These poems occur between a wondering mind and the world, in the “photic sneeze reflex” of spring blossoms, the flash of a cell-phone camera, the invisible edge of a concrete saw, and the sudden turbulence of a summer afternoon. These are moments of lyric intensity, sharply observed and finely wrought, delicate structures of wonder and art. Of course, wonder does not preclude irony. Our joys get caught in circuits of self-consciousness. Our freedoms prove fleeting and sometimes desperate, as when a jet-ski driver cuts his engine to coast through “self-made / rain.” This is modern life, “everything aiming // at everything / and just missing . . .” One poem asks, “is this praise, then?” Praise and lament, both—twin strands of the mind’s consent. Such are the roots of this compassionate poetry. —Devin Johnston
Consent by Nate Klug is available for $9.50 (includes s/h) payable vial PayPal of check made out to Pressed Wafer and sent to the address at the top of this page.
Melissa Shook came to Boston from New York in 1974 to teach photography at MIT. She soon discovered Suffolk Downs. Though she did not bet, she felt comfortable at the track, enjoying the sounds, the crowd and the people who worked with the horses. Over the next thirty years she documented her Suffolk Downs in photographs and poems concentrating on the trainers, hot walkers, exercise riders, horse shoers, dentists, those who delivered hay, feed, and ice, and the jockeys and their agents.
Suffolk Downs, located in East Boston, opened in 1935 and flourished into the 1980s. The Beatles played there, and in 1969–1970 Bill Veeck, who is in baseball’s Hall of Fame as an owner, managed the track. He wrote about his experiences in his book Thirty Tons a Day. In 1989 Suffolk Downs closed for two years. When it reopened the track came slowly back to life. Laura Hillenbrad’s book Seabiscuit: An American Legend published in 2001 and the movie made from it, are credited with reviving interest in Suffolk Downs.
About Melissa Shook. A photographer, installation artist, and writer, Melissa Shook has taught at MIT and UMass Boston. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and Bibliotheque Nationale, and has been shown at MIT, Boston Public Library, and the DeCordova Museum. See more of her work here.
My Suffolk Downs by Melissa Shook is available for $33.15 (including s/h) payable via PayPal or check made out to Pressed Wafer and sent to the address at the top of this page.
This is another eloquent, engaged, deeply intelligent book of essays by one of America’s best all-round intellects. There is a quality of thought here, a bracing political and philosophical pressure, a range of interests, and a humane clarity, that recall the golden years of the New York Intellectuals. Anyone who cares about the fate of belles-lettres will want to read this collection.—James Wood The Modern Predicament by George Scialabba is available for $17 (including s/h) payable via PayPal or check made out to Pressed Wafer and sent to the address at the top of this page. CLICK TO ORDER
In the early 1980s the poet Lee Harwood introduced me to Ric Caddel. Lee thought Ric might publish some of my poems under his and his wife Ann’s Pig Press imprint in Durham, England. We met through the mail, and Ric’s interest in my poetry resulted in three small books. And—lucky me—friendship with a kind and decent man who loved poetry and, for all their difficulty, poets.
Ric came to visit us in Boston, read in Cambridge and made a pilgrimage to Lorine Niedecker’s—a favorite poet of ours—tiny red cottage on Blackhawk Island, Lake Koshkonong, Wisconsin. The photos he took of the cottage are taped into my copy of Niedecker’s book T &G.
Twice we spent time together in the north of England. Ric drove my daughter Arden and me to visit Basil Bunting’s grave outside Briggflatts Meeting House. We heard the Rawthey’s “madrigal.” Bunting, the poetry and the man, was a strong link in the chain of our friendship. Like our poet-hero Ric “set down words as a musician pricks his score, not to be read in silence, but to trace in the air a pattern of sound.”
Ric died suddenly and far before his time on April 1, 2003, a date that would have amused him. (You’ll pick up the dry humor in his poems). Uncertain Time, originally published by Galloping Dog Press in 1990, will introduce Ric’s poetry to American readers. Here is a poet rare in his modesty and wit, who crafted by ear a music, in Ric’s words, “with scope to sing the things I love as they occur.”
Uncertain Time by Richard Caddel is available for $17 (including s/h) payable via PayPal or check made out to Pressed Wafer and sent to the address at the top of this page.
The retrieval here of a fair portion of Frank Kuenstler’s prolific work is an event of the utmost importance toward the mapping of a true history of American poetry in the second half of the twentieth century. It is also a delight to see & to read so much of it now & to marvel, as I did for the small part of it I knew from before, at the brilliant flights (of “fancy” I would like to say) between different worlds & levels of discourse. Others have tried & some have succeeded, but none with more grace & élan than what he shows here. —Jerome Rothenberg
Poet and filmmaker Frank Kuenstler was born in Havana in 1928, lived in New York City, died there in 1996. He was the author of Lens (1964), Selected Poems (1964), Paradise News (1966), Fugitives. Rounds (1966), 13½ Poems (1984), Continued (1987), Miscellany (1987), In Which (1994), and The Seafarer, B.Q.E., and Other Poems (1996). His work appeared in The Nation, The Village Voice, and Film Culture, in many little magazines, and in the anthologies Mixed Voices and America: A Prophecy. His poems were translated into Russian and Italian. His films include Color Idioms and the august El Atlantis. He taught at the School of Visual Arts, edited Bread& and Airplane, and was one of the animating spirits of The Eventorium, an arts collective on Manhattan’s upper west side.
The Enormous Chorus by Frank Kuenstler is available for $17 (including s/h) payable via PayPal or check made out to Pressed Wafer and sent to the address at the top of this page. CLICK TO ORDER
Sharon Howell is a 2010-2011 Massachusetts Cultural Council Poetry Fellow. She teaches History and Literature at Harvard University, and lives in Adams House with her husband and two children. She produces the poetry podcast ramblebarrow. Girl in Everytime is her first book.
