- December 11, 2013
Winter Issue Celebration/Holiday Party
Location: 7:30 p.m. The Booksmith, 1644 Haight St., San Francisco
Description: Celebrate the launch of the Winter issue, and have a drink and a snack with ZYZZYVA. Contributors Lisa Teasley, John W. Evans, & Monique Wentzel among the evening's readers. Free.
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Tag Archives: Poetry
Her book (Milkweed; 76 pages), the latest poetry collection from Éireann Lorsung, is a surprising and eloquent look into a highly physical, sensuous world. In particular, Lorsung is concerned with the delineation of the (female) self as it relates to its surroundings, both natural and constructed. Through many small moments that are exactingly crystalized, she builds a powerful, wider vision of a woman’s life. The first part of Her book, “Fifteen poems for Kiki Smith,” revolves around artist Kiki Smith, lingering on Smith’s treatment of the female body (in which she subverts the blatant sexuality traditionally surrounding the female form …Continue reading
Tess Taylor’s first book of poetry, The Forage House (Red Hen Press; 88 pages), is a far-ranging exploration of a family’s role in the United States’s past. Called “brave and compelling” by U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, Taylor’s collection mediates the historical record that too often embellishes or deletes the legacy of slavery. Framed as a first-person lyrical attempt to understand family history, The Forage House contains no easy solutions to the problems of inherited guilt. Rather, Taylor’s poems outline emotional experience within archival reality, achieving a personal historicity that poet Timothy Donnelly calls “scrupulous and artful.” We talked with …Continue reading
W.S. Di Piero, who lives in San Francisco, is the author of several acclaimed books of poetry (his most recent being Nitro Nights (Copper Canyon)) and is the recipient of many awards and honors, including the 2012 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize from the Poetry Foundation of Chicago.
Di Piero’s poetry has appeared in ZYZZYVA’s Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 issues. (His poem in the Spring issue, “There Were Such Things,” received a 2013 Pushcart Prize.) And now his nonfiction can be read in ZYZZYVA’s Spring/Summer issue. “Out of Notebooks” is an essay of sorts, a collection of thoughts and observations, ranging from subjects such as physical pain to the nature of poetry, and taking as its settings places such as a BART car or a museum room. The following is an excerpt.
Alexandra Teague is assistant professor of poetry at the University of Idaho and the author of Mortal Geography (Persea), which won the 2009 Lexi Rudnitsky Prize and the 2010 California Book Award for poetry. Two of her poems appear in the Spring/Summer issue of ZYZZYVA.
The poems come from her manuscript in progress, The Wise and Foolish Builders, which, Teague says, “branches out from the story of Sarah Winchester, Victorian heiress to the rifle fortune, and the six-acre house she build in San Jose, California.” The poem “L.C. Smith and Bros., Makers of Fine Guns and Typewriters, Advertise” takes its verses from the sort of advertising copy employed by various companies of the era (e.g., Remington) to sell their typewriters and firearms. The following is the poem in full.
Zubair Ahmed’s first poetry collection City of Rivers (McSweeney’s, 96 pages) captures the reader’s heart from its first line to its last. These poems are reminders of poetry’s power to leave us breathless after immersing us in truths, both wonderful and painful. Ahmed, who was born and raised in Bangladesh and moved to the United States in 2005, explores memory and identity with a sincere voice steeped in genuine experience. These are dense poems, carrying the story of an individual, of a family, and of Bangladesh itself. City of Rivers opens with “Measuring the Strength of a Sparrow’s Thigh” and …Continue reading
The Poetry of Apples, Maple Syrup, Blackberries, and Sandwiches: ‘The Hungry Ear,’ edited by Kevin Young
The need for food and drink is universal. The preparation and partaking of meals mark events ordinary and extraordinary. Because of this, food has naturally found itself a subject of poetry for as long as can be remembered. Celebrating the many facets of food and drink, poet Kevin Young, author of seven books of poetry and editor of six previous anthologies, has compiled The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food & Drink (Bloomsbury, 336 pages). In his introduction, Young writes, “Love, satisfaction, trouble, death, pleasure, work, sex, memory, celebration, hunger, desire, loss, laughter, even salvation: to all these things food can …Continue reading
In ZYZZYVA’s Summer 1996 issue, there appeared a long poem on an unusual topic by Sherman Alexie, whose work had already appeared in Issues No. 26 and 39. (His eighth book, the novel “Indian Killers,” would be published by Grove/Atlantic that fall.)
Despite its seemingly jokey title, “The Sasquatch Poems” is anything but. Humorous, yes, but also a sharp consideration of the cultural presumptions behind the dismissal of the Pacific Northwest’s creature of legend. As the poem’s speaker suggests, “Indians can only be proven superstitious/ if non-Indians are proved to be without superstition.”
Many poems of love loss have been written, but none are as difficult to categorize as those in Rebecca Lindenberg’s collection Love, an Index (McSweeney’s; 96 pages). The title itself is a teasing, post-romantic gesture, as though the subject can be summed up in one sequential arrangement. And yet, the poet attempts. But unlike Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art,” whose world is full of “many things… filled with the intent / to be lost that their loss is no disaster,” Lindenberg’s poems do not possess that self-consoling bravado. Her loss is abrupt and unforeseeable; her lover-poet, Craig Arnold, mysteriously vanishes while …Continue reading
A bold investigation of cruelty, Andrew Feld’s Raptor (University of Chicago Press; 88 pages) illuminates the visceral details of the external world through electrifying, scary close encounters. Feld wastes no time in announcing his provocation: “You wanted a little bit of wilderness / Held docile on your wrist. What could be tamer / Than extinct?” These lines pierce straight through to the locus of a power struggle where the table is turned on a bird tamer, who is probed by accusations of culpability and blamed for razing what he touches. Feld’s poetry dissects violence and imbues it with drama, provoking …Continue reading
In his new book, Nameless Dame (Soft Skull Press; 296 pages), novelist and poet Bart Schneider picks up where he left off in The Man in the Blizzard, his 2008 crime novel about pothead Minnesota private eye Augie Boyer and police Detective Bobby Sabbatini. In his bouncy if violent, weed- and verse-filled sequel, Schneider brings Augie back to his roots in the Bay Area (roots Schneider shares with the narrator), taking him on a visit to Sabbatini and his family in the bucolic splendor (and weirdness) that is western Sonoma County, with its redneck pot farmers and hippie searchers, to …Continue reading
In ordinary conversation, the terms “poet” and “philosopher” tend to be applied arbitrarily to people with artistic and intellectual capabilities. But in the case of author and philosophy professor Troy Jollimore, they’re not hyperbolic descriptions but hard facts. Jollimore rose to literary prominence in 2006 when the National Book Critics Circle named his first book of poems, Tom Thomson in Purgatory, the recipient of one of its annual awards. Since then, his second poetry collection, At Lake Scugog, has appeared, and his poems have been published in Ploughshares, The New Yorker, and other journals. Concerned with both the hypothetical and …Continue reading
With news that Philip Levine is the new Poet Laureate of the United States, we bring to you this poem that ran in the Spring 1991 issue of ZYZZYVA. (At the time, Levine was a professor of English at California State University, Fresno. He now divides his time between Fresno and Brooklyn.)
Focused on a bunch of boys experimenting with booze, as common a rite of adolescence as can be, “Gin” is funny and tender, as it shows the kids puzzling over the merits of drinking. But the poem unsheathes a sharp line at the end. “Any wonder we were trying gin,” Levine writes, after detailing all the travails — personal and political — life will hold for the underage drinkers.