Balancing on Unstable Ground by Francis Alix
Červená Barva Press, 2009
Francis Alix's Balancing on Unstable Ground employs all the reader's senses – the poems bleed and chirp and thunder and exude odors both foul and fair. Through unstinting depictions of war and spent love, Alix chronicles what could be the end of things, but, with an alchemist's pen, transmutes them and us into a vivid way forward "on the wings of foraging birds."
-Lisa Beatman, author of Manufacturing America: Poems from the Factory Floor
Francis Alix's Balancing On Unstable Ground echoes Walt Whitman's "The Poetry of the Future," in which Whitman states, "The poetry of the future aims at the free expression of emotion… and to arouse and initiate more than to define or finish…" Alix's clear imagery and graceful short lines are concentrated in the emotions of loss, longing, and pity for the planet. They "arouse and initiate" a common feeling of sorrow in the reader as for the starving child in "Kansas" with "her bent legs grasped by her arms, /both thin as cornstalks" or the starlings in "The Journey" who are "exiled/dumped into the modern wild." His subjects are never totally defined or finished; rather they ignite the reader's own irony and melancholy. This affect is impressive in such minimalism. You can hear Alix's voice speaking them to you with a fervor for living that makes the ordinary extraordinary. Bravo on a well crafted first book whose control of language brings the poet and the reader into a tender dynamic.
-Jane Lunin Perel, Professor of Creative Writing and Women's Studies, Providence College
Reading Alix's work, I am reminded of this line from the song, Jungleland, by Bruce Springsteen, in which the lyrics protest, "And the poets down here don't write nothing at all, they just stand back and let it all be," frustrated that poets have somehow abdicated their responsibility by averting their eyes, but more importantly, their words from the struggles, triumphs and drama of everyday life. Alix has been recording life as only he can see it, our world seen through poetic eyes, unafraid to see the harsh realities and capable of sparkling revelations. He has been busy down here, knee-deep in a poets work, bringing our attention to the glories and cruelties, through poetic stories only he can tell. Whatever the subject, Alix slices to the heart of it, as only a poet can do. Springsteen is wrong. There are real poets down here, refusing to let it all be. Francis Alix is one of them.$7.00 | 36 Pages | In Stock
-Eileen D'Angelo, Editor Mad Poets Review
Investigations: The Mystery Of The Girl Sleuth by Kathleen Aguero
Červená Barva Press, 2008
Kathleen Aguero's books of poetry include, Daughter Of (Cedar Hill Books), The Real Weather (Hanging Loose Press), and Thirsty Day (Alice James Books). She has edited three volumes of multicultural literature published by the University of Georgia Press and has an essay in the anthology, Why I'm Still Married. The recipient of grants from the Massachusetts Council on the Arts and the Elgin Cox Foundation, she is a Professor of English at Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill, MA, teaching in their low-residency MFA and undergraduate programs.
Investigations: The Mystery of the Girl Sleuth
Investigations is a celebration of Nancy Drew novels (50 years) during the late 1950’s. she led a way for young women who wanted more than what they, may of perceived, as domestic boredom. Nancy did not have the proverbial mother to relate too. she also had an absentee father, a lawyer. this left the young investigator on her won to rife out her suspicions. unlike superman who needed superpowers to accomplish his task of riding the world of evil doers, Nancy worked closely with her friends for what seemed a more human story.
“I understand, the mysteries of the scoured pot,
clogged toilet, tolling dinner bell,
hold no appeal. but chances are you’re not
going to marry Carson Drew,
conveniently absent when the action starts,
never demanding you halt mid-case to listen
to his tale of triumph at the office…”
Nancy Drew’s tale has been placed into the capable hands or words of Kathleen Aguero. Aguero translates, reinvents and looks for clues that relate to her present situations as in, ‘the case of the suicidal friend,’ “you didn’t leave a note, just your own body on the stairs.” and again in ‘jewel box,’ which I had the privilege of hearing the poet read Aguero shows us her mother’s delusional clarity, her mother’s love, the perception of honesty in leaving, of placing value in memory, connecting, collecting personal items, identifying their significance, “we have to do this now…” her poems are full of references, clues; the password:
“she was clever.
she found the wooden gate where they put the garbage out.
she pulled, but it was locked.
she waited, but no one came
so she joined the walkers, round and round the halls
out one door, in the other…
this is a clear case. this chapbook will leave you wanting more of Kathleen Aguero’s writing.
