Thursday Three #11

Lisa JarnotIf you were to rap your fist on the counter at Malvern Books and say, “Oi! I want poetry!,” we would ask you (politely, although we’d like to point out there’s really no need for an oi!) what kind of poetry you’re in the mood for. And if you said, “Hmm… something contemporary, maybe inspired by the New York School, you know, post-Language avant-garde type stuff, with collage, and a hat tip to modernism, and with some nature thrown in for good measure,” we’d compliment you on your specificity and then run to the J section for a copy of Lisa Jarnot’s Joie de Vivre: Selected Poems 1992-2012.

“This is exactly what you’re looking for,” we’d say, pressing a copy into your rather demanding hands. “It’s feisty and experimental, and there are collages and daisies and lemurs, and it demands to be read aloud… and if you won’t take our word for it, you should at least listen to John Ashbery, who said this is a collection of ‘haunting, perplexing narratives of the inenarrable.’” At this point we hope you’d say, “Perfect!” and immediately purchase five copies. But if you needed any further persuasion, we’d throw in a couple of fun facts—Lisa Jarnot studied with Robert Creeley and works as a freelance gardener—and direct you to the three splendid Jarnot poems featured below. You’re welcome! Come back soon!

Christmas Prelude

O little fleas
of speckled light
all dancing
like a satellite

O belly green trees
shaded vale
O shiny bobcat
winter trail

Amoebic rampage
squamous cock
a Chinese hairpiece
burly sock

A grilled banana
smashes gates
and mingeless badgers

The asses of the
winter trees
rock on fat asses
as you please

Be jumpy
or unhinged
with joy
fry cakes
Staten hoy.

* * *

Brooklyn Anchorage

and at noon I will fall in love
and nothing will have meaning
except for the brownness of
the sky, and tradition, and water
and in the water off the railway
in New Haven all the lights
go on across the sun, and for
millennia those who kiss fall into
hospitals, riding trains, wearing
black shoes, pursued by those
they love, the Chinese in the armies
with the shiny sound of Johnny Cash,
and in my plan to be myself
I became someone else with
soft lips and a secret life,
and I left, from an airport,
in tradition of the water
on the plains, until the train
started moving and yesterday
it seemed true that suddenly
inside of the newspaper
there was a powerline and
my heart stopped, and everything
leaned down from the sky to kill me
and now the cattails sing.

* * *

Hockey Night in Canada

Oh Canada, you are melancholy today
and so am I, and here is the giant metal airplane
that fills the sky above the steam heat of my
dreams, beside decisions well between the
quiet that’s between us

and also do you think of the hibiscus
on your roadsides, Dutch, like bags of carrots
still heroic wrapped in snow upon the tiny
screens that show it to you, particular neighbor
who breathes, alive, asleep, beside the surface
of the ice, upon the moon in silver deep.

Shame, Envy, Otters

A very merry Monday to you all, and I do hope your weekend was full of autumnal good cheer. First up: a hearty thank you to all the lovely people who stopped by our table at the Texas Book Festival—it was great to meet you, and we trust you’ll enjoy reading and sniffing your spiffy new books.

Coping with EmotionsAnd now let’s get the week off to a sunny and self-improving start with Dina Del Bucchia’s Coping with Emotions and Otters. A poetic piss-take on the self-help genre, Coping offers a wry and surprisingly poignant guide to identifying and managing our pesky emotions. Sadness, for instance, should never be underestimated: “Pay the guy / in the basement of the mall / to engrave your dreams /  in black metal bound to semigloss cherry.” And if you’re experiencing a little jealously, it might help to undermine the object of your envy:

Take a friend’s mother out
to lunch at that place
she always pines for—
rustic bread, sharp dill,
clotted spreads. Talk
about things she loves—
weekends away, popular 
news anchors, other people’s
problems. Pretend your friend
is the one who forgot to feed the fish,
forgot to vote, forgot
to mail a birthday card
to her own grandmother.
Use your friend’s name
only in reference
to recent sex

Other emotions discussed include anger (“Cure cancer and keep it to yourself / Don’t spread a word of it. Walk / through hospital wards beaming”) and shame (“become friends with preteens / who share your interests”). And there are also paths to happiness (an emotion accurately defined as “soft lighting, WiFi connection, rat poison”):

Wear bare legs
in the cold.
Stand against
weather, moisture.
Carouse in
rush of chill.
Red welts
badges of honor.

Coping is funny, smart, and satirical without being snarky. If you’re keen to better manage your pathetic sadness and rage while also learning about the lifestyles of celebrity otters—and I think we can all agree the world needs more Mustelidaen verse—you should stop by Malvern Books and pick up a copy of Coping. And speaking of important otters, here’s a little scholarly discourse for you.

