Category Archives: Poetry

The New Arcana by John Amen & Daniel Y. Harris


The New Arcana by John Amen and Daniel Y. Harris (Aug. 20, 2012) stretches the fabric of poetry with an experimental twisting of photos and art.  Presented in five sections, this work takes on a theatrical style through its characters, dialog and often outrageous banter.  It is a work of art that will challenge the reader to pay attention and think beyond conscripted poetry.

About The Authors

John Amen is the author of three collections of poetry: Christening the Dancer (Uccelli Press, 2003), More of Me Disappears (Cross-Cultural Communications, 2005), At the Threshold of Alchemy (Presa, 2009), and THE NEW ARCANA (NYQ Books, 2012). His work has appeared in numerous journals nationally and internationally and been translated into Spanish, French, Hungarian, and Hebrew. In addition, he has released two folk/folk rock CDs: All I’ll Never Need (Cool Midget, 2004) and Ridiculous Empire (2008). He is also an artist, working primarily with acrylics on canvas. Amen travels widely giving readings, doing musical performances, and conducting workshops. He founded and continues to edit The Pedestal Magazine.

Daniel Y. Harris is the author of Hyperlinks of Anxiety (Cervena Barva Press, 2012, forthcoming), THE NEW ARCANA (with John Amen, NYQ Books, 2012), Paul Celan and the Messiah’s Broken Levered Tongue (with Adam Shechter, Cervena Barva Press, 2010; picked by The Jewish Forward as one of the 5 most important Jewish poetry books of 2010) and Unio Mystica (Cross-Cultural Communications, 2009). He is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee. Some of his poetry, experimental writing, art, and essays have been published in BlazeVOX, DENVER QUARTERLY, European Judaism, EXQUISITE CORPSE, The New York QuarterlyIn Posse ReviewThe Pedestal MagazinePoetry Magazine.comand Poetry Salzburg Review.

Leave a comment

Filed under Poetry

Every Seed of the Pomegranate by David Allen Sullivan

Every Seed of the Pomegranate

 by David Allen Sullivan

Tebot Bach, 2012

Poetry and War, like Beauty and the Beast, dance together as perfect partners in this collection of conversational poetry by David Allen Sullivan. Structuring every piece to give each voice a distinguished place on the page, the war in Iraq is experienced by the reader through a prism of rich dialog and depiction.  This collection of poetry gives us the opportunity to feel the raw sadness and boundless hope of the soldiers and civilians who fight together – and each other – for God and Country.

He breathes without breath.

This mujahid soldier knows

he’s gone beyond words;

attention is all

I can give. I’m dumb, but my

ignorance of his

language gets erased

when his hand finds mine. I kneel and his grip tightens…

Excerpt from “Doc Washington, USNS Comfort” (Every Seed of the Pomegranate by David Allen Sullivan, 2012)

Every Seed of the Pomegranate by David Allen Sullivan

Tebot Bach, 2012

Review by Krystal A. Brown, M.A., J.D.

Leave a comment

Filed under Poetry

On The Border of Snow and Melt

On The Border of Snow and Melt – Selected Poems of Georgy Ivanov, translated, edited and annotated by Jerome Katsell and Stanislav Shvabrin

2011, Perceval Press

A new bilingual Russian/English collection of over 500 pages. A taste of what you can expect from this very fine yet largely unknown poet, at least with respect to English-language readers:


Mirrors reflect each other,
Mutually distorting their reflections.

I believe not in the invincibility of evil,
But only in the unavoidability of defeat.

Not in the music that burned my life,
But in the ash left from the burning.

Georgy Ivanov
(translated by Jerome Katsell and Stanislav Shvabrin)

“This poem is characteristic of Ivanov’s vintage lyricism. Somber and precise in its expressiveness, it draws an ironic line under a lifelong search for the means of expression uniquely suitable to the task of creating a fitting monument to the poet’s many disappointments, be they subjective, intimate, or philosophical. Paradoxically, perhaps, what may be taken for this poem’s bitterness, thanks to the degree of its distillation, becomes its redeeming factor, giving us a taste—or rather a foretaste—of the genuineness of Ivanov’s lyricism. More is offered below.”
-Stanislav Shvabrin

shared via Perceval Press

Leave a comment

Filed under Poetry

Whorled by Ed Bok Lee

Excerpt From “Whorled”
Dear speaker in a future age,
when only a handful of tongues remain
I write this to you as a song,
even as I know it won’t do

Even as I know the words I speak are devastation
I don’t expect you to understand
But I want you to know
there is another language in which I dream

Whorled by Ed Bok Lee (2011, Coffee House Press)

In Whorled, Ed Bok Lee looks toward a global future, one where the dividing lines between state, religion, race, history, and culture have been blurred to the extent that the very idea of difference requires a new understanding. What does it mean to be a Global Citizen in an era of constant war, rampant industrialization, and ever-advancing technology? Whorled strives to give a voice to those left out with words of loss and longing, confrontation and celebration. From gambling Buddhists at a Midwest Native American casino, to a Russian rave, Lee’s ever-wandering cultural and spiritual nomads struggle to make sense of what it means to be a citizen of an increasingly homeless world.


