Dear Friends of Open Books,
Is April really almost over? What a month it’s been! You’ve kept us busy at the till, not to mention at all the terrific events here and elsewhere we’ve had the pleasure of hosting and attending these last few weeks. We have a few more events to round out this National Month of Poetry, then it’s on to May and June! Visit our events page for the complete listings. Here’s what we’re up to during these final days of April:
Thursday, April 27, 1:30 p.m.: Join us to celebrate National Poem in Your Pocket Day! A pop-up reading at the new El Centro de la Raza Centilia Plaza (1660 S. Roberto Maestas Festival Street) at 1:30 p.m., followed by a reading in front of the Beacon Hill Light Rail Station at3:00 p.m. Readers include finalists of this year’s Youth Poet Laureate Contest, along with Seattle Civic Poet Claudia Castro Luna, WITS Writer Alex Gallo-Brown, and Open Books staff members Gabrielle Bates and Kym Littlefield.
Friday, April 28, 7 p.m. [off-site bookselling event at Hugo House]: Hugo House poet-in-residence Anastacia Tolbert guest curates a special evening of readings featuring Kristiana Kahakauwila, Lauren K. Alleyne, and Jamaica Baldwin.
Saturday, April 29, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.: Independent Bookstore Day! Independent Bookstore Day is a one-day national party that takes place at indie bookstores across the country! This year, 19 indie bookstores in Seattle are celebrating with prizes, exclusive merchandise, giveaways, and the ambitious Bookstore Day Challenge. For more details on the day—including how to get 25% off for a year at Open Books!—visit the Seattle Bookstore Day Facebook page. We’re opening early and staying open late. For more details, visit our events page here.
Sunday, April 30, 4:30 p.m.–6 p.m.: Join us for a fabulous afternoon of poems, featuring readings by six esteemed members of the African-American Writers’ Alliance (AAWA).
As for the books … there are so many! Here are just a few we’ve been loving of late:
recombinant (Kelsey Street Press) by Ching-In Chen: This ambitious, formally inventive, and unsettling collection dares diagram ghosts. Chen uses the spacious 8 x 10 page to take the eye for a journey that mirrors—in all its palpable silences, silencings, and cells—the histories of racialized violence and human commodification at the book’s thematic core. Eerie in its accumulations, the language feels extracted, archival, arranged, and full of menace—a kaleidoscope of modes. Tables draw cages around word fragments; ledgers list names and body parts; and words shrink or enlarge, as if retreating or charging forth from the page. — Gabrielle Bates
I Am Flying into Myself: Selected Poems, 1960–2014 by Bill Knott (Farrar, Straus & Giroux): This brand-new, posthumously published selection from Bill Knott’s oeuvre—edited by a longtime friend, the late Thomas Lux—revivifies a half-century of dedication to the craft. Knott was a wild-eyed surrealist, a mussed-up romantic, a part-time minimalist, a learned formalist, a straight-faced comedian, a self-effacing provocateur, and a true-blue amateur. His poetry exalts and dashes down. It shreds hearts, cusses, neologizes. Befuddles and soothes. Throws tantrums. Points fingers. Pours tea. Paints the moon. They are pulsating poems, Bill Knott’s, and filled with all the breath of the breathless. — Alexander Moysaenko
The Happy End / All Welcome by Monica de la Torre (Ugly Duckling Presse): Peppered with leaflets, manuals, promos, and folding chairs, these formally exploratory poems investigate the absurdist humor and situationist interplay present in contemporary corporate workplaces. Willkommen! to your new favorite Kafka-sponsored job fair. — AM
Simulacra (Yale University Press) by Airea D. Matthews: Innovative in its forms (text messages, tweets, “rebel operas,” letters to hypothetical lovers) and raw in its subjects (addiction, desire, daughterhood, race), this Yale Younger-winning debut talks to and through a parade of fascinating thinkers including, but not limited to, Baudrillard, Sexton, Camus, and Beckett. — GB
The Most Foreign Country by Alejandra Pizarnik, translated by Yvette Siegert (Ugly Duckling Presse): The probing 1955 debut of a precocious poetic mind fixated on “finding a passable bridge between limits and the infinite . . .” — AM
Incendiary Art (Triquarterly) by Patricia Smith: Musical and devastating, this collection delivers on its title’s promise to incite, imagining with stomach-wrenching vividness the murder of young Black Americans in both the Jim Crow South and recent history, at the hands of everyone from white police to their own parents. — GB
Meadow Slasher by Joshua Marie Wilkinson (Black Ocean): The penultimate book in Wilkinson’s “No Volta” pentalogy, Meadow Slasher reenvisions Marvell’s Mower, confronting impulses and reckoning losses with lines like holy wildfire. — AM
Hot new press! Horsethief Books’s first two collections (Lonesome Gnosis by Elizabeth Scanlon and Our Lands Are Not So Different by Michael Bazzett) are gorgeous, durable hardcovers, extremely satisfying to behold both inside and out. — GB
We’re offering a 15% discount on new books to all teachers and students for the remainder of the month, so those among you who’ve been eyeing Adrienne Rich’s Collected Poems: 1950-2012, or lingering over Dickinson’s Gorgeous Nothings, there’s still time . . .
That about wraps it up for now. Thank you to everyone who has donated dictionaries for our ongoing Books to Prisoners Dictionary Drive. What a tremendous community this is!
Your Friends at Open Books
The light lies layered in the leaves.
Trees, and trees, more trees.
A cloud boy brings the evening paper:
The Evening Sun. It sets.
Not sharply or at once
a stately progress down the sky
(it’s gilt and pink and faintly green)
above, beyond, behind the evening leaves
of trees. Traffic sounds and
bells resound in silver clangs
the hour, a tune, my friend
Pierrot. The violet hour:
the grass is violent green.
A weeping beech is gray,
a copper beech is copper red.
Tennis nets hang
unused in unused stillness.
A car starts up and
whispers into what will soon be night.
A tennis ball is served.
A horsefly vanishes.
A smoking cigarette.
A day (so many and so few)
dies down a hardened sky
and leaves are lap-held notebook leaves
in light no longer layered.
— James Schuyler