Ibbetson Street Press
Fiddler Crab reviews chapbook "Investigations" by poet Kathleen Aguero: www.fiddlercrabreview.com$7.00 | 34 Pages | In Stock
The Book of Arrows by Mike Amado
Edited by Jack Scully and Nancy Brady Cunningham
Červená Barva Press, 2011
In all its beginnings
In all its blooming
In all its endings
-Mike Amado, December 2008
This was penned by Mike less than a month from when he left us. In this book we try to show you a picture of Mike's early life in Plymouth and his family (Beginnings). How his poetry evolved from the dark to tell us about things which he believed were wrong and should be changed, especially the wrongs done against "Native Americans" and the warehousing of kidney patients into dialysis units (Blooming). In October of 2008 Mike knew that his time was coming to an end and this book includes seven poems written during the last months before his death (Endings). Mike had almost 500 unpublished poems. In his final months he put some of them in collections on his computer in what he called books. Most of the poems in this volume were under the heading of The Book of Arrows; thus, our title. This collection is fondly dedicated to Michael "Mike" "Spokenwarrior" Amado (April 23, 1975-January 2, 2009).
Jack and Nancy
And if I were to cut the thread,/it’ll be my best act of rebellion./I was brought up to be a fighter. Mike Amado was the bravest of poets. Not only for his writing, but also for the way he lived. He took on his doomed life with poetry of honesty and hope. The few times I was fortunate to meet him he was, outwardly, a happy man, not mutually exclusive from his suffering. Moreover he was a deep thinker and writer of great poetry. He truly was a fighter for those who needed a champion and against the illness to which he finally succumbed. His legacy is that bravery, his poetic career and this book of poems.
—Zvi A. Sesling, author King of the Jungle & Editor, Muddy River Poetry Review
The Book of Arrows. No kidding. Mike Amado filled his quiver, took aim, and let these poems fly like his life depended on it. It did. An arrow for a childhood of poverty where he slept in the living room so he dreamed on the pillow/just underneath a picture of cats on a fence. An arrow for school which he loathed, often sick, embarrassed in pants from the irregular store, so he learned to learn on my own. An arrow for the dad who left him with only his name so he took his Native name Spider Song because Native custom says that name/passes from mother to child. Arrows for an awkward adolescence of denim jackets, tight jeans, mohawks, and heavy metal all beaten on his teenage passion, the drums! An arrow for European invaders, protesting, dressing and dancing in used regalia at the pow wow. Arrow after arrow for the disease that chased him down from the age of seventeen, challenging death, Who says the story ends? Who says indeed and Mike Amado wasn’t giving in without having his say. I never understood when someone called a poet or poem brave. These poems are not acts of bravery, the living of the life of these poems is what’s brave, a life of dreaming, loving, protesting, drumming, writing, standing on stage as the Spoken Word Warrior.
—David R. Surette, poet, author of The Immaculate Conception Mothers’ Club
Mike Amado has left us an astounding body of work that is both insightful and unsettling. Each poem reads like a memoir tinged with an a keen awareness of the unspoken. Michael, from the Hebrew,/Who is like God,/an Archangel with a sword. To call his work compelling is an understatement. Mike’s poems live. Mike’s poems sing.$15.00 | ISBN: 978-0-9831041-4-8 | 62 Pages | In Stock
—January Gill O’Neil, author of Underlife
Stunted Inner-child Shot the TV by Mike Amado
Červená Barva Press, 2008
"Crossing the intersections between media, militarization, and post-9/11 consciousness, Amado's Stunted Inner-child Shot the TV, gives us a view of the complicated relationship between society and self, consumerism and identity."
-Edward J. Carvalho (Doctoral Candidate, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and author of solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short)
"Take Mike Amado's red Morpheus pill and follow him down the rabbit hole of America's mad matrix of warped dreams, tabloid icons, chrome-eyed military men and infopreachers....His writing is elastic, vivid and wise. With a heart for an undetermined and undetermining God, Amado's revolution cannot be downloaded. It's amazing any of us make it out alive."
