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HOW GOD ENDS US
DèLana R.A. Dameron

How God Ends Us


"How God Ends Us is the luminous debut of a poet who helps us shape the geometrics of sudden change that are too much with us. The observations the poet makes in this collection are of the wonderer pondering the persistent question that lives in many of us of why things come to be and why they cease. The poems here comprise a vibrant expressionism..."        - Afaa Michael Weaver

"What a refreshing range of vision DèLana Dameron shows in the splendid poems of How God Ends Us. Ever rich with the arresting image, ever graceful, and yet refusing to look away from a suffering that calls grace into question..."       - Carl Phillips

 

DeLana DameronDèLana Dameron holds a B.A. in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has a strong interest in the intersections of history and literature. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, PMS: PoemMemoirStory, 42opus, storySouth, Pembroke Magazine, and Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review. She has received fellowships from the Cave Canem Foundation and Soul Mountain and is a member of the Carolina African American Writers Collective. Dameron, a native of Columbia, South Carolina, currently resides in New York City.

About How God Ends Us
From the foreword by Elizabeth Alexander

DèLana Dameron's fine book How God Ends Us makes unfamiliar poetic music. I chose this manuscript as the first-prize winner of the South Carolina Poetry Book Prize from among many fine gatherings of poems. What distinguished it at first was the rich mystery of the speaking voice. Dameron listens to her own strange music and plays it. That is what her craft serves, and that is what her artistic courage enables.

For it is courageous indeed to be able to present the personae that Dameron does: speakers who are concerned with listening and seeing, observing, and self-scrutinizing. Her speakers are ruthless with the poem-making self but filled with compassion for the world they encounter.

That compassion, however, is never sentimental. Rather it is true compassion, in the poet's steady and unwavering gaze. The syntax of these poems is wonderfully peculiar and exact. The poems raise questions they cannot always answer, real questions the poems themselves explore. Stylistically Dameron understands the function and power of the elliptical, which she uses to great effect in this book. These poems are beautiful and tough. They sound like no others to me. I celebrate the publication of an excellent collection.

Excerpt from How God Ends Us

Inheritance

Frequented in dreams
by fresh-dead loves, so I have seen
with these eyes the eyes of a spirit
who's crossed, seen the body reject
its coffin bed and climb right out
onto the church's plank floor
seen the dove at the bed's foot
calling out all names, or the red eyes
of the flesh, abandoned. Do not say
I should be grateful for perfect eyes
or their ability to see such distances.
Say I should be grateful for sight,
for open and shut.

SIGNALS
Ed Madden

Signals


"
Signalscalls us to consciousness in a natural world that is at once quietly witness to our loves and losses and yet always as urgently and insistently alive as we are. Ed Madden, as with any of our most necessary poets, locates us plainly in this conflicted Eden, this garden of the reverent imagination..."        - Rafael Campo

"Signals combines a matter-of-fact lyrical eye with a view to harder social realities, and there is a consistency in the collection, a working with and around couplets and tercets, a sparseness that seems to match an arid landscape, a place where one searches for hope."       - Afaa Weacer


Ed Madden
ED MADDEN is an associate professor of English and associate director of Women's and Gender Studies at the University of South Carolina as well as writer in residence at the Riverbanks Botanical Gardens in Columbia, South Carolina. He earned his B.A. in English from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, a B.S. in biblical studies from the Institute for Christian Studies in Austin, Texas, and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in English from the University of Texas at Austin. Madden is the author of Tiresian Poetics and coeditor of Geographies and Genders in Irish Studies. His essays on politics and southern culture have appeared in many newspapers and journals and been featured on NPR. He was selected by editor Natasha Trethewey for inclusion in the anthology Best New Poets of 2007.

