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Inspired by The Wiz, this debut, full-length poetry collection celebrates South Side Chicago and a Black woman’s quest for self-discovery—one that pulls her away from the safety of home and into her power

I Done Clicked My Heels Three Times takes its inspiration and concept from the cult classic film The Wiz to explore a Black woman’s journey out of the South Side of Chicago and into adulthood. The narrative arc of The Wiz—a tumultuous departure from home, trials designed to reveal new things about the self, and the eventual return home—serves as a loose trajectory for this collection, pulling readers through an abandoned barn, a Wendy’s drive-thru, a Beyoncé video, Grandma’s house, Sunday service, and the corner store. At every stop, the speaker is made to confront her womanhood, her sexuality, the visibility of her body, alcoholism in her family, and various ways in which narratives are imposed on her.

Subverting monolithic ideas about the South Side of Chicago, and re-casting the city as a living, breathing entity, I Done Clicked My Heels Three Times spans sestinas, sonnets, free-verse, and erasures, all to reimagine the concept of home. Chicago isn’t just a city, but a teacher, a lingering shadow, a way of seeing the world.

Product Categories: Forthcoming and Poetry.  Book Author: Taylor Byas.

A daringly observant memoir about intergenerational trauma, fine art, and compartmentalization from a returning Soft Skull author and Lambda Literary Award winner

A mixture of memoir, biography, criticism, and social history, Touching the Art is queer icon and activist Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore’s interrogation of the possibilities of artistic striving, the limits of the middle-class mindset, the legacy of familial abandonment, and what art can and cannot do.

Taking the form of a self-directed research project, Sycamore recounts the legacy of her fraught relationship with her late grandmother, an abstract artist from Baltimore who encouraged Mattilda as a young artist, then disparaged Mattilda’s work as “vulgar” and a “waste of talent” once it became unapologetically queer.

As she sorts through her grandmother Gladys’s paintings and handmade paperworks, Sycamore examines the creative impulse itself. In fragments evoking the movements of memory, she searches for Gladys’s place within the trajectories of midcentury modernism and Abstract Expressionism, Jewish assimilation and white flight, intergenerational trauma and class striving.

Sycamore writes, “Art is never just art, it is a history of feeling, a gap between sensations, a safety valve, an escape hatch, a sudden shift in the body, a clipboard full of flowers, a welcome mat flipped over and back, over and back, welcome.”

Refusing easy answers in search of an embodied truth, Sycamore upends propriety to touch the art and feel everything that comes through.

Product Categories: Biography & Autobiography, Forthcoming, Gender/Sexuality, Memoir, and Nonfiction.  Book Author: Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore.

What if toxic pollutants traveled up the socioeconomic ladder rather than down it? A Black biochemist provides an answer in this wildly original novel of pollution, poison, and dark pleasure

In Atlanta, Kenny Bomar is a biochemist-turned-coffee-shop-owner in denial about his divorce and grieving his stillborn daughter. Chemicals killed their child, leaching from a type of plant the government is hiding in Black neighborhoods. Kenny’s coping mechanisms are likewise chemical and becoming more baroque—from daily injections of lethal snake venom to manufacturing designer drugs. As his grief turns corrosive, it taints every person he touches.

Black epidemiologists Retta and Ebonee are called to the scene when a mysterious black substance is found to have killed a high school girl. Investigating these “blackouts” sends the women down separate paths of blame and retribution as two seemingly disparate narratives converge in a cinematic conclusion.

Liquid Snakes is an immersive, white-knuckle ride with the spookiness of speculative fiction and the propulsion of binge-worthy shows like FX’s Atlanta and HBO’s Random Acts of Flyness. Transfiguring a whodunit plot into a labyrinthine reinterpretation of a crime procedural, Stephen Kearse offers an uncanny commentary on an alternative world, poisoned.

Product Categories: Fiction and Forthcoming.  Book Author: Stephen Kearse.

A canonizing, bold, and urgent anthology setting a new precedent for Black Punk Lit, created by generations of Black punks—featuring both new voices and those from the not-so-recent past

Black Punk Now is an anthology of contemporary nonfiction, fiction, illustrations, and comics that collectively describe punk today and give punks—especially the Black ones—a wider frame of reference.  It shows all of the strains, styles, and identities of Black punk that are thriving, and gives newcomers to the scene more chances to see themselves.

Curated from the perspective of Black writers with connections to the world of punk, the collection mixes media as well as generations, creating a new reference point for music-lovers, readers, and historians by capturing the present and looking towards the future. With strong visual elements integrated throughout, this smart, intimate collection is demonstrative of punk by being punk itself: underground, rebellious, aesthetic but not static—working to decenter whiteness by prioritizing other perspectives.