Mike Amado is a performance poet, percussionst and drummer painfully in touch with the real-everyday and his work is filled with the real-time force of tough, hard-core lyrics and life that drags you into the midst of contemporary real reality: “There is a dealer/that sells lives/like pre-owed cars./I’m gonna trade in Angelina Jolie./Like a rusted up Chevy Sloper/she needs her soul rebuilt...//born to a fifteen year old,/a doomed kid/on the block/dodging bullets and rocks/and a life of Government checks.” (“Angelina Jolie Reincarnated,” p.20). Amado is especially relevant today because of his total immersion in the working-class/middle-class sense of downturning lifestyles and ways of coping. He’s like radical news-reports stripping off the overlays and lies and getting to the hard-cores: “Blessed be the bartenders and poker table dealers,/They are the certifiable psychos./They attach themselves to people who have/Knuckle-dragging tantrums and sing/the same, old song.../ “My money’s all gone, free-drink me!”No sprites or sun-gods, romantic landscapes, gods in the underbrush. Welcome to the whole of contemporary reality, as far as you can get out of the suburbs into the everydayness that most Americans are soaked in.$7.00 | 41 Pages | In Stock
At the Threshold of Alchemy by John Amen
Presa :S: Press, 2009
"At the Threshold of Alchemy is a brutally realistic book of poetry, hauled up from the despair of life's pivotal moments. There are no wasted words or images, with each line cracking like a whip as John Amen distills the impacts of family left behind, lovers lost, open highways, and the sudden death of friends. Yet, unexpectedly, and as miraculously as life, these tragedies open as seeds into flowering and fruit-bearing vegetation, nourishment, and compassion. Immersed within the shadows of these plants and filled with their fragrance and promise is "portraits of Mary," perhaps the most complex, intricate, and thoroughly honest love poem in all of contemporary poetry."
"John Amen pursues a relentless path through the memory and dreamscape, between mother and lover, holding a compass below the stars, his surreal imagery unfolding like origami into the complex narrative of a man's life. A thoroughly human book."$13.95 | ISBN: 9870980008159 | 85 Pages | 3 copies
MUD SEASON by Pamela Annas
Červená Barva Press, 2011
Pamela Annas grew up in the Navy, constantly moving from country to country. She singlehandedly raised a child who’s now in college and is herself a professor and associate dean at University of Massachusetts Boston, member of the editorial collective of The Radical Teacher, author of a Disturbance in Mirrors: The Poetry of Sylvia Plath and co-author of two textbook/anthologies, Literature and Society and Against the Current. She looks forward to taking up blues harp in her retirement and in the meantime is quite pleased to see this first chapbook appear beautifully in print from Červená Barva Press.
"What resonates most clearly and powerfully in Pam Annas’s Mud Season is her ability to assume a variety of distinctive voices, and in so doing, speak from a variety of experiences. This is made possible because of the poet’s good ear for a diction that is not present simply to announce or decorate or please, but instead to carefully lure the reader into the lives she inhabits in order to tell a fresh and illuminating story of who we are."
Back of the Navy housing project
the women hang the laundry.
Under a thin morning sun, braced
against a keening wind, my mother lifts
wet towels out of the wicker basket
heaves them to the curving clothesline
higher than the top of her head
and a late setting sickle moon.
I hand up the wooden pegs one by one
adrift in a cotton trance.
The back yards are a harbor of sails
rippling in the icy breeze.
Freezing stiff, cotton diapers
are lined up in ranks on review.
My brother and I play hide and seek
among the swaying sheets, or crouch
between two lines as in a bivouacked
tent, telling stories of heroes and feasts.
Rows of back doors, scuffed dirt,
a red tricycle.
Family uniforms come off the line
in a fading yellow afternoon. We
slide the pegs back into their cloth bag,
stack frozen diapers in the basket.
Red chapped hands wrapped
around mugs of hot chocolate thaw
in the cramped steamy apartment.
Clean clothes relax into tenderness
throwing off a fresh cold scent,
silver notes from a Celtic harp.
My mother's life, the story of a day:$7.00 | 40 Pages | In Stock
gathering, washing, hanging, drying,
sorting and folding, putting away.