Girl in Everytime by Sharon Howell is available for $14 (including s/h) payable via PayPal or check made out to Pressed Wafer and sent to the address at the top of this page. CLICK TO ORDER
Opening Ed Barrett’s Down New Utrecht Avenue is like happening on a mint-condition, hitherto unknown set of chromolithograph baseball cards of an unimaginable rarity. Yes, but what do I do with them? You don’t have to do anything, the “unimaginable” takes care of that. Just sit and let them wash over you pleasantly but firmly, like “a three-game series raveling and unraveling the hajj of things drifting through you.” —John Ashbery
Ed Barrett grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and is the author of eight previous books of poetry. In 2000 he was awarded the Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist’s Grant for Poetry. He teaches at MIT and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Down New Utrecht Avenue by Ed Barrett is available for $16 (including s/h) payable via PayPal or check made out to Pressed Wafer and sent to the address at the top of this page.
The Public Gardens is a brilliant, wonderful book, a sort of a wild institution, intense and readable. Linda Norton looks at the world like a dog who likes to tear apart couches—repressed but not for long. Though full of shame, this book is shameless. A life is freely divulged as are the multitude of homeopathic bits from the author’s reading list. The overall experience of moving through The Public Gardens’ shuttling prose and poetry is quietly breath-taking. I have felt and learned much from this book! Her “Gardens” are both organized and entirely disorderly—anything and anyone from any point in history might saunter through, and that’s the meaning of public isn’t it? I find myself loving this writer’s mind, light touch, and generous heart and I, reader, didn’t want to go when it was done. My bowl is out. More! —Eileen Myles
The Public Gardens by Linda Norton is available for $16 (including s/h) payable via PayPal or check made out to Pressed Wafer and sent to the address at the top of this page.
What Are Intellectuals Good For? appraises a large gallery of twentieth-century intellectuals, including Randolph Bourne, Dwight Macdonald, Lionel Trilling, Irving Howe, Isaiah Berlin, William F. Buckley Jr., Allan Bloom, Richard Rorty, Stanley Fish, Christopher Lasch, Edward Said, Ellen Willis, and Christopher Hitchens. It also includes two essays on intellectuals and politics and concludes with one on moral consequences of our species cyber-evolution. George Scialabba, a columnist for the Boston Globe and contributor to the Boston Review, Dissent, the American Prospect, and the Nation, is admired by a circle of discerning readers. What Are Intellectuals Good For?, his second essay collection, brings his voice to a larger audience. Scott McLemee, the Intellectual Affairs columnist of InsideHigherEd, has contributed a foreword.
George Scialabba was born (1948) and raised in East Boston, MA, and attended Harvard (AB, 1969) and Columbia (MA, 1972). He has been a social worker (Mass. Dept. of Public Welfare, 1974-80), a clerical worker (Harvard University, 1980 to the present), a faculty member of the Bennington Graduate Writing Seminars (2007-8), and a freelance book critic. His column, "New Thinking," appears bimonthly in the Boston Globe book section. In 1991 he was awarded the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing of the National Book Critics Circle. His first collection, Divided Mind, was published in 2006 by Arrowsmith Press.
What Are Intellectuals Good For? by George Scialabba is available for $18 (including s/h) payable via PayPal or check made out to Pressed Wafer.
When Can I See You Again is a collection of the poet and essayist's recent short art writings on subjects ranging from Morandi to Rembrandt to Pre-Columbian marine animal amulets. Di Piero has great zest for looking and a prose style equal to what he sees.
W.S. Di Piero is the author of nine books of poetry. His latest is Chinese Apples: New and Selected Poems (2007). He's also an essayist on art, literature, popular culture, and personal experience. His autobiographical essays have appeared twice in Best American Essays. He's published four essay collections; the most recent is City Dog (2009). His books also include translations from Italian and Greek. Di Piero has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Award.
When Can I See You Again: New Art Writings by W.S. DiPiero is available for $20.50 (including s/h) payable via PayPal or check made out to Pressed Wafer.
Laurie Duggan's The Epigrams of Martial is a new and revised edition of the book published by Scripsi in 1989. Peter Craven describes Duggan's Martial as "sensuous, streamlined, and throughly unsavoury" and Hugh Kenner called the translations "remarkable." Poet August Kleinzahler contributed an afterword to this edition.
Laurie Duggan is a poet, editor and translator born in Melbourne, Australia in 1949. He attended Monash University, moved to Sydney where he became involved in the scene around John Tranter's magazine Scripsi. He taught at several colleges in Australia before moving to England where he now lives and works.
The Epigrams of Martial by Laurie Duggan is available for $14 (including s/h) payable via PayPal (below) or check made out to Pressed Wafer.
Pressed Wafer is pleased to present the first full-length book by Boston-area poet Aaron Tieger. SECRET DONUT is available for $12 (including s/h), payable via Paypal (below) or check made out to Pressed Wafer.
Pressed Wafer is devoted to poetry, which we publish in broadsides, pamphlets, chapbooks and books. We have also published two books by the artist Gerald Coble, a novel by Sam Reifler, Joe Torra’s autobiographical novel Call Me Waiter, George Scialabba’s collection of essays What Are Intellectuals Good For?, and August Kleinzahler’s selected music criticism, Music. Occasionally we publish postcards. Forthcoming are books by Maged Zaher, Margo Lockwood, Ric Caddel, Jonathan Strong, Amanda Cook and the painter Jo Ann Rothschild’s Book of the Penis.
William Corbett directs Pressed Wafer; Joe Torra is a co-editor; Cris Mattison manages design and production; and Aaron Tieger maintains our web presence.