Booksmith and The Bindery are pleased to host Omnidawn Publishing for their seasonal launch of new titles, for which each author will be reading from their work. Be the first to own these new treasures:
wyrd] bird by Claire Marie Stancek
Storage Unit for the Spirit House by Maw Shein Win
This Red Metropolis What Remains by Leia Penina Wilson
Quiet Orient Riot by Nathalie Khankan
The Lower East Side Tenement Reclamation Association by David Rothman
The Breathing Place by Calvin Bedient
About wyrd] bird by Claire Marie Stancek
In times fraught with ecological and individual loss, Claire Marie Stancek's wyrd] bird grapples with both the necessity and apparent impossibility of affirming mystical experience. It is at once a book-length lyric essay on the 12th-century German mystic Hildegard of Bingen, a dream journal, a fragmentary notebook, a collection of poems, and a scrapbook of photographic ephemera. Stancek follows Hildegard as she guides the poet through an underworld of climate catastrophe and political violence populated by literary, mythical, and historical figures from Milton's Eve to the biblical Satan to Keats's hand. The book deconstructs a Western tradition of good and evil by rereading, cross-questioning, and upsetting some of that tradition's central poetic texts. By refusing and confusing dualistic logic, wyrd] bird searches for an expression of visionary experience that remains rooted in the body, a mode of questioning that echoes out into further questioning, and a cry of elegiac loss that grips, stubbornly, onto love.
Claire Marie Stancek is the author of two previous poetry books, Oil Spell and MOUTHS. With Jane Gregory and Lyn Hejinian, she co-edits Nion Editions, a chapbook press. She lives in Oakland, California.
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About Storage Unit for the Spirit House by Maw Shein Win
With sharp focus and startling language, the poems in Maw Shein Win’s second book, Storage Unit for the Spirit House, look through physical objects to glimpse the ephemeral, the material, and the immaterial. Vinyl records, felt wolverines, a belt used to punish children, pain pills, and “show dogs with bejeweled collars” crowd into Win’s real and imagined storage units. Nats, Buddhist animist deities from her family’s homeland of Burma, haunt the book’s six sections. The nats, spirits believed to have the power to influence everyday lives, inhabit the storage units and hover around objects while forgotten children sleep under Mylar blankets and daughters try to see through the haze of a father’s cigarette smoke.
Assemblages of both earthly and noncorporeal possessions throughout the collection become resonant and alive, and Win must summon “a circle of drums and copper bells” to appease the nats who have moved into a long-ago family house. This careful curation of unlikely objects and images becomes an act of ritual collection that uses language to interrogate how pain in life can transform someone into a nat or a siren that lives on. Restrained lines request our imagination as we move with the poet through haunted spaces and the objects that inhabit them.
Maw Shein Win's poetry chapbooks include Ruins of a glittering palace (SPA/Commonwealth Projects, 2013) and Score and Bone (Nomadic Press, 2016). A full-length collection Invisible Gifts: Poems was published by Manic D Press in 2018. Maw was the inaugural poet laureate of El Cerrito (2016 – 2018) and often collaborates with visual artists, musicians, and other writers. She lives and teaches in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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About This Red Metropolis What Remains by Leia Penina Wilson
Answering a call to go feral, these poems are part invocation and part prayer, re-imagining the form of the confessional poem by exploring the nature of confession from a feminist and anti-colonial perspective. In This Red Metropolis What Remains, Leia Penina Wilson composes a mysteriously stark and playful pop-surreal romp through a mythic apocalypse. Dropping in and out of this mystic narrative are voices of characters who are trying to survive and to reconcile their own belonging.
These poems reckon with what happens in the aftermath of brutality, questioning what anyone can or should do after tragedy, questioning everything until they begin to break down even their own authority. The landscape in the world of This Red Metropolis What Remains is itself deeply unsettled. Each form varies and reflects an endless transformation of embodiment and interrogation. These poems ask what can be recovered, if anything, through an uninterrupted interrogation of memory, category, and language and with an unbroken attention to the speaker’s own power. Creating shifting architecture and landscape that reveals both the disintegration of cultural time and the eternity of interior time, confession and lyric wrap both speaker and listener together.
Leia Penina Wilson is a Samoan poet. She is the author of i built a boat with all the towels in your closet (and will let you drown) from Red Hen Press, and Splinters are Children of Wood from Notre Dame Press. Her work has appeared in Denver Quarterly, Dream Pop Press, and Split Lip Magazine.
To have This Red Metropolis What Remains sent to your door, order here.
About Quiet Orient Riot by Nathalie Khankan
Tracing the conception of a child through to her birth, Quiet Orient Riot addresses birth regimes and the politics of reproduction, unspooling the many ways that liturgical commands and an intense demographic anxiety affect a journey towards motherhood. Through these poems, Nathalie Khankan considers what it means to bear a Palestinian child in the occupied Palestinian territory, particularly with a pregnancy enabled through contingent access to Israel’s sophisticated fertility treatment infrastructure. The poems confront questions of how to be a national vessel and to bear a body whose very creation is enabled by the pronatalist state, yet not recognized by it.
