You are invited to join this virtual poetry reading to celebrate the launch of three new books that explore ecology, geography, history and social issues through poetry:
- Rift Zone: Poems by Tess Taylor
RIFT ZONE, Taylor’s much-anticipated third book traces literal and metaphoric fault lines–rifts between past and present, childhood and adulthood, what is and what was. Circling Taylor’s hometown–an ordinary California suburb lying along the Hayward fault–these poems unearth strata that include a Spanish land grant, a bloody land grab, gun violence, valley girls, strip malls, redwood trees, and the painful history of Japanese internment.
Taylor’s ambitious and masterful poems read her home state’s historic violence against our world’s current unsteadinesses–mass eviction, housing crises, deportation, inequality. They also ponder what it means to try to bring up children along these rifts. What emerges is a powerful core sample of America at the brink–an American elegy equally tuned to maternal and to geologic time. At once sorrowful and furious, tender and fierce, Rift Zone is startlingly observant, relentlessly curious–a fearsome tremor of a book.
- Last West: Roadsongs for Dorothea Lange by Tess Taylor
In Last West, poet Tess Taylor follows Dorothea Lange’s winding paths across California during the Great Depression and in its immediate aftermath. On these journeys, Lange photographed migrant laborers, Dust Bowl refugees, tent cities and Japanese American internment camps. Taylor’s hybrid text collages lyric and oral histories against Lange’s own journals and notebook fragments, framing the ways social and ecological injustices of the past rhyme eerily with those of the present. The result is a stunning meditation on movement, landscape and place.
“Scintillatingly rendered by Taylor as conversation, meditation, road trip, and vivid documentary account, Last West tracks the not-so-distant past into the erupting present, taking on as many poetic forms as there are California topographies.” -Forrest Gander, Chancellor of the American Academy of Poets and winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
- Spring and a Thousand Years (Unabridged): Poems by Judy Halebsky
A translator’s notebook, an almanac, an ecological history, Judy Halebsky’s Spring and a Thousand Years (Unabridged) moves between multiple intersections and sign systems connected in a long glossary poem that serves as the book’s guide to what is lost, erased, or disrupted in transition both from experience to written word and from one language, location, and time period to another.
Writers Li Bai, Matsuo Bashō, Sei Shōnagon, and Du Fu make frequent appearances in centuries ranging from the eighth to the twenty-first, and appear in conversation with Grace Paley, Donald Hall, and Halebsky herself, as the poet explores subjects ranging from work and marriage to environmental destruction. Asking what would happen if these poets—not just their work—appeared in California, the poems slip between different geographies, syntaxes, times, and cultural frameworks.
The role of the literary translator is to bring text from one language into another, working to at once shift and retain the context of the original—from one alphabet to another, one point in time to another. These are poems in homage to translation; they rely on concepts that can bridge time and space, and as a result are as likely to find meaning in donuts or Zumba as they are to find it in the ocean. Spring and a Thousand Years (Unabridged) finds reasons for hope not in how the world should be, but in how it has always been.