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Photo by Aimee Dilger - Times Leader

“I had big ambitions for Mr. Either/Or, and Etruscan has found ways to bring all my plans to fulfillment, both in terms of publicity and now, through this audiobook.”  —Aaron Poochigian

 The Importance of Voice in Poetry:
An Interview With Aaron Poochigian

From March 25 to March 29, 2018, Etruscan Press author Aaron Poochigian visited Wilkes-Barre, PA to record the audiobook of his debut novel-in-verse, Mr. Either/Or (Etruscan Press, 2017). The recording sessions were completed at WCLH, the Wilkes University campus radio station facility located in the Karambelas Media and Communication Center. Mr. Either/Or is a melding of American mythology, noir thriller and classical epic in language in which gritty rhythms, foreboding overtones and groovy jams surround the reader 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. The audiobook will be available at next month.
In between recording sessions, Poochigian observed Wilkes instructor Bernie Kovacs’ poetry writing workshop, conducted a reading from Mr. Either/Or, and was interviewed by local newspapers The Citizens’ Voice and The Times Leader. In between takes, he took some time out to explain his early love of poetry and how this love came full circle in the recording of his book.
“The great Ancient Greek poet Homer didn’t know how to read,” Poochigian says. “No, he heard poetry about such figures as ‘swift-footed Achilles’ and ‘the Earth-Shaker Poseidon’ and composed his epics The Iliad and The Odyssey as he performed them, relying on his rhythmic instincts and phrases he remembered. My first ecstatic experiences with poetry were intensely auditory. What grabbed me was the sound of the poets I loved, poets such as Homer in Greek, Vergil in Latin and Yeats in English.”
When he was eighteen, Poochigian says, “I decided to spend the rest of my life writing poetry. What I aspired to attain in my living language was a sublime sound. Thus, I have always thought of myself not as a writer but as a composer of poetry. I do the work out loud or by hearing the sounds in my head. For me, actually writing poems down is a secondary and ancillary practice. They are meant to be heard. I want the voice in my poems to be right there like a lover murmuring in the reader’s ear.”
Poochigian claims his recording Mr. Either/Or for has been the fulfillment of his adolescent aspiration. “Through the recording, I get to present my work to an audience in the very way that I hear it and want it to be heard. Through audio speakers and, even better, headphones, I get to be right there murmuring in the audience’s ear—there’s no need for a reader at all,” he says. “For me, the popularity of books on tape and audio media has been a dream come true, in that it allows both poet and audience alike to get back to oral/aural origins of poetry, both within a single life through one’s recollection of being read to as a child and within the history of poetry through the evocation of the illiterate, oral poet Homer.”
This is the first time an Etruscan author has recorded an audiobook at WCLH, and Poochigian expressed enthusiasm over the opportunity to be involved in this partnership. He says, “Every day I become still more grateful that I decided to publish Mr. Either/Or with Etruscan Press. I had big ambitions for the book, and Etruscan has found ways to bring all my plans to fulfillment, both in terms of publicity and, now, through this audiobook. Three days I worked with sound-technicians at Wilkes. It was an exciting (and at times grueling) process, especially because our standard was perfection. I am happy because I have left them with a recording of the book as I wanted it to be read.” As far as post-production, the Wilkes recording team will now turn to adding another dimension to the work through refinements such as ambient sounds—big city noises, cheering crowds, horns, and gunshots.
“I hope this recording of Mr. Either/Or will prove a watershed in audio media, and other poets will start recording their books for,” says Poochigian. “Our technology offers us so many opportunities and in this case, we can use it to go back to the original, to Homer himself.”
Pamela Turchin is pursuing her M.F.A. in fiction from Wilkes University, where she serves as a graduate assistant and as the production editor at Etruscan Press. 

New Releases from Etruscan

We are proud to welcome Karen Donovan’s book Aard-vark to Axolotl to the Etruscan Press family.
Aard-vark to Axolotl is a collection of tiny stories and prose poems based on a set of illustrations from the pages of Donovan’s grandfather’s 1925 Webster’s New International Dictionary. She created a new narrative context for each dictionary entry.
The pages include vintage dictionary engravings for entries involving plants, animals, science terminology, spirituality, devices, and more. Her mother had owned the dictionary for decades and had tucked it away in a chest, forgetting all about it. When the author came into possession of the book, it captivated her. The dictionary became a type of connection to her grandfather, and helped Donovan create a book that is more than meets the eye. Aard-vark to Axolotl is a fun page-turner that keeps you smiling through pages of reimagined definitions.
Etruscan Press Books on the Fly Takes Off
United Airlines employees Jen Ruffini and Bob Di Rice, founders of "Books on the Fly." 
In March 2018, Etruscan Press and Wilkes University joined United Airlines Books on the Fly, an outreach partnership at Boston Logan International Airport that allows United customers to select books to read on cross-country flights. The outreach initiative now includes books donated by Etruscan Press and faculty from the Maslow Family Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Wilkes University.
This literary partnership represents the strong commitment to community by Etruscan Press, United Airlines, and Wilkes University.
Boston customer service representatives Jen Ruffini and Bob Di Rice noticed that books brought in by United employees began to pile up in the break room. They began to take these books and offer them to passengers on cross-country flights, and it has been a success.
They’ve named their program “Books on the Fly,” and they offer about 40 books of varying genres on every flight, ensuring there is something for everyone to read. Di Rice says he believes they’ve given away more than 1,500 books, which have all been donated by employees, customers, and now Etruscan Press. This program has “taken off” now that United has designated an Etruscan “wing” on the mobile book cart.

About Etruscan Press:

Housed at Wilkes University and partnering with Youngstown State University, Etruscan is a non-profit literary press working to produce and promote books that nurture the dialogue among genres, cultures, and voices.

For the latest Etruscan events, please visit our website.

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