Where Is North by Alison Jarvis
Winner 2015 Gerald Cable Book Award
Paperback 88 pages $16.00
Release date: July 15, 2017
Order copies from Small Press Distribution
Alison Jarvis was born in Canada and grew up in Minnesota. She is a recipient of the Lyric Poetry Prize from the Poetry Society of America, the Mudfish Poetry Prize, the Guy Owen Prize from Southern Poetry Review, and a Fellowship from the MacDowell Colony. Her work has appeared in Cream City Review, Gulf Coast, New Ohio Review, Notre Dame Review, Seattle Review, upstreet, and other journals and anthologies, including Best Indie Lit New England. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and has been a practicing psychotherapist for 30 years.
In Alison Jarvis’ extraordinary WHERE IS NORTH, a life unfolds between breath-taking love poems. There’s a powerful arc, but it’s a vortex, more visceral than linear. Dramatic moments enclose each other like Russian dolls, “the future falling back into itself,” so that the air between I and Thou becomes charged with the trials of childhood, the rigors of history, the mirror-life of dreams.
The touchstone of Jarvis’ vision is: love is action. A stunned bird must be saved and its plight calls into question past and future; children dive into a river to save a father drowning in alcohol; the cello and paintbrush inform the space between a man and a woman. Hannah Arendt claimed that every action, even the most infinitesimal, lasts forever and transforms itself in a cascade of unknowable consequences. The world that idea suggests would be daunting and fascinating. Jarvis inhabits it.
If the contemporary poem sometimes tropes toward the ironic comment, the disembodied voice, these poems live in the world and the body. They play for the highest stakes: the moment when two people know actually each other, when the scenery is real, when choices are absolute and absolutes are finite, when “we map our love with loss.”
WHERE IS NORTH has a vast canvas, from Itasca to Istanbul. But this isn’t a travelogue. Jarvis has an uncanny eye for the ways human pride, work, and sheer cussedness give our lives their edge. An old man in the Dakotas wears “a striped shirt so crisp there’s still the iron’s hiss on it,” a woman giving birth says, “I took my time//and made myself up,/layers of waterproof mascara.//When I cried–bearing down, pushing out/the next life//I wanted to look like myself.”
“In a dark time the eye learns to see,” Roethke said. WHERE IS NORTH is a profoundly necessary book for our strange era. — D. Nurkse
Acacia Road by Aaron Brown
Winner 2016 Gerald Cable Book Award
Available April 2018
“Born in Texas and raised in Chad, Aaron Brown now lives with his wife, Melinda, in Kansas, where he is an Assistant Professor of Writing & Editing at Sterling College. He has been anthologized in Best New African Poets and has received Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations. His poetry and prose have been published in World Literature Today ,Tupelo Quarterly, The Millions, Cimarron Review, Portland Review, Ruminate, and Transition, among others. A collection of poetry, Acacia Road, is the winner of the 2016 Gerald Cable Book Award and is forthcoming from Silverfish Review Press. He is also the author of the poetry chapbook Winnower and novella Bound, both published by Wipf & Stock. Brown holds an MFA from the University of Maryland.”
“Acacia Road is a vivid, brilliant, and haunting memory palace, evoking Aaron Brown’s childhood spent in Chad on the cusp of its civil war, and while at times the “second space” of recollection, seems idyllic, the sound of shelling and gunfire, and news of human violence is never far away.ï¿½ ï¿½ Michael Collier
“These poems proceed by an earnest story-telling and remembering. And while the surfaces of the poems are characterized by skillful narrative and descriptive impulses, underpinning most of them runs a deeper agon and self-critique, uncovering both a fear of and a relentless thirst for the ecstatic. These poems embody, at their best, that thirst.ï¿½ ï¿½ Li-Young Lee