Edited by graphic novelist and filmmaker James Spooner, and author Chris L. Terry, contributors to the collection include critic Hanif Abdurraqib and cartoonist Ben Passmore, conversations with Brontez Purnell, and a roundtable of all femme festival organizers.

Product Categories: Anthology, Essays, Forthcoming, Music, and Nonfiction.  Book Author: Chris L. Terry and James Spooner.

Marrying the philosophical absurdities of life, technology, start-up culture, and family, Users is for readers of Ling Ma, Dave Eggers’s The Circle, and viewers of the hit Apple TV+ original series Severance

Miles, a lead creative at a midsize virtual reality company known for its “original experiences,” has engineered a new product called The Ghost Lover. Wildly popular from the outset, the “game” is simple: a user’s simulated life is almost identical to their reality, except they’re haunted by the ghost of an ex-lover.

However, when a shift in the company’s strategic vision puts The Ghost Lover at the center of a platform-wide controversy, Miles becomes the target of user outrage, and starts receiving a series of anonymous death threats. Typed notes sealed in envelopes with no postage or return address, these persistent threats push Miles into a paranoid panic, blurring his own sense of reality, catalyzing the collapse of his career, his marriage, and his relationship with his children.

The once-promising road to success becomes a narrow set of choices for Miles, who, in a last ditch effort to save his job, pitches his masterpiece, a revolutionary device code-named the Egg, which will transform the company. The consequences for Miles seal him inside the walls of his life as what was once anxiety explodes into devastating absoluteness.

In a world rife with the unchecked power and ambition of tech, Users investigates—with both humor and creeping dread—how interpersonal experiences and private decisions influence the hasty developments that have the power to permanently alter the landscape of human experience.

Product Categories: Fiction and Forthcoming.  Book Author: Colin Winnette.

The literary masterpiece of Aurora Venturini, a major voice in international literature, never before translated into English

At the age of eighty-five, Aurora Venturini stunned Argentine readers when her darkly funny and formally daring novel, Cousins (Las primas), won Página/12’s New Novel Award. She had already written more than forty books, but it was only then, in 2007, that she was widely recognized as a paradigm-shifting voice in Spanish-language literature.

Venturini never stopped writing in her ninety-two years, and produced an oeuvre that is mischievous and stylish, vital and mysterious, and completely original. She lived a life immersed in the literature and culture of the twentieth century: her first award was given to her in person by Jorge Luis Borges; she was friends and colleagues with Eva Perón; and when she lived in exile in Paris, she socialized with a sparkling milieu of writers and philosophers, including Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre.

Cousins, widely regarded as Venturini’s masterpiece, is the story of four women from an impoverished, dysfunctional family in La Plata, Argentina, who are forced to suffer through a series of ordeals, including illegal abortions, miscarriages, sexual abuse, disfigurement, and murder, narrated by a daughter whose success as a painter offers her a chance to achieve economic independence and help her family as best as she can.

Neighborhood mythologies, family, female sexuality, vengeance, and social mobility through art are explored and scrutinized in the unmistakable voice of Yuna—who stares wildly at the world in which she is compelled to live—a voice unique in contemporary literature whose unconventional style can be candid, brutal, sharp, and utterly breathtaking.

With the translation of Cousins into several languages for the first time, Aurora Venturini is now being discovered internationally and championed as a major voice in Latin American literature.

Product Categories: Fiction and Forthcoming.  Book Author: Aurora Venturini and Kit Maude.

An inventive and stylish debut written by a Black educator, Wings of Red is a  clear-eyed, funny, imperfect, and observant work of autofiction that grapples with the absurdity of the New York City educational system as a substitute teacher—that, in the end, reads as an ode to the city itself

June Papers is a twenty-eight-year-old MFA grad with a felony record, “the classic young, Black and gifted American misfit.” He’s also a substitute teacher. He’s also homeless. With dreams of becoming a writer, June endures a host of trials and dilemmas as he reluctantly realizes mentoring and teaching might actually be a path forward for him.

Wings of Red is driven by June’s unique narrative style, a propulsive voice that intimately and vulnerably guides readers through the condemned external reality of a Black educator’s personal and professional world falling apart, and coming together again.

Populated by a host of true-to-life characters who are attempting to realize their dreams despite precarious professional and financial realities, Wings of Red elucidates the fallacy of the American dream while serving as a reminder of how powerful and necessary autofiction can be. Directed at students and educators but written for any audience, Wings of Red is an inspiring and poetic tour de force and an unexpectedly necessary ode to New York City that features a texture, velocity, and immediacy that speaks to the author’s authentic and lived perspective.

Product Categories: Fiction and Forthcoming.  Book Author: James W. Jennings.

