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The Bodyfeel Lexicon by Jessica Bozek
In this elusive debut collection, Jessica Bozek presents a system of moving parts, of animal lunges, and sudden lootings - documents epistolary and fragmented that form, re-form, and deform language. Staged as a fiction via the paratextual sleight of its introduction, The Bodyfeel Lexicon chronicles and catalogues transformation as a way of evading and understanding bodies and selves. Readers might register the shuttlings of the book's interlocutors as playful linguistic
performances of the animal transformations they devise for each other. The Bodyfeel Lexicon flies at several altitudes, the demarcations of which threaten dissolution at every turn. The Bodyfeel Lexicon was a finalist for the 2007 Gatewood Prize.
Interviews and Reviews
A review at Close Calls With Nonsense: Post Elegiac; Anti-Plagiarist by Stephen Burt
An interview with Gregory Lawless
The Haunted House by Marisa Crawford
The Haunted House by Marisa Crawford
Marisa Crawford's first collection of poetry evokes The Breakfast Club's angst with deliberate control and fresh upheaval. Centering on coming-of-age themes, Crawford is brutally honest yet careful in her representations and confessional moments - she invokes a preteen voice, capturing in detail female subjects, such as one who wears "cotton
flowers on her undershirt," and describing "men who leave handprints all over your blankets." There is a maddening and desirous investment in the characters littered throughout: Ivy, Deidre, Virginia, Stephanie, Megan. Each girl is a catalyst for another brilliantly crafted poem; each poem is a catalyst for swizzle-stick nostalgia and a close re-examination of girlhood. The winner of the 2008 Gatewood Prize, Crawford reminds us that although we may make it out of our
childhoods alive, we never quite shake our own personal geographies.
Praise for Marisa Crawford from Denise Duhamel
Marisa Crawford's The Haunted House is indeed "a House that tries to be Haunted." A descendant of Dickinson, she's also very much her own poet, reclaiming and enlarging poetic conventions. Crawford's free verse poems are carved from sonnets and anaphora, the aura of traditional fixed forms glowing in an outline around her experimental
gestures. Her prose blocks take us from room to room, trunk to trunk, closet to closet, where girls keep boxes of photographs and cigarettes and secrets. The "Gurlesque" specificity of Crawford's poems - swizzle sticks, candy cane striped fingernails, ice cube popsicles, kewpie dolls, Freddy Krueger - are balanced with an elliptical otherworldliness, riddles and combination locks. These poems are energetic and exuberant, like the best young adult novels are.
From Arielle Greenberg
The Haunted House is like a locker-room expose of a certain strain of American female adolescence, and its uncanny knack for detail-cupcakes baked into wafer cones, mushrooms drawn on notebooks, the "post-prom"-will resonate powerfully for those in the know...or those who want to be. It's all here: the complex machinations of female friendship, the magic spells and poisons and horror stories, the "top-secret sequins": Crawford has done us a service, capturing in
fun, dark, exciting poems an experience many of us have shared but few have written about so fluidly. This poetry is the unholy and inevitable spawn of Emily Dickinson and Judy Blume. And it's a sugar high. Enter and enjoy the rush.
From Toni Mirosevich
This book is a marvel. This house opens with a skeleton key. We enter and find false floors, trapdoors, and surprises in each and every shining poem. In Marisa Crawford's The Haunted House, riddles reign and secrets spill. Crawford comes equipped with her own girl gang, "...a choir of teenaged girls to tell our story." Before they're through they'll shake down all our assumptions about girldom. "What's your locker combination, without your memory?" the poet asks in
"Pachyderm." What's a new book of poetry without a prom parade of ghosts and girlfriends, joyrides with monsters, poems that offer up humor with your thrills, language so sharp it chills, and lines that will make you stop dead in your tracks? "If heaven was a house, what bone structure." It's scary how good this is.
