Marie Larson, Chuck Stebleton, Julie Strand and Rob Baumann.
There are over 27,000 books shelved neatly in the small reading room at Woodland Pattern. Recently, we asked the Woodland Pattern staff to choose a few of their favorite selections out of this vast selection of small press books. We have printed a few of their favorites below.
Christian Bok Eunoia; 2006, Soft Skull, $15.95
Charles Bukowski – The Roominghouse Madrigals; 2002, Ecco, $15.00
Eunoia, or beautiful thinking, takes its title from the shortest word in the English language to contain each of the five vowels. Eunoia makes epic use of constraint in that each of the five chapters is written using words limited to a single vowel. Weirdly enough, this procedure resulted in a sometimes hilarious and always sonically compelling book that is reputed to be one of the best selling books in Canada. In the second chapter, Bok even managed to retell the story of the Illiad from the viewpoint of Helen, using only the vowel E.
The Roominghouse Madrigals is a collection of Bukowskis early selected poems, all written between 1946 and 1966, some culled from his first few books and others from obscure magazines. Bukowski started writing poems at the age of 35 and, for better or worse, came to be one of Americas most imitated writers. This early work shows him to have started out as an iconoclastic lyric poet with the same gritty sensibility that informs his more pickled later work.
~ by Chuck Stebleton, Literary
Jesse Seldess – Who Opens; 2006, Kenning Editions, $12.95
If you can, sit in a large, mostly empty room with wooden floors, near a window, with traffic passing by on the street below and read this book. Or sit in the waiting area of an emergency room. Or read it with your ears underwater in a tub in a bright bathroom. It is organic and robotic and what lies between. Jesse Seldess first book of poetry finds him repeating carefully crafted phrases, recycling, reworking, and rethinking them throughout the book. This plays on the way we orientate ourselves with the world through language, rely on it to make sense of the unfamiliar, yet also recreate it to suit our experience. All in all, there cant be more than 100 different words in these poems. By the end you will feel at home in them.
~ by Robert J. Baumann, Bookstore
Bill Holm – Coming Home Crazy; 2000, Milkweed Editions, $13.95
Coming Home Crazy is about the year the author spent teaching English Lit in the 1980s at a college in Xian, Chinas ancient capital. Its essays are arranged alphabetically by subject, and give a sad, funny and fascinating look at a part of China away from the big cities and tourist areas familiar to westerners. It doesnt have to be read straight through, but can be dipped into anywhere. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
~ by Carolyn Elmer, Distribution Manager
Lara Glenum – The Hounds of No; 2005, Action Books, $12.00
Up from the gothic South, this debut book from the Athens, Georgia poet Lara Glenum drops readers into a stunning and apocalyptic ecosystem. Here the body expands into a beastly landscape of images and institutions strung together as beads on a thread of unholy humor. Plastic limbs, embryos that hang from trees like fruit, hermaphrodite sock monkeys, girl scouts, and mannequins set the cast. Placed staunchly in the Surreal/Anti- Real, these accounts are recognizable and significant.
~ by Marie Larson, Public Relations and Graphics
Tsering Wangmo Dhompa – Rules of the House; 2002, Apogee Press, $12.95
Daniel Kane, editor – What is Poetry: Conversations with the American Avant-Garde; 2003, Teachers & Writers Collaborative, $17.95
Rules of the House is an absorbing collection of narrative poetry that is connected by the same speaker or set of characters. This connection is needed as places and cultures change, and many discoveries occur. Although this is not nature poetry, nature feels like a character in this group of poems as much as people do.
What is Poetry: Conversations with the American Avant-Garde is a series of bios, poems and interviews with the poets John Ashbery, Robert Creeley, Fanny Howe, Lisa Jarnot, Kenneth Koch, Bernadette Mayer, Lewis Warsh and more. This book gives the reader a view of the poets that their work alone cannot. This collection is illuminating for people interested in experimental and/or contemporary poetry.
~ by Julie Strand, Educational Coordinator
Riverwest Currents online edition – July, 2006