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New Pages Winter 2016

Poetry, fiction, and nonfiction from English faculty, students, and alums
November 28, 2016

Cover detail from California Cosmogony Curriculum

Cover detail from California Cosmogony Curriculum
Cover detail from Professor Geoffrey Sirc's e-book California Cosmogony Curriculum

D. Allen and Roy Guzmán (MFA candidates)
Restored Mural for Orlando [poetry chapbook]
Queerodactyl Press
From New Books Network: "We are kicking off our chapbook celebration with a call to remembrance to preserve the memory of the 49 people killed and the 53 injured at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL. This is also a call to celebrate art in the face of loss, in spite of loss, and the enduring need of the human spirit to express fear as hope. . . . [Guzmán's] chapbook does more than encapsulate the memory of a community, it links that community to a single life and to a larger struggle: 'I am afraid of attending places / that celebrate our bodies because that’s also where our bodies / have been cancelled.'" Read an interview.

Cover of ROAM

Laressa Dickey (MFA 2005)
Roam [poetry]
Shearsman Books
From author Jane Lewty: "'I don't know how to say what kind of foreigners we were.' So ends a poem in Laressa Dickey's luminous new collection that reconfigures itself in six sections, each one with its own impulse but always circling back to the irreconcilable tension between migration and stasis. When does the act of relocating become oppressive through its continual movement, and inevitable fatigue? Can true freedom lie within the parameters of belonging in a certain space? . . . As ever in Dickey's poetry, the lone articulation rises up to speak for the whole, the 'one person slipping over the Atlantic,' who describes in exquisite and achingly beautiful lines the ever-alert state of escape versus sanctuary, the vigilance of a mind that constantly navigates and sustains the 'body full of space.' Responding to our world where borders are contentious and the migrant encounters a ceaseless battle against prejudice alongside their fractured lives, Roam puts forward the notion that when building a fire, smoke will blow back into a house. Something will always be left behind, to linger and settle."

Sarah Fox (MFA 2012)
Old Wives' Tales [poetry chapbook]
Five Hundred Places Press


Kathleen Glasgow (MFA 2002)
Girl in Pieces [young adult fiction] (New York Times bestseller for seven weeks and an Amazon Best Book of the Year: Young Adult)
Delacorte Press
From Booklist (starred review): "When Charlie cuts into her skin with a broken piece of mason jar, she inflicts wounds that are deep and wide. Found almost dead from her latest grievous self-attack, Charlie winds up at a treatment facility. There, she slowly responds to therapy and the camaraderie of the other patients. But her struggles to cope with years of neglect, abuse, and homelessness have rendered ropy scars on her arms and legs, and even deeper wounds carved in her heart. Unexpectedly, Charlie's insurance is cut off, and her mother will not take her back home. . . . In Glasgow's riveting debut novel, readers are pulled close to Charlie's raw, authentic emotions as she strains to make a jagged path through her new life. Love and trust prove difficult, and Charlie's judgment is not well honed, but her will to survive is glorious." Read an interview.

Cover of THEN

Richard Henry (PhD 1994)
Then: Prose Poems [poetry]
Another New Calligraphy, 2015
From the publisher: "Rick Henry's collection of prose poems, Then, serves as a communiqué from the early and mid-20th century. The snapshots here are motivated by figures larger-than-life and refreshingly mundane: Einstein, unemployed riveters, Dorothea Lange, a corseted babysitter, Picasso, etc. While McCarthy and Hoover spew their ethics, two friends amass a cadre of refrigerators to lower the mercury degree by degree. Werner Heisenberg inexplicably shoots marbles while languages both computer and cultural are explored. Every outbreak of influenza or syphilis is balanced by frenetic dance practice and exacting piano lessons. Then is a world of lawn chairs and rayon stockings shadowed by battlefields and relentless transformation. It is a world much like our own."