While Quiet Orient Riot chronicles a journey that is specific and localized, the larger questions that emerge from these poems reach beyond this particular story. The book asks questions of itself, wondering what kind of language may hold precarious life and what kind of poem may see an unborn body through emergency, diminishment, and into blossoming.
Through the trials of pregnancy and birth, demographic and religious imperatives, these poems are concerned with many kinds of worship. They bow to a “chirpy printed sound,” “what grows in the rubble,” and “the capacity for happiness despite visual evidence.” Wherever you look, there are water holes for the thirsty and a grove of “little justices.”
Nathalie Khankan’s work appears in the Berkeley Poetry Review, jubilat, Crab Creek Review, and The Laurel Review. Her book quiet orient riot was selected by Dawn Lundy Martin as the winner of Omnidawn's 1st/2nd Book Prize. She is the founding director of The Danish House in Palestine and teaches Arabic language and literature in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at UC Berkeley. Straddling Danish, Finnish, Syrian and Palestinian homes and heirlooms, Nathalie currently lives in San Francisco.
To have Quiet Orient Riot sent to your door, order here.
About The Lower East Side Tenement Reclamation Association by David Rothman
This magical realist tale follows the travails of a burnt-out teacher from Queens who spends his time obsessing over the fact that he has been cheated out of living in his Grandma Rose’s Lower East Side apartment and is thus priced out of his “More Recent Ancestral Home” of Manhattan.
In The Lower East Side Tenement Reclamation Association, David Rothman weaves a rich story about real estate, family, and memory. Daniel, the protagonist, is haunted by the memories of his childhood experiences in his grandmother’s apartment, a home that he desperately wants to inhabit. One day he discovers a hidden relic on Rivington Street: a tenement reclamation office run by an eccentric centurion named Hannah. When Daniel inquires about the chances of reclaiming his grandmother’s old tenement, Hannah is not impressed. “Things don’t work like that, you rude, young schlub!” And so begins Daniel’s journey to take back his past and to secure an affordable space for his family in downtown Manhattan. This is a journey full of twists and turns, ups and downs, and an ending that would make even the most thick-skinned New York real estate agent shake.
The Lower East Side Tenement Reclamation Association is the winner of the Omnidawn Fabulist Fiction Novelette Prize, selected by Meg Ellison.
David Rothman has had short stories published in such journals as Glimmer Train, Hybrido, The Piltdown Review, Newtown Literary, among others. He has a Master’s Degree in English and Linguistics from the University of Wisconsin, and has taught writing for the City University of New York for over twelve years. He is the drummer for the NYC-based band, The Edukators, and is a proud resident of Jackson Heights, Queens (and has little or no interest in reclaiming his actual grandparents’ tenement on the Lower East Side).
To have Lower East Side Tenement Reclamation Association sent to your door, order here.
About The Breathing Place by Calvin Bedient
The "breathing place" – individual, bespoken – is where the world enters uninvited, where "fair is only an experiment," where poetry's resistance has "slackened, gray, with some rain," where "the garden is a gulf in the intercom, where "today's word from Delphi / is delphinium, expensive / blue word, dust payment due tomorrow," where "seven of my sweet loves drove off of cliffs . . ." – in short, a place of jolts and wrongs, if also of opportunities: "Engage / Lower your oars for the recommencing." It is met here by a style of nervous immediacy, a style built for alertness, not comfort, ready to shove the English language around Americanly, as Gertrude Stein encouraged and Dickinson mastered, and, further, to break out of reality, that already known.
Calvin Bedient was raised in Washington state and got his Ph.D. in English literature at the University of Washington, after studying piano at the Whitman College Conservatory of Music. He then taught at the University of California until his recent retirement. His reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The New Republic, and The Nation among other publications. He has published several critical books, and three previous collections of poetry: Candy Necklace (Wesleyan University Press), The Violence of the Morning (University of Georgia Press), Days of Unwilling (Saturnalia Books), and The Multiple (Omnidawn). He lives in Santa Monica, California.
Reading as a surrogate for Calvin Bedient is Sawnie Morris. Morris' collection Her, Infinite won the New Issues Poetry Prize, (2015). About the collection, Major Jackson has said, "A polyvocal, strident book of immense intelligence… What issues forth in Sawnie Morris's innovative poems is a ceremony of tantalizing music. Against both psychic and industrial defilement of our mountains and rivers…these poems are sacramental, such that language is alluvial and explosive, recovering us back to our spiritual significance." Recent honors include a PSA Bogin Award, the Ruth Stone Poetry Prize, inclusion in Best American Experimental Poetry (2016), a feature in Poets & Writers Magazine, and Sawnie’s chapbook, Matapolvo Rain, was co-winner of a New Mexico Book Award. She is co-founder and past director of Amigos Bravos, a highly accomplished non-profit advocacy organization for the waters of New Mexico. Sawnie lives in Taos with her husband, the artist Brian Shields, whose painting “Piano” is the cover image for “The Breathing Place.”
To have The Breathing Place sent to your door, order here.
This event is free and open to all ages, but RSVP is required.