Friday, September 28, 2007

Two Stories by Sarah Mkhonza

Two Stories is a chapbook of short stories by Ithaca City of Asylum resident writer Sarah Mkhonza.

"The stories of Sarah Mkhonza are deceptively simple on the surface, smooth as a country pond, but deep and roiled beneath. And though they feel ancient, they're as relevant as anything in today's news."-- Russell Banks

In these stories, Sarah Mkhonza creates a set of sharply drawn, unsparing portraits of women living at the edges of Swazi society, from the landless scavengers of "No Place to Die" to the childless wife struggling to keep her husband in "Where Was Manandi Last Night."

Born in Swaziland, Sarah Mkhonza is the author of countless newspaper articles, two young adult novels, and a collection of poetry. She currently lives in Ithaca, New York.

From Two Stories

It was in the small hours of the morning, and she could see the light through the cracks in the walls of the hut. She looked at the place where the thatch met the wall and confirmed that it was surely daybreak. Makatikoti stretched out on the mat, still hoping that she was dreaming. She could not believe it. Manandi had not come home. She wondered what had happened to him...

36 pages
ISBN 0-9798112-0-1

Friday, September 21, 2007

Audience by Bridget Meeds

In a series of post-performance scenes, Bridget Meeds crosses and recrosses the line between observer and observed, turning inward in a play of witness, action, and memory. Audience begins in the shadows of September 11th and spans a year as Meeds travels from one entertainment to another and the nation moves inexorably toward war.

Bridget Meeds is the author of the long poem Light, about a year working in a pizzeria in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and Tuning the Beam, about a month as a poet-in-residence at a laboratory for high-energy particle physics.

From Audience

Takacs Quartet
April 20, 2002

A tidal wave of little deaths
crests and crashes over the world,
and another and another and another...

73 pages
ISBN 0-9798112-1-X

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A Reason for the Wind by Roni Fuller

A Reason for the Wind, Roni Fuller's new book of poetry, begins where Fuller's previous collection left off, as he recovers from his wife's death, detailing his travels to El Salvador, as well as his internal travel through the uncharted terrority of grief, memory, and longing.

From A Reason for the Wind

It was here that I learned
to open and taste granadia,
scooping up its wet, sweet juice,
and know the soft flesh
of maranon, beneath which
grows the cashew,
curved and hard.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Tracing the Path by the Cascadilla Poets

Tracing the Path is an anthology of poems by The Cascadilla Poets: Peggy Billings, Inta Ezergailis, Jon Frankel, Bridget Meeds, and Ann Silsbee, with guest poets Yi Ping and Lin Zhou.

"In a collection like this one, a reader could single out the virtuosity of one poet, a purity of tone of another, or the verbal mastery of a third, but to do so is at odds with the intent. The gifts of each contributor are substantial, but their mutual accomplishment is even more remarkable. This group of poets can serve as a model for many others of us today, whatever our age and calling."
from the introduction by James McConkey

from Tracing the Path

Jon Frankel: Down Below a Baby Cries

A corkscrew
turning to be free.

So strong
The whole human muscle and its brain
Are bent to one conclusion.

The mother walks it back and forth
Through leopard spots of sun.

Inta Ezergailis: The Dress

It flows in the window-light,
greens, reds, some pink--
the same and not the same
as one some fifty years ago
in the window of a store
of a small Bavarian town,
so soon after the War
that we had no books, but took notes
on organic chemistry and Cornelius Nepos
in neat deferential German longhand.

New lives were being offered, sparingly.
It was possible to cash in on survival,
somehow, though life was not as rich
as it had looked in the bunker,
with Berlin being swept away outside,
when all seemed possible if one was spared,
when, at twelve, I thought
I had brought on the war,
and begged forgiveness for such small sings
as I'd been capable of, clenched my hands,
prayed, sitting straight--God's good pupil--
as the bombs saturated all.

Now there was life--
refugee camp, German school,
the goldpaving of Ottawa or Boston,
or the Australian outback.
The senses in their timid flowering
seized on the dress in a shop window
on the way to school, a shop
which must have been expensive.
The single dress lay seductively
at a languid angle, fluid, silky.
No mannequin--pure, sweet, virgin,
it was waiting for me alone.
Transcendence without mediation.

The missed years of slow awakenings,
of stirrings in the body denied space and time,
trying to find root, turn delicately outward.
Did someone buy it, someone rich and glorious?

The town was Rosenheim, home of roses.

88 pages
ISBN 0-9702498-2-9

Half-Light by Peggy Billings

"Coming upon the collected work of a poet new to us, we should resist the tendency to read the poems in quick succession. Half-Light contains any number of poems that deserve to be lingered over: They need, as good literature always does, to be created all over again in the reader's imagination."
from the introduction by James McConkey

Poet Peggy Billings was born in McComb, Mississippi, in 1928. From 1952-63, she served as a missionary in war-torn South Korea. After her return to the United States in 1963, she went to work for the United Methodist Church, devoting her life to racial justice, civil rights, community action, peace, international affairs, and women's issues. She has remained involved with Korea during its democracy and human rights struggles. She is currently retired and living near Trumansburg, NY.

From Half-Light

End of the Day

When the sun
goes down
behind the Palisades,

shade climbs up
the sides of the buildings
to rest on rooftops.

