I hope you’re feeling suitably social, my dears, because it’s time to meet another esteemed member of the Malvern mob. Today we’re saying hello to Taylor Jacob Pate, whom you might remember from our Grand Opening festivities. As well as performing assorted Malvern duties, Taylor is editor-in-chief of smoking glue gun and the art director for Bat City Review. And today he’d like to introduce you to one of our all-time faves, the artfully alarming Holy Land by Rauan Klassnik.
Hold on to your face and dance around wildly while you still can. Holy Land is a smash and grab job that will slam your heart in and out of human tenderness and violence. In this dreamy world everything’s gleaming and bloody like smashed glass in the light of the moon. Klassnik’s language is swift, direct and brutal as he darts from the domestic to the cosmic to the afterlife to the ditch by the side of the road.
And so, we stood before him at last, our ribs shining
through like painted blood, and he shook his cage,
there in the center of the universe, howling, till we gave
him a cigarette and he leaned back, his eyes a newborn
child’s. It isn’t hard to kill. The beauty of a dove
trapped in a circle filled with smoke.
It’s been a happily hectic few days here at Malvern Books. First up: last Tuesday we launched a new reading series, W. Joe’s Poetry Corner (hosted by the delightful Mr. Hoppe), and we got things off to a fine start with W. Joe’s first guest, poet and visual artist David Thornberry. A spirited thank you to everyone who stopped by to admire David’s art (bedecking our walls in the photos below), ask him thoughtful questions, and enjoy his poetry. We trust you found the evening as entertaining as we did. For those of you who were otherwise occupied with rollerskating lessons or assorted bee-keeping tasks, we’ve included a few photos and some footage below…
And on Sunday afternoon we got our art on once again, this time in the form of a visit from Josh Ronsen (pictured below) and his Tiny Art collection. Josh has been exchanging works of art with artists from around the world since 2009, and he brought us over five-hundred teensy (under 1 inch!) pieces to admire. A particular favorite: MUMA, a modern art museum designed for ants—because insects need inspiration too!
It’s about time you met another Malvern! You’ve already made the acquaintance of Dr. Joe, Katherine, and Tyler (who you can also get to know a little better via our sparkling new YouTube channel)—now allow me to introduce the delightful Polly Monear, our visual merchandising expert and lover of fine poetry. Here’s what Polly has to say about one of her recent discoveries, The Roads Have Come to an End Now, by acclaimed Norwegian poet Rolf Jacobsen (1907-1994)…
WOW—I’ve read this book three times in the last week, and I can’t wait to read it again! I love the crisp, clear language of Jacobsen’s poems. Buses, snails, telescopes, loss—Jacobsen can find value in it all. This collection is beautiful, accessible, and definitely worth multiple readings. One of my favorite images is from “Morning Crows”:
It’s the crows that wake the countryside
with their tiresome racket over the fields,
like zinc buckets rattling in the gray dawn.
The inaugural reading in our Everything is Bigger series was an appropriately colossal success. We had a full (and enthusiastic) house, and your post-reading reports suggest that a good time was had by all. Thanks to everyone who came by for an evening of excellent poetry and prose with (left to right) host Tyler Gobble and readers Blake Lee Pate, Dean Young, and Vincent Scarpa.
And if you only came by for an evening of excellent raffle prizes, well, I can’t say I blame you—certain lucky audience members took home assorted delights, including Reese’s peanut butter cups the size of a fat baby and a whimsical belt buckle that features a cowboy riding a pipe-smoking squirrel. Our next Everything is Bigger bash will be on Wednesday, February 12th, so be sure to make a “YAY WORDS!” note in your calendar. (We’ll announce the readers soon; if you follow us on Facebook, you’ll be the first to hear the details.) And to whet your appetite for the return of Bigger, here are a few videos from EIB-the-First (for more footage of this and future events, be sure to check out our smashing new YouTube channel).
