Publication Announcement

“deja vu, with amnesia, one more time…”

THE DAY AFTER THE LAST ELECTIONS

for Pablo Neruda

Four more years doing time in the Big House
of the Amerikan Corporation,
Bossman Presidente holding the rifle and the dogs…

There’s a new sheriff in town—
identical, in fact, to the old sheriff,
resurrected in a fresh slogan
from the Boot Hill of legal banditry
and duded up in the erewhon drag of intolerance.

Here he comes,
riding over the cries of the Innocents
with an Old Testament fury—
a rootin’, tootin’, six-gun totin’ bottomliner,
with a duty to the Stockholders
to make the world safe for Apocalypse.

Yes, the People have spoken—
but in their sleep, hind legs kicking
like Ol’ Shep chasing dreamrabbits
through 3rd, 4th and 5th world alleys.
The nation is still apologizing to Custer
for having Unions—

meanwhile: the eyes of Saint Elvis float
above billboards advertising the cola
that leads to the method of true smiling.
Waiters jostle with sharks and orchids.

While nobody was watching,
while nobody was listening,
while everybody was ordering another round
of blood on the rocks,
they changed the monkey again—

deja vu, with amnesia, one more time.

from The Big Job by Robert Edwards (Red Dragonfly Press, 2016)


9781945063008Obviously (and unfortunately) this collection of political poems remain as relevant as ever. If you’re feeling low after the last election, perhaps this is just the book to get you “active” once again.

Robert Edwards is originally from northern Minnesota. He attended Moorhead State University where he studied poetry with Thomas McGrath. His books include Rumors of Earth, Transparencies, Radio Venceremos, and American Sounds. Founder and editor of the magazine Pemmican, Edwards lives in the state of Washington.

The Big Job: Poems 1978 – 2004 by Robert Edwards (180 pages;9781945063008) is available from Red Dragonfly Press and Small Press Distribution.


Comments on The Big Job

The Big Job is filled with exclamations, high-spirited imperatives, and raucous hilarity in poems that are linguistically and formally adventurous without being coy and vague. All of these qualities make them highly unfashionable, but we would do well to read them and see what we’re missing in so much contemporary poetry that works so hard to say so little. In ‘Manifesto #94,’ Edwards wrote the following lines, committing to political action: “Now is the time / to set the wind free in the house. / Now is the time / to unsheathe my tongue / and take the safety off my hand.” Now is still the time. – Jonathan Andersen

Where are we in history? What have we lost? What have we become? That’s what Robert Edwards asks in this vast and decades-spanning book of lyrics and narratives and rants and homages—asks and sometimes answers, but never in a simple way. These are poems in love with, and deeply disillusioned by, America. Unapologetic, partisan, political, urgent, furious, The Big Job is also celebratory as it moves, in its own words, “among the sirens, in the American dark.” The truth is, some books can’t help but be hopeful, because they are so full of decency and real thinking. “Bring everything you have,” writes Edwards. “We need it all / because it is ourselves we make.” – Daisy Fried

Part retrospective, part poetry manifesto, part call to action, behind Edwards’ “Big Job” is a big idea: the need of working people to abolish the stranglehold rule of the rich and powerful and construct the foundations of a new egalitarian society. If Edwards’ allegiance to the working class harkens back to such midwestern literary ancestors as Tom McGrath and Meridel LeSueur, his rich imagery, surprising leaps and turns of language, and creation of a unique poetic voice are as accomplished as any poet writing today. The result of over forty years of writing, The Big Job is a triumph for Edwards, as well as for a growing movement of writers seeking to create socially conscious work on behalf of the 99 per cent. – Christopher Butters

Many a poet envisions him- or herself as a courageous figure, toiling steadfastly, crafting poems in, and despite, the Great American Wilderness. But it’s rare to find a poet who will say, “Now is the time / to make a few enemies.” And actually do it, with passion and joie de vivre. Such is the joy awaiting the reader of Robert Edwards’ The Big Job. – John Bradley