On Broadway,
the barber's pole
whirrs the evening prayer.

People hurrying home
from the subway
cover their heads with half-light,

of wild lilac and shadow.

Like a child
reluctant to come inside,
the light lingers on our stoop.

66 pages
ISBN 0-9702498-7-X

Don't Go to the Reception with Friends of the Groom! by Reza Daneshvar

A drive into the countryside beyond Paris turns surreal in Don't Go to the Reception with Friends of the Groom! a mischievously disorienting fantasia that mirrors the immigrant's sense of dislocation. With serio-comic intensity, Reza Daneshvar gives us the inherent absurdity of the exile trying to negotiate another culture's darkest recesses.

From Don't Go to the Reception with Friends of the Groom!

When they left the city, a thick fog greeted them; the car was gradually swallowed up as if it were driving into an ocean.

"Oh, it's lovely, all this fog!" the woman exclaimed.

"How can we see the signs? We're bound to get lost," said Hassan-aqa, apprehensive.

"Don't worry, my husband's eyes are sharper than an eagle's." And she suddenly burst out laughing. Hassan-aqa had just discovered that the lenses of her husband's glasses, thick as wine-bottle bottoms, were heavily coated with mist....

translated by Catherine Porter
18 pages
ISBN 0-9702498-6-1

Monday, July 30, 2007

Mahboobeh and Ahl by Reza Dansevhar

Stretching across forty years of Iranian history, Mahboobeh and Ahl tells the allergorical story of a young woman and the demon that haunts her, beginning at the outset of World War II and ending with the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Told with the simplicity of a folk tale, it explores the oppression of women within the contexts of tradition and modernity, leavening its critique with humor, beauty, and poetry. Reza Daneshvar has written four novels in Persian, three short story collections, and seven plays. This is his first publication in English; it is translated by Ashurbanipal Babilla and edited by Nahid Mozaffari and Deborah Tall. Reza Daneshvar currently lives in Paris and works as a radio journalist. Read an interview with Reza Daneshvar at

From Mahboobeh and Ahl

"The story they told was that Mahboobeh's father's aunt, Hajar, was responsible for the family's uprooting in the year one thousand, three hundred, and eighteen of the Hijra. A few months before Mahboobeh's birth in the city, the wind demon unleashed a savage storm from his sack, tearing up God's good earth, and exposing, bit by bit, for all to see, the remains of the aunt, gruesomely slain. Wailing and scandal filled the land...."

31 pages
ISBN 0-9702498-4-5

God's Breath by Roni Fuller

Written in a maelstrom of grief, God's Breath is a testament to love torn asunder and a musing about how the structures of Jewish life give shape to feelings that seem uncontrollable. Roni Fuller grew up in a small town in Southern California, and began writing poetry more than fifty years ago. He has also lived in Israel, El Salvador, and on the Navajo Reservation. He currently lives in Brooktondale, NY with a son and a granddaughter. You can read more of Roni's poetry at

From God's Breath

The wind breathes life,
as God's breath,
the sacred name,
seemed to carry you away.
I watched your calm breathing
slow and stop,
as planets spun
a plotted course,
as leaves unfolded,
as streams flowed on.

ISBN 0-9702498-5-3

The Speech of Pebbles by Yi Ping

The Speech of Pebbles by Chinese poet and human rights activist Yi Ping is his first collection in English. The poems were translated by a group of poetry students at Ithaca College, directed by their teacher Jerry Mirskin. Yi Ping was born in 1952 in Beijing. As a teenager during the Cultural Revolution, he was sent to the countryside, where he met his wife, translator Lin Zhou. After returning to Beijing, he participated in the Students' Democracy Movement and was permanently banned from teaching and forbidden to publish his work. In 1991, Yi Ping fled to Poland, and in 1997 he was granted political asylum by the U.S. government. In 2001-2003, he was the first writer in residence for the Ithaca City of Asylum program. Currently, he edits the web magazine Human Rights in China ( The Chinese and English versions of each poem appear in the book.

From The Speech of Pebbles


Return now to what is true.
The simple clarity
of soil and sky.
The field of stones.

Time fades quickly.
Let impermanence dawn.
The origins and commonalities,
water and wind,
elements of forever
pelting the cliffs.

Calm and solemn
light shines upon the ruins.
The work of time.
The silence of motion
from earth to stars.

An end. A beginning.

Translated by Betsy Strong

In Chinese and English
ISBN 0-9702498-3-7

Naming the Disappeared by Ann Silsbee

Naming the Disappeared is a carefully written chapbook of compact poems, many of which are inspired by photographs by Dorothea Lange. Writer Ann Silsbee was a composer and poet whose works were widely performed and published. She was married to the physicist Robert Silsbee, whose photographs illustrate the chapbook, and had three sons.

from Naming the Disappeared

The Storyteller

listens inside his corral of bones
head back eye-gates closed mouth rut-circled
shows not a hint of hoofbeat or neigh
though you know he feels story nudge him
kick in his belly nose at his lungs
When his eyes flare white he'll not stand tame
in his baggy raincoat He'll seize us
jump ahorse with us gallop us off
flinging his wide brimmed hat to the wind

ISBN 0-9702498-1-0