ANC039: Luchadora by Silvia Angulo

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I am brown country thunder / brewing, heat wave of mi madre / prim and plotting for expired / Revolution.

Rafael Trujillo was halfway into his decades-long dictatorship of the Dominican Republic when he first crossed paths with the Mirabel sisters, four young women known collectively as Las Mariposas, or The Butterflies ─ an idyllic name belied by the extent of their clandestine political activism. The sisters began a lengthy cycle of incarceration and release for their open opposition to the regime and support for its underground resistance. Ultimately, the three eldest sisters lost their lives to the cause, strangled by members of the secret police in a rainy sugarcane grove. News of the assassination helped push public resentment over the edge; Trujillo was shot within a matter of months, putting an end to thirty-one years of brutal oppression and the death of at least fifty thousand Dominicans.

In Luchadora, Silvia Angulo carries this tradition of feminist agitation to the present day, immersing it in her cultural experience and balancing it with an exploration of celestial mythology. The face of tyranny may change, yet it is always with us; her work gives voice to one's progress in rising against dominant forces, however masked those gains may be by external factors out of reach but pushing back with all their might. These poems trace femininity's many facets: the turmoil of primordial birth, the restlessness of stifled ambitions, the potency of sisterhood, the sensuality of a confident siren. In surveying her role as a twenty-first century mujer, Angulo honors the legacy of her ancestors, plots paths to new achievements, and finds "a womb mothers my / riots, cantankerous swift / I breeze dope as drums."

72 pages, handmade and numbered
$16 (US postage paid)

ANC038: Lightening after the Echo

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If I were to talk of a history and the sounds of you, / then I would create a space with a bamboo chime / waving and making a flat sound not like / metal on metal but more like earth pounding on straw.

As the Midwest was increasingly developed over the past century, a multitude of factors produced lasting consequences for the region's rich biodiversity. Agriculture has necessitated widespread habitat loss, industrial toxins continually spoil the environment, and invasive species have further decimated numerous ecosystems. What land remains diminishes with every push outward from the human population; city, suburb, exurb, expanding freely and forever. While it can be easier to lament the hazards faced by charismatic critters, it is kingdom plantae we have devastated most significantly. In Illinois alone, hundreds of grasses, sedges, ferns, weeds, and worts are currently listed as endangered or threatened.

The free verse and prose poems in Viola Lee's Lightening after the Echo concern themselves, too, with the passage of time and the seemingly inconsequential items it so often glosses over. Lee documents her heritage, her role as a Chicagoan, and the small moments upon which her daily life pivots. The body and its shortcomings are featured throughout but greatly outweighed by Lee's attention to the sheer quantity of objects she is surrounded by: shampoo and frying pans, tofu and rice, scissors and staplers, boots and balloons, Shake 'n Bake and Bubble Yum, mixtapes and forks, plywood and glass, cake mix and coffins, blankets and bottles, envelopes and oranges, mirrors and ink. On and on and in the end, "you become all of it: the houses, the windows, and the ash."

112 pages with ten color cards, handmade and numbered
$20 (US postage paid)

ANC037: There is one crow that will not stop cawing. by Rushing Pittman

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I am holding myself in my abdominal cavity. / I am happy I am not speaking. / This morning I looked at the sun. / I am okay with it I think. / My head is large but not unwieldy. / I think you are better than me. 

Although it was developed as a healing approach for children, neuroscience has found the practice of play therapy to be similarly beneficial for adults. Through modalities as varied as nature play or storytelling, individuals reduce negative cognitive behaviors, allowing them to comfortably address grief, anxiety, depression, and more. 

The poems in Rushing Pittman's There is one crow that will not stop cawing employ an absurdist perspective in their examination of death, the limits of the body, the acceptance of infertility, loss in love, the human soul and the soul in all things. Also explored are the constant flux of our multiple identities and the conversations in which they engage. Ultimately, the collection handles lightly these heavy concerns; the poems are tinged with hilarity as much as sadness. In short: they play.

