spirits remain resilient -- always evolving and constantly moving.
A new volume by the winner of the 2007 Barnard Women Poets Prize is a sojourn into such fanciful realms as the interior of a glacier and the translucent body of a jellyfish, in a collection that invites readers to follow a literary journey that illuminates and returns to the writer's own life. By the author of The Hammered Dulcimer.
A girl afflicted with pyrokinesis tries to control her fire-starting long enough to go to a dance with a boy she likes. A woman trapped in a stalled marriage is excited by an alluring ex-con who enrolls in her YMCA cooking class. A teen accompanies her mother, a prestigious poet, to a writing conference where she navigates a misguided attraction to a married writer -- who is, in turn, attracted to her mother -- leaving her "inventing punishments for writers who believe in clichés as tired as broken hearts." In this affecting collection, Katie Cortese explores the many faces of love and desire. Featuring female narrators that range in age from five to forty, the narratives in Make Way for Her speak to the many challenges and often bittersweet rewards of offering, receiving, and returning love as imperfect human beings. The stories are united by the theme of desperate love, whether it's a daughter's love for a parent, a sister's for a sibling, or a romantic love that is sometimes returned and sometimes unrequited. Cortese's complex and multilayered stories play with the reader's own desires and anticipations as her characters stubbornly resist the expected. The intrepid girls and women in this book are, above all, explorers. They drive classic cars from Maine to Phoenix, board airplanes for the first time, and hike dense forests in search of adventure; but what they often find is that the most treacherous landscapes lie within. As a result, Make Way for Her explores a world of women who crave knowledge and experience, not simply sex or love.
A honeycomb long vacated by honeybees still possesses an "echo of the swarm, / a lingering song ." Living things are made and make themselves: "My bones came first. / Like long needles, / they knitted muscle / and tendon / and tissue and skin. / Filled themselves / with marrow." In her debut collection, Brianna Noll fuses the scientific and fantastic, posing probing questions that explore the paradoxes of experience. Interweaving themes of creation, art, and nature, the poet gives voice to animate and inanimate figures such as woolly mammoths, star-nosed moles, cells, mylar balloons, and puzzle boxes. Her vivid poems obscure the line between what is literal and what is figurative. The result is alchemic and ethereal -- each verse intricately layered with sharp observation as well as emotional and intellectual exploration and questioning. Collectively, the poems draw significantly on Japanese culture and language in their imagery, with cultural nuances and implications embedded in words and expressions. They tend to be tied, not to subjects, but to ways of seeing and considering the world. Noll's lyrical voice reflects a curious and imaginative approach that results in tight poems, typically enjambed, which build together into a thoughtful collection. Her work offers ways of seeing and considering the world that exceed our lived experience, begging the reader to consider how far we are willing to go when faced with roadblocks, doubts, and uncertainties.
Poetry. "Lisa Williams's new collection, GAZELLE IN THE HOUSE, is truly a book of stanzas: poetic rooms in which to dwell. Some of these dwellings have the uncanny familiarity of ordinary domestic space and others are as mysterious and disorienting as the depths of the sea. Painting with colors at times opaque, at times transparent, moving between shallows, tide-pools, and the abysses of dreams, Williams's voice is solitary, meditative, intimate—and in the end a means of revelation."—Susan Stewart
Isra Shadi, a twenty-one-year-old woman of mixed Palestinian and white descent, lives in California with her paternal amu (uncle), amtu (aunt), and cousins after the death of her mother and abandonment by her father at a young age. Ever the outcast in her amu and amtu's household, they eagerly encourage Isra to marry and leave. After rejecting a string of undesirable suitors, she marries Yusef, an old love from her past. In Amreekiya, author Lena Mahmoud deftly juggles two storylines, alternating between Isra's youth and her current life as a married twentysomething who is torn between cultures and trying to define herself. The chapters chronicle various moments in Isra's narrative, including the volatile relationship of her parents and the trials and joys of forging a partnership with Yusef. Mahmoud also examines Isra's first visit to Palestine, the effects of sexism, how language affects identity, and what it means to have a love that overcomes unbearable pain. An exploration of womanhood from an underrepresented voice in American literature, Amreekiya is simultaneously unique and relatable. Featuring an authentic array of characters, Mahmoud's first novel is a much-needed story in a divided world.
Haunting and candid, A Girl's A Gun introduces a poet whose bold voice merges heightened lyricism with compelling narrative. Steeped in storytelling traditions, the poems in Rachel Danielle Peterson's debut collection exhibit linguistic dexterity and mastery of form as the poet mixes lyrical paragraphs, sonnets, and interview-style poems with free verse. Hey Yvonne! The memoree of some strangerhis shoulder's shadow plunges inta our place: thunk, thunk. Run! Mother's vowels pierce haze. Mother, can we distil the pink threads, fabric, black ball cap, the odor of Bud Light, fills the door she walks through, dust, Mamma. Dust is all we is Taken together, the poems present the coming-of-age story of a girl born in the mountains of rural eastern Kentucky, tracing her journey into a wider world of experience. While the early poems are steeped in Appalachian speech and culture -- a hybrid of a child's diction and regional dialect -- the language shifts as the collection progresses, becoming more standard. The speaker engages with hard issues surrounding gender and violence in contemporary life and explores what it means to be an artist in a culture that favors a literal interpretation of reality. Exploring issues of identity, place, and the call to create, this collection tackles subjects that will shock, touch, and bewilder readers while giving voice to an underrepresented and perhaps even unprecedented perspective in poetry.

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