About Signals
From the foreword by Afaa Weaver

Signals combines a matter-of-fact lyrical eye with a view to harder social realities, and there is a consistency in the collection, a working with and around couplets and tercets, a sparseness that seems to match an arid landscape, a place where one searches for hope. This collection bears the evidence of a high level of craft alongside a concern for what goes on in our lives. "What treasures still lie beneath my feet?" the poet asks, avoiding the self-indulgent blind eye in favor of travel and seeking, traveling the past of the last half-century and traveling the present as it defies the past and the future. The voice here is an embodiment of hope, as in the lines from the poem "Auction" which sounds the word that names the collection "The air trembles with signals: the raised hand / averted glance . . . // There are things, and there is the love of things."

Excerpt from Signals

Spider Lilies

In fall, when hurricanes approach the coast,
they rise, quickly, above the beds - lycoris,

spider lilies, hurricane lilies, the red
sheaths peeling back like a kind of need,

bright spangles of blossom among the dying
and spent. This late urge for color surprises

us; the frail curls of petal, sprays of anther
claim our attention. The rains will batter

the garden soon, but for now I water, dazed
by these burning flowers, these hands raised -

raised and trembling in late September's warm
vespers, these livid, tender welts of joy.

DRIVING THROUGH THE COUNTRY BEFORE YOU ARE BORN
Ray McManus

Driving through the Country before You Are born

"Ray McManus's incantatory rhythms, his catalogs of nouns (and sometimes verbs), carry us into the luminal territory between experience and music [...] We trust these fine, strong poems, trust their emotional authenticity..."
        - Susan Ludvigson

"The poetry in Ray McManus's first collection is touched by a light of hand that points to and illuminates its sparkling surfaces and deep interior spaces. The work searches out, mourns, and celebrates place, family, love, and death -- at all times asserting the continuity between what can be seen and what must be imagined and re-created from the complex, divided, and parallel pasts of South Carolina and Ireland."      - Eamon Wall

 

Rau McManusRay McManus is the author of two collections of poetry, Driving Through the Country Before You Are Born (USC Press, 2007) and Left Behind (Stepping Stone Press, 2008). His poems have appeared in journals and anthologies all over the United States and Canada, most recently in The South Carolina Poetry Anthology, Los Angeles Review, Asheville Poetry Review, and Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review.

Ray is very honored to have received numerous awards for his poetry and his teaching. These awards include the 1997 Academy of American Poets award at USC, the 2000 James Dickey award in poetry at USC, the 2002 Academy of South Carolina Author's fellowship, the 2002 Cile Moise Teaching Award for Teaching Excellence, the 2002 Most Exciting Classroom Presence Award, and the 2006 Two Thumbs Up Award from the Office of Student Disability Services.

About Driving through the Country before You Are Born
From the foreword by Kate Daniels

These fifty-two delicately constructed and beautifully descriptive brief poems are marked by an intensity of description and quiet thoughtfulness of voice. The book's lyrical exploration of the journey from innocence to experience is interestingly situated in a contemporary, post-modernist world that hovers between the rural and the urban, ranging from the farm child's dream of "a chicken, a house, and an ax," to the horrifying discombobulated collision of culture and nature in "Main Street at Eighty," where a car wreck that destroys a panhandler on the side of the road "should mean more than crack, block,/or cavity, more than old bolts and sockets,/ lungs and rearview mirrors," but unfortunately probably doesn't.

At the center of the book's submerged narrative, however, resides a trauma. And although it never fully emerges into the story of the poems, we know it through its rupture of the promise of early consciousness. Slowly, reading these poems, we witness the betrayal of early imagination as metaphors transform ripeness into ruin, and it becomes apparent that "everyone knows/ there will no longer be such a thing/ as being together anymore."

The book's exploration of trauma is both psychologically sophisticated and poetically interesting. It makes serious contribution to our literature by representing the ways in which even the most courageous mind, attempting to confront the source of its trauma, will flinch away at moments, unable to endure its findings or to accept the pain of recalled images and details. And although this is a book in which there is no happy ending, no belief in salvation, and no redemption in faith, there is a sort of solace. Perhaps, what we take away from this book is the poet's solace in the quiet solitude of the writer at work, searching for the temporary consolations of the right word in the right place, and the power of that small act -- made over and over again -- to keep us alive and keep us writing.

