Sunday, December 01, 2013
Tea in Heliopolis by Hedy Habra
Hedy Habra’s debut collection of poetry titled Tea in Heliopolis is a charming book that begs one’s attention to detail. For this reason I suggest that you fix a cup of tea (preferably mint tea) before you begin reading this collection that was on numerous finalists lists before it was published by Press 53 this year. In this manner you will be set to allow yourself time to savor the nuances and motifs in this fine collection. You will travel to lands that are foreign to most of us yet while reading one discovers that “they”--the ones in Egypt and Beirut--are really no different. We all have desires and needs.
We have lots in common with the painter referenced in Vision who contrasts with the writer:
Now a mural,
the page stretches,
calling for paint,
brushes, a ladder.
Two androgynous silhouettes
in an elegant tango,
twist and turn,
limbs bent in unison.
for a sliver of diamond,
reach for paper, pen to keep
the vision alive,
but it melts into water, vanishes
as you hold on tight to your
And so we the readers, the visitors try to take in the wonders of the lands that Renoir, Boucher, Monet, Manet, Turner, Degas, and others captured—wanting to hold the essence of want with paint:
As in To Henriette aren’t we all reduced to water when it is all over?
He looks sideways, pointing
an index finger, half-smiling, seduced
by his own words, lascivious eyes oblivious
to the flock fleeing the canvas.
“She’s looking for trouble,” I often thought.
“Did it take long,” I later asked, “to make
her skin so real?” “I don’t remember,” you
said, “but aren’t her nipples une petite
“There’s no such thing as true love,” you’d
say, “the greatest passion melts like ice.”
Here in this collection of memory and tension between family members for the choices they made, we can envision the lands of want and needs and come to conclusions that are simple but true as in the title poem Tea in Heliopolis:
For years, bent over your canvas,
your youth was all painted,
These truths are not harmful but crawl under our skin and like those painted we so much want the figures to leave the canvas and do their magic because we have so few hours to measure the honey in our mint tea.
Habra gives us a gift with this collection. So join me—one who has picked up the book several times and each time I do I see yet another subtlety among the rhododendrons. Now we can eat a pomegranate which comes from the Middle East and savor its flesh, knowing that the ruby seeds / beneath [our] fingers paint us like a live canvas.
Visit: Hedy Habra
Sunday, October 27, 2013
"Julia & Rodrigo" by Mark Brazaitis Is Now Available
Mark Brazaitis's award-winning novel Julia & Rodrigo which won the Gival Press Novel Award for 2012 has been released.
Author Tony D'Souza states that "In Julia & Rodrigo Mark Brazaitis takes Romeo and Juliet and wonders what becomes of impossible love when the lovers cannot simply die. Rendered in swift, elegant prose, his tale of a poor football star and the wealthy girl who loves him turns most painful after the forced parting. Anyone who has loved and lost will recognize the wounds of these doomed, gentle characters. What's most tragic, Brazaitis knows, is that in Julia's and Rodrigo's great love—like the bloody Guatemala Civil War that surrounds it—none can win, and all of it is so unnecessary."
Mark Brazaitis is the author of five books of fiction, including The Incurables: Stories, winner of the 2012 Richard Sullivan Prize, from the University of Notre Dame Press. He is also the author of a book of poems, The Other Language, winner of the 2008 ABZ Poetry Prize. A former Peace Corps Volunteer and technical trainer, he currently teaches English and is the former director of the Creative Writing Program at West Virginia University.
Ask for the novel at your bookstore for visit Amazon.com or Gival Press: Julia & Rodrigo for sale at Amazon.com or
"The Day Rider and Other Stories" by J. E. Robinson Is Now Available
J. E. Robinson's debut collection of stories titled The Day Rider and Other Stories has been released.
The Day Rider & Other Stories presents characters nominally situated in one world who seek to join another, while being themselves. Many main characters 'pass'--not merely in the conventional sense, of appearing as one race and acculturating as another, nor as one sexual orientation and moving conveniently into another as affections and conventions dictate, but also in its 'unconventional' senses, of moving from mortality to immortality, or from the oppressed and disadvantaged to being the oppressor and the privileged. This collection discusses the wide sweep of 'passing' and wonders whether doing so is an anathema to humanity or inherent to humanity.