What is motherhood in the midst of uncertainty, buried trauma, and an unraveling America? What it’s always been—a love song

Our narrator is a gifted photographer, an uncertain wife, an infertile mother, a biracial woman in an unraveling America. As she grapples with a lifetime of ambivalence about motherhood, yet another act of police brutality makes headlines, and this time the victim is Noah, a boy in her photography class. Unmoored by the grief of a recent devastating miscarriage and Noah’s fight for his life, she worries she can no longer chase the hope of having a child, no longer wants to bring a Black body into the world. Yet her husband Asher—contributing white, Jewish genes alongside her Black-Japanese ones for any potential child—is just as desperate to keep trying. Throwing herself into a new documentary on motherhood, and making secret visits to Noah in the hospital, this when she learns she is, impossibly, pregnant. As the future shifts once again, she must decide yet again what she dares hope for the shape of her future to be. Fearless, timely, blazing with voice, Blue Hour is a fragmentary novel with unignorable storytelling power.

Product Categories: Fiction and Forthcoming.  Book Author: Tiffany Clarke Harrison.

From a National Book Award nominated poet, this collection is about a life lived in the red, on the edges of great lack and great abundance, of financial and emotional margins

Negative Money follows a speaker continually coming of age while probing the binary thresholds of racial and gender identity, violence and safety, security and precarity, love and loneliness.

For readers of Readers Claudia Rankine, Torrey Peters, Ocean Vuong, and Jericho Brown, NBA nominated Lillian-Yvonne Bertrams’s poems are innovative, conceptually thoughtful work. Through experimentation and muscular lyricism, Bertram maintains a style that observes a speaker’s attempt to understand and exert multiple identities within the binary confines of race and gender.

Playing and gliding from acrostics to sonnets to maps, these compassionate, cerebral, and irreverent poems plainly recognize the larger and potentially escapable oppressive systems that dominate all of our lives by narrating the exhaustion that comes from living under constraining systems of relentless extraction, systems whose powers fracture all attempts at genuine love and intimacy.

Product Categories: Forthcoming and Poetry.  Book Author: Lillian Yvonne-Bertram.

“Kevin Powell returns with a poetic time capsule written with love in honor of his mother’s evolution. Powell investigates the nature of our country’s oppression through the generational wounds survived and passed on. These poems are a testament to the healing work of Kevin Powell, as they revel in the power of forgiveness, abundance, and lineage.” —Mahogany L. Browne, Lincoln Center’s inaugural poet in residence and author of Vinyl Moon

When Kevin Powell’s elderly mother became ill, he returned home every week to take her grocery shopping in Jersey City. Walking behind her during those trips, Powell began to hear her voice, stories, and language in a new way—examining his own healing while praying for hers.

Grocery Shopping with My Mother originated as social media posts about these visits and evolved into a breathtaking collection of thirty-two new poems, crafted like an album, plus four bonus tracks celebrating a great love of wordplay. Culturally rooted in the literary traditions of Ntozake Shange and Allen Ginsberg, Powell’s poems honor the likes of V (formerly Eve Ensler), bell hooks, and Sidney Poitier.

Grocery Shopping with My Mother dives into the complexities of relationships and contemporary themes with honesty and vulnerability. Creatively and spiritually inspired by Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life, Powell’s poems shift in form and style, from praise chants to reverential meditations to, most importantly, innovative hope.

 

Product Categories: Forthcoming and Poetry.  Product Tags: Grocery Shopping with My Mother.  Book Author: Kevin Powell.

From the brilliantly original novelist and cultural critic Lynne Tillman comes MOTHERCARE, an honest and beautifully written account of a sudden, drastically changed relationship to one’s mother, and of the time and labor spent navigating the American healthcare system

When a mother’s unusual health condition, normal pressure hydrocephalus, renders her entirely dependent on you, your sisters, caregivers, and companions, the unthinkable becomes daily life. In MOTHERCARE, Tillman describes doing what seems impossible: handling her mother as if she were a child and coping with a longtime ambivalence toward her.

In Tillman’s celebrated style and as a “rich noticer of strange things” (Colm Tóibín), she describes, without flinching, the unexpected, heartbreaking, and anxious eleven years of caring for a sick parent.

MOTHERCARE is both a cautionary tale and sympathetic guidance for anyone who suddenly becomes a caregiver. This story may be helpful, informative, consoling, or upsetting, but it never fails to underscore how impossible it is to get the job done completely right.

Product Categories: Family & Relationships, Forthcoming, Memoir, and Nonfiction.  Product Tags: Mothercare.  Book Author: Lynne Tillman.

A collection of funny and thought-provoking poems inspired by surprising facts that will appeal to poetry lovers and poetry haters alike, from the author of the essay collection The Unreality of Memory, “a work of sheer brilliance, beauty, and bravery” (Andrew Sean Greer)

Known to be both “casually brilliant” (Sandra Newman) and a “ruthless self-examiner” (Sarah Manguso), acclaimed writer Elisa Gabbert brings her “questing, restless intelligence” (Kirkus Reviews) to a new collection of poetry.

