ANC042: A Ghost Sings, a Door Opens by Howie Good

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It’s something only I can hear / and especially during those moments / that get so quiet without you / not a buzzing exactly or a hiss / more like the screech of lab mice / conditioned by electric shocks / to shudder at the smell of cherry blossoms

Bit by bit and blade by blade, the sparrow builds its home. From branch to eave, streetlight to riverbank, almost any hollow is suitable for nesting. Passeridae in many areas find the dwellings of other birds ample housing, whether deserted or occupied. Though these intruders may be quick to infringe upon another's quarters, they are bold in defending their own.

Similar twigs of domesticity and salvaging weave throughout the grass and feathers of Howie Good's A Ghost Sings, a Door Opens. The final entry in a trilogy (or tetralogy, depending on how you look at it), the collection finds Good in somewhat serene territory as he ponders those quiet moments lost within the squall of our maddening times. 

As always, he splits his musings between spare verse and profuse prose poems; so too does he continue his custom of embellishing the volume with appropriated texts, "dump[ing] them in a growing jumble at the end of the garden . . . misshapen pieces in a kind of extended jigsaw puzzle" depicting a life spent wondering why.

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

ANC040/041: The Summer Flood Came Home & The Picture Show
by Stefania Irene Marthakis

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The actress wraps a blanket around / the actress’s curled body. / Flood watches the actress and the intertitles. / The story is in the folds.The actress’s hand pulls the blanket over / the remaining exposed body. A familiar shape, / a black and white S lies on the bed.

Throughout The Summer Flood Came Home, Stefania Irene Marthakis’ cinematic descriptions invite readers not simply to watch the film as each poem unfolds, but also to take part in the scene. We are given stage directions drawing us further into the landscapes she creates: moments of shock and beauty in the domestic, from the neighborhoods and factories of Indiana. Her narrator acts as the director of a memory-film and we are an audience beyond the fourth wall. Marthakis weaves the complex dynamics of family, lineage, memory and communication, through the bodily experience of everyday objects, blending the deep mythology of a family and its layers of intergenerational trauma into the figure of a child.
          The lens of Flood – an esoteric figure of a youth defined by interaction and exchange with specters real and imagined, fluid at different times in terms of flesh/age/gender/memory – a middle child, in terms of time, space, and dimension – a medium. As such, memories rush as in a flood beating against the walls of the narrative itself, contained by the structure of the prose poem, as the passions of a family are constrained by, and at times rage against, the walls of a house. 
          She continues this raw exploration into family, identity, and intergenerational trauma, again through the cinematic lens, with an even more personal work, The Picture Show. A series of faithfully transcribed conversations with the poet’s grandmother, rendered in cinematic terms. Here again, stage direction is crafted from the surreality of memory in order to recreate the experience, working backwards with hours of tape to produce a deeply touching memory-film in poetic play form. —Jessica Rogers, writer and professor at CUNY

          A mesmerizing exploration of a life sans speech, yet rich with word. Cinematic in its expression, rhythmic in its telling, The Summer Flood Came Home is both direct and implied – an interconnected vision of presence and past, of a language between languages. Marthakis is a master of her craft, and Flood a dynamic testament of her power.
          Part interview, part documentary, The Picture Show is alive with story, hung with the trappings of memory. Frame by frame, we are reminded that what we have is the book we have written for ourselves – moment by moment, letter by letter. Life is not a linear equation but rather a series of events that circle in upon one another, building over time, a legacy of action and emotion. Oral history binds one generation to the next; it is, in truth, how we begin to know ourselves. It is with great skill and an uncompromising voice that Marthakis highlights this very salient point – one all too often lost in our current reality. —Megan London, poet and editor of transient/vanity press

          Marthakis' cinepoem, The Summer Flood Came Home, submerges the reader into a sophisticated play between language and re-imagined memory, ebbing a juxtaposed, rise and fall of sublimation in its sharp exactitude to mark emotional spaces and reclaim the past and present simultaneously. —Pirooz Kalayeh, director of The Human War and Shoplifting From American Apparel

Two books, 92 total pages, in fabric-lined VHS case; handmade and numbered
$20 (US postage paid)

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)

ANC037 is out of print.