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Small Press Beat: AWP


I am hoping my 2013 AWP goes something like the well-known Raymond Carver quote : “Get in, get out. Don’t linger. Go on.” Assuming that one could put up his or her blinders to the constant pummeling of everything that is AWP, here are ten books that I plan to buy, then rush out of the convention center, take a taxi to Cheers, and read all weekend. And while I might not have read all of these books yet, you should trust me when I say they are going to be awesome.

Aphoria by Jackie Clark (Brooklyn Arts Press)

If foria is the misalignment of the eyes, or when the eyes are unable to concentrate on one object, then what is aphoria? The non-misalignment of sight? Are we looking straight on then, without trouble? The title brings to mind aporia, some impassable path. So what are we seeing then during the  “spacewalk / while fingers / hypnotically roll / invisible balls / back and forth / between / their tips”? That’s so Derrida.

Debts & Lessons by Lynn Xu (Omnidawn Publishing)

A thorough and understanding piece on Xu’s books is here, with allusions to Marcus Arelius (where the book’s title came from), Shakespeare, Eliot, Shelley and O’Hara, not to mention English-Chinese translation. Holy moly, I can’t wait to read this.

The Warmth of the Taxidermied Animal by Tytti Heikkinen (Action Books)

I just found out about this one via Daniella Pafunda and Joyelle McSweeney over at Montevidayo. The translation titles that Action Books puts out never disappoint. There’s a poem in this book called “Fatty XL.” What more do you want? Go to the Action Books table and pick their brains.

Ethical Consciousness by Paul Killebrew (Canarium Books)

I’m still in love with Killebrew’s first Canarium book, Flowers, and the pieces of Ethical Consciousness that I have read solidify my love. This man uses poetry as his philosophical and moral prying stick. Canarium is batting 1.000 in my eyes. Every single book inspires, all while the spine and covers get wrecked from heavy reading. Only a combination of editorial and poetic ass-holes or  geniuses could  put out a book called Ethical Consciousness.

Begging for It by Alex Dimitrov (Four Way Books)

I’ve followed Dimitrov’s poetry for a while now, and cannot wait to have a bound book of his in my hands. It’s going to be intimate, it’s going to be crushing like sledgehammers to the heart, and  it’s going to live up to the hype that is Alex Dimitrov.

Among the Dead: Ah! and Afterward Yes! by Becca Jensen (Les Figues)

I am going to encounter this book with a combination of  fresh eyes and a keen acknowledgment that Les Figues books open my brain up to a new dimension, like every time. I saw these a while back, and was floored. I’m ready for its full context.

Grace Period: Notebooks 1998-2007 by Aaron Kunin (Letter Machine)

My practice as a writer has changed since I was ten years old,” Kunin writes in an interview with Tom Fleischman, “but my notebook has been consistent.” Certain books come along that contain an artist’s mode and structure of thought, the basis of his or her writing. I’m excited to keep Grace Period open and dog-eared as I go back through Kunin’s magnificent group of books already published, especially the rich and challenging language in The Sore Throat & Other Poems.

Five other notable titles that have me excited:


Rise in the Fall by Ana Božičević (Birds LLC)

The Moon’s Jaw by Rauan Klassnik (Black Ocean)

Imperial Nostalgias by Joshua Edwards (Ugly Duckling Presse)

Revenge for Revenge by Christie Ann Reynolds (Coconut Books)

My Dead by Amy Lawless (Octopus Books)


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  1. […] about it, amongst the glut. This is why I really like Drew Swenhaugen’s already mentioned short list of AWP picks over at Tin House. Drew likes poems. And he likes these poets. And he likes their books, so he […]

  2. […] of the Volta Drew S. Swenhaugen has his AWP guide up at Tin House. Do take a […]

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