Poetry Reading

Rodger Kamenetz - TO DIE NEXT TO YOU

Event date: 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 6:00pm

Event address: 

513 Octavia St
70115-2055 New Orleans
us

Please join us for a reading and signing with writer Rodger Kamenetz celebrating the release of his new book of poetry. Each poem in this beautiful book is illustrated by painter Michael Hafftka.

TO DIE NEXT TO YOU is a unique event in the literary and artistic world.  Two brother artists, both nurtured by the dream world and its imaginal colors and sacred words, have joined to produce a single work of rare quality. More than a collaboration, this work is a journey into the power of the unconscious depth of word and image, in which master painter and poet present verbal and visual displays of agony and joy, destruction and falling, love and dying.

This project has taken ten years to produce. From the encounter with his dreams narrated in The History of Last Night's Dream, Kamenetz produced a series of poems in a startling new idiom.  Then over a three year period, Michael Hafftka internalized the poems and reconstituted them in images that serve as imaginative midrash, annotation, anticipation and anti-illustration. The drawings offer brilliant first readings of the poems without limiting their scope.  It is equally possible to read the poems as reflections and interpretations of the drawings. The brilliant design of Andrew Shurtz allows the reader to move between worlds of poetry and painting, without losing trace of either one.

Praise for this new work has been overwhelming. Poet and art critic David Shapiro hails Kamenetz as "one of the secret best poets in America" and finds in his work "the fire in the heart of the great transcendental Romantics." Turning his eye to Hafftka's "fabulous anti-illustrations" he compares the artist to Soutine and Bacon and finds him "a humanist in the line of Walter Benjamin, Hannah Arendt and Meyer Shapiro." John Yau, another greatly accomplished poet and art critic, says that Kamenetz has sent us poems that "are mysterious and open- both parable and their opposite, anti-parable", while Hafftka "with pen and ink" "registers the turmoil of being afflicting the inhabitants of the strange world called Now. " Together poet and artist have "achieved the miraculous."

AFTER AFTER - "I saw the word poetry cover poetry..." Click here for a preview.

 

Rodger Kamenetz is an award-winning poet, author and teacher. Of his ten books, his best known is The Jew in the Lotus, the story of rabbis making a holy pilgrimage through India to meet with the Dalai Lama. When The History of Last Night's Dream appeared in 2007, Oprah Winfrey interviewed him on her "Soul Series" program, saying, "What's so exciting about this book is that it talks about how there's a whole other life that we are living when we sleep and that our dreams are there as offerings and gifts to us if we only recognize what the dreams are there to teach us."

Born in Baltimore, Rodger Kamenetz has degrees from Yale, Johns Hopkins and Stanford. He held a dual appointment at LSU as a Professor of English and Professor of Religious Studies and founded the MFA program in creative writing and the Jewish Studies minor. He retired as LSU Distinguished Professor and Sternberg Honors Chair Professor. He lives in New Orleans where he devotes himself now to his work with clients who seek spiritual direction through dreams.

Nancy Harris - BEAUTY EATING BEAUTY & Melinda Palacio - HOW FIRE IS A STORY, WAITING

Event date: 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - 6:02pm

Event address: 

513 Octavia St
70115-2055 New Orleans
us

 

Join us while poetry comes alive as Nancy Harris and Melinda Palacio share poems from their newest collections.  In BEAUTY EATING BEAUTY, Harris shows her wit and craft of wordplay. Palacio's poetry in HOW FIRE IS A STORY, WAITING creates images that are at once heart-breaking and humorous.  Come sit, listen, connect with poetry, and bring home signed copies of the work of these fine New Orleans poets.

Brenda Marie Osbey - HISTORY AND OTHER POEMS

Event date: 

Thursday, April 11, 2013 - 6:00pm

Event address: 

513 Octavia St
70115-2055 New Orleans
us

Please join us during this National Poetry Month for a special evening with former Poet Laureate of Louisiana Brenda Marie Osbey who will read from and sign her new collection. This is Osbey's fifth collection and her first since the publication of ALL SAINTS: New & Selected Poems, a recipient of the 1998 American Book Award.

HISTORY AND OTHER POEMS takes as its task nothing less than an examination and mapping of the never-ending evil of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the still-palpable effects of European and American colonialism some seven centuries after the making of the New World.