Susan Kollin (PhD 1995)
Captivating Westerns: The Middle East in the American West (Winner of the Thomas J. Lyon Book Award from the Western Literature Association)
University of Nebraska Press, 2015
From Timothy Marr, University of North Carolina Professor: "An exuberant study of the transposings of the American West and the Middle East in diverse popular cultural expressions that re-circuits the 'Western' away from its moorings in both the US West and Western power to remap how its conventions have been transnationally informed and transformed by circulations through Arab itineraries and Iranian iterations."

Susan Kollin (PhD 1995), editor
A History of Western American Literature
Cambridge University Press, 2015
From the publisher: "Often portrayed as a quintessential landscape that symbolizes promise and progress for a developing nation, the American West is also a diverse space that has experienced conflicting and competing hopes and expectations. While it is frequently imagined as a place enabling dreams of new beginnings for settler communities, it is likewise home to longstanding Indigenous populations as well as many other ethnic and racial groups who have often produced different visions of the land. This History encompasses the intricacy of Western American literature by exploring myriad genres and cultural movements, from ecocriticism, settler colonial studies, and transnational theory to race, ethnic, gender, and sexuality studies. Written by a host of leading historians and literary critics, this book offers readers insight into the West as a site that sustains canonical and emerging authors alike."

Cover of FLUCHT

Michelle Matthees (MFA 2001)
Flucht [poetry]
New Rivers Press
Debut collection of poems about Eastern Europe, immigration, and adoption. From author Joni Wallace: "Here is poetry of witness and vision, haunted by personal ghosts and those of history. Part lyrical travelogue, part oracular choiring, Flucht unfolds in perfect imperfect rhythm: swans in Poland bear memories of snow into a black canal, white owls wait in the birch trees of Siberia, a mother brings her newly-adopted Russian daughter into an American Miracle Mart. There's a sober mistrust of redemption here, yet an abiding solace in the silence which surrounds all, and Matthees mines this, stunningly, transforming everything in her view. 'The moon has / shed her clothes after all because / it was just an agreement, language.'"

Cover of SURGE

Opal McCarthy (MFA 2011)
Surge [poetry]
From author Marcela Sulak: "This Surge is one of rage, rebellion, redemption . . . and ultimately loving, in order to overcome regret, in order to begin entering into healing. The collection dizzies across the floors of forests, oceans, flatbed pickup trucks, Midwestern fields, and Catholic families. It is an affirmation of beauty, of what is live, of what is salvageable in the failed girl hidden in each of us: the raped girl, the hurt girl, the not-good girl. McCarthy’s electric language transforms everything it touches. Most of all, Surge is a bold reclamation of the self. 'A failed girl is a glory,' McCarthy writes—what wild, glorious mothering!"


Marilyn Nelson (PhD 1979)
American Ace [young adult fiction in verse]
From Kirkus Reviews: "Sixteen-year-old Connor Bianchini casually believes in his family- and religion-confirmed half-Irish, half-Italian identity. Connor's father, Tony, finds out differently when his mother, Lucia, dies and leaves him with the inheritance of pilot's wings, a gold class ring, and a letter, in which Lucia states that Tony is the 'fruit of great love' between her and an [African American] airman nicknamed Ace. . . . Whereas Connor embraces his 'new' black ancestor, though, Tony and his other son (Connor's half brother), Carlo, react negatively: Carlo tells his father that 'bad news should be told privately,' and Tony literally has a stroke. The author's meticulous verse is the perfect vehicle to convey the devastating fragility of racial and familial identity in an America where interracial love is still divided through the problem of the color line."


Jane Olmsted (PhD 1996)
Seeking the Other Side [poetry]
Fleur de Lis Press, 2015
From author Lisa Williams: "'I know this hole, but how? / I have to kneel to look through,' writes Jane Olmsted in her powerful collection, Seeking the Other Side. The 'hole' quoted refers to the literal cavity that has caught her attention, yet Olmsted's looking at the negative space of a great loss, too—a loss that must be lived with, if not understood. . . . There are no answers metaphor or pathetic fallacy can provide, only more thoughtfully shaped questioning, 'habits of noticing,' 'strange pronunciations / of familiar places.' Poems about memory, loss, and the self's adjustments are collected with poems about trees and the forms of trees, which provide arms and roots to what feels devastatingly vacant. In life as in thought, 'there is cavity involved,' yet, as this poet makes beautifully clear, there is form and shape and listening: 'if you have no answer, / go then to the lonely place— / I will meet you there.'"