Meet The Malverns #3

KatherineI do hope your week is going well, my shimmering little book buffs. Here at Malvern we’re frantically getting ourselves all packed up for this weekend’s Texas Book Festival. We’ll see you there, right? Wonderful! Look for us in Booth 500, right next to the lovely folks from Austin Community College. Meanwhile, if you’re in urgent need of a dash of poetry, you should stop by the bookstore and say hello to Katherine Noble (right), who has superb recommendations vis–à–vis verse. Here’s what she has to say about one of her faves, Valzhyna Mort’s Collected Body:

Belarusian poet Valzhyna Mort has been praised as “[a] risen star of the international poetry world” by the Irish Times. In Collected Body, Mort combines gorgeous and haunting lyrical poems with two prose poems in her first collection written completely in English. The motifs running through the collection paint a picture of people in their most corporeal, vulnerable state. The poems dichotomize idealized sexuality with the grotesque, the purity of familial ties with the perversion of incest, the surreal mingling with the physical world, and the unabashed acknowledgment of death.

Mort’s collection falls in line with many of the great female poets of today such as Sharon Olds, Anne Carson, Linda Gregg, and Louise Glück, but the freshness of her images, and her distinctive voice grants Mort her own solid ground. The mythology cast in her more narrative poems is interspersed with a fresh honesty that can sometimes be either overdone or missing completely in contemporary poetry (“i found healing/… should i be ashamed of myself?”). The understated grotesqueries are remnants of German and Austrian fairytales.

With an array of characters, seemingly based loosely on her own personal history, Mort’s poems feel like secret histories of her homeland, to which she slowly allows the reader to be privy. I highly recommend this book!

Get Festival Ready!

We’re helpful (and slightly bossy) sorts here at Malvern Books, and we’re always looking for new and exciting ways to keep y’all entertained. To that end, we’ve gone and planned your weekend-after-next for you. Curious? Well, we suggest (firmly, but without menace) that on October 26th and 27th you head to the Texas Book Festival, held in and around the State Capitol. While there, you can eat your weight in barbecued whatsits, take part in a spooktastic Lit Crawl with R.L. Stine, and hear talks from excellent authors like Jonathan LethemAyana MathisMeg Wolitzer, and James McBride. Best of all, you can stop by Booth 500 (Exhibitor Tent 5, near the corner of Colorado and 11th Streets) and say hello to Malvern Books! We’d love to make your acquaintance. And we’ll be selling heaps of outstanding poetry, fiction, and graphic novels, so it’s probably best to start warming up your totes-full-tote-bag-toting muscles now.

Malvern Books

And speaking of things to do and places to go, doesn’t the lovely bookstore pictured above look like the perfect place to shelter from today’s inclement weather? We’re open till 8pm tonight, and so far we have absolutely no leaks.

Night & Day

What ho, book fiends! We’re a box of fluffies here at Malvern, and we want to say an extra big thank you to everyone who stopped by the store during our first-ever week of bricks-and-mortar retail escapades. If you haven’t had a chance to check out our wares yet, I highly recommend coming by tonight… we’re open till 9pm, and as you can see from the first photo below, it’s ever so cozy after dusk (and you’ll always be safe from bats at Malvern, because of the dutiful watchpirate). As the sign says: BOOKS ARE SUPERFUN. COME ON IN!

Open at Night

New Sign


Open For Business!

As befits a bookstore with an eponymous lion on staff, our (soft) opening day was a roaring success. Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by the store, wished us well on Facebook, and shared our madly enthusiastic tweets. We really appreciate your support, and can’t wait to meet many, many more of you lovely readery people.

Asked to reflect on opening day madness, Curmudgeon in Chief Dr. Joe had this to say:

I’m so exhausted and overwhelmed that it’s hard to put my feelings as a bookstore owner into words. Most of the time you work hard for years and then something happens and—BANG!—it’s over and all you’re left with are the memories. I’ve dreamed about opening a bookstore for a long time and over the past year have put in tons and tons of work to make that dream a reality. But opening the store is not the end, it’s just the beginning. Watching Malvern change and grow and become part of the Austin literary community makes slogging through inventory and learning the POS system (which I actually love doing) worth every minute.

If you fancy a glimpse of the storm before the calm, here are a few photos from the last couple of (rather hectic) days…

FuzzWe’re due to open in less than twenty-four hours, and honorary store cat Fuzz is supervising a few urgent software updates.

MessThirty minutes before opening and things are still… adorably disheveled?

FlowersBut we’ve learned the first rule of decorating: flowers make it fancy (thank you, kind givers of flowers!)

First CustomerWe’re delighted to meet our first-ever paying customer.

Book InspectionWe hope you’ll stop by soon, pick up some poems, and pat the cat. He purrs every time someone buys a Birds, LLC title.