Making, breaking and rebuilding language and languages to suit the needs of her characters and the worlds they struggle to survive in and against, Brenda Marie Osbey has created a compelling study of human will and the determination to wrest life and liberty from destinies long ago written out of history as we know it.

Aided by an extensive glossary and notes, this volume takes the reader on a series of gruesome journeys across the Americas, from Columbus's first encounter with the Guanahani Indians to the author's native New Orleans, trailing violence, destruction and oppression with every step, marking the geography of evil on the map of this New World.

HISTORY AND OTHER POEMS moves from present to past and back again to reveal the trauma of hearts and lives broken even as it underscores the heroic endurance, resilience and agency of the enslaved and their descendants.

Brenda Marie Osbey, a New Orleans native, is an author of poetry and prose nonfiction in English and French. Her previous volumes include All Saints: New and Selected Poems, which received the 1998 American Book Award. In 2005–2007, she served as the first peer-selected poet laureate of Louisiana.

Studies of her work appear in such critical texts as Southscapes: Geographies of Race, Region and Literature by Thadious M. Davis (University of North Carolina Press, 2011); Forms of Expansion: Recent Long Poems by Women by Lynn Keller (U. Chicago Press, 1997); The Future of Southern Letters, edited by Jefferson Humphries and John Lowe (Oxford, 1996); and such reference works as Contemporary Authors; the Oxford Companion to African American Literature (1997); the Dictionary of Literary Biography (Oxford, 1997); and Dictionnaire des Créatrices (Éditions des Femmes, 2011).

Her essays have been published in The American Voice, Georgia Review, BrightLeaf, Southern Literary Journal and Creative Nonfiction.

She has been a resident fellow of the MacDowell Colony, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Kentucky Foundation for Women, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Millay Colony, the Camargo Foundation and the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College, Harvard University. She has received fellowships and awards also from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Louisiana Division of the Arts, and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation among others. She is currently Distinguished Visiting Professor of Africana Studies at Brown University.

***canceled*** Andrei Codrescu - SO RECENTLY RENT A WORLD ***canceled***

Event date: 

Friday, February 22, 2013 - 6:00pm

Event address: 

513 Octavia St
70115-2055 New Orleans
us

THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELED DUE TO BAD WEATHER WHICH HAS RESULTED IN THE CANCELLATION OF THE AUTHOR'S FLIGHT TO NEW ORLEANS.

Please join us for a very special evening when Andrei Codrescu returns to Octavia Books to read and sign his new book, SO RECENTLY RENT A WORLD: New and Selected Poems, 1968-2012, a landmark poetry selection that follows the upswell, downfall, and wake of 41 years of wrestling the muse.

Raconteur, poet, and NPR commentator Andrei Codrescu delivers in his inimitable, irreverent style a collection that traverses subjects from aging to consumerism and religion to mass media. Brilliantly funny yet deeply insightful, these poems illuminate Codrescu’s acerbic tone and outsized personality and capture the best of his oeuvre.

For four and a half decades, Andrei Codrescu has been a vivid presence in our literary life. He has written novels, essays, and reportage; made films; taught literature; produced regular commentary for radio and newspapers; edited a literary journal--but he is foremost a poet who has made this art the bedrock and standard for all his writing. So Recently Rent a World: New And Selected Poems, 1968-2012, is a selection of his decades’ long dalliance and adventures with the muse, with a hefty addition of new unpublished work.

Andrei Codrescu, World Heavyweight Champion Poet, essayist, novelist, and screenwriter, was born in Sibiu, Romania, in 1946, and immigrated to the United States in 1966. Author of forty books, Codrescu has edited the literary magazine Exquisite Corpse and his provocative commentary is featured regularly on National Public Radio’s award-winning newsmagazine All Things Considered. His honors include the Peabody Award for his film Road Scholar, the Big Table Poetry Award, and the Literature Prize of the Romanian Cultural Foundation, as well as National Endowment for the Arts fellowships for poetry, editing, and radio. He currently lives in the Ozarks near the Buffalo River National Park.

