Poets House Showcase

Joe Milosch

Poets House Showcase

“The only event of its kind, the annual Poets House Showcase is a free exhibit featuring all of the new poetry books and poetry-related texts published in the United States in a single year (volumes by individual authors, anthologies, chapbooks, biographies, critical studies, essay collections, CDs, DVDs, etc.) from over 650 commercial, university and independent presses. The Poets House Showcase is a diverse and inclusive exhibition in which books from micro-presses receive the same care and attention as major publishers.”

“Opening on Thursday, June 26, 2014, this year’s Showcase will be on view through Saturday, August 16. More than 2,900 titles were in the 2013 exhibition.” (From Poets House website)

Our press has these titles in this years Showcase.

Poetic Matrix Press
○ Block, Raphael, Spangling Darkness, 2014.
○ *Choi, Yearn Hong, I am Homeland: Twelve Korean-American Poets, 2013. Anthology (Korean).
○ Gayton, Tomas, Sojourn on the Bohemian Highway, 2013.
○ Hashmi, Shadab Zeest, Kohl and Chalk, 2013.
○ Lifshin, Lyn, Malala, 2014.
○ *Milosch, Joseph, Landscape of a Woman and a Hummingbird, 2014.
○ Shuck, Kim, Rabbit Stories, 2013.

Poetic Matrix Press has a total of 35 titles in the permanent collection of Poets House Library of 60,000 volumes.

We have had books in every Showcase since 2005. If you are in New York between the Showcase dates stop by, view the Showcase, and say hello from Poetic Matrix Press.

Walt Whitman

“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”
― Walt Whitman

Barnes & Noble, a problematic view of poetry

Click on above link to see entire essay.

I recently left Barnes & Noble with a problematic view of the position of poetry in the store. The poetry section in Barnes & Noble in Fresno is located towards the back of the store, right up against the children’s section, right in between bookshelves that host children’s books and children’s games, right next to the 9 to 12 age group and the 5 to 9 age group of kids. Not only is the poetry section here but also the section on Shakespeare, theater, and performing arts. Each of these sections are surrounded by the children’s section, nowhere near the other literary offerings. The other literary section offerings include fiction titles, nonfiction, travel, California, science fiction and others, this area of the store is some distance away from the selections on poetry as if poetry does not belong with literature but is for children.

Seems difficult to me as a publisher of poetry to recommend Barnes & Noble given that they give so little attention to poetry. In the poetry section most of the poetry is selected from well-known poets many of them from the past, very few contemporary poets. There are people like Maya Angelou, Mary Oliver, Billy Collins but most of them are names that we know historically as very good poets and very good poetry and I have no problem with that but there is a dearth of contemporary poets and poetry. As a publisher of small press poetry by contemporary poets I find Barnes & Noble’s support of small press poetry essentially nil, contemporary voices that are not well known essentially nil, that makes it difficult for me to openly support Barnes & Noble as we don’t see anything on their part that would lead us to believe they care a great deal about contemporary poetry. Barnes & Noble does support poetry in their online offerings and we appreciate that and would like to see much more offerings in the store. Barnes & Noble is currently under pressure from Amazon and other online stores, and we’ve seen Barnes & Noble’s impact on community bookstores in the past.

We’ve seen the effect that Amazon particularly has had on even the big box stores like Borders and Barnes & Noble. Borders is no longer with us, we watched the poetry selections in Borders dwindle from a large share of the literary section to virtually nothing before they eventually closed doors and we’re not suggesting that if you don’t sell poetry you can’t be successful but it shows a lack of love for one of the higher arts that any culture puts together. We would hope that Barnes & Noble sees the value of poetry and spends more cachet on promoting poetry and selling poetry; poetry from less well know but equally valuable contemporary poets.

The role of poetry in any society is as a gauge to where that society has been and where that society is going. Whether or not poetry is essential to society brings to mind the famous quote by William Carlos Williams, “It is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.” We need to take poetry out and support poets and poetry and poetry books within our own community and encourage independent bookstores, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, all booksellers to put a real effort into this promotion of poetry.

