03 October 2008

Exciting times in Akron, Ohio

The week may be coming to an end, but here in Akron, Ohio, the excitement has just begun. Leaves are starting to turn brilliant oranges and reds, as if they know that The Bride Minaret by Heather Derr-Smith is hot off the press. I have been looking forward to this book's arrival since I first set eyes on the manuscript, and got absolutely lost in it. The Bride Minaret is much like Mistaking the Sea for Green Fields by Ashley Capps, in that it's the kind of book you can't stop reading, and the moment you do, you better have pen and paper nearby. I'm so glad that Heather Derr-Smith will be helping me staff the University of Akron Press table at AWP, not only so I can thank her (for hours and hours) for helping me out of a writing rut, but so that I can introduce you to her, and so that you can get your copy of the book signed.

You can read poems from The Bride Minaret if you'd like to take a peek. The UA Press staff are very efficient, so if you want it now, give them a call.


Heather Derr-Smith’s second collection journeys to the rough core of desire, creating and destroying binaries along the way. Familiar artifacts of domesticity become as volatile as land mines, and the streets of Damascus, Calcutta, and other faraway locales obliterate the American landscape. Yet Derr-Smith’s poetry transcends time and place, illuminating the ties that bind man to woman, mother to child. The Bride Minaret is a relentless chronicle of experience, where the sacred and profane become interchangeable, where “Every tent has a name, and every name is the breath of you.” ~Mary Biddinger, Editor of the Akron Series in Poetry

The Bride Minaret is a book of emotional, literary, and cultural substance. As Mandelson wrote of Auden: the poems bear witness to the close connection between intelligence and love. The same can be said for Derr-Smith, whose work is global, with settings in Iraq, British Columbia, Algiers, Paris, Sarajevo, Bosnia, Cairo, the West Bank, and various U.S. locations. Her poems are intercultural, expansive while still grounded in the evocative complexities of motherhood, childhood, and faith. The Bride Minaret is a wonderfully intense collection. ~Denise Duhamel, author of Two and Two and Mille et un sentiments

In The Bride Minaret, Heather Derr-Smith explores the complex and difficult realities of our global world more comprehensively and comprehendingly than most American poets consider even attempting. Often paying close attention to those displaced and/or disconnected from the society around them—Arabs in Europe, Americans in the Middle East, Mennonites in Iowa, Balkan refugees, Roma orphans, Palestinians, and, at the heart of the book, a mother now separated from her former, childless self—these poems ultimately argue that dislocation is itself a kind of location, just as living forever in one place can end up dislocating oneself from the realities of our time. ~Wayne Miller, author of Only the Senses Sleep and The Book of Props


Heather Derr-Smith was born in Dallas, Texas in 1971. She spent most of her childhood in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She earned her BA in art history from the University of Virginia and went on to earn her MFA in poetry writing from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her poems have appeared in Fence, Margie, New York Quarterly, and TriQuarterly. Her first book of poems, Each End of the World (2005), was about the war in Bosnia in the 1990s.

In other po-news, next week John Gallaher will be visiting Akron and working with my students, as well as reading on Wednesday, 10/8. Here are the details:

John Gallaher, with Amy Bracken Sparks and Michael Dumanis
Wednesday, 10/8, 7:30 pm
The University of Akron Martin Center
Library Room
Free & Open to the Public

It's going to be a spectacular reading, and there just may be an exciting announcement or two.

The Akron Poetry Prize results will be posted next week. In the meantime, here's a news flash: the judge for the 2009 Akron Poetry Prize will be Martín Espada.


Jay Robinson said...

Yeah, I'm pretty addicted to The Bride Minaret already.

Penultimatina said...

Me too! It's so distracting. You may need to take it away from me so that I can get some work done.

PS--Why don't you post what you like about it, eh?

Jay Robinson said...

Okay. Will do. Perhaps sometime later this afternoon?

Penultimatina said...

That sounds good.

Wow, it's really snowing by you...

Karen J. Weyant said...

Yet another book to add to my list! Thanks, Mary.

John Gallaher said...

1) I'm looking forward to getting a copy! I shall do so in person. In three days.

2) It's obvious to me now that Michael Dumanis needs a blog.

Jay Robinson said...

Well, if you want to know my thoughts on The Bridge Minaret, I wrote a review of the book on amazon.com. It's sort of critical prose....

One reason, as you know, besides the poems themselves, why the book is so good is because of the tremendous design job done by the ever-savvy (sic) Amy Freels.

Yes, it is snowing. Perhaps that's why I've come done with this cold.

newzoopoet said...

How does a press or contest go about selecting a judge?

B-Ho said...

Mary! You'll get a kick out of this... flipping through Poetry mag right now before bed, reading about random books, etc, came across "like waking up in a strange bed with a new tattoo," thought, hrm, that's pretty cool, then looked down to see that you had said it!! Cracked me up. You're famous ;)

Penultimatina said...

Brandi, I reckon that's the only reason my name will ever appear in Poetry. ;)

Angela, that is an awesome question. In my case, even before it was time to contact a potential judge, I knew that I wanted to ask Martin Espada. I admire him and his work so much, and he's one of the poets who inspired me back when I was a graduate student. He came to read at BGSU, and that was such a turning point for me as a poet.

I also thought he'd be perfect because he seems to share some aspects of my aesthetic sensibility, but he differs from my taste in some ways, too. I also really hope that we get a stronger response from the Latino/a writing community, since I take a special interest in Latino/a poetry, and would love to see more of it.

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