Excerpt from Driving through the Country before You Are Born

When We Came Home

He wasn't there. The table where we sat,
sat empty, its middle worn by heat, by weight,
each nick telling a story we were too young
to know. We walked slowly toward the counter,
a tour of sorts, single file toward the green
Formica, chipped and scarred from endless scraping.
And we stood there waiting for the guide to speak -
my father pointing out the history
of each splinter, the way the stove was made to hide
things under foil, under duress, its top stained
by forgotten names. And we were careful to hear
every word, careful not to speculate
the cause of events, the silence of absence,
as we stepped over a puddle in the doorway.

KEEP AND GIVE AWAY
Susan Meyers

Keep and give away
"Keep and Give Away offers us countless resounding, delicate notes. We might fall, submit to loss, were there no art such as this to keep us upright in the world."
       - Terrance Hayes

"Whether Susan Meyers describes the cry of a loon, a boat trip into a swamp, or casting a net, the images in Keep and Give Away are striking and resonate with the book's central paradox of loving and letting go. Though Meyers does not turn from painful experience like her mother's decline, lingering death, and the black hole of its aftermath, her dominant impulse is to celebrate and, as she says in one poem, "learn to look for the overlooked." This is a first book-length collection full of finely crafted poems - free verse and poems in form - that are alive and radiantly detailed, pleasurable and poignant."
       - Peter Makuck

Susan MeyersSusan Meyers' poetry book Keep and Give Away was published by the University of South Carolina Press after being selected by Terrance Hayes for the SC Poetry Book Prize. It was also the winner of the Brockman-Campbell Book Award and the SIBA (Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance) Book Award for Poetry.

Meyers' work has appeared in The Southern Review, Crazyhorse, Tar River Poetry, Verse Daily, and other literary journals. Recent prizes include first place in the Yemassee and South Carolina Review poetry contests.

Active in area literary organizations, Meyers is a past president of The Poetry Society of South Carolina and the North Carolina Poetry Society.  To learn more about Susan Meyers and her poetry, visit her website at http://susanmeyers.blogspot.com/

About Keep and Give Away
         From the foreword by Terrance Hayes

In "Her Best Note," one of the early poems in this splendid book, Susan Meyers evokes Maria Callas: "her voice so rich I almost lean / too far and fall / but I'm caught." Indeed we too "almost lean too far and fall," coaxed by the music and emotion of these elegiac poems. What catches us is the apt blend of sincerity and technique this poet employs. Throughout the book there are precisely articulated moments in which the seemingly ordinary is illuminated and transformed.

Birds are a recurring image throughout the book. They come to represent, at least to my mind, the search for simultaneous movement and stillness ("soft agitation"). In "Neither the Season, Nor the Place," the book's second to last poem, "the loons / sound wounded, but they're not." Like the image of those loons diving and resurfacing later in the poem, this collection is hinged on opposing gestures. As the title suggests, this is a book balancing all we must "keep" for ourselves with all we must "give away."

Even the language of these poems manages to be both layered and open -- complex but not difficult, clear but not simplistic. Familiarity, sentimentality, nostalgia: the commonplace is elevated and deepened in the skillful hands of this poet. The work is tempered by the wisdom attained, not through cleverness or discursiveness, but through patience. Not just the patience of craft (which is abundantly evident here), but the patience of mediation, of looking. Meyers manages, incredibly, to be a witness both as Emily Dickinson was a witness, watching almost invisibly as the world unfolds around her, and as Walt Whitman was a witness, willingly participating in the joy and sadness of that world.

But maybe it's too simple to say this book's mood is essentially elegiac. Keep and Give Away offers us countless resounding, delicate notes. We might fall, submit to loss, were there no art such as this to keep us upright in the world.

Excerpt from Keep and Give Away

Still Water

More than marginal,
a gloss its striders depend on.

Prefaced by duckweed. Argument
with the merely clever,
philosophy of sunrise and lily.

Marked by the day's drift of pollen,
turning page of a sky
that keeps two secrets: daylight

and night - all this, fully indexed,
leaf by floating leaf.

 

 
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