The New York Times Book Review has called Codrescu “One of our most prodigiously talented and magical writers,” The Los Angeles Times has proclaimed him, “a modern day DeTocqueville.” The Houston Chronicle noted that he is “among the most astute contemporary observers of what William Carlos Williams called ‘the American grain,’ while simultaneously joining playwright Eugene Ionesco as one of Romania’s great rememberers of dictatorial things past.” Lawrence Ferlinghetti said that he “creates a craving for the subversive—something much needed in these days of ‘friendly fascism,’ Kay Boyle called his work “a cause for celebration.” And, The St. Petersburg Times commented that “if Andrei Codrescu still lived in Europe, he’d be a public intellectual, consulted by presidents and ministers on issues of education, economics, and possibilities of pleasure. But since he is now a resident if the United States, he has to content himself with being a cult figure. America hasn’t melted Codrescu. He’s as solid a voice as we have.” 

Mark Statman, translator - BLACK TULIPS: The Selected Poems of José María Hinojosa

Event date: 

Monday, February 25, 2013 - 6:00pm

Event address: 

513 Octavia St
70115-2055 New Orleans
us

A major literary achievement, a compelling translation, a lyrical force

Please join us for a reading, presentation and book signing with translator/poet Mark Statman featuring BLACK TULIPS: The Selected Poems of José María Hinojosa.

Pablo Medina writes, "BLACK TULIPS: The Selected Poems of José María Hinojosa, translated by Mark Statman, is a major literary achievement... Statman has unearthed the poetry of a long-forgotten member of the Generation of '27. Thanks to Statman, Hinojosa's work can now be accorded its proper place among that august group. Statman's acumen as both poet and translator is evident in every page. The results are translations that are faithful to Hinojosa's originals while standing as fine English poems in their own right." Nicholas Birns affirms, "Mark Statman's compelling translations bring alive the many sides of Hinojosa—the elegiac, the contemplative, the poignant, and, in the utterly unexpected poem about the actress Lillian Gish, the truly hilarious. Hinojosa above all is a profound poet of human love in all its manifestations, as celebrated in nature and as clung to amid the mesh of war and suffering. Those who thought they knew twentieth-century Spanish poetry will have to reboot their cognitive maps after experiencing these concise, uncanny, perennially surprising poems." Willis Barnstone acknowledges that, "José María Hinojosa fell young with a bullet, losing both pen and memory. In this act of restoration, Mark Statman brings the Andalusian poet alive." Barnstone continues, "Statman's exquisite version is our gift."

BLACK TULIPS, released in October 2012, is a selection from the poetry of José María Hinojosa, the first English translation of a well-known poet of Spain’s famed Generation of '27. His surrealist poetry contrasted with his right wing politics, causing him to break with the group during the Spanish Republic. He was assassinated by Republican sympathizers in 1936 and his writing disappeared from Spanish culture until the end of the 20th century.

The collection is swiftly becoming a mainstream in translation and has been receiving some great press. On December 2nd, "Possible Elegy" from the book was featured as the poem of the day on Poetry Daily poems.com), and New Pages named BLACK TULIPS a "New & Noteworthy" book of 2012.

Mark Statman was born in New York City. An associate professor at The New School for the Liberal Arts, he attended Columbia University. Statman's recent books are the poetry collection Tourist at a Miracle and, with Pablo Medina, Federico García Lorca's Poet in New York. His work has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies. He currently lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Katherine, and their son Jesse.

Melinda Palacio - HOW FIRE IS A STORY, WAITING

Event date: 

Thursday, December 13, 2012 - 6:00pm

Event address: 

513 Octavia St
70115-2055 New Orleans
us

Please join us for a reading and booksigning with New Orleans writer and poet Melinda Palacio celebrating her just released book, HOW FIRE IS A STORY, WAITING.

Melinda Palacio’s newest poetry collection creates images that are at once heartbreaking and humorous. She tackles elemental subjects of family and childhood with the same depth and grace as that of myth making and death. As the only child of a mother who died too young, she infuses her words with longing and life, and celebrates the women who came before her. Each poem offers up the truth in a fearless and unsentimental voice. Palacio’s lyrical language punches an unexpected pause to subjects such as domestic violence and her childhood in South Central Los Angeles. HOW FIRE IS A STORY, WAITING is divided into four sections: Fire, Air, Water, and Earth. In each section Palacio tempers heartbreak, violence, and disappointment with the antidote of humor, beauty, and an appreciation for life.

