During May and June, No Tells is featuring "Recommended Summer Reading" selections by No Tell contributors.
Marcela Sulak's recommendations:
I usually travel in the summer, but this time I'm stuck at home. My three recommended books are leaving me as unmoored, surprised, and newly in love with the world as if I'd been exploring the globe for three months.
Putting down Michele Battiste’s frenetic, brain-bending book is going to leave skid marks all over your desk. Indeed, while reading Ink for an Odd Cartography (Black Lawrence Press, 2009), I find myself speaking thus to my two-year-old: “if you don’t put down those matches, I’m going to come take them away as soon as I finish this poem!” In Battiste’s cartography, the most unlikely and disparate entities, locations and people are connected by a tender, tough and disarming intelligence.
Libyan-born Khaled Mattawa’s third book, Amorisco (Ausable, 2008), is both expansive and local, exploring the suburban and rural idiosyncrasies of America as well as the ancient past and revisited present of a native North African landscape. What I love most about the book is the playful, imaginative anarchy, the prayerful, sincere apostasy. I would call this book a collection of love poems, even though some of them start off with lines like “When I call out to you now/I still have to pause before calling her name,/and for endearments I have failed to tell you/anything other than what I’ve whispered to her.//But that’s not why I’m not in love.” Cat lovers will be gratified to see that one of the most powerful and gorgeous of all the poems is an paen to “Buster.”
I’m still waiting for my copy of Brandel France de Bravo’s Provenance (WWPH 2009) to arrive. But poems like “Licking the Woman,” and “Apricot,” which you can read on the WWPH website, promise exhilarating explorations of previously unrecorded territory. Campbell McGrath describes the book like this: “Taking her cue from Ralph Waldo Emerson who said ‘Every word was once a poem,’ she has written 26 poems—one for every letter—inspired by etymologies.”
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Marcela Sulak is the author of two collections of poetry Immigrant, forthcoming with Black Lawrence Press, and the chapbook Of All The Things That Don't Exist, I Love You Best (Finishing Line Press, 2008). She's translated three books of poetry from the Czech Republic and Congo-Zaire and teaches translation and poetry at American University.