Dreaming with Open Eyes


Poems for Vincent Van Gogh

Louis Martinelli

$17.95 – Purchase online

Louis Martinelli’s grand performance in language guides us through the psyche of Van Gogh, surrounds his sorrow, illuminates his achievement, exalts in the ecstasy of painting he gave the world. I will savor these poems and for a long time to come.

Jason Berry, author most recently of City of A Million Dreams: A History of New Orleans at Year 300

 

Lou Martinelli’s visionary collection of poems on Van Gogh, Dreaming with Open Eyes, is a marvel. While its sharp focus and consistent tone unify the volume, individual poems evoke an intriguing dialogue among a variety of voices. I am transported by their range, ingenuity, and fearlessness. The overall effect is breathtaking, culminating with a pair of exceptional poems.

Moreover, this edition incorporates a selection of Van Gogh’s own evocative drawings. In addition, it rewards the reader to look online for celebrated paintings named in many other poems—such as “Pieta,” “Sorrow,” and “Undergrowth with Two Figures.” Martinelli’s imaginative treatment of each piece strikes me as unerring. The sketch of Gachet, for instance, is especially soulful; indeed, his troubled expression seems to complement the discussion of Van Gogh’s psychology and distressed state of mind perfectly.

The author has also thoughtfully included an illustrated “Afterword.” A section entitled a “Note on Method” is especially illuminating, above all for an exchange with noted American ecologist and literary naturalist Paul Gruchow. Ultimately, the poet is bold in his assessment of the artist’s significance: “If Von Humboldt is our first ecological scientist, perhaps Van Gogh is our first ecological painter; everything he saw is connected to everything else.” Yet it is ultimately Van Gogh himself who utters the “last word”—as if a grace note closing the collection as a whole: “I have a wonderful lucidity at moments, these days when nature is so beautiful, I am not conscious of myself anymore and the painting comes to me as in a dream.”

Christian Knoeller, Purdue University, Author of Reimagining Environmental History

 

Sparks

Delta Eddy

Sparks

$17.95 – Purchase online

Full disclosure: I knew Delta Eddy when she was Gary. The dedicatee of her elegy “Student,” Anthony Piccione (d. 2001), who is a central presence in Sparks, was an English Department colleague and close friend of mine. Delta writes, “I keep / walking toward my teacher’s home. He’s moved deeper into the woods, his poems crows / flying silent among bare trees.” And by way of this book, it’s as though Tony—I believe I can speak for him—and I are now in turn walking into our student’s house where we are feeling Emerson’s “perpetual revelation” by way of startling observation, concentrated voice, earned statements and leaps. But more: by way of Eddy’s imaginative power toward primal intelligence that questions everything but hopes, in the end, in part by way of poetry, to be of spiritual use, even as we “Dispose of ashes thus: / Everybody gets a cupful to spill / in their doorways on their icy steps” … Cosmic sparks to earthly flames to ashes, this breakthrough book will keep giving of itself to us, merging with us, as its strong and surprising and riveting poems keep realizing that “there is no soul / in birds or grass or me that is a separate thing.”  William Heyen, National Book Award Finalist, author of Nature: Selected & New Poems 1970-2020


These are poems from the earth and sky and they rise from a spirit that has moved mountains with a lifetime devotion to poetry. Delta Eddy’s vision is far reaching because what she sees brings us closer to the truths we carry in our lives. We turn to these poems because they not only sustain us through the music of faith but, they remind us of what the great poet Pablo Neruda once declared, “Poetry is power.”  Ray Gonzalez, author of Beautiful Wall and Feel Puma


Anchored in the earthly world, Delta Eddy’s poems are Orphic excavations that explore the subliminal, then arise to contemplate the heavens. These poems touch on the Biblical and Classical world of our forebearers but move into our contemporary world to ask our oldest question: “why?”

Ranging from “Why the Shakers Didn’t Write Poetry,” an ars poetica about poetry’s consolations in a difficult world, to lyric appreciation in “Why I Love Slimy Texas Blues,” Eddy’s images reverbate: “guitar licks pointy enough/to kill the roaches in the corners.”