Award-winning director and playwright Melissa Maxwell states that "Eric Robinson's writing is deceptively powerful; it moves along in a quiet plodding manner, then stealthily delivers a punch. This collection of short stories is eclectic and quirky."
Photograph of J. E. Robinson by Mark Gilliland (2013).
J. E. Robinson received the 2005 Illinois Arts Council Literary Award for his essays. His novel Skip Macalester was designated a Paperback Pick by the American Booksellers Association. An ancient historian, he teaches at the Saint Louis College of Pharmacy.
Ask for the book at your bookstore or visit Amazon.com or Gival Press: The Day Rider and Other Stories at Amazon.com or Gival Press
"Box of Blue Horses" by Lisa Graley Is Now Available
Lisa Graley's debut collection of poetry which won the 14th Annual Gival Press Poetry Award-2012 has been released.
This collection which John Wood describes as being "unlike any other poem I have read and unlike the work of any other poet I know. The richness of her language somewhat suggests Hart Crane’s voyages among the adagios of his islands. But her words are more than merely beautiful. They, to use a passage from her poem, ‘pummel / the kicking boards of our hearts,’ and they do that because they so often can be read in more than one way. She asks ‘who can hold / a blue herd of horses /unless she box / the shadow of the universe?’ Does Graley mean fight or enclose—or both? With each of my readings of this book, Lisa Graley’s Blue Horses grew richer and more powerful, which is exactly what we demand and expect of the finest poetry.”
Photo of Lisa Graley by Chelsea Ellison (2013).
Graley is a native of West Virginia and currently is an assistant professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where she teaches English and Humanities and coordinates the Interdisciplinary Humanities program. She has published stories and poems in Glimmer Train Stories, The McNeese Review, and Water~Stone Review.
Ask for the book at your local bookstore, visit Amazon.com, or contact Gival Press: Box of Blue Horses on sale at Amazon.com
Visit: Gival Press
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Thomas H. McNeely Wins the Gival Press Novel Award
(Photo of Thomas H. McNeely by Jude Griffin.)
Gival Press is pleased to announce that Thomas H. McNeely of Cambridge, Massachusetts has won the 9th Annual Gival Press Novel Award for his novel Ghost Horse. McNeely will receive $3,000.00 and his novel will be published in 2014.
A native of Houston, Texas, Thomas H. McNeely has received fellowships from the Wallace Stegner Program at Stanford University, the Dobie Paisano Program at the University of Texas at Austin, and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well from the MacDowell Colony, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, and the Vermont Studio Center. His fiction has appeared in The Atlantic, Ploughshares, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and Epoch, and has been anthologized in Algonquin Books' Best of the South and What If?: Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers. His non-fiction has appeared in Ninth Letter and The Rumpus. Ghost Horse, winner of the 2013 Gival Press Novel Award, is his first book. He teaches in the Emerson College Honors Program and the Stanford Online Writing Studio, and lives with his wife and daughter in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Synopsis of the novel:
Set among the class, racial, and social tensions of the 1970's in Houston, Texas, Ghost Horse is the story of a boy's journey to escape an abusive relationship with his father and to discover the truth about his own life. The city's social upheaval is seen not only through the secrets and shifting allegiances of the protagonist, Buddy Turner's, family, but also in his relationships with two other boys, one white, the other Latino, and in the animated movie of the book's title. Like The Fortress of Solitude, Ghost Horse tells the story of a family, a friendship, and a boy's swiftly changing awareness of himself and the world, through the lens of imagination.
Ghost Horse pulls the reader back to the not-so-sweet Seventies, a decade when America suffered a nationwide nervous breakdown. Set adrift among a broken family, tenuous loyalties, distrusted institutions, and class conflicts, middle schooler Buddy Turner retreats to a world of imagination, focusing on the one thing in his troubled environment he has control over: making a home movie with a comic-book script that expresses his underlying angst. With Ghost Horse, author Thomas H. McNeely adroitly captures the dynamics of a confused and conflicted time, when those individuals who lived through it, as with his novel’s characters, coped with the decade’s emotional, cultural, and spiritual crack-up as best they could.--Tim W. Brown, judge and author of Second Acts
The Eye of the Jaguar
by Michael McGuire of Jalisco, Mexico.