White As Silver by Rane Arroyo
Červená Barva Press, 2010
This is Rane Arroyo’s eleventh published book of poetry. Additionally, he published a book of fiction (How to Name a Hurricane) and selected plays (Dancing at Funerals). Arroyo has been translated and published internationally; he has also won many awards including the Carl Sandburg Prize in Poetry, the John Ciardi Prize and an Ohio Arts Council Excellence Award, among others. An openly gay, Puerto Rican and Midwestern author, Arroyo’s work has been well received by many constituencies, including the Affrilachian Poets. Arroyo was co-founder and co-publisher of New Sins Press. A creative writing professor at The University of Toledo, Arroyo was named Distinguished University Professor shortly prior to his untimely death on May 7, 2010. He leaves behind a plethora of unpublished works—poetry, plays, versions of memoirs and even a rumored novel.
White As Silver
December, how easily you
dissolve this sad shining day.
It's just dense snowflakes melting
on my expensive boots.
Storm warning—a theater of
cold is on tour from Utah and
I loved there before I knew
the below-the-waist was mine.
I'm my own home. Icy clouds are
eclipses, white as silver. Snowmen
refuse to believe humans are their
creators. Taxis don't know where
Paradise is, should be. I know
that this opaque city will shine.
I was unknown when with you.
Soon, there's tinsel and eggnog.
February 12, 2011$15.00 | ISBN: 978-0-9844732-2-9 | 54 Pages | In Stock
Review by Michael T. Steffen:
Same Sex Séances by Rane Arroyo
New Sins Press, 2008
In prize-winning poet Rane Arroyo's gay America, readers meet cowboys and vaqueros, untamed drag queens, Internet surfers, AIDS survivors, underwear models who are salsa gods, men risking their lives by loving in dark cornfields, gay music videos stars, street corner sphinxes and other documentarists. This is Sodom as a mindset and a refuge. Through Latino personae and Arroyo's life experiences, these poems offer us profound adventures:
How ridiculous for us to be
fallen men in Fall.
here and I've nowhere else to go
Let's be as naked as a diaspora.
"Rane Arroyo's poems are passports to his passions"
"He writes because he has to, not to exorcise himself of the ghosts that haunt him"
-Dr. Betsy A. Sandlin
"Arroyo gets to play the role of Dionysus...and other tricksters and transformers."
These books are autographed by the author$20.00 | ISBN 978-0-9796956-1-2 | 82 Pages | In Stock: 3
Baptism by Michael J. Atwood
Červená Barva Press, 2011
Michael J. Atwood is the author of the short story collection, HiStory of Santa Monica (Aqueous Books 2010) and a columnist and editor for the website, FastertThanForty.com. His work has appeared in a number of literary magazines and online journals. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California's Master of Professional Writing program, where he focused on fiction and screenwriting. As an undergraduate, Atwood studied at Boston College, majoring in English and interning for The Boston Globe. He now resides in North Attleborough with his wife, Melanie, and children, William, Megan, and Kelsey and is an English teacher in the Boston area. He is currently working on his first novel. For more information see www.mjatwood.com and www.historyofsantamonica.com.
"Baptism" was a story written out of hunger. I had been working on a collection of short stories for around seven years and no one wanted to publish it. It was lacking that final story, the single that every band needs to make their album a success. In fact, the only success I had realized as a writer was a story published by Gloria Mindock on her online journal called Istanbul Literary Review. The story was entitled "Ancient Hibernians." It the story of a young comedian's return from Santa Monica, California back to Boston to attend his favorite Irish uncle's funeral. With the recent capture of Whitey Bulger in that very same seaside city where I drafted "Ancient Hibernians," a Boston-Irish mob tale, "The Shebeen," and "Baptism," the fact that I wrote it and other tales about crime, addiction, and death seems quite eerie. As we all found out recently, Whitey Bulger lived anonymously just eight blocks away from me during the years 2002-2005 (we both had highly sought after "rent-control" apartments). For all I know, the leader of the Winter Hill Gang smiled walked past me as I pushed my son, William in his carriage on the 3rd Street Promenade.
"Baptism" is a story of an addict healing, being born again, and returning to his roots, his family. It is about a sacred Catholic ritual that few choose to take part in. Gabriel Bradley is a hesitant godfather in this story but he's also the baptized as he meets a new love and is anointed by the cold New England rain as he stares out to the Charles River thinking about his failure in sunny California. In the end, Gabriel has found himself again and realigns his values that have been corrupted by Hollywood and his semi-success there.$7.00 | 31 Pages | In Stock
—Michael J. Atwood