During the month of June, No Tells is featuring "Recommended Summer Reading" selections by No Tell contributors.
Dave Newman's recommendations:
Tiny Teeth (the Wormwood Review Poems) by Ann Menebroker (R.L. Crow Publications, 2004)
Okay, this has been out for six years but, like so many other small press poetry books, I missed it. My copy just arrived in the mail yesterday and I’ve been flipping around and reading random poems out loud. I’m excited about this book for two reasons: 1.) Ann Menebroker and 2.) Marvin Malone. Ann, a fixture on the small press scene for decades (going back to typewriters and carbons), is a great poet. Marvin Malone, long time publisher of the Wormwood Review, was a great editor. He recognized great American voices and Ann was one. These are the poems he accepted and published by Ann over a twenty-year period. Ann’s poem “Ernest Hemingway Is On My Mind” is still one of my favorites, and it’s right here, on pg. 4.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy by Tao Lin (Melville House, 2006)
This guy is a walking talking publicity machine, mixing it up on the internet with various writers and editors. I read his novella Shoplifting From American Apparel and thought it was great—a short, realistic story about how a young person lives while being broke and intellectual. Then I read his novel Eeeee Ee Eee and it was sort of the same book but with more references to celebrities and dolphins appearing randomly and then dolphins killing a celebrity. I don’t think I huffed enough glue in my youth to understand this one. So now I’m on to his poetry. I’m also looking forward to his novel Richard Yates (due this September, also from Melville House).
Sequin Soul by Joan Jobe Smith (Chance Press, summer 2010)
Chance Press makes beautiful chapbooks and Joan Jobe Smith writes beautiful poems with beautiful long lines about all kinds of beautiful and not-so-beautiful people, especially the ones who used to hang out at the bars where she used to go-go dance back in the 60s and early 70s. Lately, her poems have been filled with recipes and love letters to her machinist husband. I’m sure I’ll love whatever this one delivers.
After-Dinner Declarations by Nicanor Parra (Host Publications, 2009)
If Pablo Neruda is the great and beautiful sun burning bright at the center of Chilean poetry, then Nicanor Parra is the Lenny Bruce, wisecracking in the corner with a couple drinks and some lines you need to hear. All of Parra’s poetry books are spectacular, playing with our ideas of poetry and politics and sex and religion, so I’m excited to see what this collection of speeches will deliver.
Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty by Tony Hoagland (Graywolf Press, 2010)
I really liked Hoagland’s first two books. His third book felt mean and, worse than that, mean on purpose. He even has an essay on being mean. Sarah Silverman is mean. Dane Cook is mean. Charlie Sheen, on that show I’ve seen ten seconds of, is mean and in his real life he pulled a knife on his wife. Every reality TV show on TV is mean. I understand that lots of contemporary poetry lacks character and humor and is politically correct, but still, culturally speaking, we’re plenty of jackoffs in a row; thus, I’m seldom interested in hanging out with an asshole on the page. Hoagland, in his third book, was on my nerves. In one poem, there’s this line about watching a black woman and a white woman play tennis and rooting for the white woman “because she was one of my kind, my tribe.” Maybe it’s the sort of insight to whip an English Department into a tizzy but out here it sounds sort of flat and naïve and mean. So I’ll be reading Hoagland’s new book this summer and maybe hating him and possibly hating myself.
* * *
Dave Newman lives in Trafford, PA. His novel, Please Don't Shoot Anyone Tonight, should be out any day now from World Parade Books. He's is also the author of numerous poetry chapbooks, most recently, Allen Ginsberg Comes To Pittsburgh.