From Michelle Tea
These poems are sticky and tough and glossy and romantic - coded love notes passed behind a teacher's desk in high school, magic marker on a bathroom stall, crying at your bedroom window after painting on your bedroom walls with nail polish sort of poems. Marisa Crawford is hauntingly in love with her subjects and after a poem or two you are too.
Interviews and Reviews
Interview at Delirious of Everything At The Same Time
Oneiromance (an epithalamion) by Kathleen Rooney
Praise for Kathleen Rooney from Patty Seyburn, 2007 Gatewood Prize Judge Oneiromance (an epithalamion) gives the marriage poem a case of vertigo, displacing while embracing the panoply of possibility when two people attempt to forge a life together. Kathleen Rooney creates a dream-state with fluid borders and a surreal set of laws that allow
her to question inherited wisdom and perception, all the while converging on the altar from numerous (occasionally, numinous) angles. The romance persists between the narrator and the beloved - and crucially, between the author and language's opportunities to address the nuances and edges of commitment deemed inexplicable. These poems
contain deep doubt and true sentiment, providing that pleasure-giving union of provocation and renewal.
From Christian Hawkey
For Kathleen Rooney a wedding is a script, and the ceremony takes place in at least six genres: cartoon, western, thriller, soap opera, documentary, and sitcom. Oneiromance is one long delirious "homage to the glorious / states of our unions," which are all the more glorious since "no one can explain the state that we're in."
From Bill Knott
Oneiromance puts the overt back in verse. Extravagant in sweep and pathos, the beauty of these poems soars like a wedding cake for astronauts. Kathleen Rooney is a poet too rich to read at one sitting, but I think any reader will enjoy extending the honeymoon they take with this book. I wish I could sufficiently praise its merits in kind, be a match for its flights and profundities.
From Alice Fulton
Kathleen Rooney's beautifully structured epithalamion is saturated with nuptial terror: the music and friction, zeal and unease, absurdity and profundity of marriage. Oneiromance parodies and feasts upon the vain excesses of contemporary wedding culture, but there's tenderness and devotion here, too - a sweetness that's saucy rather than
cloying: "Her breasts seem to him lovely as mud- / daubed birds' nests." I'm thrilled by a sensibility so acerbic, funny, sad, sardonic, insouciant, salty, and bittersweet, by poems so rich with slippage, misgiving, loss, and wit. Rooney's work is animated by a dexterous, inventive intelligence and a fearless imagination: "those pearls / on your bodice are really your baby teeth?" Her poems fibrillate with fine surprises; their originality and edge are stunning. Like "a book in sandpaper" that could "destroy everything else on the shelves," Oneiromance is scary good, wicked good, and
Kathleen Rooney is surely one of the most brilliant poets of her generation, a discovery. Her linguistic powers provoke and awaken the page.
From Sidney Wade
Kathleen Rooney's remarkable new book runs on the excellent steam of dream logic and poetry magic, whose essential connections can be illuminated only by the steadiest of hands. Each page is vertiginous with surprise, a difficult, high-wire act throughout which she maintains an impressive level of control. It's obvious she loves language to distraction and revels in its play, to our great advantage and amusement. This is that rare and wonderful thing, the poetry of
celebration that doesn't dismiss darkness but pulls it into the dance. Oneiromance (an epithalamion) is an inordinately entertaining romp through Brazil, the American Midwest, and Niagara Falls, which, in a final surprise, ends on a quietly moving note that feels both satisfying and true.
Interviews and Reviews
From Emily Thomas's review at Redivider, Spring 2009, Issue 6.2
"The surreal, ethereal dreamscapes described in the poems compliments the uncertainties that are naturally associated with the subjects of marriage and establishes the speaker as a vulnerable, yet stalwart presences in the poems."
From Juliet Cook's Best Reads of 2008: Poetry, December 2008
"Quirky microcosms intersect with bigger pictures-individual insecurities interact with more widespread parameters of
acceptability-and the surreality of wedding as pageant is juxtaposed with issues of personal identity and how such identity may shift as one approaches a ceremony that is oft portrayed as a life changing event."
