Thursday, February 25, 2016

Bernard Grant: Puzzle Pieces

Puzzle Pieces

Like the identities he addresses in each of his essays, Bernard Grant’s Puzzle Pieces is full of shifts and movement. Whether he’s looking at gender, race, class, or ability, Grant uses language in an honest and fierce way to engage with the intricacies of his life. This, in turn, reveals the complexities of what it means to be alive. With impressive precision, Grant’s writing does more than tell a story, but creates a powerful experience that becomes a part of the reader’s life.
–Chelsey Clammer, author of BodyHome

Puzzle Pieces by Bernard Grant is as intimate in voice as it is oceanic in scope. The work thrives in paradox with short-form essays that speak to what is timeless and what is current in the same breath. How is it possible to plumb the human heart, the physical body, and the cultural landscape in a single, slender volume? I don't know how, but I know this writer has done it, with linguistic grace and emotional authenticity.
–Julie Marie Wade, author of Wishbone: A Memoir in Fractures and When I Was Straight: Poems

Reader, beware. The stories in Bernard Grant’s Puzzle Pieces start quietly enough, but they come at you fast, loaded for bear, to make “visible the threat of mortality” that hangs over everything we do. Grant is a master of understated suspense: the sentence, like the scene, is often terse, fragmented—the sliver of image, the shard of action—each word, every breath calibrated to deliver a piece of the picture of what it is to live in this mortal coil, haunted with pain and the strategies we adopt to delay or defeat it, if only temporarily. We see precisely how “it's hard to be a black kid in a white subculture,” we wonder whether “loneliness is a condition not an affliction.” Through birth and death and back again, a quiet dignity emerges from these spare stories, true grit layered with unassuming grace.
–Kevin Craft, Editor of Poetry Northwest

Friday, February 12, 2016

Christina Olson: Weird Science

Praise for Before I Came Home Naked

“…a marvelous x-ray of Midwestern oddities and delights with the wonder and vulnerability that comes from examining the family tree—limb from crackly limb. In her debut, Olson expertly sweeps the reader into the depths of heartbreak and humor from the very first poem. These pages burst with rewards: ample evidence of a naturalist's love of the outdoors, a sagacious blend of compassion and mirth, and the best drinking companion you'd ever imagine. This is a poetry that bears brave witness to that place in a ‘ruby heart’ where the internal and external landscape crash and clatter into the loveliest of songs.”

— Aimee Nezhukumatathil, author of Lucky Fish, At the Drive-In Volcano & Miracle Fruit

Vella Chapbook

Charles Rafferty: Diminution

I am a fourth magnitude star above Manhattan, a full moon rising beside me. I am blue socks in a drawer of blue socks. I am the shell passed over by children and hermit crabs alike. I am the feather of an ordinary finch drifting on the wind, the impact of which will never be heard, no matter how hard the hit.

Vella Chapbook