Though we are living through dark times, politically and existentially, we have Robert Edwards’ The Big Job to remind us of what it was like when the passion for justice was strong voiced and packed the streets. In these poems, Edwards brings us an archive of protest from 1978 to 2004 and with masterful poetic voice, he honours his contemporaries and those who have gone before. There is anger here, but also humor and biting satire as he skews those who stir his contempt, from Reagan and Bush to Enron bullies exulting over their exploitation of Grandma Millie. Now, this history of rebellion is more timely and needed than ever. – Marilyn Zuckerman

Publication Announcement

New Publication: swift, bright, drift by Diane Jarvenpa

swift, bright, drift by Diane Jarvenpa
swift, bright, drift by Diane Jarvenpa

This new collection of poems by Diane Jarvenpa, with line-by-line luxuriance of language and attention to the natural world, is the perfect way to begin a new year of poetry at Red Dragonfly Press.

swift, bright, drift is about the legacy of our wilderness, how we walk within it and around it and are still mystified by it. It is about being in the woods, observing, listening and sitting inside its luminous silence. There’s a legacy here of a father to his daughter, how he taught her the sacred aspects of the forest and its waters and how she wishes to pass this down to her daughter. There’s a phenology here as well, that is the humble desire to record the changes of the earth, how we can feel illiterate in the face of nature and yet grateful for its adaptability, delicacy, rebirth, and the chance to learn. Here are the opening stanzas of Jarvenpa’s ‘Illuminated Manuscript’:

Old-growth forest totems preach a thousand birds
along the unscrolled slender river
as you follow the skittish comma-heads
of quail, chirographic-antlered deer leaving dust trails,

tiny green and sapphire damselflies,
proverbs among the watercress.

It is one more sand hill penned with flowers,
inkstone thunder clouds over rye fields,
ravens black-stroking their book of haiku
above the black spruce.

swift, bright, drift ($11; 46 pages; ISBN 978-1-937693-83-1) is published as a perfect-bound chapbook, available at Amazon or by special order through your local independent bookstore.

Diane Jarvenpa is the author of Divining the Landscape (New Rivers Press), Ancient Wonders, the Modern World (Red Dragonfly Press) and The Tender Wild Things (New Rivers Press) which received the Midwest Independent Publishers Association book award in poetry. She has received artist initiative and fellowship grants in writing from the Minnesota State Arts Board. She is a singer-songwriter who records under the name Diane Jarvi (http://dianejarvi.com/).

Publication Announcement

2015 Emergence Chapbook Series Prize

I’m pleased to announce the winner of the 2015 Emergence Chapbook Series PrizeClear Day in January by Mark Maire of Duluth, Minnesota. The poems in this collection explore the seen and unseen in the boreal landscapes of northern Minnesota. Look for this chapbook to be published about April, 2016.

Mark’s poetry has appeared in a number of literary magazines and anthologies. A past Pushcart Prize nominee and, recently, one of four finalists for the Codhill Poetry Award, Mark is a retired reference and technical services librarian who’s lived in Duluth for most of his adult life. To hear him reading one of the poems from this chapbook, follow the link: ‘Distance

I also wish to thank the other poets who submitted chapbooks; the range and accomplishment of the entries, all from Minnesota, continue to impress. Manuscripts for the 2016 Emergence Chapbook Series Prize will be accepted beginning in March 31, 2016.

Scott King

Publication Announcement

New Publication: Modern Love & Other Myths by Joyce Sutphen

Modern Love & Other Myths by Joyce Sutphen
Modern Love & Other Myths by Joyce Sutphen

The poems in Modern Love & Other Myths explore, as Elizabeth Bishop phrased it, “efforts of affection” in our contemporary world. Sutphen’s appraisals—both personal and general—resonate deeply with all who have mapped the story land between “hello” and “goodbye.” The title invites us to examine what we mean by myth, and whether, in fact, love can ever be regarded as modern. Wise and inquisitive, the poems in this collection travel across continents as easily as into the heart.

Read an excerpt at Small Press Distribution “Peek Inside

Purchase from Red Dragonfly Press: Modern Love & Other Myths ($16; free shipping)

Purchase from Small Press Distribution: Modern Love & Other Myths

Author page: Joyce Sutphen

Joyce Sutphen, current Minnesota Poet Laureate, lives in Minnesota and teaches at Gustavus Adolphus College.