The Commandant of Lubizec
by Patrick Hicks of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Wade in the Water
by Nagueyalti Warren of Lithonia, Georgia.
by Carol Roh Spaulding of Des Moines, Iowa.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
New Book Releases from Gival Press
Look for these titles which have been released by Gival Press this fall.
Julia & Rodrigo by Mark Brazaitis, winner of the Gival Press Novel Award, is a moving love story set in Guatemala.
“What a stunning novel! Julia & Rodrigo is ambitious, deeply felt, exquisitely written, masterfully structured, and informed by a wide-ranging knowledge of the culture and politics of Guatemala… In many ways as tragic as Romeo and Juliet, his novel follows its own poignant, yet unsentimental story line to an inevitable, sorrowful, and yet hope-filled end. I read this novel in one sitting late into the night; I could not put it down … An instructive book for readers of all ages and a perfect accompaniment to high school and university courses on Latin America, as well as a compelling book club choice.”—Marnie Mueller, author of Green Fires, The Climate of the Country, and My Mother’s Island
Box of Blue Horses by Lisa Graley, winner of the Gival Press Poetry Award is a stunning collection of poetry.
“Lisa Graley’s strange and beautiful book-length poem, Box of Blue Horses, is unlike any other poem I have read and unlike the work of any other poet I know. The richness of her language somewhat suggests Hart Crane’s voyages among the adagios of his islands. But her words are more than merely beautiful.…With each of my readings of this book, Lisa Graley’s Blue Horses grew richer and more powerful, which is exactly what we demand and expect of the finest poetry.”—John Wood, author of The Gates of the Elect Kingdom and Endurance and Suffering
Ask for these titles at your favorite bookstore or visit Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble or contact Gival Press.
Friday, August 09, 2013
2nd Annual Comadres & Compadres Writers Conference: Oct. 5, 2013
The 2nd Annual Comadres and Compadres Writers Conference will provide Latino writers with access to published Latino authors as well as agents and editors who have a proven track record of publishing Latino books. Last year writers traveled from as far as California, Florida, and Mexico to attend. Feedback from participants has been enthusiastic (see testimonials below).
WHEN: Saturday, October 5, 2013
WHERE: Medgar Evers College, Brooklyn, NY
WHO: Participants currently include Erin Clarke, Executive Editor, Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers; Adriana Dominguez, Agent, Full Circle Literary; Toni Kirkpatrick, Editor, Thomas Dunne Books; Nancy Mercado, Executive Editor, Roaring Brook Press; Andrea Montejo, Agent, Indent Literary Agency; Lukas Ortiz, Managing Agent, Philip G. Spitzer Literary Agency, Inc.; Jeff Ourvan, Agent, Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency; Diane Stockwell, Agent, Globo Libros Literary Management; Johnny Temple, Publisher, Akashic; and Stacy Whitman, Publisher, Tu Books, among others.
REGISTER: http://www.countonmebook.com/ - note early bird discount ends Wednesday, 8/14/13
TESTIMONIALS: "I'm a huge fan of this conference! I went last year and loved being able to connect with other Latina writers, and with local editors who were seeking freelance work (as well as editors who encouraged us to submit to their literary journals). I pitched my book project to two agents, one of whom later offered me representation! The book is still in the submission process, but I'm hoping to hear some news very soon. Overall, it was a really inspiring, action-packed day, and I would highly recommend it to any writer who wants to network and learn more about the craft." —Lesley Tellez, conference attendee, http://www.lesleytellez.com/
"The conference was very well-organized, the location was modern, close to major transportation, and tech-friendly. The volunteers were enthusiastic and very willing to help in any way possible. All of the attendees were genuinely excited and eager to learn, which was refreshing. Kudos on a job well done and to many more successful conferences!" —Mercedes Fernandez, Assistant Editor, Kensington Publishing
"It was wonderful seeing so many young people who want to add to the chorus of Latino voices out there. I believe they got inspiration, information, and a healthy dose of reality. Thank you to Medgar Evers College and Las Comadres for creating a much-needed service for our community of writers." —Dahlma Llanos Figueroa, author of Daughters of the Stone
Contact: Marcela Landres
Cofounder, Comadres and Compadres Writers Conference
Tuesday, August 06, 2013
Michael Montlack Wins 2013 Gival Press Oscar Wilde Award
Michael Montlack (photo by Anne Marie Rousseau)
Michael Montlack Wins the 12th Annual Oscar Wilde Award-2013
Michael Montlack of New York, New York has won the 12th Annual Oscar Wilde Award for his poem titled Questions My Father Asked Watching This Old House (1993) chosen by Henry Hughes.
