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Six Poets. One Van. No Quit.

TIR staff

You know how, when you go out for drinks with writer friends, the conversation always devolves into a lament about the state of literary culture in America, and someone makes a zealous fist and says we need to go further than lit mags, we need to bring poetry to the people! and someone else says wouldn't it be great to just get in a van and, you know, just go DO that? 

Well, six poets are.  

This summer, Adam Atkinson, Lillian-Yvonne Bertram, Zachary Harris, Ben Pelhan, S.E. Smith, and Anne-Marie Rooney (a TIR alum!) are climbing into a van and driving across the midwest, mid-atlantic, and northeast U.S. to give readings, performances, and free poetry and literary arts workshops at libraries and community spaces.

Robert Garner McBrearty’s LET THE BIRDS DRINK IN PEACE

Jack Smith

Robert Garner McBrearty has authored two previous collections, A Night at the Y and Episode, winner of the Sherwood Anderson Foundation Fiction Award. In this third collection, published by Conundrum Press, McBrearty continues to prove himself a master storyteller.

His stories tend to be about isolated people hacking it out, doing their best to feel upbeat about things, reinventing themselves if necessary, clutching onto imaginative possibilities. The urgrund of McBrearty’s fictive world is invariably the absurd: a primordial principle of chaos—the anomalous, the bizarre—governing the nature of the human lot, often originating from without, but sometimes from within.   Out of his rich sense of the absurd, McBrearty creates a comic vision that swings between two poles: the zany, outrageous, and the more subtle, sometimes darkly comic. 

A World Just Outside of Tangibility: Lauren Berry's THE LIFTING DRESS

Carrie Chappell

Certain topics are so heart-wrenching that we find them difficult to express in literal terms. Lauren Berry’s debut collection The Lifting Dress—winner of Penguin’s 2010 National Poetry Series, selected by Terrance Hayes—explores the possibilities of figuration in post-traumatic narrative by opening up a broader palate of symbolism to confront the violence of one of the most monstrous human transgressions: rape.

Set in the humid-yawn of a watermarked Gulf Coast city, not unlike the small Florida town of the poet’s childhood home, Berry’s collection is grounded in the representation of a young girl’s emotional derangement and eventual coming-of-age in the threatening stalk of memory. The poems take us directly inside her synthesizing head.

BTBA finalists

Russell Scott Valentino

The Best Translated Book Awards finalists for this year have been announced at Three Percent, and the books are being written up individually in a "why this book should win" mode by the jurists. They are of course all really good, but I snagged Nichita Stanescu's Wheel with a Single Spoke (in Sean Cotter's English translation) and couldn't help but be just a little irreverant, not towards the book, towards the whole idea of picking one that's best (Have a look Here). 

Mary Jo Bang's INFERNO

John James

A significant contribution to the ongoing dialogue on translation, Mary Jo Bang’s new version of Dante’s Inferno will certainly turn a few heads. Not only does Bang abandon the author’s renowned terza rima, she uses allusion and colloquialism to render the epic’s esoteric political backdrop accessible to today’s readers.

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