From Christopher Gallinari's review at Waiting for the Bus
"But poetry already presents enough questions and Rooney is kind enough to punctuate her sentences with periods, her anxieties with a promise of sorts to herself, as well as her spouse...Rooney and her personae address their fears without succumbing to them or the temptation of an overly simplistic triumph over them."
Our Classical Heritage: A Homing Device by Caroline Noble Whitbeck
Praise for Caroline Noble Whitbeck from Arielle Greenberg Our Classical Heritage: A Homing Device is a pleasurable and witty work, pinned sharply but delicately to reality through images of cultural detritus and evocations of American childhood. The force of the voice here is redoubtable. The world as described may be a dizzying soup of existence, but Caroline Noble Whitbeck can always locate herself.
From C.D. Wright
Opening with benisons infused with invective, Caroline Whitbeck's debut book reveals the armature of a classicist and the musculature of a crunk artist. The tone is forever-young exuberant; the vocabulary crosses every threshold, yet they are but understory to a flaming canopy. So, "strap a beefsteak to that, throw a /trainwreck. Hands/down where the money is these/days."
From Jen Tynes
The white breaks and silences are just as captivating and curious as the word-thirsty explosions in these poems; both are the buzz rising from an underground something: part sarcophagus (flesh eater? flesh keeper?), part dynamic new kind of wiring.
From Forrest Gander
Given the jolt of the diction and the exuberant, spring-loaded rhythms, it's no wonder that Caroline Whitbeck's poems seem to vibrate on the page as though they teemed with extra electrons. The miracle is that they hold to the page at all. She manages the highest level of risk per given unit of time. A dazzling poet!
Interviews and Reviews
From Susan Yount's review at Arsenic Lobster, Issue 17, Summer 2008
"Caroline Noble Whitbeck's is a new, singular voice in the modern world of poetry - truly, a new kind of gothic. Winner of the Gatewood Prize selected by Arrielle Greenberg, Whitbeck's first full length book, Our Classical Heritage: A Homing Device, showcases radical forms, diction and syntax. Moreover, it offers exciting new ways for a poem to metabolize."
From Andy Frazee's review at WordFor/Word, Issue 14, Fall 2008
"Throughout the work, we are constantly forced to locate and re-locate ourselves, to find a home within the text as the poet constructs and disrupts the linguistic ground we stand on Whitbeck's most dynamic formal performance may best be described as a particular melding of textualist experimentation and the more traditional dramatic monologue."
Pathogenesis by Peggy Munson
Praise for Peggy Munson from Yusef Komunyakaa Peggy Munson's Pathogenesis is forthright and magical in scope. The minute ascends to the monumental -- moth to God; very little escapes the sharp, perceptive eye of this thoughtful poet. A sober music gives shape to the insistent pulse of this book, and each poem dovetails to highlight the collection's overall vision. Every trope is a probe that divines vicissitude.
From Gerry Gomez Pearlberg
Peggy Munson's intriguing, kaleidoscopic poems transport the reader into a tough - and tender-hearted world of blood, illness, medical authoritarianism, and stubborn life force. Here, "illness is not metaphor," but a presence, an atmosphere, a window into experiences to which no mortal, ultimately, is immune. These poems shine a much-needed light on these sick times.
From Noelle Kocot
Peggy Munson is speaking out of the void. Her language is cutting-edge and ontic, her subject matter shatters convention. This poetry is wise beyond any years -- it truly transcends mere time. It is free from a lot of the burden of contemporary poetry conventions, and exists like a small island in the fiery sun, alone, yet willing to be utterly beautiful, utterly strange, and utterly itself.
From Gillian Conoley
Melancholia. Witch hunt. Sinking spell. Mass panic. The diseases that chase us down. The scrupulous craft of them. A poetry that doesn't let go. "A textbook case." The Plath-like sharpness and blinding clarity. Peggy Munson's Pathogenesis is rich, powerful, and strange, possessed of a stylistic brilliance and extraordinary humanism: "I would rather speak in tongue clicks and superlunary broomsticks than utter words of hate."
