Angular, smart, and fearless, Arisa White’s newest collection takes its titles from words used internationally as hate speech against gays and lesbians, reworking, re-envisioning, and re-embodying language as a conduit for art, love, and understanding. You’re the Most Beautiful Thing that Happened works through intersectional encounters with gender, identity, and human barbarism, landing deftly and defiantly in beauty.
Cave Canem graduate fellow Arisa White received her MFA from UMass, Amherst, and is the author of Perfect on Accident, You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened, Black Pearl, Post Pardon, A Penny Saved, and Hurrah’s Nest. Her poetry has been nominated for a Lambda Literary Award, NAACP Image Award, California Book Award, and Wheatley Book Award. The chapbook “Fishing Walking” & Other Bedtime Stories for My Wife won Daniel Handler’s inaugural Per Diem Poetry Prize. She’s the co-author of Biddy Mason Speaks Up, the second book in the Fighting for Justice series for young readers. Arisa serves on the board of directors for Foglifter and Nomadic Press and is an assistant professor of poetry at Colby College.
In the twelve stories in this engrossing collection, Sara Schaff introduces us to characters at turning points in their lives; in doing so, she charts the way we take risks—or create illusions—in the face of the unknown. A newly blended family’s vacation is upended by one daughter’s mythmaking and another’s eagerness to believe her. A young couple on the verge of breaking up take one last trip together, only to have their reconciliation disrupted by uninvited guests. A woman faces accusations of theft by the very people who think they have saved her from a troubled past. In beautiful prose that is sometimes dark, sometimes humorous, Schaff ’s stories grapple with class, sexuality, and relationships in ways that feel revelatory and yet deeply true. Awkward, flawed, and hopeful, these characters’ stories hum with the regrets and desires that drive us—sometimes closer to our goals, sometimes heartbreakingly further away.
Sara Schaff’s writing has appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Joyland, LitHub, Hobart, The Rumpus and elsewhere. Her debut story collection, Say Something Nice About Me (Augury Books), was a 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist in short fiction and a CLMP Firecracker Award Finalist in fiction. A graduate of Brown University and the University of Michigan, Sara has taught at St. Lawrence University, Oberlin College, the University of Michigan, and in China, Colombia, and Northern Ireland, where she also studied storytelling.
Hook: A Memoir is a gripping story of transformation. Without excuse or indulgence, author and educator Randall Horton explores his downward spiral from unassuming Howard University undergraduate to homeless drug addict, international cocaine smuggler, and incarcerated felon—before showing us the redemptive role that writing and literature played in helping him reclaim his life. The multilayered narrative bridges past and present through both the vivid portrayal of Horton’s singular experiences and his correspondence in letters with the anonymous Lxxxx, a Latina woman awaiting trial. Hook explores race and social construction in America, the forgotten lives within the prison industrial complex, and the resilience of the human spirit.
Randall Horton’s past honors include the Bea Gonzalez Poetry Award, a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in Literature, and most recently, a GLCA New Writers Award for Creative Nonfiction for Hook: A Memoir, published by Augury Books/Brooklyn Art Press. He is currently Poet-in-Residence at Civil Rights Corps, a non-profit organization dedicated to challenging systemic injustice in the American legal system in Washington, DC. Horton is a member of the experimental performance group Heroes Are Gang Leaders, which recently received the 2018 American Book Award in Oral Literature. He is an Associate Professor of English at the University of New Haven.
Taking cues from a myriad of short forms—haiku, epigram, bon mot, aphorism, senryū—the poems in Joe Pan’s Hiccups search out unexpected ways to document events in transition. Here the imminent moment, deeply regarded, is agitated into performance or merely left to drift, generating through language a curious experience of its own making. The disparate settings of these poems are as diverse as the impulses that gave rise to the work—a Tokyo skyscraper, a South African wildlife preserve, a log cabin in the Pacific Northwest, a shark-infested reef off Belize. These are poems that arrive with a jolt, engulfing the familiar, before being left to linger or dissolve.
Joe Pan is the author of the poetry collections Operating Systems (forthcoming, 2018), Hi c cu ps (Augury Books), and Autobiomythography & Gallery (BAP), three books in an ongoing series. Joe is co-editor of the best-selling Brooklyn Poets Anthology, with work appearing in such venues as the Boston Review, Hyperallergic, The New York Times, and The Philadelphia Review of Books online. He is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Brooklyn Arts Press, an independent publishing house honored in 2016 with a National Book Award win in Poetry, and is the founder of the services-oriented activist group Brooklyn Artists Helping.
In BEAST, Frances Justine Post explores the destruction and eventual reclaiming of the self following loss. Many of the poems make up a series of “self-portraits” that explore the psychological core of intimacy with its inherent devotion and betrayal, reward and punishment. In one, she is a wolf; in another, an equestrian and her horse; then a tornado, the dropped crumbs of a beloved, a pack of hounds, and finally a cannibal. The self changes form and species and switches from one voice to multiple voices. Each poem attempts to reinvent the self and alter it as a way of trying to understand what remains after devastation.
Frances Justine Post is the recipient of the “Discovery” / Boston Review Poetry Prize, the Inprint Paul Verlaine Poetry Prize, and the Amy Award from Poets & Writers. Her poems have appeared in American Letters & Commentary, Boston Review, Denver Quarterly, The Kenyon Review Online, The Massachusetts Review, Pleiades, Western Humanities Review, and others. Originally from Sullivan’s Island, SC, she received her MFA from Columbia University and is currently earning her PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Houston, where she is poetry editor for Gulf Coast Magazine.
The poems in American Gramophone are menacing—spiked with hazards, threats, warnings, and spells—yet the contained lines and composed forms temper the peril with delicacy: a pin curl in the palm, glass shelves full of violets. The collection explores this sharpness and splendor in an agrarian landscape where earth is both burden and livelihood. Here, beneath the music of machinery and birdsong, the trap is set.
Carey McHugh’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Boston Review, Denver Quarterly, Gulf Coast, and Tin House. Her chapbook Original Instructions for the Perfect Preservation of Birds &c. was selected by Ray Armantrout for the Poetry Society of America’s 2008 New York Chapbook Fellowship.
The debut collection by author Halina Duraj brings readers an American family, strikingly individual but recognizable to us all—as strange and familiar as home. An escalating neighborhood feud takes an unanticipated turn. A college student visiting Poland learns about drinking, dancing, and some of the more perplexing mysteries of adulthood. A mother opens up about her youth and courtship. A daughter tries to understand her own relationship within the context of what she has been taught about marriage. These tender and generous linked stories illuminate the hidden corners of our family lives and, in doing so, cast beautiful light on the shadows.
Halina Duraj’s work has appeared in The Sun, The Harvard Review, Ecotone, and the 2014 Pen/O. Henry Prize Stories. She has an MA in creative writing from the University of California, Davis, and a PhD in literature and creative writing from the University of Utah. She teaches at the University of San Diego, where she also directs the Lindsay J. Cropper Center for Creative Writing.