“The Moment the Lightning” fuses the Biblical, the ecstatic, and the natural world in one brilliant lyric gasp.

Sparks looks back on a life of reading and writing with a longing for that early “hunger/for poetry.” The poems are a tender commentary on long relationships—familial and artistic––and though they address our attenuated attentions, Eddy reminds us of the poetic impulse to reach beyond ourselves.  Sparks is a marvelous collection.  Elizabeth Oness, author of Fallibility and Leaving Milan

Ghosting

Steve McCown

Debut Collection

Ghosting

$17.95 – Purchase online

When Steve McCown finally gathered together the pages for this book he was probably a bit surprised to realize he had been a poet for the better part of his life. What possessed him all those years? A courage and curiosity to see where distant roads and nearby doorways might lead. An eye for the authentic and for what matters most. An urge to find words––the most precise, most meaningful ones. A need to structure small individual works into the framework of an unfolding life story. Many of the revelations he provides in these poems are now mine.

—Emilio DeGrazia, Emeritus Professor of English, Winona State University

In the middle of Steve McCown’s luminous book of poetry, there’s a hurricane. After the storm, the poet’s eye catches a bright yellow hummingbird feeder still unbroken amid the wreckage: “Its bright inner life, in the gloom,/was still visible, alluring./ We—displaced from our home,/adrift on the streets—hovered near.” This graceful book performs a kind of poetic salvage operation, rescuing small moments of beauty and meaning from the wreckage of life and the rising flood of time.

Rob Hardy, Poet Laureate of Northfield, Minnesota

No One Left Behind

An Unexpected Educational Adventure at Machu Picchu

Deb Pitton

$17.95 – Purchase a print copy online.

Professor Deb Pitton led a group of education and healthcare students to Peru and Machu Picchu in 2010. When rain swelled the mountain rivers, flooding downstream villages, the group was trapped and struggled to remain together waiting to be evacuated.

No One Left Behind, Deb Pitton’s personal account of what was to become a legendary study abroad trip is filled with humor and honesty. She spares no detail when it comes to describing the rewards and challenges of traveling with a group of college students who are seeing (most of them for the first time) a less privileged side of life. Those revelations, which are often noticed and appreciated by Pitton as she describes an event or interaction, form one of the recurring themes of the book. Another emergent theme has to do with the power of nature and how it can disrupt one’s best laid plans; readers who remember the news stories about the Gustavus Professors and students stranded in the mountains of Peru will perhaps share my amazement as the extent of the ordeal is unveiled. Deb does a wonderful job of detailing the many ways she and her co-leader, Mary Solberg, had to improvise, consult, and make immediate—sometimes scary—decisions. Anyone considering leading a group on a study-abroad trip would do well to read No One Left Behind, but perhaps—as the title suggests—the most important idea we are left with is that we all need to look out for each other and stick together—a goal that seems particularly relevant to the times.

—Joyce Sutphen, Minnesota Poet Laureate

Deb Pitton, Machu Picchu 2010.

Club of the Stars—a Samba of Survival in the Slums of Brazil

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Maria Leda Souza Hogan

In her memoir Club of Stars, Maria Souza Hogan details life and death in the inhumane slums where she lived with ten brothers and sisters. The lives of her extended family, her poverty-stricken community, women in particular, are intrinsic to her story.

Club of Stars evokes the rich African heritage, cultural celebrations and oral history of northern Brazil where Maria and her family’s home in the favela was bordered by the tempestuous Atlantic Ocean on one side and a dangerous two-lane highway on the other.

A collective memory that demands to be heard, Club of Stars shines a light on the blunt reality of Brazil’s inequality and social injustice. Maria vividly articulates what it is like to go hungry for days on end, to go to school without shoes or books, and, though hungry herself, to tutor well-fed students in order to pay for school supplies and food.


“Maria Souza Hogan’s memoir tells the heartbreaking story of her family striving for survival in the least developed region of Brazil. Despite depicting poverty’s tragic reality, Club of Stars is profoundly inspiring not only for its human truth, but also for the inherent hope it highlights.”

Cecília Rodrigues, Assistant Professor of Portuguese, University of Georgia