Malvern Books’ Best of 2014: Poetry

Happy New Year, Malvernites! If you’re hoping to start 2015 with some stupendous verse, I suggest you take a look at the five books below—they’re our bestselling poetry titles for 2014 (in no particular order), and any one (or all!) of these lovelies would make a dazzling addition to the discerning poetry fiend’s bookshelf…

31 Poems by Dean Young (Forklift, Ohio; $12)

31 PoemsThe perfect introduction to the work of Dean Young, 31 Poems is both a brilliant collection and a beautiful object. (When it was first published, it appeared in the Best Collected category and the Best Physical Artifact category of Coldfront’s Year in Review.)

“Dean Young’s poems are as entertaining as a three-ring circus and as imaginative as a canvas by Hieronymus Bosch.” —American Academy of Arts and Letters

The Book of Joshua by Zachary Schomburg (Black Ocean; $19.95)

The Book of JoshuaA favorite of Taylor Jacob Pate, Zachary Schomburg writes associative, witty, logic-twisting poems that inhabit a surreal dreamscape.

The Book of Joshua … ultimately spins its own myths in a book that is built to feel symbolic, but isn’t really a straightforward metaphor for anything because, within the context of this world, these statements are literal. It’s not allegory but finely figured dream.” —Bill Neumire, Heavy Feather Review

Soul in Space by Noelle Kocot (Wave Books; $18)

Soul in SpaceSoul in Space is the sixth collection from the prolific and extraordinarily talented Kocot, who wowed the Malvern audience with her reading of “Poem for the End of Time.”

“Part riddle, part reverie, and part prayer, the brief lyric poems that compose Kocot’s collection inhabit a charged but quotidian space… Kocot arranges the ephemera of the everyday in relation to each other and to the self as though striking a minor chord.” —Publishers Weekly

Storm Toward Morning by Malachi Black (Copper Canyon Press; $17)

Storm Toward MorningWhen asked in an interview to give a one-sentence synopsis of this collection, Malachi summarized it by saying, “There is nothing more truly peculiar, confusing, and surprising than being entirely alive.”

“Formally exacting and creatively expansive, Black is an intensely inquisitive John Donne for the Millennial generation.” —Publishers Weekly

More Wreck More Wreck by Tyler Gobble (Coconut Books; $15)

More Wreck More WreckWe were delighted to launch More Wreck More Wreck (winner of the 2013 Cargill First Book Poetry Prize) at Malvern Books, and we were not the least bit surprised when it proved hugely popular!

“These poems aren’t just one thing, or another, they are instead stuffed with so much energy that they are spilling all over the pages … More Wreck More Wreck is bubbling with the absolutely kick ass beauty of a great imagination let loose.” —Peter Davis

A Week of Malvern

Here’s a brief and bonny reminder for y’all: events, they are a-happening! Tomorrow night we have another installment of our lively and irreverent Everything is Bigger reading series, in which the delightful Tyler Gobble presents a trifecta of extraordinarily talented writers and gives away whimsical raffle prizes. This month we’re thrilled to have Trey Moody, Nick Courtright, and Thomas Courtney Vance gracing the Malvern stage. (And if you’re curious to learn more about this Bigger business, do check out our footage from past events.)

Everything is Bigger

But wait, there’s more! On Thursday night we’re hosting a gathering of the Finnegans Wake Reading Group of Austin. This event is open to absolutely everyone and no prior knowledge of the book is required, so please do join us as we ponder Joyce’s weird and wonderful masterpiece.

Gary and Dave

And don’t think we’re neglecting you at the weekend. We would never do that! On Saturday night we’re hosting something rather special: an evening of jazz and poetry, featuring live music from Margaret Slovak and Tony Morris and a reading from acclaimed poets Gary Whited and Dave Oliphant (pictured above).

So, we’ve sorted out your evening plans for half of the rest of the week… and if you’re feeling lonely on Friday or Sunday, why not stop by the bookstore and pick up a poetry collection by Dean Young? We have quite the selection (displayed below, with trusty fire extinguisher nearby—because some poems are so good they start fires!) and Mr. Young is awfully good company.

Dean Young books

January Jollies

Happy New Year, my bright and shiny lit-nerds! I hope your festive season was full of well-behaved loved ones and smelly new books. We’re kicking off 2014 in fine style here at Malvern, with a couple of events you’ll want to immediately note down in your brand-new Fast Disappearing Red Telephone Boxes of Wales calendars…

First up, we’re introducing a new monthly reading series for all you poetry fiends. We’re calling it Everything is Bigger (naturally), and it’ll be hosted by our very own Tyler Gobble. Our inaugural Bigger reading will take place on Wednesday, January 15th, at 7pm, and will feature three brilliant poets who need no introduction (but they’ll probably get one anyway; we’re polite like that): Dean Young, Blake Lee Pate, and Vincent Scarpa.

Tiny Art

And on January 26th we have something rather special for you: a display of artworks from Josh Ronsen’s Tiny Art Exchange (the tiny art above is by Reed Altemus). Here’s how Josh describes the Exchange:

I send you something tiny, you send me something back equally tiny. Someday, I’ll have enough pieces to fill a bathtub.

We won’t have a bathtub’s worth at Malvern, but we will have a great heap of miniature artworks for you to sift through (and yes, a very gentle fondling of the artwork is allowed, as some pieces are double-sided).

We’ll look forward to seeing you in the store for BIGGER poetry and TINY art! And in the meantime, let’s get the new year off to a handsome start with some loveliness from the aforementioned Mr. Young…

The Infirmament (from First Course in Turbulence, 1999)

An end is always punishment for a beginning.
If you’re Catholic, sadness is punishment
for happiness, you become the bug you squash
if you’re Hindu, a flinty space opens
in your head after a long night of laughter
and wine. For waking there are dreams,
from French poetry, English poetry,
for light fire although sometimes
fire must be punished by light
which is why psychotherapy had to be invented.
A father may say nothing to a son for years.
A wife may keep something small folded deep
in her underwear drawer. Clouds come in
resembling the terrible things we believe
about ourselves, a rock comes loose
from a ledge, the baby just cries
and cries. Doll in a chair,
windshield wipers, staring off
into the city lights. For years
you may be unable to hear the word monkey
without a stab in the heart because
she called you that the summer she thought
she loved you and you thought you loved
someone else and everyone loved
your salad dressing. And the daffodils
come up in the spring and the snow covers
the road in winter and the water covers
the deep trenches in the sea where all the time
the inner stuff of this earth surges up
which is how the continents are made
and broken.