Modern Love & Other Myths (88 pages; ISBN 9781937693688; 2015)

Backlist Wednesday, e-books

Backlist Wednesday: Library Land by Jane Graham George

Library Land by Jane Graham George
Library Land by Jane Graham George

Library Land was published in 2008. At that time the author, Jane Graham George, lived and worked in Minnesota, her job a reference librarian at the Dakota County Public Library in Eagan. Not unlike the stacks and shelves among which the author moved during her workday, the poems hold a lot of variety in small compass, from swine judging to the Book of Kells. Shortly after the book’s publication, the author changed residence, moving with husband and horse to the Kapiti Coast, northwest of Wellington, New Zealand. Here’s the opening poem:

BELGIAN HORSE

Houses vault up like medieval cathedrals
on land where once there were pastures,
oaks, raspberries, space for long walks.
Chevron-winged killdeer heralded the chaos
of buying and selling, backhoes and downed trees.

Today through the picture window of the largest home,
I imagine the heavy Belgian who used to pull a plow
in the sorghum and sweet corn right here in the 60s,
flying now over a white leather sofa, a dream version
of himself, chestnut Pegasus in slow motion.

Floor lamps and tables shatter behind his mane,
plate glass shards strike me as if they were the myrrh
of a priest’s censer, the house made transparent,
drafty and strangely like its own aspirations, Chartres
and St. Michel, the haunt of angels or ghosts.

Not of that faith, the Belgian and I stand outside,
bound as in the days of chivalry and before,
where we do no harm, are pure in friendship
and the knowledge we haven’t yet lost all ground
and live still in the green time of the world.

I’ve always admired the way the glass of the suburban window gets shattered by the poet’s vision. It’s not justice, exactly, but an elegiac acknowledgment of the overtaking sprawl of growing populations that overwrites most any pastoral or wild landscape. And I value the poet’s stance, almost optimistic, certainly fierce, when she states that “we haven’t yet lost all ground / and live still in the green time of the world.”

Library Land is now available as an e-book.
(Print copies are still available as well: click here)

Publication Announcement

Continuous Performance: The Selected Poems of Maggie Jaffe

Jaffe-grafiti-cover

Edited by poets Marilyn Zuckerman, Christopher Butters, and Robert Edwards, Continuous Performance: The Selected Poems of Maggie Jaffe presents a substantial collection of this poet’s most important work. As Robert Edwards intimates in his introduction to this collection, “Once Maggie found her voice, she created a kind of poetry that was relentlessly stripped to the essentials, everything superfluous burned away in the underlying fury that inhabits these poems.”

“Maggie Jaffe’s poems have a rare power and beauty. She writes about Mayakovsky, Van Gogh, Kafka, Jean Seaberg, and other extraordinary figures of our time…but never in a predictably political way, always in a way that astonishes us and that says something profound about the world we live in.” – Howard Zinn

Purchase from Red Dragonfly Press: Continuous Performance ($17; free shipping)

Purchase from Small Press Distribution: Continuous Performance

Author page: Maggie Jaffe

Maggie Jaffe (1948 – 2011) was author of six books of poetry. Both 7th Circle and The Prisons, won the San Diego Book Award for Poetry. She taught at San Diego State University in the English and Comparative Literature Department. She was also the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Grant, and a California Arts Council Grant.

Publication Announcement

New Publication: Wrestling with the Angel by Edith Rylander

Wrestling with the Angel by Edith Rylander
Wrestling with the Angel by Edith Rylander

Wrestling with the Angel is Edith Rylander’s fourth collection of poetry. The poems in this collection confront Death largely by celebrating Life. The poet takes stock of what’s gone by and reaffirms what richness remains, presenting us with mournful poems and poems of strong earthen joy.

Purchase from Red Dragonfly Press: Wrestling with the Angel ($15; free shipping)

Purchase from Small Press Distribution: Wrestling with the Angel

Author page: Edith Rylander

Edith Rylander has now been writing poetry since 1943. Her life as wife, mother, gardener, stock raiser, woods dweller, and thoughtful observer of nature and life is reflected in her poems, which have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. She received Bush Fellowships for Poetry in 1980 and 1991 and a Loft-McKnight Award for Poetry in 1994.