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WHO DEFINES THE LITERARY CANON? Surely, there is nobetter example than Lillian Faderman, the groundbreaking scholar and author of Chloe Plus Olivia: An Anthology of Lesbian Literature from the 17th Century to the Present.
MEENA ALEXANDER MAKES DEEP CONNECTIONS as she explores the self and place. Much of her work is concerned with migration and its impact on the writer’s subjectivity. Having published poetry, novels and criticism, Alexander’s literary memoirs have become her specialty. In Poetics of Dislocation Alexander brings the experience of the world to her struggles to find her place in America, and explore the cultural impact of diverse poets practicing their craft.
TARA BETTS EXPLODES ONTO THE LITERARY SCENE through her poetry collection, Arc & Hue. She enters at the intersection of America’s past and present as jazz merges into hip hop by means of poetic blues. Her own legacy is of her historical writings and her contemporary voice that connects to the rhythm and voices of our youth.
WHEN HE FIRST CAME ON THE SCENE, Sherman Alexie was an overnight sensation. He appeared as an angry Indian that challenged the status quo, providing readers with the harsh realities of reservation life, draped in themes of despair, poverty, alcoholism and racial anger. Although his work has been universally characterized as revolutionary, bold and realistically reflective, Alexie’s critics have termed his realism as harsh and have even gone as far as accusing him of being a racist against white people.
JON SANDS’ RISE IN THE POETRY COMMUNITY in New York and beyond these past few years has been meteoric. Known primarily as a spoken word artist, he is also a poet, writer, educator, youth worker, thinker and activist. Sands pours all of these assets into his debut poetry collection, The New Clean.
A NAMELESS OLD MAN WHO carries his smell with him / Wherever his smell takes him,” the antihero of Henry’s latest collection stands as a stark rejoinder to the placid and revelatory monologues that are a commonplace of many male poets. Suffering physical and mental decay that are rarely confronted in verse, Henry’s old man is stalked by a “shadow self”–a stand-in for both death and the old man himself, and a presence in which “the old man sees himself wherever/ The shadow self chooses/ To make itself seen.” Henry portrays the old man’s aggression in inventive compound words of his own invention: “pilldrenched sleepfisted pain,” “skinmuscleblood,” and “suckfist” sermons pepper these untitled poems, but it’s the slivers of the old man’s past life that truly illuminate his character.
SOMETIMES IT‘S DIFFICULT TO determine what constitutes LGBT poetry and fiction. Some texts certainly lend themselves to easy categorization, such as coming out or AIDS stories, but if sexual orientation is not relevant to the plot, it can be really hard to identify text as LGBT literature.
AMASSED FROM THE RICHES OF the Naropa University audio archives, Beats at Naropa offers an exciting new look at the Beats–whose influence lives on in the art and politics of our time.
The book contains mostly transcripts of speeches and conversations held at what is now called Naropa University but what was originally known as the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in Boulder, Colorado. It’s a compulsively readable volume, full of facts and opinions.
NIKKI GIOVANNI IS A POET, WRITER, EDUCATOR, commentator, and activist who has been showered with awards throughout her storied career which has used books, the stage, Grammy-nominated recordings, the classroom, and visual media as delivery means. She can be dazzling, while convincing the audience that she sees the world in a way through her poems and written commentary that demands attention and commands our considerations. She sometimes uses a simple poetic delivery technique of short powerful, emotional, incisive phrases that reveal the subject matter in a way that is uniquely her own and almost instantly recognizable.