Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Boiled Potato Blues by Kathleen Kramer

With a musician’s ear for rhythm and a painter’s eye for detail, Kathleen Kramer writes of family, home, and the world of Pennsylvania’s coal mining country. Reaching back three generations, she writes of ordinary people living in extraordinarily difficult times, telling stories that are in turn humorous, tender, tragic, and miraculous.

“Kathleen Kramer has written with such compassion and grace, gratitude and praise, healing and forgiveness that her lyric poems become story songs of reverence, devotion, and prayer — poems both ballad and hymn.”
-- from the introduction by Mary Beth O'Connor

ISBN 0-9798112-4-4
92 pages

from Boiled Potato Blues


He lifts the corner of the curtain, tucks
it up. Even on moonless nights, the triangle
of pale light helps him breathe. Day after day

in the drift mine, the carbide lamp on his cap
casts its pallid circle on the sweating veins
of coal. He breathes high in his chest, hopes

the black dust won’t clog his lungs,
stiffen them like an old leather bellows,
send him, like his father, to the stool beside

the stove, unable to work or walk
to the mailbox. In the night, he wakes, stares
at the bedroom ceiling, looming low

in the feeble light from the turned-back curtain.
That deep grumble—is it thunder? Or the groan
of the mine roof after he’s pulled the timbers,

hurrying to load the last of the exhausted vein,
push the coal car out to the tipple before the roof
falls, seals him in, without even a triangle of light.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Land of Flowers by Irakli Kakabadze

Writing simultaneously in Georgian and English, Irakli Kakabadze travels between activism in the Republic of Georgia and exile in the United States, continually refining his vision of pacifist poetics. With deep roots in the Futurists and the Beats, these bold, funny, and ardent poems dismantle language to shatter expectations and create a new world.

“Kakabadze is rhyme-crazy and it shows. If he doesn’t find a word in English that he needs, he makes one up. If the rules of grammar or punctuation don’t suit his sonic needs, he breaks them. But there’s more going on here than just the urgency of expression bursting out through a second language. Kakabadze is creating cognitive and linguist dissonance to challenge bourgeois reality and ‘destroy the congeniality of the line’ in a rebellion against consumerism.”
-- from the introduction by Bridget Meeds

ISBN 0-9798112-3-6
80 pages (bilingual English/Georgian)

from Land of Flowers


I am a full-time, young worker
and I’m a slave of my mortgage.
Payments are due every month,
and also visits to my aunt.
I need to accumulate property,
a dream of my friend Lilly Daugherty,
and if I follow this step by step process,
I’ll be wealthier than Malcolm X.
That’s what my dear Mama often told me,
when she used to talk and hold me,
“If you are not wealthy,
you can be sure you’ll never be healthy.”

I was told this every day,
and I’m a mortgage slave today.
And then I met this gorgeous girl,
I fell in love, I don’t know when,
I told her that I have a house,
and I always watch my Mickey Mouse,
that I have very, very busy days,
todays, tomorrows, yesterdays.
She doesn’t care about my house,
nor does she like my Mickey Mouse.
She just wants to have my heart,
it’s not important if I have a good credit card.
But I don’t have time to give her my heart,

I need to do too many things.
I want to give her all my heart,
but I don’t know where I should start.
Oh, mommy, mommy, I am a good boy,
but I don’t want to be a mortgage toy.
Hey, Mr. Lincoln, come to the world again
and liberate me from a faceless slavery,
slavery of the mortgage that I owe,
and make me free to love, love, love.

A Jew in El Salvador by Roni Fuller

With A Jew in El Salvador, Roni Fuller continues a journey begun in two previous volumes, God’s Breath and A Reason for the Wind. In three trips to San Salvador, before and after the death of his wife, Fuller explores the landscape of love, faith, and grief to discover his place in the world.

“El Salvador has become a part of my core,” writes Fuller. “Whether I will ever return I do not know at this moment. I do know that the country, its people in general, numerous acquaintances and good friends in particular, the land, the beauty, the mystery, the essence of the place, all will remain with me as long as I live.”

ISBN 0-9798112-4-4
120 pages

from A Jew in EL Salvador


From Suchitoto, we walk down the steep path,
passing houses, greeting people, smiling at children.
Half-way to the river, the houses thin, then stop.
The road, too, stops its cobbled path to become
a trail, still steep, descending through the forest.

Green surrounds us, the path becoming smaller,
the trees everywhere, the vines trailing.
The colors of butterflies punctuate the way:
red, yellow, black, brown, orange, blue, indigo,
and others which I think have no name.

There is a butterfly, which, in repose, becomes an owl’s eye,
and one which is a fountain of iridescent plankton.
Another wears its red in barbells, and another in spots.
Tiger stripes, neon glows, and bright oranges
flit quickly before us, then vanish.

At the river a man with a stick and string wades barefoot
to catch the tiny fish that swim by the shore.
He chats about the river and the lanas that live in it,
stinging algae. The birds fly by: boat-billed flycatcher,
ringed kingfisher, northern jacana.

A spotted sandpiper walks around a rock in the river,
perhaps eating the ants that swarm on it.
There are no dangers lurking, other than the lanas,
no thieves behind the trees. Another man walks by,
carrying his morning’s catch of tiny fish.

The sun bakes through the trees, onto our backs,
as we walk up the trail, the path, up the steep hill,
surrounded by butterflies in the forest,
climbing past the houses, increasing in number,
to the top, leading to Suchitoto.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Candidate Jokola by Irakli Kakabadze

When oil executive Jokola Kistauri suddenly quits the presidential race, the media launches into a feeding frenzy to understand why. In this six-act tragedy of wartime love and politics, suppressed in the Republic of Georgia, Irakli Kakabadze reaches behind the masks of power and success to explore the choices we make as human beings.

“Kakabadze has always been in the forefront of non-violent struggle, but what is most interesting is that he decided to write Candidate Jokola after the Rose Revolution—when he was highly regarded by the Georgian authorities, and had a chance to become one of their favorites. Instead, he wrote a work that sided with the underdog, and because he chose to write a love story between an Abkhaz woman and a Georgian presidential candidate, he risked not only his literary career, but his life.”
-- from the introduction by Zurab Rtveliashvili

ISBN 0-9798112-2-8
96 pages

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Rose Anthem/Polyphonic Blues by Irakli Kakabadze

Recorded in Tbilisi in 2004-05, Rose Anthem documents Kakabadze’s collaboration with Georgian rockers Irakli “Mefe” Charkviani and Ketato Pop in a highly charged mix of traditional folk polyphony and America rhythm and blues. Recorded a year later, Polyphonic Blues showcases Kakabadze’s ongoing collaboration with Gogi Dzodzuashvili/Postindustrial Boys, Georgia’s greatest creator of electronica.

Track listing:
1. Natalie Avery (3:55)
2. Tears and Joy (3:45)
3. Re-bell Atlantic (5:17)
4. Going to Shanghai (4:59)
5. Rose Blues Against War (11:29)
6. My Denomination (5:00)
7. Hey, Hey, Hey, Dude (4:12)
8. Post Feminist (4:31)
9. Main Street/Deconstruction Blues (4:31)
Music by Irakli "Mefe" Charkviani, Gogi Dzodzuashvili, Salome Korkota, and Ketato Pop. Lyrics by Irakli "Mefe" Charkviani and Irakli Kakabadze.