By turns funny and chilling, these poems collect strange facts, interrogate language, and ask unanswerable questions that offer the pleasure of discovery on nearly every page: How does one suffer “gladly,” exactly? How bored are dogs? Which is more frightening, nothing or empty space? Was Wittgenstein sexy?

With her sharp observations building to extremely quotable one-liners, the poems in this collection are earwormy, ultra contemporary, essayistic, aphoristic, and philosophical—invitations to eavesdrop on a mind paying attention to itself. Normal Distance is a book about thinking and feeling, meaning and experience, trees and the weather, and the boredom and pain of living through time.

 

Praise for Normal Distance

“‘There is a hole in your nightmare / you could fall down,’ writes Elisa Gabbert from America of the 2020s, where ‘normal’ has never been ‘normal’ and now distance is up in your face. ‘Every year, when the lindens bloom, I think of the year / when the lindens didn’t bloom,’ begins this journey wherein distraction helps thinking and precision allows perspective, and indecision, which by now is a character trait of a large group, touches on metaphysical: ‘everything reminds me of it, but I don’t know what “it” is.’ But Gabbert knows answers, and isn’t afraid to share them: ‘We are born not remembering why we walked into the room.’ She knows, too, that ‘what it wants is desire. / A barrier to crossing / the chasm of the day.’ The metaphysics in this book is felt, and lived, and searching. The questions are playful, the answers are wise, and the language is always precise, beautiful. Normal Distance is a joy to read and re-read.” —Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic and Dancing in Odessa

“‘I feel,’ says Kierkegaard’s aesthete ‘A,’ ‘as if I were a piece in a game of chess, when my opponent says of it: That piece cannot be moved!’ But in this playfully despairing book, our speaker—call her the melancholy American—feels to me like she’s on third base with a) the bases loaded and b) the distinct feeling that the batter’s going to get walked. He does, she saunters, and, refreshingly free of ballyhoo, she scores. The poems in Normal Distance find Elisa Gabbert taking her trademark even-keeled clairvoyance and matter-of-fact sass to new extremes of quotidiana, new culs-de-sac in the abyss. Say them and they’ll eat at you all day.” —Graham Foust, author of Embarrassments

“A magnificent book of poems, unafraid to interrogate our maddening existence, vengefully honest, and pierced with a blazing conversation towards philosophy. Gabbert has a gift for exposing human longing, with poker-faced lyricism, for the fantasy it often is. Suffering pervades this book: our addiction to it, our denial of it and the absolute inevitability of it. What Gabbert shows us is that suffering comes in many forms, and one of the most prevalent is boredom: ‘The secret to immortality is boredom. If you’re bored enough you’ll never die,’ she writes. Always there is a solidarity in the poems. We are all together in this; we are the poet. And humor—which Freud knew held as much rich unconscious content as dreams—makes these elegant, genius poems anything but boring. ‘Can you not pay attention to your desires?,’ she asks. She replies with all her pitch-perfect characteristic sagacity: ‘I don’t care. I want to change my mind.’ Same.” —Bianca Stone, author of What Is Otherwise Infinite

“Elisa Gabbert’s newest book of poems, Normal Distance, is a must-read. It is a work of full force and cannot be forgotten long after you close its pages. Its intricate language mazes and areas of language play create a landscape of full sensations, thoughts, and pure emotion. In the book, you enter places where the starkness of our time is met with the tenderness of what it means to be a human. Places where the ‘lindens’ both ‘bloom’ and ‘didn’t bloom,’ where ‘suffering was less absurd,’ places where the ‘inflection of a spell’ ‘turns off your power,’ where ‘everything is a monolith,’ places with ‘frightening’ ’empty space,’ and where ‘youth is a kind of genius.’ These poems are places where anything can be anything and where what the poet feels intimately can still be everything. As Gabbert writes, ‘We are born not remembering why we walked into the room,’ and I believe her. This is a book that you will remember for a long time, after birth and death, and into the eternal space where poetry still lives.” —Dorothea Lasky, author of Milk

“What I love about the poems in Normal Distance is how each uncannily assembles within the reader a scale model of Gabbert’s own booming wonder—a New Mexico moon rises ‘absurd on its face. // All ha ha ha.’ Sleep is where ‘Time comes out of time’; then, it’s ‘a performance for God.’ It’s all just so delight-full, delight in the Horatian sense of dulce et util, delight that pierces the reader’s mind so wisdom can get in. Gabbert achieves that highest lyric aim: she restores to living a bit of its baffle.” —Kaveh Akbar, author of Pilgrim Bell

Product Categories: Forthcoming, Poetry, and Women's Studies.  Product Tags: Normal Distance.  Book Author: Elisa Gabbert.

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