Karen Roggenkamp (PhD 2007)
Sympathy, Madness, and Crime: How Four Nineteenth-Century Journalists Made the Newspaper Women's Business
Kent State University Press
From the publisher: "[Early] news­paperwomen used sympathetic rhetoric to depict madness and crime while striving to establish their credentials as professional writers. Working against critics who would deny them access to the newsroom, Margaret Fuller, Fanny Fern, Nellie Bly, and Elizabeth Jordan subverted the charge that women were not emotionally equipped to work for mass-market newspapers. They transformed their supposed liabilities into professional assets, and Sympathy, Madness, and Crime explores how, in writing about insane asylums, the mentally ill, prisons, and criminals, each deployed a highly gendered sympathetic language to excavate a professional space within a male-dominated workplace. As the periodical market burgeoned, these pioneering, courageous women exemplified how narrative sympathy opened female space within the 'hard news' city room of America's largest news­papers. Sympathy, Madness, and Crime offers a new chapter in the unfolding histories of nineteenth-century periodical culture, women's professional authorship, and the narrative construction of American penal and psychiatric institutions."


Professor Geoffrey Sirc, with Thomas Rickert
California Cosmogony Curriculum: The Legacy of James Moffett
From the introduction: "This is the essence of the cosmic: how we find the story of ourselves in the bigger story; how we narrate and negotiate our place in larger wholes, and so find our stake. While it may not be explicitly discussed much in today's climate, nevertheless, this essence suffuses the public realm as much as the academy, stretching across the most trivial to the most grandiose, from a simple consideration of self and meaning to the grand debates about human being in the universe. Cosmogony unites the disparate subject areas of contemporary education, suggesting their fundamental interweaving, and brings the past into fluent conversation with the present, illuminating our own era freshly. But while cosmogony necessarily permeates English Studies, it is rarely thematized as such. A noteworthy exception would be the language arts theorist and practitioner James Moffett. He saw with clarity how cosmogony cradled, suffused, and inspired the humanities as well as the sciences, and his ideas offer compelling reason to return now to his work."


Timothy Sweet (PhD 1988), editor
Literary Cultures of the Civil War
University of Georgia Press
From the publisher: "Addressing texts produced by writers who lived through the Civil War and wrote about it before the end of Reconstruction, this collection explores the literary cultures of that unsettled moment when memory of the war had yet to be overwritten by later impulses of reunion, reconciliation, or Lost Cause revisionism. The Civil War reshaped existing literary cultures or enabled new ones. Ensembles of discourses, conventions, and practices, these cultures offered fresh ways of engaging a host of givens about American character and values that the war called into question. The volume's contributors look at how literary cultures of the 1860s and 1870s engaged concepts of nation, violence, liberty, citizenship, community, and identity. . . . These essays point to the variety of literary voices that were speaking out in the war's immediate aftermath and help us understand what those voices were saying and how it was received."

Cover of KRAZY

Michael Tisserand (BA 1992)
Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White
Harper/Harper Collins
From Kirkus Reviews: "A revelatory biography of the influential 'Krazy Kat' creator George Herriman (1880-1944). Set among the desert mesas of Coconino County, 'Krazy Kat' graced the funny pages from 1913 to 1944 and featured the philosophical antics of Krazy and the brick-throwing mouse, Ignatz. Tisserand reveals the depths of their age-old rivalry, tracing influences from Cervantes and Othello to minstrel shows and the Jack Johnson vs. Jim Jeffries bout of 1910. . . . Tisserand elevates this exhaustively researched and profusely illustrated book beyond the typical comics biography. Seamlessly integrating the story of Herriman's life, he executes an impressive history of early-20th-century race relations, the rise of Hearst and the newspaper boom, and the burgeoning cross-continental society life of New York and Los Angeles. Essential reading for comics fans and history buffs."