“His poems are alternately devastating and grandstanding, word-drunk and built for speed. . . . There is another other/ in the other of every/ Another,” goes the opening poem, “All Love Is Immigrant.” It’s a beautiful poem charged with a breathtaking idea. Whorled is a book that believes love is like a superior kind of capital: It’s a force that flows into new markets, sensing absences, and fills them, whether it’s a debased kind of space or an ennobling one.” —John Freeman, Minneapolis Star Tribune

“The spirit of Lee’s poetry hovers in the paradoxical space between markers of identification and actual identity. He makes wry and rightly skeptical use of the noun cluster and the adjective train, but does so in service to something elusive, something more precious. It’s as if he glues together shards of glass to make a bottle only to celebrate what that bottle cannot hold. . . .There’s something post-Romantic about this—Lee writes frequently and without irony about love and friendship—but it is not indulgent or salvific. Even at his mooniest, Lee is more than a Matthew Arnold, a figure who cannot help but take the cacophony of the world as a personal insult. If the modern world is a problem, it’s a fascinating one, both despite and because of its crimes, both large and small, and Lee does this truth better than justice. . . .Whorled is not a book of clean lines and sharp corners, a book that’s also a box. It spills and erupts and makes a mess, but its lists expand and grow, as living things do. . . .”—Ray McDaniel, The Constant Critic

“In this book, Lee is the writer and traveler of not only distances but of time. His staccato free-verse style is dynamic as ever, better read aloud than in silence, with a greater maturity, and a discernible global perspective. . . . If Ed Bok Lee still carries the sense of being an immigrant, then language—the power of words is Lee’s turf, his citizenship. . . . Lee is a prolific and diverse writer.”—Korean Quarterly

“Ed Bok Lee‘s worldview is capacious. His poems seek out startlingly insightful perspectives and stories across the globe and on our very doorsteps. At times unexpectedly, his poems help us see the familiar in new ways and the unfamiliar in profoundly identifiable ways.”—Kartika Review

Whorled is a courageous attempt to portray the intricate human workings at the heart of the dusty underbelly of the American dream. . . . It is a vision of constantly shifting politico-cultural systems where nationality is just one more playing card to keep up your sleeve and even love is “immigrant”—and therefore itinerant, and unsettled. . . . Rather than merely focus on the lack and lapses of  “the System” against which the people fight, Ed Bok Lee’s Whorled poses the greater and more horrifying question: what if the absence of which we lament comes from within?”—Phati’tude Literary Magazine

“Bao Phi and Ed Bok Lee . . . comprise a local vanguard of Asian American literature, as poetic in their demolishing of stereotypes as they are determined.”—Minnesota Monthly, Artists We Love in the Fall 2011 Arts Preview

“All of the rawness of South Minneapolis streets enlivens the page. Lee never shies away from uncovering racial hierarchies, offering an uncompromising view of America, contradictions and all. Once again, Lee seeks a large canvas for his poetry. His second book, Whorled, encompasses global issues like the worldwide loss of culture and language.” —Minnesota Daily

“Lee’s exceptional Whorled is . . . a jolting gaze focused on today’s 21st-century global citizen, uprooted and unleashed. . . . Like his 2005 debut Real Karaoke People, Lee again provides searing ‘oh-my-gawd’-moments that will rip through your soul.”
BookDragon (Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program)

“Drawing from a well of personal experience, empathy and his fine-tuned imagination, Bok Lee sketches vivid characters caught on the fulcrum of history, where political machinations and cultural currents far outside their control meet. . .  [H]is poems offer a reader: naked humanity and sensuous use of language, alluring melancholy and unvarnished insight and undercurrents of tempered fury and compassion that color his every word.”KnightsArts (The Knight Foundation)

“Sometimes a poem stops you in your tracks. Today I had that experience while reading Ed Bok Lee’s new collection Whorled.”—Marianne Combs, MPR

Whorled [is] an inquisitive, powerful, global exploration of identity, thrumming with insight and taut phrasing.”—City Pages

“These poems are filled with ‘a certain historical color of light.’ They’re funny, slyly political, and gorgeous. Working with a variety of forms and modes, Ed Bok Lee rocks my socks off. I love this book.” —Sherman Alexie

“These poems work in powerful concert to give body to an entire world of beauty, terror, loss, grief, and joy. The strength and magnetism of Lee’s voice come from his mind’s profound awareness of a person’s embeddedness in a context simultaneously personal and archetypal; social, historical, political, and cosmic. The self that emerges from these poems, sometimes as an archaeological find, sometimes as a mode of being proposed to face the complexity of our present life on earth, is characterized by a serious soul, a great broken heart, and a wild imagination. . . . What a moving read is Whorled.” —Li-Young Lee

“Elias Canetti remarked that a great writer must be for and against everything in the present time.  In ways few Americans have attempted, Whorled takes on that challenge, deepening the reader into true soul work, grief and love for our human fragility.  In poem after poem, Lee vividly explores knots of intersecting histories that connect the globe’s peoples in ways we have yet to take in and imagine.”  —David Mura

“Atavistic arias and hip-hop haiku, memoir and mash-up, poetry and prose, Lee has serious game. Who else works with a lens this wide, this gracefully? Whorled will piss you off, crack you up, and leave you haunted by one of the most soulful love letters to language itself that you’ll ever read. ‘All love is immigrant,’ says this book rich with destinations, each one opening our hearts wider to the miracle of having an entire world to call home.” —Dobby Gibson

Shared via Coffee House Press

Leave a comment

Filed under Poetry