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  • In her unique collection, Funeral Playlist, Sarah Gorham explores twelve musical works that might be featured at a funeral in the future. The essays engage the songs in writing, using the Playlist to examine the interplay between music, prose, and mortality. A series of memoir-like interstices reveal what art and artmaking can do to connect these subjects. The musical selections range widely—from Mozart’s “Benedictus” (The Requiem) to Nina Simone’s rendition of Black is the Color of my True Love’s Hair. Caccini’s 17th century madrigal Amarilli, mia bella, as performed by Cecilia Bartoli. Matthew Houck’s (aka Phosphorescent) brings us something from the South in Be Dark Night, and the Wailin’ Jennys add their simple, gorgeous version of The Parting Song. But there’s also the song of a mourning dove, and the nonchalance of a human hum. All may become a medium of transcendence for the living (and, possibly, the departed).
  • American Mother is the heart-rending story of a mother who, in the course of confronting her son’s killer, gets to the elemental heart of violence and forgiveness. Diane Foley is the mother of Jim, a freelance journalist captured and beheaded by ISIS in 2014, an image which became one of the most iconic of the 21st century. Seven years later, Diane gets the chance to spend three days with the murderer of her son in a Virginia courthouse, inspiring her to tell her life story. What unfolds is one of the most compelling narratives in recent literary history, channelled into searing reality by National Book Award-winner Colum McCann, who brings us on a journey of strength, resilience and radical empathy.
  • What begins as tragedy trips into farce, the realistic somehow turns mystical, and viewed through a prism of irony these delightfully off kilter stories off er surprising, often skewed and witfully unsettling impressions. Don’t Mind Me is a collection that follows no rules and leaves no tracks.
  • Dostoyevsky said, Beauty saves, and in Jacqueline Gay Walley’s The Waw, a woman leaves her New York life to follow an image she has seen of a small town of great beauty by the sea in England. She does not quite know why she does this and is frequently asked and gives different answers. There she encounters remarkable people of strength with whom she explores music, love, dignity, and the gifts of solitude coupled with the gifts of community. She finds herself in love and more open than ever before. All of this put together strips her down to her essence, where the beauty of the place and people are able to transform her to a better self.
  • Zarathustra Must Die is Dorian Alexander’s first work of fiction and traverses several genres as it follows the odyssey of a graduate student grappling with Nietzsche’s concept of “eternal recurrence.” Part fictional memoir, part novel, part philosophical exposition, the work explores the nature of time and its relationship to our existence. However, Zarathustra Must Die finds a home not only in the high art of philosophy, but also in the low art of sex and drugs. Never taking the journey too seriously, Alexander’s humor ranges from high-brow wit to pure burlesque. Zarathustra Must Die is a thought-provoking fiction experience that defies easy classification.
  • Surrendering Oz is a memoir in essays that charts the emotional awakening of a bookish Bronx girl. From her early job as a proofreader at The Guinness Book of World Records through a series of dominating and liberating friendships and secret connections, the author takes charge of her life as a Texas professor, writer and wise student of her own soul. Reader’s Digest says reading Surrendering Oz “is like having a conversation with a bracingly honest but fundamentally kind friend. In 15 pitch-perfect essays, she chronicles her hard-earned rejection of the cultural fairytales of womanhood as she comes fully into possession of her life." Surrendering Oz was recently longlisted for the 2015 PEN/Diamondstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay.

    Awards

    2015 Finalist – The Community of Literary Magazines and Presses Firecracker Award 2015 Finalist – Longlist PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay

  • Quick Kills chronicles the desperate longing to belong as well as the effects of neglect, familial absence, and the nature of secrets.  The young female narrator is seduced by an older man who convinces her that she is the perfect subject for his photographs. Meanwhile, the narrator’s sister embarks on an equally precarious journey. Never clearly delineating the border between art and pornography, the narrator’s escalating disquiet is evidence that lines have been crossed. "Quick Kills is a chronicle of bewilderment sprung from the terrible want to be wanted, the paralyzing flux of allegiances that keeps us pinned where we ought not be. Girls go missing as readily as shoes in this darkly suggestive novel; nobody’s paying much attention but the predators, who are everywhere and swift. The reader is left to navigate by images, flashes in the dark—a drawer stuffed with frogs, a spatter of blood, a child in an empty swimming pool. Lurie insists that we look, keep looking, make beauty from the ruin, and live." —Noy Holland, author of Swim for the Little One First Read the Quick Kills Kirkus Review Here »
  • Blending biblical characters into a deeply personal history, What We Ask of Flesh tells of women through time, their spirits borne through broken flesh, through wombs and memories. The body becomes an instrument as words explore the mystical connection between what was and is. “A tour de force and a story where nothing—no regret or rationalization can stanch the reality of what can happen to us, made of flesh. This is a surging book …”—Grace Cavalieri, The Washington Independent Review of BooksWhat We Ask of Flesh, like the flesh itself, is full of honey and fire. It’s impossible not to feel called by these poems, summoned by their rich sound and vatic voice.”—Amy Gerstler

