Faculty Bookshelf

More Shadow Than Bird

Nuar Alsadir

The poems in More Shadow Than Bird are imagistic narratives of emotional situations that offer not the story of a life, but of the consciousness accompanying the life lived. This consciousness, even as it operates on a more symbolic level, is embodied-not abstract or removed- conveying a sense of rawness and honesty that is rare in non-representational work.

Making Figures

Bruce Bromley

As a species and as a culture, we recognize ourselves by our capacity for possession, so that personhood is made equivalent to ownership. If, however, the way in which we imagine objects predisposes our behavior toward them, art can encourage us to reorient how we comport ourselves in a world that is not meant to be owned, that is not even meant for us. To frustrate the desolation of avarice, we must enrich our view of things, and Making FIgures takes us through the writing of Virginia Woolf, both her fiction and nonfiction, in the service of this imperative.

The Life in the Sky Comes Down

Bruce Bromley

The Life in the Sky Comes Down (2017, Backlash Press) is a collection of essays, stories, and hybrid forms embracing the two, which looks at non-fiction and fiction as approaches to working with words that can enrich each other, when joined together.


Nicole Callihan

Borrowing her title from the old carnival ride that loops its riders round and round, Nicole Callihan's SuperLoop is as familiar and as thrilling as another go on a long loved ride. Paired with artwork from fellow Brooklyn-ite Re Jin Lee, Callihan's poems sometimes wild, sometimes quiet, always unassuming take us to a place we've been before, but through her eyes that dusty place becomes a bit more magical. Here, the waitress always brings extra whipped cream; divorced parents fall into each other's arms; orchids grow; and, in spite of themselves and the world around them, people find love and walk, albeit reluctantly, into the sunset.

Carnations: Poems

Anthony Carelli

In Anthony Carelli's remarkable debut, Carnations, the poems attempt to reanimate dead metaphors as blossoms: wild and lovely but also fleeting, mortal, and averse to the touch. Here, the poems are carnations, not only flowers, but also body-making words. Nodding to influences as varied as George Herbert, Francis Ponge, Fernando Pessoa, and D. H. Lawrence, Carelli asserts that the poet's materials--words, objects, phenomena--are sacred, wilting in the moment, yet perennially renewed. Often taking titles from a biblical vocabulary, Carnations reminds us that unremarkable places and events--a game of Frisbee in a winter park, workers stacking panes in a glass factory, or the daily opening of a café--can, in a blink, be new. A short walk home is briefly transformed into a cathedral, and the work-worn body becomes a dancer, a prophet, a muse.

Hollywood Riots: Violent Crowds and Progressive Politics in American Film

Doug Dibbern

The large literature about the politics of Hollywood in the period of McCarthy and the blacklist has largely overlooked political filmmaking during those agitated years. Hollywood Riots examines the most vibrant cycle of independently produced political films made while House Committee on Un-American Activities was investigating communists in the film industry. In doing so, it shifts the focus from the politics of Washington to the politics of Los Angeles and from the films of the Hollywood Ten to the more politically complex films of the progressive community at large. Dibbern shows how the movies produced by progressives at the end of the 1950s, including The Lawless, The Sound of Fury, The Underworld, were the logical cinematic parallel to their political and journalistic advocacy fighting the conservative newspapers. In these films they were recasting political events from California’s recent past as politically-engaged narratives that were inflected with their own fears of persecution. Hollywood Riots re-views the work of notable directors like Joseph Losey and Cy Endfield, as well as introducing unheralded political screenwriters and directors such as Daniel Mainwaring, Jo Pagano, and Leo C. Popkin.

Phrasebook for the Pleiades

Lorraine Doran

"Replete with wonders, the poems in this radiant debut collection are tuned to the frequency of ordinary facts made strange by the poet’s ability to see into what is, and by doing so to let the rest of us understand what is really there: between 'backyards' and 'bitten heels' falls the blessing.  'You remember everything / with its own small fire,' she says, and that’s exactly how the poems in Phrasebook for the Pleiades burn--mapping her own finite, named world with an eye always on something close to the infinite.  

--Eamon Grennan

The People We Hate at the Wedding

Grant Ginder

The People We Hate at the Wedding is the story of a less than perfect family. Donna, the clan’s mother, is now a widow living in the Chicago suburbs with a penchant for the occasional joint and more than one glass of wine with her best friend while watching House Hunters International. Alice is in her thirties, single, smart, beautiful, stuck in a dead-end job where she is mired in a rather predictable, though enjoyable, affair with her married boss. Her brother Paul lives in Philadelphia with his older, handsomer, tenured track professor boyfriend who’s recently been saying things like “monogamy is an oppressive heteronormative construct,” while eyeing undergrads. And then there’s Eloise. Perfect, gorgeous, cultured Eloise. The product of Donna’s first marriage to a dashing Frenchman, Eloise has spent her school years at the best private boarding schools, her winter holidays in St. John and a post-college life cushioned by a fat, endless trust fund. To top it off, she’s infuriatingly kind and decent. As this estranged clan gathers together, and Eloise's walk down the aisle approaches, Grant Ginder brings to vivid, hilarious life the power of family, and the complicated ways we hate the ones we love the most in the most bitingly funny, slyly witty and surprisingly tender novel you’ll read this year.

