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2013 Gaithersburg Book Festival

Tomorrow between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., the fourth annual Gaithersburg Book Festival will offer authors, poets, and activities for kids.

Among the authors I’m looking forward to are these:

And those poets on the Poetry in the Afternoon Panel, I’m moderating are:

I hope that if you are in the area, you’ll stop by the panel or at least see some great authors.  This is always a great family event and shares the love of books.

Trace by Eric Pankey

Book Source: Purchased at Novel Places
Paperback, 68 pgs
I am an Affiliate of Amazon.com

Trace by Eric Pankey, published by Milkweed Editions on 100 percent post-consumer waste paper, is a melancholy collection of poems that explores faith and the vacillation between believing and not.  Combining science and philosophy with observations of nature, Pankey examines the impact of life upon life, memory, and the other.  “If all matter is constant, what can one add to creation?”, the narrator of “A Line Made While Walking” asks.  What are these lines that we draw between our past and present, God and ourselves, and even between one another — are they not just arbitrary demarcations.  Like in “Out-of-the-Body,” the narrator watches the river otter and wonders if the animal is at play or working and whether even such distinctions enter into his thoughts while he’s busily breaking up the ice.  And if the otter does not make these distinctions, why do we, especially when we lie awake at night.  If only we could watch ourselves from outside of ourselves, what would we see?

Pankey’s preoccupation with death and its ultimate push to think about faith in something greater than ourselves permeates each and every poem in the collection, though some more intensely than others.  “All of winter, like a suppressed yawn, wells up inside me” is just one line from “Cogitatio Mortis” or I think of death (a rough Latin-to-English translation).  Death is never far from us or our thoughts, especially in today’s media hyped up world in which news from across the globe reaches us in seconds and wars continue to break out across the world.

Edge of Things

I wait at the twilit edge of things,
A dry spell spilling over into drought,

The slippages of shadow silting in,
The interchange of dusk to duskier,
The half-dark turning half-again as dark.

There:  night enough to call it a good night.

I wait for the resurrection, but wake to morning:
Mist lifting off the river.
Ladders in the orchard trees although the picking's done.

There are moments of hope in the collection, as Pankey’s poems discuss the death of the body, but not the soul. In “The Place of Skulls,” the narrator talks about the millstones and the hauling down of the bodies, but that the tree continues living and bearing fruit. Whether this is a poem about reincarnation, the absorption of the soul into the tree, or the mere image of saplings that have grown up and bear their own fruit after the sire has passed on does not matter because there is hope that life never just stops.  Faith is at the edges of these poems and underneath them, but on the surface, there is death, loss, and memories of all that has passed, even if those memories are faded and carry different emotional context than they did in the moment of creating them.

Trace by Eric Pankey is a collection focused on faith and passing on and what one wishes to leave behind, compared to what is actually left behind.  It is about the struggle to continue to get up every day and face it head on, even if death is closer than ever.

About the Poet:

Eric Pankey is the author of nine collections of poetry. TRACE, published by Milkweed Editions this year is the most recent. Two new collections, DISMANTLING THE ANGEL, and CROW-WORK are forthcoming. He is the Heritage Chair in Writing at George Mason University.

He’ll be at the May Gaithersburg Book Festival for “Poetry in the Afternoon” moderated by me!

 

 

This is my 21st book for the Dive Into Poetry Challenge 2013.

 

 

This is my 32nd book for the 2013 New Authors Challenge.

Mailbox Monday #219

Even though my Mailbox Mondays have been on hiatus for the most part this month, I wanted to share all the books I’ve received, some of which already were reviewed.

Mailbox Monday (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch. May’s host is 4 the LOVE of BOOKS.

The meme allows bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received for review:

1.  Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris, which came unexpectedly from Little & Brown and may be passed along to someone else.

From the unique perspective of David Sedaris comes a new book of essays taking his readers on a bizarre and stimulating world tour. From the perils of French dentistry to the eating habits of the Australian kookaburra, from the squat-style toilets of Beijing to the particular wilderness of a North Carolina Costco, we learn about the absurdity and delight of a curious traveler’s experiences. Whether railing against the habits of litterers in the English countryside or marveling over a disembodied human arm in a taxidermist’s shop, Sedaris takes us on side-splitting adventures that are not to be forgotten.

2.  Pain, Parties, Work by Elizabeth Winder for review with TLC Book Tours.

In May of 1953, a twenty-one-year-old Plath arrived in New York City, the guest editor of Mademoiselle’s annual College Issue. She lived at the Barbizon Hotel, attended the ballet, went to a Yankee game, and danced at the West Side Tennis Club. She was supposed to be having the time of her life. But what would follow was, in Plath’s words, twenty-six days of pain, parties, and work, that ultimately changed the course of her life.

 

3.  Three-Ring Rascals: The Show Must Go On! by Kate Klise and illustrated by M. Sarah Klise from Anna.

Ladies and gentlemen! Boys and girls!

Step right up and hear the amazing tale of Sir Sidney’s Circus.

Listen to how Sir Sidney, a kindly old circus owner, needed a rest.

Read and weep when Sir Sidney leaves the circus in the hands of a big mean baddie.