To presume that this idealistic and romantic space in poetry doesn’t need to be sold because it is right there, that all we need do is place it out, “build it and they will come” but truly we also have to recognize that we live in a contemporary society where the vehicle is selling, producing and putting it out as part of our culture and we poets participate in the culture every day. To consider that we are not part of our culture but sit in some secret space is absurd; we drive cars, we go out to eat, go to movies, we buy food, we pay bills, have bank accounts just like anybody else in the society. If we are writers, if we are poets, we are also part of what it takes to sell books, to play them out where members of the populace can pick them up, read them and gain whatever beauty, truth and love might be in them.

Small poetry presses like Poetic Matrix Press are essential to the literary life of a culture. We showcase new, unknown poets. We provide them with a means of presenting their work to a wider world. We are part of a long, important history of literature. The list of small press and personally published work goes on (Stephen Crane, e.e. cummings, Benjamin Franklin, Rudyard Kipling, D.H. Lawrence, Thomas Paine, Edgar Allan Poe, Ezra Pound, Carl Sandburg, George Bernard Shaw, Gertrude Stein, Henry David Thoreau and Mark Twain, to name but a few. This is the way new work and new ideas enter the world. We will continue to do our part, it would be nice if Barnes & Noble would do more to advance this most important cultural form.

John Peterson, Publisher Poetic Matrix Press

Muso Soseki

Still from the film Baraka

The sounds of the stream
splash out
the Buddha’s sermon
Don’t say
that the deepest meaning
comes only from one’s mouth
Day and night
eighty thousand poems
arise one after the other
and in fact
not a single word
has ever been spoken

—Muso Soseki (1275-1351). Translated by W.S. Merwin  and Soiku Shigematsu

Martha Graham

There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy…that is translated through you into action. And because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist… It is not your business to determine how good it is…It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. –Martha Graham

Quote

When we see truly, there is nothing at all.
There is no person; there is no Buddha.
Innumerable things of the universe
Are just bubbles on the sea.
Wise sages are all like flashes of lightning.

—Yoka Genkaku (665-713 CE), Shodoka

 

Seen by the eye of faith
the cherry blossoms
are always about to fall.
It is a rare privilege to be born
as a human being,
as we happen to be.
If we do not achieve
enlightenment in this life,
when do we expect to achieve it?

—Echu

Landscape of a Woman and a Hummingbird

Landscape of a Woman and a Hummingbird
Joseph Milosch
New from Poetic Matrix Press
Available on our website

Climbing Modjeska Peak

It is the same, climbing a mountain
or a high-tension power pole.
The world becomes smaller
as I climb, fixing my eyes
on fractures and fissures
no thicker than a quarter inch.
Creeping up, I follow a trail
of finger-holds as I scale
rock faces, not metal struts.

The world is above, below,
and around me, but I
can’t see more than
a foot in front of me.
Pausing on a ledge, I repeat
a cliché about the view.
At the top, the world expands
into a giant circle.

Standing in the center,
I stretch my arms
and become a cross
visible from the coast;
continuing to lift my arms,
I form a Y. Spinning once
around, I find the world
stands still, and that the earth
shrinks to the size of a pedestal
to keep me from falling into space.

Malala

Malala
Lyn Lifshin
New from Poetic Matrix Press
Available on our website

ON THAT DAY

the teenagers
chattered with their
teachers as the school
bus rattled along the
country road. They
just finished a term
paper and broke out
singing a Pashton
song. That music must
have been the last
thing Malala heard,
one of the last she
remembers.
Two men flagged down
the bus, boarded,
screamed. Which one
is Malala? Silence.
The rust leaves all
that moved in the
breeze. The girls,
terrified, frozen. Only
their eyes moved to
Malala.
That one the gun
man said. Fired two
shots. Then he fled.
The Teacher said
Drive
to the local hospital,
stared in horror at
Malala’s body, bleeding
and bleeding, unconscious
in her friend’s lap.

Spangling Darkness

Spangling Darkness
Raphael Block
poetry and songs
New from Poetic Matrix Press
Available on our website

New Year

Our celebrations were small affairs
with one or two present at most,
like the welcome my wife and daughter
gave the New Year, with carefully
prepared round, sand-filled trays,
candles of all shapes and heights arranged
until the moment ignited and light
generously swirled and flowed
out and in our eyes
linked in wonder.

Or the birthdays of simple homemade
stirrings of cakes, smiles, and wings.

Now they fill my dark nights
with soft flickerings.