Pittman writes: I began this book on my deck at the start of spring in 2015. I was preparing to come out to my family as transgender, and my world order was shifting. I could no longer imagine my future. I barely knew what my body would look like in a year’s time, and I was unsure of who I would still have in my life. The way I got through this period was to sit on my deck and stare at my yard. I wanted to sit as still as possible and be silent. I counted the weeds. I considered making a garden. I listened to one crow cawing repeatedly. I think that eventually, as this project went on, I became very much like him.

60 pages, handmade and numbered
$16 (US postage paid)

ANC038: Calamity & Me by Boona Daroom

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I come from a long line of arsonists, she tells me. The kerosene can of her vapors through her nose. Tell me more, I say. But she falls silent. No, her lips seem to insist. Never. She handstands on the sun-baked lawn and walks towards me, pouring what’s left of her out.

When faced with catastrophe, human instinct spurs creation; torched homes are restored, leveled cities rebuilt, communities revived. Yet for every feel-good story of new beginnings, a ghost town is lost to time: Beichuan, San Juan Parangaricutiro, Bor. The pathos lingering over much of New Orleans and Detroit, disasters at the hands of man and nature alike, speaks to our need for swift, clear-cut resolutions to communal misfortune. But what of personal loss? To flip the axiom: an earthquake is a statistic, breaking up is a tragedy. 

In Calamity & Me, Boona Daroom crafts a metaphorical love story between himself and the regular hardships of life. Told through a series of vignettes weaving transgressional style and syntax with obscured meanings and double entendre, the narrative employs personification liberally and on a sliding scale. Sometimes Summer is a season but sometimes she is a ghost plucking a cello in the narrator's room. The Atoms are merely the sensation of a breeze on his skin, except when they are a stoned swarm scarfing a loaf of bread. Calamity is both a partner and the allegorical manifestation of our daily woes. Seesawing between hilarity and heartache, the private and universal, Calamity & Me presents a pseudo-autobiographical account of the discomfort we all know so well.

50 pages, handmade and numbered
$16 (US postage paid)

ANC035: Becoming by Laura LeHew

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I wake up in the middle of the night / my sister, Karen, stands in the darkened kitchen / fully dressed, hands in her jean pockets, swaying back / & forth back / & forth like a wraith // I ask her why she didn’t wake me / & she says I don’t know—am I awake

The last poem of this collection asserts that “…the past is the answer not / worth pursuing.” But the startling and moving poems that precede it prove otherwise. In Becoming, Laura LeHew has pursued the past, delving into a family history replete with the catastrophic effects of alcoholism. Using innovative forms and vivid imagery, LeHew’s work poignantly evokes the devastation created by an alcoholic sister, mother, and father. These poems tell a powerful story—one both provocative and wrenching.  —Paulann Petersen, Oregon Poet Laureate Emerita

Through finely crafted formal innovations and an unflinching focus on the realities of alcoholism, dementia, and the precarious pathways of family histories, Laura LeHew reminds us that poetry is one of the surest ways to fully inhabit our lives while grappling with realities that unsettle the mind and soul.  —Ce Rosenow, author of Pacific and Spectral Forms

Rather than portraying family as the mythological unicorn we wish it to be, Becoming is the poetic equivalent of an antithetical Brady Bunch. Full of fracture, dementia, multi-generational substance abuse, and violence, Laura LeHew’s poems wrench family damage from shadows and whispers directly onto center stage. A poem in the voice of sister “Karen,” relates: “Once he fuckin’ broke the door down / pulled the phone off the wall / while I was callin’ the cops. / Remember? // Like dad did that one time when he was so pissed at you?” Heartbreak, rather than sentimentality, is woven into the tightly crafted fabric of the verse, as well as the organization of the collection, with found journal-entry poems, non-sequential ordering, and this solemn profound couplet from penultimate poem “Mother’s Day”: “& the past is the answer not / worth pursuing.” As dark as the reality of Becoming is, the journey is redeemed by unflinching examination, moments of unwavering generosity, and the faithful testimony of survival.
—Lana Hechtman Ayers, author of The Dead Boy Sings in Heaven

72 pages, handmade and numbered
$16 (US postage paid)