Palacio’s work is expansive, physical, funeral-wet, elevated, funny, existential, woman-story, jazzy and Pachukona. She is unafraid to dive head-on into questions of death, loss and self. Into the fiery entwined spikes of father-daughter estrangements, mother-daughter intimacies and most of all, she is “insomniac” bold in this volume as an ongoing sequence on self. Melinda’s collection has Bop and “swagger,” lingo, song, denuncia, compassion and wild, unexpected turns– all the key ingredients and hard-won practices of a poet (and shaman) in command of her powers. I don’t think there is anything like this book. ¡Brillantissima!
- Juan Felipe Herrera, California Poet Laureate 2012

Melinda Palacio is the author of the novel, OCOTILLO DREAMS, for which she received the Mariposa Award for Best First Book at the 14th International Latino Book Awards and a PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature. Her poetry chapbook, Folsom Lockdown won Kulupi Press’ Sense of Place 2009 award. She writes a column for La Bloga and is a 2007 PEN Center Emerging Voices Fellow and a 2009 alum of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers

 

 

Katherine Soniat - A RAFT, A BOAT, A BRIDGE

Event date: 

Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 6:00pm

Event address: 

513 Octavia St
70115-2055 New Orleans
us

Please join us for a reading and signing with Katherine Soniat featuring her new book, A RAFT, A BOAT, A BRIDGE, her sixth published collection of poems.

"Within the composure of Katherine Soniat’s phrasing in A Raft, A Boat, A Bridge something unsettled emerges and will not rest. She presents us with a richly conceived world ‘given to see through.’ But the seeing is rigorous. These poems are revelatory."
—Ron Slate

"How might one move quietly and slowly enough—crossing water to land or to ether, to high altitudes or low, the strange or the everyday—to give us time to dream what happened on both banks? In A Raft, A Boat, A Bridge, Katherine Soniat’s beautifully understated poems sometimes pass through places of great pain, but ultimately beyond them as well. Myth and history, mountains and deserts, grief and intimacy are all transformed in this collection into a poetry of depth, dignity, and richness of language."
—Lisa Lewis

"One kind of lyric is a vertical narrative that demands dense fuel to attain escape velocity. For Katherine Soniat, the heavy metals of the everyday yield a superheated plasma that seem virtually effortlessly extracted (though it is never so): “The astronomers call for marvels, a cosmic shower / in the pre-dawn sky. But this dog won’t be energized / by prediction.” The epicenter of her poems’ orbit is the heart of a long and rich poetic tradition, which means it is also the human heart, and that is just were it ought to be, for Soniat’s masterful work reveals again and again that tradition’s inexhaustible power."
— T.R. Hummer

"Katherine Soniat is a conjurer. She possesses the third eye—that extra sense—in her astonishing and scintillant fusion of image with concept. Her synesthetic mind fashions images the rest of us must envy. This poet carries her own microscope through which we see a new order: buoyant, surprising, and rare. Her intelligence ranges over a fascinating array of subjects as she reminds us of what true poetry can do. A Raft, A Boat, A Bridge returns us to the choral pavement of its origins."
— Tina Barr

"A Raft, A Boat, A Bridge guides us through and beyond an ever-dissolving world’s beauty and brutality. We enter the atmosphere of Katherine Soniat’s brilliant, startling, and intimate poems, and we emerge shaken and renewed."
— Lee Upton

 

Katherine Soniat's The Swing Girl was selected as Best Collection of 2011 by the Poetry Commission of North Carolina (A.O.Young Award). A Shared Life won the Iowa Poetry Prize given by the University of Iowa Press, and a Virginia Prize for Poetry selected by Mary Oliver. Her fourth collection Alluvial was a finalist for Library of Virginia Center for the Book Award and Notes of Departure won the Camden Poetry Prize, selected by Sonia Sanchez. Soniat has served on the faculty at Hollins University and Virginia Tech. Currently an instructor in the Great Smokies Writers Program at University of North Carolina at Asheville, she lives on a deep ravine with a mother bear and two cubs.

