In Issue #2's podcast, our guest Nia Davies recommended two books: a novel from Chris Kraus that refuses to be pinned down by genre, and a poetry chapbook from Hoa Nguyen that challenges the authority of language. Meanwhile, Richard, Adam and Rhys all spoke about poets and collections that, in their own very unique ways, meditate on the complexities of what it is to be human.
Tells of the Crackling – Hoa Nguyen
Ugly Duckling Presse, 2015
Hoa Nguyen’s chapbook Tells of the Crackling reveals love in its lost and often fragmentary forms. It sifts through rivers and blue explosions with a "yell of living", and asks how we can attempt to retrieve the irretrievable.
Language, and the spaces in between words, are important to Nguyen, a poet who wants "the root of the words / not the fucking use / made purposed and stupid." The poems in Tells of the Crackling seek to alter our perception of the world, and separate how it really is from how it is presented through language. With its intriguing nuances, it is a chapbook collection that definitely invites the reader to return.
Tells of the Crackling is available to buy from uglyducklingpresse.org
I Love Dick – Chris Kraus
When Chris Kraus, an unsuccessful artist pushing 40, spends an evening with a rogue academic named Dick, she falls madly and inexplicably in love, enlisting her husband in her haunted pursuit. Dick proposes a kind of game between them, but when he fails to answer their letters Chris continues alone, transforming an adolescent infatuation into a new form of philosophy.
Blurring the lines of fiction, essay and memoir, Chris Kraus's I Love Dick was a literary sensation when it was first published in 1997. Widely considered to be the most important feminist novel of the past two decades, it is still essential reading today; as relevant, fierce and funny as ever.
The new hardback edition of I Love Dick is available from serpentstail.com
The October Palace – Jane Hirshfield
Harper Perennial, 1994
Grounded in a series of meditations, The October Palace – Jane Hirshfield's third collection of poetry, published in 1994 – explores the ways that radiance dwells most truly in the ordinary, the difficult, and the plain.
Finely crafted and delicately thought out, the poems in this collection frequently hinge on a turning point or moment of insight, and explore themes for which Hirshfield would later become well known, such as awareness, consciousness, and the changeable nature of perception.
The October Palace is available to buy from harpercollins.com
Sole – D. E. Oprava
Blackheath Books, 2010
D. E. Oprava’s poetry considers the curious skin of life, and the universal bones beneath. Sole, his third collection of poetry, is a book that explores his childhood growing up in rural America. Each of the poems aims to express a solitary emotion, a universal whole, and the peculiar holes in which we often find ourselves.
An American-born writer who has lived in Wales for almost two decades, D. E. Oprava has published six collections of poetry, the latest of which – The Last Museum of Laughter – was highly commended by the 2014 Forward Prizes.
Sole is available to buy from blackheathbooks.org.uk
Here and the Water – Sarah Coles
Gomer Press, 2012
Sarah Coles' first collection of poetry – Here and the Water – is an intensely personal journey through the complexity of human relationships. Her portrayal of family, and of love and loneliness, is touching and incisive, whilst her engagement with the beauty and darkness of the natural world can thrill and unsettle in equal measures.
In Here and the Water, Coles embraces life's joys and complexities, wherever they appear. Sometimes they're at the seaside, or in the back garden, other times in the city and its back lanes, and many of them are encountered on expeditions with her children. But even in the company of others, she often travels alone.
Here and the Water is available to buy from gomer.co.uk
To hear what we said about these books in the 'What We're Reading' segment of the Issue #2 podcast, go here: crunchpoetry.com/issue-2.html