Shriek with terror as Barnabas Brambles cracks his whip at Elsa the elephant.

Cry in horror when Mr. Brambles tries to sell Leo the lion to a zoo.

Hide your eyes as the Famous Flying Banana Brothers perform death-defying feats to get the circus train to the show on time!

Can they do it? Will they make it? They better, because THE SHOW MUST GO ON!

Black and white line drawings throughout.

4.  The Gods of Heavenly Punishment by Jennifer Cody Epstein for review with TLC Book Tours (2 copies — one will be passed on to someone).

In this evocative and thrilling epic novel, fifteen-year-old Yoshi Kobayashi, child of Japan’s New Empire, daughter of an ardent expansionist and a mother with a haunting past, is on her way home on a March night when American bombers shower her city with napalm—an attack that leaves one hundred thousand dead within hours and half the city in ashen ruins. In the days that follow, Yoshi’s old life will blur beyond recognition, leading her to a new world marked by destruction and shaped by those considered the enemy: Cam, a downed bomber pilot taken prisoner by the Imperial Japanese Army; Anton, a gifted architect who helped modernize Tokyo’s prewar skyline but is now charged with destroying it; and Billy, an Occupation soldier who arrives in the blackened city with a dark secret of his own. Directly or indirectly, each will shape Yoshi’s journey as she seeks safety, love, and redemption.

5.  Emily & Herman by John J. Healey, which I received for review from Arcade Publishing.

The manuscript of this novel was discovered by John J. Healey in a box left by his grandfather, Professor Vincent P. Healey, after his death. This engaging work of fiction is a romantic account in which four iconic figures of American Letters play a leading role.

In the summer of 1851 Herman Melville was finishing Moby Dick on his family farm in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts. Surrounded by his mother, sisters and pregnant wife, it was a calm and productive season until his neighbor Nathaniel Hawthorne lured him to Amherst. There they met twenty-year-old Emily Dickinson and her brother Austin. On a whim the two distinguished authors invited the Dickinson siblings to accompany them on a trip to Boston and New York. In Manhattan they met journalist Walt Whitman and William Johnson, a runaway slave, and it was there, despite their efforts to control it, that Emily and Herman fell in love.

This, for the first time, is their story.

6.  Why Photographers Commit Suicide by Mary McCray from the poet for review.

Why Photographers Commit Suicide explores, in small narratives and lyrical poems, the American idea of Manifest Destiny, particularly as it relates to the next frontier—space exploration. Mary McCray examines the scientific, psychological and spiritual frontiers enmeshed in our very human longing for space, including our dream of a space station on Mars. These poems survey what we gain and what we lose as we progress towards tomorrow, and how we can begin to understand the universal melancholy we seem to cherish for what we leave behind, the lives we have already lived. McCray unearths our feelings about what it means to move ahead and stake out new territory, and what it means to be home.

7.  The Fact of the Matter by Sally Keith, which I purchased from Novel Places.

Moving from the mundane to the profound, first through observation of fact and matter, then shifting perspective, engaging a deeper sense of self, these poems re-imagine things great and small, making us care deeply about the world around us. In this cultivated and intricately crafted collection, Sally Keith shows the self as a crucible of force—that which compels us to exert ourselves upon the world, and meanwhile renders us vulnerable to it. Force by which a line unfurls—as in Robert Smithson’s colossal Spiral Jetty—or leads with forward motion—a train hurdling along the west-reaching railroad; Edweard Muybridge’s photographic reels charting animal and human locomotion. With poems remarkable in their clarity, captivating in their matter-of-factness, Keith examines the impossible and inevitable privacy of being a person in the world, meanwhile negotiating an inexorable pull toward the places we call home—one we alternately try and fail to resist.

8.  Trace by Eric Pankey, which I purchased from Novel Places.

His arresting ninth collection of poems, Eric Pankey’s Trace locates itself at a threshold between faith and doubt—between the visible and the invisible, the say-able and the ineffable, the physical and the metaphysical. Also a map of the poet’s journey into a deep depression, these poems confront one man’s struggle to overcome depression’s smothering weight and presence. And with remarkable clarity and complexity, Trace charts the poet’s attempt to be inspired, to breathe again, to give breath and life to words. Ever solemn, ever existential, Pankey’s poems find us at our most vulnerable, the moment when we as humans—believers and nonbelievers alike—must ultimately pause to question the uncertain fate of our souls.