Lee Meitzen Grue - DOWNTOWN and Niyi Osundare - CITY WITHOUT PEOPLE

Event date: 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - 6:00pm

Event address: 

513 Octavia St
70115-2055 New Orleans
us

It’s National Poetry Month and we hope you’ll join us for a double reading featuring Lee Meitzen Grue and Niyi Osundare.

In DOWNTOWN, Lee Meitzen Grue's poems are equal to the upwelling of jazz itself: from Treme street corners, to the wayward French Quarter, to the carefree vibes of Bywater, all the way to back o’ town; this astonishing collection speaks from a mythic pantheon of yowls & beats as timeless as the Crescent City herself.

Niyi Osundare, African poet and resident of New Orleans, was one of the many whose lives were caught in the hurricane Katrina. Rescued by a neighbor with a boat, losing all that he had, exiled without even an identification to several states, he returned to rebuild his life and house. Written over the last five years, CITY WITHOUT PEOPLE recounts his loss and is thank you to all those who helped.

 

Bill Lavender - MEMORY WING

Event date: 

Thursday, March 8, 2012 - 6:00pm

Event address: 

513 Octavia St
70115-2055 New Orleans
us

Please join us for a reading and signing with Bill Lavender featuring his new book, MEMORY WING, a memoir in verse that explores the outer reaches of truth: of memory, language and art. 

 

"Delving with brilliant image precision into the power of the past, chanting in plain lyric to the ghosts of his mother and father and the futurity of his sons, Bill Lavender takes us back, down, deep into a psychological Arkansas and New Orleans that resonate with Dante's three part journey. In the field of felt memory, he guides us into territories of torment, recognition and reconciliation that are his equivalents of Dante's inferno, purgatory and paradise. Memory Wing is a contemporary autobiographical masterpiece."
—Rodger Kamenetz

 

"What a grand concerto! Read this epic eulogy and weep! Lavender is a resplendent Virgil traversing the woods of his memory, which coincides at unexpected places with our own. I'm happy to see the terse minimal suitcase of his lyrical self unpacked and overflowing. This is a grand American long poem Doc Williams would be proud of."
—Andrei Codrescu

Loosely based on the tripartite structure of The Divine Comedy, this poem appears as a simple memoir in lyrical and immediately accessible language, yet it works by accumulation to question the very fact of memory and the foundations of truth and identity. This is a poem that reads as easily as a memoir but which is as dense with allusion as one of The Cantos.

Bill Lavender is a poet, editor, and teacher at the University of New Orleans. He grew up in Fayetteville, Arkansas but has spent most of his adult life in New Orleans. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including I of the Storm, which includes passages on the Katrina disaster, and an innovative book of short poems, While Sleeping. He also edited the ground-breaking anthology, Another South: Experimental Writing in the South, from University of Alabama Press. His poems and stories have appeared in dozens of print and web journals and anthologies, and his essays and theoretical writings have been published in Contemporary Literature and Poetics Today, among others.  

Catharine Savage Brosman - UNDER THE PERGOLA: Poems

Event date: 

Thursday, October 6, 2011 - 6:00pm

Event address: 

513 Octavia St
70115-2055 New Orleans
us

Please join us for a poetry reading and booksigning with Catharine Savage Brosman celebrating the release of UNDER THE PERGOLA.

Always spirited and elegant, by turns witty and meditative, Under the Pergola contemplates Louisiana, past and present, before traveling a broader path that crosses Colorado landscapes and the island of Sicily.

In her eighth collection of poems, Brosman evokes the Pelican State’s trees, birds, rivers, swamps, bayous, New Orleans scenes, historic houses, and colorful characters. She also recounts, in free verse, formal verse, and one prose poem, the “misdeeds of Katrina” as she and others experienced them.

Other poems range widely, from reflections on writers Samuel Johnson, Paul Claudel, André Malraux, and James Dickey, to quiet meditations on the American West, Odysseus, fruits and vegetables, and the recent “light years” of the poet’s life—which she characterizes as “silken … slipping smoothly off” like a gown.

Catharine Savage Brosman, who now lives in Houston, is professor emerita of French at Tulane University. She is the author of numerous books of French literary history and criticism, two volumes of nonfiction prose, and seven collections of poetry, including most recently Range of Light and Breakwater

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