    Award

    2014 Finalist – Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Poetry
  • The Football Corporations explores romantic conceptions of contemporary sports, powering its way into a post-catastrophe setting of dirty bombs in stadiums, tortured athletes, corporate domination, and cynicism on a global level. "In 60-plus poems, Heyen tackles the violence in sports, robotic athletes and coaches, steroids, teams controlling every message and the scourge of corporate takeover. He wonders where the romance went, when cheering for Willie, Mickey and Duke as a kid growing up on Long Island seemed so pure. Grab a beer, a seat in the stands, and prepare to cry."—Roth, Sports columnist for the Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester)
  • pen_oakland_award_smallThe newest collection from one of America’s foremost African-American poets threads the journey from youthful innocence to the whittled-hard awareness of adulthood. Along the way it immerses the reader in palpable moments —the importance of remembering, the complexity of race, and the meaning of true wakefulness “Crisply comic, disarmingly frank, and aurally bold …” —Publishers Weekly

    Awards

    2014 — Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize 2013 — PEN Oakland Literary Award Winner 2012 — National Book Award Finalist
  • In Bruce Bond’s seventh book, we see a sustained exploration of mortality and its embodiment in the consolations of beauty, most notably in music. “The poems in Bruce Bond’s collection Peal probe music’s deepest sources. These beautifully crafted lyrics lead us down into intricate and sonorous paths where we meet out own uncertain songs, at once ghostly, elegiac, and ecstatic. This is a work of exquisite complexity by one of our best poets writing today.”—Molly Bendall “The speculative drive of these poems pushes the reader to the very limits of reflection.”—Daniel Tiffany
  • The Widening is a poetic novel, presenting from the inside a portrait of a young woman’s volatile mix of passivity and wildness. Preoccupied with issues of female sexuality and alienation, and by turns picaresque, dark, and edgily erotic, it takes an unnamed girl in the mid-1970s from high school in California through travels in Spain and into college. The Widening is Moldaw’s first novel. “In an age when literature often hinges on authorial self-construction, Moldaw’s work is a fascinating act of exploration. The world she discovers is dazzling and scary, haunted and generous, ‘flagrant with expectancy.’”—Dennis Nurkse
  • “In this, his most intricately composed book, his most important yet, Bruce Bond has achieved a sonorous grandeur.”—Bin Ramke “With the luminous precision of music, Bruce Bond has crafted, in Cinder, a generous and urgent collection of poems, a work that celebrates the human condition and terrifies us with it in equal measure. The result is a book of poems weighted with dark vision, set loose. Bruce Bond is one of our generation’s best poets, and this is his best book.”—Laura Kasischke
  • When Isidore Mirsky’s sister-in-law Joan loses her apartment, she moves in. Mirsky’s world is already in flux—his job lost, his bayside town under siege by developers—and now he must struggle with his bewildering attraction to Joan, who evokes for him all the qualities that once drew him to his wife. How can a warm, unpredictable man remain true to himself and to the woman he loves? Desire, and the renewal it brings, might just be the thing that causes damage. Outrageous, tender, and alive with the sound of Isidore’s voice, The Burning House captures a man at his most vulnerable moment, on the brink of something new. "A vigorous, interior-driven narrative... Lisicky is a beautiful and powerful writer; his prose has a palpable energy that demands close attention...."—Publishers Weekly "An extraordinary fiction in that it sustains a believable poetic voice throughout... Lisicky's longer prose piece...often feels like a long, beautiful narrative poem about what it is to be flawed and human in a world that often seems, at best, indifferent."—The Boston Globe “Paul Lisicky’s The Burning House smolders with muscular, beautiful language, and shines with love for two sisters as each blossoms darkly into her own future. Lisicky’s odd man out finds his way deeply inside the reader’s desires and hopes. The answer to the question, ‘what do (good) men want?’ may well be answered in this elliptical, pitch-perfect gem of a novel.” — Jayne Anne Phillips
  • Using the schema of Dante’s Purgatorio, Romer is a poem of thirty-three Cantos in three-line stanzas, illuminating the experience of a modern man at every stage of his life. Just as the Purgatorio explores the psyche in terms of its earthly existence, Romer follows the journey of one man who needs to know who he is, where he is, and what he is trying to do. This need is universal, so in that sense, Romer is every man.
  • With a lyricism that is both delicate and painful, Rough Ground explores the devastating consequences of trauma on our ability to speak about the world. Based upon Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logi-co-Philosophicus, Rough Ground distills philosophical speculation to poetic text, enacting an utterance almost beyond speech. While the philosopher concludes “that which we cannot speak about, we must pass over in silence,” the poems writ on “rough ground” enact a portentous silence, mapping a path between word and world.
  • Karen Donovan’s Aard-vark to Axolotl, an eclectic series of tiny stories and prose poems, is based on a set of illustrations from the pages of her grandfather’s 1925 Webster’s New International Dictionary. The author collected pictures of plants and animals, diagrams and devices, and dozens of other charmingly quirky objects and created a new narrative context for each one. Sometimes sneaky mysterious, sometimes downright weird, these small poetic stories work on the reader like alternative definitions for items drawn from a cabinet of curiosities. View all books from Etruscan Press by Karen Donovan
  • Will Dowd takes us on a whimsical journey through one year of New England weather in this engaging collection of essays. As unpredictable as its subject, Areas of Fog combines wit and poetry with humor and erudition. A fun, breezy, and discursive read, it is an intellectual game that exposes the artificiality of genres.