Dead Reckoning: Transatlantic Passage on Europe & America

Andrei Guruianu

Dead reckoning is the nautical term for calculating a ship’s position using the distance and direction traveled rather than instruments or astronomical observation. For those still recovering from the atrocities of the twentieth century, however, the term has an even grimmer meaning: toting up the butcher’s bill of war and genocide.

As its title suggests, Dead Reckoning is an attempt to find our bearings in a civilization lost at sea. Conducted in the shadow of the centennial of the First World War, this dialogue between Romanian American poet Andrei Guruianu and Italian American essayist Anthony Di Renzo asks whether Western culture will successfully navigate the difficult waters of the new millennium or shipwreck itself on the mistakes of the past two centuries. Using historical and contemporary examples, they explore such topics as the limitations of memory, the transience of existence, the futility of history, and the difficulties of making art and meaning in the twenty-first century.

Made in the Image of Stones

Andrei Guruianu

In Made in the Image of Stones the past is not something you can learn about. It is the burden of inheritance, of a consciousness that we stand upon stones, that our foundations are shaky but they are all we have, that the image we have of ourselves is carved in the likeness of others. For more than eighty pages Guruianu carries the weight of this burden through poems where the surreal meets the painfully real, the strikingly vivid, a kinship that reveals the imperfect nature of memory as well as the limitations of individual consciousness and cultural identity. The signs are everywhere and they are chiseled in marble and molded in bronze. But we are also stubborn, the lap of history is not enough to hold us. Ultimately, while the poems bow to lineage and roots in our acceptance and humility, there is a refusal, a stubborn hope that the future isn’t yet written in stone.

Portrait Without a Mouth

Andrei Guruianu

Throughout the poems that make up Portrait Without a Mouth, a follow up to Guruianu's Made in the Image of Stones, the Angel of History finally turns his head towards the present and lifts his eyes to the future. He sees the same ancient stones dotting the fields, the same ruins dusted off and resurrected only to be toppled again. Of those he meets he asks a single question: Where does history end, and where do we begin? Silence, a shrug of the shoulders. At the end of the day he shakes his head and mutters underneath his breath. Maybe a prayer. Language rearranged into a different version of tomorrow.

Hua Shi Hua

Jen Hyde

In her debut collection, Hua Shi Hua (Ahsahta 2017)Jen Hyde examines how the mechanisms of language shape worlds. This four parts of the collection, “speaking / China / transform / flowers,” unfolds in a precise lyricism that never shies from confronting the stubbornness of translation while Hyde wields it as her own to claim literacies of heritage and art. Dividing the book’s sections with Mandarin Chinese characters (all of which sound the same to the Western ear) and drawing from both classic Chinese and English texts, Hyde synthesizes and bisects biracial identification to culture and belonging. 

New York School Painters & Poets: Neon in Daylight

Jenni Quilter

New York School Painters & Poets charts the collaborative milieu of New York City poets and artists in the mid-twentieth century. This unprecedented volume comprehensively reproduces rare ephemera, collecting and reprinting collaborations, paintings, drawings, poetry, letters, art reviews, photographs, dialogues, manifestos, and memories. Jenni Quilter offers a chronological survey of this milieu, which includes artists such as Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Alex Katz, Jasper Johns, Fairfield Porter, Larry Rivers, George Schneeman, and Rudy Burckhardt, plus writers John Ashbery, Bill Berkson, Ted Berrigan, Joe Brainard, Edwin Denby, Larry Fagin, Frank O’Hara, Charles North, Ron Padgett, James Schuyler, Anne Waldman, and more. 

Plain Burned Things: A Poetics of the Unsayable

Leah Souffrant

How might the unsayable become known to us? In the arts, silence and blank space often attempt to convey what cannot be said, making one revelation even as another is withheld. In this meditative study, Leah Souffrant explores how creative forms of reticence can communicate knowledge and create experience. Attending to word and image and what hovers between, Souffrant describes an aesthetics of attention to absence and presents a poetics of the unsayable.

Through the work of Anne Carson, Marguerite Duras, Sylvia Plath, Jean Rhys, Rainer Maria Rilke, Lorna Simpson, Rachel Zucker, and others, Souffrant investigates creative gestures and critical assertions at the intersection of phenomenology, feminism, and form. She invites readers to dwell in the spaces created by works that withhold explication, remain silent or blank, and discover the understanding made available to us in such spaces when we give them our attention. While acknowledging that language inevitably is inadequate, Souffrant examines the ways in which creative works nevertheless translate experience into form, and can — echoing Maurice Merleau-Ponty —“make us advance toward” richer understanding of what is often most difficult to grasp.

The Wanted

Michael Tyrell

"Like the haunted, disconnected heads on a wanted poster, Michael Tyrell's daring and fiercely intelligent poems signify nothing less than the mystery of existence, the relationship between how one is perceived to what one really is, if such a thing were possible to express. To read these remarkable poems is to enter the shadow world of the wanted, where every surface is vulnerable to a violence, real or implied, that will crack it open to reveal a secret code. A book of masks where the disguised often forgets it wears the mask and the mask forgets it is not the face, The Wanted invites us to 'enter the wet bladed edges/ which break us again into separate beings, / pour salt into wherever we bleed.' Enter with caution and be prepared to lose yourself." --Henry Israeli