Featured Book: The Art of Work by Jen Fitzgerald

artofworkLouis Zukofsky once wrote that poetry’s lower limit was speech and its upper limit was music. Jen Fitzgerald’s The Art of Work recalibrates these limits for a contemporary working class poetry whose lower limit here is the killing floor or the garden-level apartment and whose upper limit might be workers’ comp or, quite simply, a shift coming to an end. The Art of Work turns this “history of necessity” into brilliant, tightly honed verse. It should be read across the classes, across the classrooms, in union halls, at literary festivals, and on the picket lines.

Mark Nowak

Jennifer Fitzgerald’s bolts of poetic power are increasingly lighting up the night. In this collection, Fitzgerald’s poetics sets out to rethread fragmented personal experience, family lore, socio-cultural prohibitions and allowances, in order to bear down on staid notions of labor and the working body. What’s achieved is a historical perspective that has both sweep and depth. What’s implicitly rejected is an all-too- easy thumbs up “like” of struggle. Fitzgerald’s elevated Intercultural Poetic Competence (IPC), borne of a rigorous examination of the political forces most proximate to her social origins, allows her to radically reframe both speculative and applied knowledges of Solidarity, knowledges long overdue for a retrofitting in the 21st century. Thus, it is not a “work of art” that intrigues us here, but rather, The Art of Work.

Rodrigo Toscano

Jen Fitzgerald describes her collection of poems in the Art of Work as being a collaborative labor. How else could it be with her amazing feel for the world of work and the art she finds in it. Her connection is made primarily through those who labor in the processing, retailing, and serving of animal products. Amongst the workers, many members of the United Food and Commercial Workers, there is story telling which brings you into a world which is tumultuous in images and emotions.

The workplace which separates families by long hours, the banality, the seldom appreciated skill, the glimpse of friendship, the ongoing struggle to maintain dignity, the solidarity when it exists presents work life at its toughest. Would that there was more light and message of hope. Perhaps that is the point. The organizing and cries for revolt and emancipation will have to come from our throats.

Dr. Elaine Bernard

Executive Director, Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard University

Featured Book: Requiem For The Tree Fort I Set On Fire by Tim Tomlinson

treefort_flat“Tim Tomlinson writes poetry with character and characters, with moods and drifts, with the spoken word at its core, just as if the poems were miniature short stories. A Long Islander, he is a practitioner of what his fellow Longislander Walt Whitman called the ‘barbaric yawp’ or what William Carlos Williams called the American idiom. Dante called it the vulgar tongue, and Tim is a practitioner of that idiom, too. Loud, brash, energetic, unapologetic, Tomlinson is in your face, and fuck you if you don’t like it.”
—M.G. Stephens, Alcohol Poems, Green Dreams, The Brooklyn Book of the Dead

“It’s all “a matter of love,” Nabokov once wrote, for “the more you love a memory the stronger and stranger it becomes.” Tim Tomlinson’s Requiem for the Tree Fort I Set on Fire exquisitely embodies this adage, for in his deft hands, the past comes alive with its “fingers of anemones like women pulling in shutters,” with all its attendant “superstition and wonder and fractured syntax.” From the brilliantly conceived (part Baudelaire, part Bukowski, but all Tomlinson) poetic sequence “Stool Samples” to the blistering poems about New Orleans, this is that rare book with heart and craft, empathy, wit and hard-earned wisdom, with enough of a dash of Lorca’s duende to make us tremble and dance in our seats a little. These poems celebrate the broken things around us until they glisten as torches to light our way forward and when Tomlinson howls “requiem,” we howl with him; for all we have lost, we have regained in the transforming crucible of his words.”
—Ravi Shankar, Pushcart Prize winning poet and Founding Editor of Drunken Boat

“At first glance it is easy to believe that this bruised beautiful collection of poems examines only how fathers teach their sons to become men. So much of the collection revolves around male fury, easy aggression and implied and implicit masculine violence. In this collection there are drunks, bar fights, and men literally selling their blood to eke out a day’s meal. The men in this collection talk about and try to make sense of women as they wander across the American landscape and beyond in a journey very specific and individual but also reminiscent of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl. The true subject of this collection however is not the search for a lost father but of a found fatherland, which is formed by and coalesced in a series of stunning poems about the almost mythical under water world that a diver encounters. I cannot think of another series of poems that brings the gorgeous generous but also fragile and risky world of the ocean so forcefully to life. With these poems Tim Tomlinson forages and forges a confrontation with the sublime. ”
—Jacqueline Bishop, Fauna, Snapshots from IstanbulThe Gymnast and Other Positions

about the author

Educated by jukeboxes and delinquents out on Long Island, Tim Tomlinson dropped out of high school on his sixteenth birthday and began a five year period of aimless but purposeful drifting that continues to inform his fiction and poetry. He is a graduate of Columbia University’s School of the Arts, and a co-founder of New York Writers Workshop where he co-authored its popular text, The Portable MFA in Creative Writing. Having lived and published work all over the world, including his recent chapbook, Yolanda: An Oral History in Verse (Finishing Line Press, December, 2015), Tim currently teaches in New York University’s Global Liberal Studies program and resides with his wife in Brooklyn.

Featured Book: The Butterfly Hours by Patty Dann

PATTY DANN Book“Patty Dann has collected 25 years of teaching experience in this generous book of advice to writers. She delivers a series of prompts that open up tiny worlds of memory and feeling. If God is in the details, God is here.”—Betsy Lerner, author of The Forest for the Trees

“Seamlessly blending writing wisdom with memoir, The Butterfly Hours promises to spark not only your writing, but also your heart. This book is a testament to why writing continues to be one of humankind’s most essential superpowers.”—Laraine Herring, author of Writing Begins with the Breath and On Being Stuck


“If all books could be this wonderful! From the first page, I fell in love with Patty Dann’s warm, witty, sound advice and the glimpses into her own life. Refreshingly modest and gently profound, The Butterfly Hours is a treasure—and the perfect present for all who feel they have memories to share. Brava, Patty Dann. I so loved this book.”—Elinor Lipman, author of The View from Penthouse B and I Can’t Complain

 

About the Author

PATTY DANN was cited by New York magazine as one of the “Great Teachers of NYC.” She has an MFA in Writing from Columbia University and a BA from the University of Oregon. She has taught at Sarah Lawrence College and the West Side YMCA, where she currently teaches memoir classes. Her class used to be limited to students ages fifty-five and over because she found that it often took decades for people to write the truth, but now she opens her classes to all ages. Dann is the author of three novels, including Mermaids, which was turned into a film starring Cher, Winona Ryder, Christina Ricci, and Bob Hoskins, and two memoirs. She lives in New York City, where she is a member of New York Writers Workshop.

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