    Award

    2017 — Mass Book Award
  • Aaron Poochigian’s Mr. Either/Or is an ingenious debut, a verse novel melding American mythology, noir thriller and classical epic in language in which gritty rhythms, foreboding overtones and groovy jams surround you like an atmosphere. Imagine Byron’s Don Juan on a high-stakes romp through a Raymond Chandler novel. Think Hamlet in Manhattan with a license to kill. Mr. Either/Or is now available for download on Audible.
  • A Heaven Wrought of Iron: Poems from the Odyssey offers a fresh approach to — and a collaboration with — the Odyssey by weaving together translated fragments from the Greek text with a sequence of poems drawn from an imaginative engagement with the Odyssey. D. M. Spitzer’s collection unfolds within the framework of the ancient epic: 24 books and a well-known and complex narrative architecture. The poems contained in A Heaven Wrought of Iron inhabit a range of voices drawn from both the world of Homer’s Odyssey and from that of the poet-as-reader.
  • The Dog Looks Happy Upside Down is a collection of flash fiction that conveys entire worlds that are haunting, sad, funny, touching, and strange in the most enlivening, beautiful ways. This collection of tiny, intimate truffles is as powerful as soul-chocolate infused with caffeine. Each story contains bite-sized glimpses into the lives of everyday people, leaving readers with the long and lasting effects of a full-length novel. Each chapter dives into relevant life events that require further contemplation. These 50 stories reveal the dark truth and reality of the world. Direct, brave, funny, achingly personal, darkly humorous and sad, these stories linger and pull, begging to be reread many times. Pokrass is a trickster, a shape-shifter, a writer who chronicles the maladies of the modern world, and makes us laugh. Named a finalist for the 2017 Saboteur Awards
  • In Who’s Afraid of Helen of Troy, David Lazar extends the language of prose poetry, mixing the classical and the high modern, the song and dance man, and the Odyssean. Nothing, he finds, is as far apart as we think, except for chaos and order, innocence and experience. Who’s Afraid of Helen of Troy is a sequence of prose poems about the ravages of love, how we desire it, and whether we care to recover. The voice in these prose poems is semi-autobiographical, and performative; masked yet emotionally raw. It draws on features of modernist poetry, uses an arch, cadenced sentence as its primary unit, but draws on the Iliad, Odyssey, and other classical myths as part of its internal cosmos. The book is an essay, of sorts, and a chorus of one, splintered. It takes the prose poem to a new pitch of expressive and intellectual discourse. The speaker dreams himself in and out of movies and cities: Troy, Paris, London. On the verge of dissolution, he understands that memory is almost never a consolation, that it draws blood as a price for its music. When we are ashen, irony is the instrument that we keep checking for in our pockets. Lazar’s voice is a sacred last resort: something’s gotta give.
  • This is a book of journeys, but it is not a guidebook. In twelve essays, Cannot Stay delves into why we leave our front porch in the first place. It speaks to the experience of travel, to what it means to shake loose of your identity and stuff all you need in a worn daypack. Cannot Stay bears witness to how travel reawakens us to the world by revealing the strange in the familiar and the familiar in the strange. Available: July 2015 6X9, 238 pp. eBook Available
  • Blumenthal draws both a humorous and heartrending portrait of expatriate life in Europe and Central Europe, as well as the hazards and confusions that confront a European sensibility living in contemporary America. In venues as diverse as Israel, Hungary, Paris, Cambridge and, even, Texas, the stories testify to the work of an American in an increasingly connected and globalized world.