Interviews and Reviews
From Stacey May Fowles' review at Make/Shift Magazine
"It is a book that treads fearlessly into the viciously real, and then escapes suddenly into the surreal and magical. These are poems obsessed with the broader implications of the illness and exhaustion, both physical and emotional, all at once terrifying and liberating in thier visceral detail."
From Largehearted Boy April 2008
"In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that is in some way relevant to their recently published books. Peggy Munson wrote one of my favorite Book Notes essays for her debut novel, Origami Striptease. I am truly honored to have this talented writer participate in the series again with a playlist about her new poetry
collection, Pathogenesis. Pathogenesis is ideal poetry for me, powerfully personal and yet global in its implications. A call to arms, these poems follow Munson's battles against the medical community and her own body as she fights Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS) and Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS)."
Talk Shows by Monica de la Torre
Praise for Monica de la Torre from Lee Ann Brown De la Torre's poetry deconstructs sets of beliefs about what it means
to be a multi-dimensional subject and turns markers of gender and race on their so-called ears. Identity and gender politics are folded neatly into smart disses and observations on the specifics of cultural play and gaff, making this a book to be reckoned with.
From Mary Jo Bang
No one I know writes like Monica de la Torre. In her poems, we encounter odd characters who meet in David Lynch-like accidental fashion. Small bizarre incidents coalesce into a sign of our own mirrored, uncertain world. While all the while, the very camera which would explicate the internal state of the subject has no film in it. The speaker in her poem "The Script" warns someone, "You thought this would be / a dance lesson." Reading these poems is decidedly not like
the dance lesson where each toe and tap is programmed for a dedicated performance. Rather than relying on false certainties and pat recollections, de la Torre offers up a fine-tuned sense of the ridiculous, a world of tomfool capers with a hint of the macabre. In "The Script" she goes, within lines, from the confrontationally direct - "To pretend there's meaning when all that comes out is a 'My dog loves me and he's no showboat.'" - to a concise and cagey comment on
language's angular trajectory from sound to meaning - "To leap from canopy to can openers to can open her."
From Publisher's Weekly
Accomplished translator de la Torre (Reversible Monuments) draws on frame breaking, self-questioning contemporary art and on her Mexican background in this quirky first collection of her own poems in English. Prose and verse poems assemble memorable, quotable fragments, odd details and estranged claims about a partially obscured self: the
opening piece hopes "To rip kites so they may stay on the ground.// To forget jokes and misunderstand common sense." Sometimes cerebral, even jokey in her uses of found texts, sometimes neosurrealist in her fluid shifts of scene and referent, de la Torre's whimsies and passions make her clearly hip, yet hard to place: "Thirst is not fear, thirst is not
green, but has wings,/ like dragons, or airplanes." Dialogues feature men and women who talk straight past one another; lyrical series decry "over-protective toddlers," "narcissistic dorks," and "myopic brutes," and a series of short poems (scattered through a longer poem, "Texas") comprise fantasias on single letters: "Slowly soften stiff surfaces,
study severity." The very quotable prose poem "On Translation" stands out for its insight, not just into how de la Torre recreates Spanish-language poems in English, but into how she composes English verse of her own: "Not to search for meaning, but to reenact a gesture, an intent." (Feb.) Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From Joyelle McSweeney's review at Latino Poetry Review, March 2008
"Reading Talk Shows, one feels the trace not so much of a writing hand as that of a verbose and erudite selector, accessing languages, etymologies, dictions, and lingos and putting her omni-language through Oulipian machines to create syntactically-charged, queer-toned texts."
From Doug Korb's review at Barrelhouse Magazine, August 2007
"Though versatile conveniently hints at the word "verse," De La Torre's poems require a more flowing term. Cornucopia, perhaps? Yes. Cornucopia. Talk Shows, De La Torre's first book of poetry - to be written in English - is a cornucopia of experimental forms."
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