Sunday, December 21, 2008

and you thought the music industry was backwards

[this note appeared in the electronic version of the Washington Post]


By Mary Karr
Sunday, December 21, 2008; Page BW12

(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company has permitted Book World to reprint "Journey of the Magi" by T.S. Eliot, but only in print; as the Eliot Estate does not permit Internet or electronic use of the poem. Please find and enjoy the piece in our newspaper.)

Thank you.

-- Book World

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

DON'T DENY MY NAME Wins American Book Award

2008 AMERICAN BOOK AWARDS — December 28th at Anna’s Jazz Island

Sunday, December 28th
4 pm – 6:30 pm
Anna’s Jazz Island
2120 Allston Way
Berkeley, CA (USA)

maze2003.jpg    Clickable

The Before Columbus Foundation announces
Winners of the Twenty-Eighth Annual

2008 American Book Awards


Moustafa Bayoumi, How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America (The Penguin Press)

Douglas A. Blackmon, Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II (Doubleday)

Jonathan Curiel, Al’America: Travels Through America’s Arab and Islamic Roots (The New Press)

Nora Marks Dauenhauer, Richard Dauenhauer, and Lydia T. Black, Anooshi Lingit Aani Ka, Russians in Tlingit America: The Battles of Sitka, 1802 and 1804(University of Washington Press)

Maria Mazziotti Gillian, All That Lies Between Us(Guernica Editions Inc)

Nikki Giovanni, The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni: 1968-1998 (HarperCollins)

C.S. Giscombe, Prairie Style (Dalkey Archive Press)

Angela Jackson, Where I Must Go:  A Novel(TriQuarterly)

L. Luis L√≥pez, Each Month I Sing (Farolito Press)

Tom Lutz, Doing Nothing: A History of Loafers, Loungers, Slackers, and Bums in America (Farrar, Straus, Giroux)

Fae Myenne Ng, Steer Toward Rock (Hyperion)

Yuko Taniguchi, The Ocean in the Closet (Coffee House Press)

Lorenzo Thomas, Aldon Lynn Nielsen (editor), Don’t Deny My Name:  Words and Music and the Black Intellectual Tradition (University of Michigan Press)

Frank B. Wilderson III, Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid (South End Press)

 Lifetime Achievement Award
J.J. Phillips
Author of Mojo Hand: An Orphic Tale



Oakland, CA — The Before Columbus Foundation announces the Winners of the Twenty-Eighth Annual AMERICAN BOOK AWARDS. The 2008 American Book Award winners will be formally recognized on Sunday, December 28th at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way in Berkeley, CA. The awards will take place from 4 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Authors attending will read selections from their works and sign copies of their award-winning books. A reception and book signing will take place following the ceremony. This event is free to the public. For more information, call (510) 681-5652.

California Poet Laureate (2005-2008) Al Young will host the event. Al Young was appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger, who has said of Mr. Young: “Al Young is a poet, an educator and a man with a passion for the arts. His remarkable talent and sense of mission to bring poetry into the lives of Californians is an inspiration.”

The American Book Awards were created to provide recognition for outstanding literary achievement from the entire spectrum of America’s diverse literary community. The purpose of the awards is to recognize literary excellence without limitations or restrictions. There are no categories, no nominees, and therefore no losers. The award winners range from well-known and established writers to under-recognized authors and first works. There are no quotas for diversity, the winners list simply reflects it as a natural process. The Before Columbus Foundation views American culture as inclusive and has always considered the term “multicultural” to be not a description of various categories, groups, or “special interests,” but rather as the definition of all of American literature. The Awards are not bestowed by an industry organization, but rather are a writers’ award given by other writers.

– Javier Huerta

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Yet Another Alphabet

Keith and Rosmarie Waldrop's decades-long collaboration continues with this new chapbook from their Burning Deck Press.

"Flat with no key" -- description of real estate? odd musical instruction? an order at a bar?

The book proceeds, like the earliest productions of a Puritan new England Press, spelling us.

I have xeroxed (it seemed only fitting)  the entry for "X".



Tuesday, December 09, 2008


I have long wished that there could be some press that would do for poetry what Dalkey Archive has done for modern and postmodern fiction.  In rare moments, it occurs to Dalkey Archive to do that itself, witness their publication of C. S. Giscombe.  The new book, Prairie Style, is out now, available at a nice discount from Dalkey by clicking here. For that matter, look into Cecil's earlier books, including Here.

And here is a prairie excerpt.


Tempting for the voice to locate its noise, to speak of or from. Everybody wants to be the singer but here’s the continent.

Fielding the question, Do you like good music?

Open love. In a recurring dream about the prairie, a thin hedge–along some railroad embankment--in which there’s a gap to step through again and again, for me to step through, out onto the view itself. Not the literary ballad, articulated, but onto the continent.

[By the way, the answer to Arthur Conley's question, cited in Cecil's poem above, is "Yeah, Yeah."]

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Obama and Poetry

I noted in this space back during the primaries that Obama was the only candidate heard to make education in the reading of poetry a part of his campaign speeches.  He said, to be precise, that everybody should graduate having learned to read poetry.

One sign that he practices what he preaches -- Obama was recently spotted with a copy of Derek Walcott's Collected Poems.


Odetta died last night at Lenox Hill Hospital.

One of the central figures of the great folk music revival, Odetta was nearly ubiquitous in my youth and continued to perform to enthusiastic audiences right through the rock era and beyond.  She was a part of everyone's life and seemed to connect with musicians of all stripes.  On one of the Odetta LPs in my collection, the bass player is Bill Lee, father of Spike Lee.

She had hoped to sing at Obama's inauguration.  Just last year she appeared on stage in Washington singing "This Little Light of Mine."

Go to a copy of Bob Dylan's CHRONICLES to read what a powerful influence she was on his early work.

"I'm the mama and they're the children," Odetta once said of the Dylan generation.  She could have said much the same for the Obama generation.