  • The Arsonist’s Song Has Nothing to Do with Fire, a highly compressed prose poem of a novel, explores the loneliness of three misfits as they attempt to reconnect to the modern world: Vivian, the wallflower who’s obsessed with death; Ronny, the arsonist, who’s resisting the urge to burn the whole town down, and The Doctor, who struggles to glorify his legacy with a brilliant and reckless vision: human flight.
  • An Archaeology of Yearning explores a father’s effort to understand a family landscape altered by autism.  Ultimately, however, the book is not about autism; it is about the central role of storytelling in sustaining human connections and the power of shared desires in embracing difference.
  • audiobooks_logo_badge_lgThe world in Sara Pritchard's book is a known world and yet a strange place, with a cast of homeless characters who wander in and out of the stories of the collection, all set in the same university town. The linked stories take place during the time when gender discrimination in the American workplace was blatant, and when classified ads were labeled "male" or "female" accordingly. “Sara Pritchard sees everything . . . and looks at it with such tenderness, clarity, and good humor that all of it begins to glow.” —Rebecca Barry, author of Later, at the Bar: A Novel in Stories. “Survival stories from the liminal edge of Americana, delivered in Pritchard’s wry, observant voice.” —Lenore Hart, author of Becky and The Raven’s Bride “Sara Pritchard can make you laugh in the same sentence that just made you cry.” —Beverly Donofrio, author of Riding in Cars with Boys and Astonished
  • In a memoir Lance Olsen calls “fascinating, horrifying, unfalteringly honest,” award-winning writer Renee E. D’Aoust draws from her experiences as a modern dancer in New York City during the nineties. Trained at the prestigious Martha Graham Center, D’Aoust intertwines accounts of her own and other dancers’ lives with essays on modern dance history. Her luminous prose spotlights this passionate, often brutal world. Scarred, strained, and tough, bearing witness to the discipline demanded by the art form, Body of a Dancer provides a powerful, acidly comic record of what it is to love, and eventually leave, a life centered on dance. "Body of a Dancer fills a void in the dance literature that has existed for far too long. . . As D'Aoust reveals in her wonderful memoir, the 'Body of a Dancer' is also shaped by an entire life led both inside and outside the studio.” —Ballet-Dance Magazine "Fascinating, horrifying, unfalteringly honest, Renée E. D’Aoust’s Body of a Dancer is a remarkably clear-eyed descent into New York’s surreal world of modern dance peopled by the obsessed, dispossessed, sexy, suicidal, brutal, broke, and absurd, where piercing self-doubt and ambition give way to luminous instants of transcendence, and where the body is a site of pain and beauty and discipline and joy, a home you can never fully inhabit and never fully leave." —Lance Olsen, author of Head in Flames

    Award

    2011 Finalist – Foreword Review Book of the Year Award
  • Joyce Carol Oates once called William Heyen a “remarkable poet,” noting that he “writes with the wild, radiant audacity of the visionary.” W.S. Merwin praised “the urgency and authenticity” and the “plain directness” of Heyen’s voice. The same voice rings true again in this collection, Heyen’s eighteenth volume of poetry.
  • In his latest novel, Matthews returns to the 1850s, the time of his novel, Sassafras (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1983). In The Gambler’s Nephew, the reader will enter a world of slavery, abolitionist passion, murder, hypocrisy, grave-robbery, chicanery, holiness, memory, guilt and plain old-fashioned cussedness. It’s a politically incorrect world of unrepentant capital punishment, when there were plenty of scoundrels just asking to be hanged by the neck until dead, thus coming as close as they could ever get to being civilized. In contrast, however, the reader will come upon the beauty and grandeur of the old steamboats plying the Ohio River, along with people troubled by such grand irrelevancies as love and tenderness. In short, The Gambler’s Nephew brings us a world as richly confused as our own—familiar yet different . . . and as alive as living can get.

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