You’re already planning to visit Malvern Books tomorrow night for our very first Everything is Bigger poetry reading, right? Well, be sure to come a little early so you can check out our recent New Directions haul!
New Directions was founded in 1936 by Harvard sophomore James Laughlin, who was not having much luck with his own poetry at the time:
“I asked Ezra Pound for ‘career advice’ . . . He had been seeing my poems for months and had ruled them hopeless. He urged me to finish Harvard and then do something useful.”
Laughlin took Pound’s advice to heart and began publishing anthologies of experimental poetry and prose, featuring early works from writers such as Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens, Dylan Thomas, and Denise Levertov. Shortly after the publication of the first anthology, Laughlin decided to add novels, plays, and poetry collections to the New Directions stable (mean ol’ Ezra was an early New Directions poet), and he also began reprinting neglected classics, including the then out-of-print The Great Gatsby. More than seventy-five years later, New Directions is still going strong, publishing about thirty books each year. They continue to relaunch classic titles (often with introductions by well-known contemporary writers), and they’ve added a lot of wonderful work in translation to the mix, making them one of our favorite indie presses.
Here’s a peek at some of our new-to-us New Directions titles:
- The Selected Stories of Siegfried Lenz – Translated by Breon Mitchell, this is a stunning collection of stories from one of Germany’s most renowned writers.
- Ground Work – American poet Robert Duncan’s two masterworks in one volume.
- The Lion Bridge – A comprehensive overview of Michael Palmer’s hauntingly beautiful poetry.
- The Melancholy of Resistance – A surreal and powerful novel by contemporary Hungarian author László Krasznahorkai, translated by George Szirtes.
- It – The magnum opus of Danish poet Inger Christensen, It is considered a classic of modern European poetry.
- The Selected Poems of Li Po – Translated by David Hinton, this is a masterful collection from the eighth-century Tang Dynasty poet.
- Antigonick – Anne Carson’s new translation of Sophokle’s Antigone, featuring stunning illustrations by Bianca Stone.
- Labyrinths – A genre-bending collection of short stories by Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Donald Yates and James Irby.
- New Collected Poems of George Oppen – This extensive paperback edition includes a CD of the poet reading from each of his poetry collections.
Happy Thursday to you, Malveroos, and a very happy birthday to renowned existentialists Simone de Beauvoir and Judith Krantz (the google doodle goes to Ms. de Beauvoir). Because a random post should begin with a random introduction!
On our assorted-bits-and-bobs list this week:
- If you’re curious to learn more about the trials and tribulations of opening an indie bookstore, head over to The Bookseller and check out this blog post by our very own curmudgeon-in-chief, Dr. Joe!
- We have the new issue of everyone’s most beloved journal of poetry, cooking, and light industrial safety in stock. Yup, Forklift, Ohio #27 has landed, and it features Malvern Books’ favorite Pates, Blake Lee and Taylor Jacob. And the carnivores amongst you will be delighted to hear that this particular issue is packaged like a slab of butcher’s meat.
- If you’re looking for winter amusements, there’s no shortage of events at Malvern. Next Wednesday at 7pm we have the inaugural reading in our Everything is Bigger poetry series (featuring the aforementioned Blake Lee Pate, along with Dean Young and Vincent Scarpa), and the following Tuesday (the 21st) we’re introducing another new series, W. Joe’s Poetry Corner. W. Joe’s first guest will be poet and visual artist David Thornberry (check out his awesome chapbook covers below), who will give a reading and also sit down for a chat with our host. As always, our Events Calendar has all the details (and we like to keep y’all informed on our Facebook page, too).
- Finally, computer boffins at Stony Brook University in New York have developed an algorithm that can analyse and compare the language of “successful” and “unsuccessful” novels—and they’ve discovered several trends:
Less successful work tended to include more verbs and adverbs and relied on words that explicitly describe actions and emotions such as “wanted”, “took” or “promised”, while more successful books favoured verbs that describe thought processes such as “recognised” or “remembered.”