During the month of June, No Tells is featuring "Recommended Summer Reading" selections by No Tell contributors.
Michael Gushue's recommendations:
Love is A Map I Must Not Set On Fire by Carol Guess (Vrzhu Press)
I love the way these poems strain against narrative, line, allusion, social-personal, and still retain and exalt their music. The infuriating Denira and a national crisis haunt in equal measure. The city in Love Is A Map is so precise, the thread through the book spun from dream logic, with a humor that slices so close to dismay, that you won’t be able to stop reading. So don’t read it while driving. And you're going to say one day, yeah I knew about Carol Guess back when...
The Difficult Farm by Heather Christle (Octopus Books)
Generous and fun and delicious, close bosom-friend of Dada and Satie, with a kind of magic hour smart aleck clarity that makes my mouth water. Cocorico has us swimming in air. The Fledgling Crocus is looking out the window, waiting at the bus stop, a mutant in fur. Also includes useful guidance on how to talk to a small husband. As I said, delicious.
The Golden Age of Paraphernalia by Kevin Davies (Edge Books)
Boy, do I love this book. It’s wry, cutting, hilarious, sly, and shot from a cannon. If there was a poetry book that was a silent movie comedian explaining Feynman’s diagrams, except the diagrams were about our psycho-capitalist, crypto-orwellian consumer brainwash instead of quantum interactions, then that book would be in the same yoga class as the Golden Age of Paraphernalia, but not as good at doing the Lion.
Life Is A Dream by Paul Durcan (Harvill Secker)
Durcan is a wild man of Irish poetry. His poems are loose, often written from a women’s point of view, conversational, bitter, funny, compassionate, and angry. In The Mary Robinson Years he’s in Rio de Janiero talking with the most stunning woman he’s ever seen: a 6 foot Irish transvestite relief aid worker. My Beloved Compares Herself to a Pint of Stout is the sexiest, scolding-est, tenderest poem there is. He's popular over there, you should get to know him over here.
Indeed I Was Pleased With The World by Mary Ruefle (Carnegie Mellon)
You’re probably way familiar already with Mary Ruefle, but I if you haven’t read her in while, give this book a try, where thank you notes get eaten by lambs. I’m always ready to read, and be rollercoastered by, her bullet-fast poems.
Your Ancient See Through by Hoa Nguyen (Duration Press)
Is Hoa Nguyen the greatest or what? I don’t have her most recent—Hecate Lochia— yet, but I recommend this earlier book for its awesomeness. She is so quick and real, we are lucky to have her around. The poems are somehow both direct and allusive, and so >>present<<. I don’t know how she does that.
The Dailies by John Gilgun (Vrzhu Press)
A selection from Gilgun’s poem-a-day discipline (how does he do it?), these poems are a like a Be Here Now brain massage. He’s completely himself, but if you had your Gilgun channel up on Pandora, you'd be getting a little New York School, then a touch of a less excitable Ginsberg, followed by a bit of Snyder, and coming up on a bit of Thom Gunn. The whole world looks a little better after you read a Gilgun poem.
That Tiny Insane Voluptuousness by Elisa Gabbert and Kathleen Rooney (Otolith Press)
A book of collaborative poems that makes you want to throw rocks at other people’s collaborative poems. Gabbert and Rooney are have this insane juju together that leave poems in its wake as tasty as BBQ, as funny as stand up, as speedy as Daytona. EG & KR, I salute you.
The New Century by Ewa Lipska (Northwestern)
Can I get serious here for a moment? Ewa Lipska. And I mean it. Hannah Arendt, Keats, Newton, Spinoza, God, and Gianni Versace (“We die more and more beautifully/in Gianni Versace’s collection.”) show up here, in world where a lot of bad things happen. And these short poems bite. And then kiss. And then bite again.
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Michael Gushue co-curates the Brookland Poetry Series in Washington, DC, co-runs Beothuk Books/Vrzhu Press and posts on the Vrzhu Bullets of Love blog. His work appears online and in print, most recently in the anthology Full Moon On K Street from Plan B Press. He has a poetry chapbook and it is called Gathering Down Women, from Pudding House Press.