Sum-sum-summertime!

It’s official, and clinging to these new summer days is that summery languor, that eh, whatever, it can wait feeling. But I truly have done more than read novels and dip my toes in the kiddie pool, ensconced in my gestational cocoon — I have indeed read a lot of novels, but I had catching up to do! For a while I was reading nothing but poetry, and it’s mighty difficult to be a bookseller on a poetry-only diet.

But if you observed the several piles of books on the end table beside me, you’d see that, still, 90% of them are poetry-related. No photo, uh-uh, they’re far too ungainly and embarrassing, my piles of books. But I assure you it’s true. A few of the titles I’m leisurely reading: Colosseum, by Katie Ford; cloudlife, by Stefanie Marlis; Structure & Surprise: Engaging Poetic Turns, by Michael Theune; Things are Disappearing Here, by Kate Northrup; and Return to Calm, by Jacques RĂ©da, translated by Aaron Prevots. So you can see I am not neglecting poetry.

I must confess that I also read an advanced copy of Elizabeth McCracken’s upcoming book, An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination, which is a memoir. A quote:

A child dies in this book: a baby. A baby is stillborn. You don’t have to tell me how sad that is: it happened to me and my husband, our baby, a son.

It’s a heart-rending book, and probably not the best reading choice for me at this time, but McCracken is an exquisite writer.

This is also the season for fall/winter frontlist orders for the bookshop, so I’ve been on major catalog duty also. There are definitely some exciting books coming up, but for the life of me I can’t remember what they are — I order them, and then promptly forget all about them — unless I read an advanced reader’s copy, that is. I’ll try to post some forthcoming poetry titles when I get the chance.

I’ve been productive in my own work as well. This weekend I reorganized my chapbook, removing some poems, adding others, fine-tuning its arc, and now it’s off to a new batch of contests. May it find more luck in this incarnation! And there’s a new poem, which is turning out to be rather long-ish, that I’m drafting. I’m trying not to be too fierce with my editing scissors this go-around, let it flesh out and see what happens.

And lastly, but most importantly, I’ve been swept up in keeping the supply of sweet tea abundant enough to meet the very high demand! I’ll tell you, it’s very hard to find a decent glass of iced tea around here unless you make it yourself. Even with all the great coffeehouses about. They just get all frou-frou with it and muck it up. Or they simply don’t know what they’re doing.

Last week I despaired that maybe I’d gone “off” iced tea, the way pregnancy makes me go “off” pasta and hamburgers. One glass I bought tasted sour. The next, from another place, tasted like cigars. Seriously. That one I didn’t finish. And then the next one, which came sweet, tasted cloying and suspiciously citrusy.

The perfect iced tea is sweet and strong, and not herbal — and if you add lemon you should be fined, or at the very least strongly chastised. Thank goodness I had a fresh batch at home, which was perfect and perfectly reassuring.

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University Press Round-up 3.

I expect this will my last post on university presses, unless I discover I’ve missed something particularly glaring, because I really want to start focusing on small presses. But there are still a few exciting books to mention from the university presses:

University of Iowa Press

  • Women Poets on Mentorship: Efforts and Affections, edited by Arielle Greenberg & Rachel Zucker. May, paperback, $24.95. Includes Beth Ann Fennelly on Denise Duhamel, Katie Ford on Jorie Graham, Aimee Nezhukumatathil on Naomi Shihab Nye. This is very exciting — I’d love to see the full table of contents.

Southern Illinois University Press

  • A Murmuration of Starlings, by Jake Adam York. February, paperback, $14.95. This collection elegizes the martyrs of the civil rights movement.
  • The Sphere of Birds, by Ciaran Berry. February, paperback, $14.95. I love the musicality of Berry’s poems: …the sky alters in seconds, shine to shower,/ and harsher truths hit home hour after hour–/ the sundew snagging flies, settling to eat,/ a fat gull’s fractured keen that cuts through stone.

Swallow Press (Ohio University Press)

  • Azores, by David Yezzi. March, paperback, $12.95. A new book of poems by the executive editor of the New Criterion.

University of Chicago Press

  • Still Here, Still Now, by Robert Pack. April, hardcover, $22.00. Described as “one of America’s most eminent nature poets,” this is a major new collection, clocking in at 128 pages.

Phoenix Poets Series

  • Chameleon Hours, by Elise Partridge. April, paperback, $15.00. Sad rower pushed from shore,/ I’ll disappear like circles summoned/ by an oar’s dip. I want this book, too.
  • Blessings for the Hands, by Matthew Schwartz. April, paperback, $14.00. Fireflies/ apparently stumbling.// I slapped one on my leg./ Its blood glowed. This looks promising.
  • Rare High Meadow of Which I Might Dream, by Connie Voisine. March, paperback, $14.00. There are some bodies that emerge/ into desire as a god/ rises from the sea, emotion and/ memory hand like dripping clothes…

University of Pittsburgh Press

Pitt Poetry Series

  • The Endarkenment, by Jeffrey McDaniel. April, paperback, $14.00. The one & only poetry workshop I’ve attended was taught by McDaniel, and it was a very positive experience. He’s a dynamic reader also.

So there we are, done with the university presses for this season. I’ve skipped Yale & Harvard, and perhaps will have to make up for that, but for now, this will do. Don’t you think?