Winner of the 2013 Gival Press Oscar Wilde Award
Questions My Father Asked Watching This Old House (1993)
by Michael Montlack of New York, New York.
by Will Stockton of Pendleton, South Carolina.
by Renny Christopher of Camarillo, California.
by Will Stockton of Pendleton, South Carolina.
Strange Big Fish
by Michael Montlack of New York, New York.
Questions My Father Asked Watching This Old House (1993)
That afternoon I was beside him on my mother’s half of their bed.
Our English Setter licking his gnarly unsocked feet.
While host Bob Vila sang the praise of plaster over stucco.
My father shaking his head on the pillow, Camel wedged in lips:
Plaster? This knucklehead doesn’t know what he’s talkin about.
I never asked why he watched so religiously if he doubted Bob’s every move.
Never agreed or disagreed, knowing little about home repair myself.
Just used the show’s half-hour as I had since junior high: A way to be near.
“So let me ask you sumptin,” he started.
The plaster was being mixed. The dog continued to lick.
Out just weeks, this was what I’d been waiting for: The inevitable
“So . . . do you . . . do drag?” Or . . . “You one of those um, leather guys?”
My father, a mechanic in his 60’s, hadn’t known openly gay people before.
He said: “Why are gay people smarter than straight people?“
I hesitated. Swallowed the impulse to vent about all the himbos I’d met
my few months going to bars. “We aren’t,” I said. Realizing his reasoning:
Me, the family’s first degree. “It’s just easier to come out in educated circles.“
The walls were nearly primed. The dog paused to lick his own foot.
“So then . . . why are you guys always more creative?”
I wasn’t prepared. Having only rehearsed vows to use condoms. Settle down one day.
“Well, I guess being silenced,” I said, “we use the arts to express?”
Bob had spatula in hand. Was making circular patterns. Pleased with himself.
“I mean, there are gay migrant workers,” I added. “But who can they tell?”
He rolled his head on the pillow to look my way. Camel burned out.
“Well, how come you’re not angry?”
And then: I was back at his station, all those summers pumping gas.
Collecting tips just for being Howie’s son. Nine, ten, eleven years old.
Had they been pennies from heaven? For ignoring his crew in the shop:
This fan belt’s a real cocksucker! When’s that faggot coming for his Pinto?
I couldn’t answer. Did this mean I wasn’t angry? Surely
I’d met guys with chips on their shoulders. Guys who drank their chips away.
Where was my chip? Still in the closet? In my writing? The need to write?
Bob was in different clothes now. On a return visit. To see the walls. Fully dried.
“No,” I said finally. “I guess I’m not angry.”
But what could I be angry about? There, so comfortable in that bed.
With my father and his dog. Learning how to build a more beautiful home.
Copyright © 2013 by Michael Montlack.
Friday, July 19, 2013
Reading Material for that Vacation Trip
Boy, that vacation trip is coming at a good time. I'm craving some down time with family away from the stress from work and the recent hacking of the press's yahoo account. I hope friends and contacts know better than to respond to such nonsense emails asking for money, etc. This is not anything I would do.
Sadly it takes time to restore contacts info and lost emails (inbox and sent files). Some place by the ocean would be nice but alas my family calls me and they are what I need at this time.
The desert is not by the ocean but my sister's Jacuzzi will do the job after our traditional southwestern card game marathon.
Then in between, I'll be reading these titles I have been meaning to get to:
Tea in Heliopolis by Hedy Habra
Brazos, Carry Me by Pablo Miguel Martinez
Desire I remember But Love, no by Sergio Tellez-Pon / Don Cellini (translator)
Blueprints for the Genocide by Rob Cook Deleted Names by Lawrence Schimel
This Is What Happened In Our Other Life by Achy Obejas
Fortunate Light by David Bergman