9.  Miss Plastique by Lynn Levin, which I received from the poet for review.

Miss Plastique, the fourth full-length poetry collection by Lynn Levin, invites the reader into a world of female bravado in which Miss Plastique and her many selves rant, fret, joke, fall in love, dress up, and do their hair. Poems in this collection first appeared in Boulevard, Artful Dodge, Hunger Mountain, Connecticut Review, Knockout, Nerve Cowboy, and other places. Lynn Levin, a poet known for her eclecticism, humor, and range of poetic styles, is the author of the previous poetry collections Fair Creatures of an Hour, a Next Generation Indie Book Awards finalist in poetry; Imaginarium, a finalist for ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award; and A Few Questions about Paradise (all from Loonfeather Press). Her craft of poetry book, Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets (with Valerie Fox) is forthcoming from Texture Press in 2013. Lynn Levin is also a writer and literary translator. She has received nine Pushcart Prize nominations, two grants from the Leeway Foundation, and Garrison Keillor has read her work on his radio show The Writer’s Almanac. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Levin has lived in the Philadelphia area since 1980. She is the 1999 Bucks County, Pa. poet laureate and currently teaches at Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania. Advance praise for Miss Plastique: Miss Plastique is a busy girl: giving it to her enemy in stiletto heels, giving it up to an Elvis impersonator, thumbing a ride across Texas. She has turned from the mirror and can’t look back. She’s sexy and seductive and refuses to be pinned down; she’s silk so fluid you could drink her-read her instead, but watch she doesn’t explode in your hands. -Meg Kearney, author of Home By Now

10. Dr. Radway’s Sarsaparilla Resolvent by Beth Kephart, illustrated by William Sulit, a surprise from my dear author friend.

Flavored by the oddities of historic personalities and facts, Dr. Radway’s Sarsaparilla Resolvent is set in Bush Hill, Philadelphia, 1871—home to the Baldwin Locomotive Works and a massive, gothic prison. Acclaimed writer Beth Kephart captures the rhythms and smells of an extraordinary era as William Quinn and his Ma, Essie, grapple with life among terrible accidents, miraculous escapes, and shams masquerading as truth.

11.  Antonia Lively Breaks the Silence by David Samuel Levinson, unexpectedly from the publisher Algonquin.

Catherine Strayed is living a quiet, un-
remarkable life in a secluded college town following the mysterious death of her husband, a promising writer whose death may have been an accident, a suicide, or perhaps even a murder. When her former mentor (and onetime lover)—a powerful critic who singlehandedly destroyed her late husband’s chance for success—takes a teaching job at the college, Catherine’s world threatens to collapse. For with him has come his latest protégé, an exotic young woman named Antonia Lively. Antonia’s debut  novel has become a literary sensation—but it is, in fact, an almost factual retelling of 
a terrible crime that she relates without 
any concern for the impact its publication will have on the lives of those involved.  As Antonia insinuates herself into Catherine’s life, mysterious and frightening things start to happen, because unbeknownst to Catherine, the younger woman intends to plunder her own dark, regrettable past—and the unsolved death of her husband—for her next literary triumph.

12. Beautiful Decay by Sylvia Lewis, which came unexpectedly from Running Press, though may be appropriate for some near-teenager I know….

Things have a way of falling apart around Ellie Miller. Literally. With a touch that rots, she keeps everyone at a distance—for others’ safety as much as her own comfort.

When newcomer Nate MacPherson makes it his mission to get close to Ellie, she does her best to steer clear. But as Nate reveals an unusual ability of his own, Ellie recognizes a kindred spirit who could accept her for who she is . . . if she lets him.

As family secrets unravel, Ellie will have to discover the beauty within her reach in order to save the ones she loves.

13.  The Look of Love by Bella Andre from Meryl Moss Media unexpectedly — this will likely be passed on to someone else.

Chloe Peterson has vowed never to make the mistake of trusting a man again. Her reasons are as vivid as the bruises on her cheek. So when her car skids off a wet country road straight into a ditch, she’s convinced the gorgeous guy who rescues her must be too good to be true.

As a successful international photographer, Chase Sullivan has his pick of beautiful women. He’s satisfied with his life—until he finds Chloe and her totaled car on the side of the road in Napa Valley.

With every loving look—and every sinfully sweet caress—the attraction between them sizzles, and Chloe can’t help but wonder if she’s met the man who may be the exception to her rule….

14.  A Half Forgotten Song by Katherine Webb from HarperCollins for review.

In Half Forgotten Song, fourteen-year-old Mitzy Hatcher’s lonely life on the wild Dorset coast is changed forever when renowned artist Charles Aubrey arrives to summer there with his exotic mistress and daughters.  Mitzy develops a bond with the Aubrey household, gradually becoming Charles’s muse. Over the next three summers, a powerful love is kindled in her that grows from childish infatuation to something far more complex.  Years later, a young man in an art gallery looks at a hastily drawn portrait and wonders at its intensity. The questions he asks lead him to a Dorset village and to the truth about those fevered summers in the 1930s.

15.  The Keeper of Secrets by Julie Thomas from HarperCollins/William Morrow for review.

Beautiful and mysterious, The Keeper of Secrets by Julie Thomas follows a priceless violin across generations—from WWII to Stalinist Russia to the gilded international concert halls of today—and reveals the loss, love, and secrets of the families who owned it.   In 1939 Berlin, 14-year-old Simon Horowitz’s world is stirred by his father’s 1742 Guarneri del Gesu violin. When Nazis march across Europe and Simon is sent to Dachau, he finds unexpected kindness, and a chance to live.   In the present day, orchestra conductor Rafael Gomez finds himself inspired by Daniel Horowitz, a 14-year-old violin virtuoso who refuses to play. When Rafael learns that the boy’s family once owned a precious violin believed to have been lost forever, Rafael seizes the power of history and discovers a family story like no other.

What did you receive?