FIELD GUIDE TO THE END OF THE WORLD, JEANNINE HALL GAILEY

field-guide-mediumMy favorite thing about opening up a collection like Jeannine Hall Gailey’s Field Guide to the End of the World is being delightfully surprised at finding poems about teen vampires, John Cusack, alien autopsies, and magic mirrors. From the first poem, the speaker warns us that “we cannot sleep too far from disaster zones” (“Introduction to Disaster Preparedness” line 12). Each poem after this is meant to surprise and humor readers as we prepare for imminent destruction. But don’t let it fool you, because among the wit and many warnings that fill these poems, Field Guide to the End of the World is full of the hope and survival we need during the inevitable setbacks of our lives. And thank goodness for Gailey, because I couldn’t ask for a better instruction manual to carry with me.

One of the poems that I enjoyed in Field Guide to the End of the World was “Lessons in Emergency.” The speaker does a great job of creating a sense of urgency and panic by asking questions and urging readers to construct their own emergency evacuation plan. Despite this poem serving to remind readers of their own mortality and fragility, it stays lighthearted and humorous: “In the end you are still yourself, yourself a little dustier a little blood in the hair, maybe a bit rattled but why are you still clutching the egg-beater in your hands so tight, your fingers still touched with flour?” (13). I love the voice in this poem (and collection) because of its whimsical and chatty nature, and I think “Lessons in Emergency” really captures the energy in the speaker’s voice.

In the poem “Introduction to Spy Narrative as Love Story” the speaker’s playfulness emerges  yet again. The dark images in the poem are brilliantly balanced with odd image that shock readers and create tension within the text. One of my favorite lines in the collection as a whole is “I’ve hidden my gun // in a container of ice cream that’s calling me” (lines 3-4). These moments in Field Guide to the End of the World are what make it such a dazzling collection to read.

Field Guide to the End of the World is split into five sections: Disaster Studies, Cultural Anthropology, Hard Science, A Primer for your Personal Genome Project, and End Times Eschatology. The cover is stunning, and as soon as I saw it at AWP, I knew I had to buy it.

Buy Field Guide to the End of the World here.

*As part of my goal to promote small presses, here is some information about Moon City Press: Moon City Press is a joint venture of the Missouri State University Departments of English and Art and Design. With series lists in “Arts and Letters” and “Ozarks History and Culture,” Moon City books feature collaborations between students and faculty over the various aspects of publication: research, writing, editing, layout and design.”

(photo of Field Guide to the End of the World courtesy of Moon City Press)

#AWP17

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Hi friends!

I hope everyone is rested after all of the AWP madness last week. What an exciting time! I had a blast meeting some of my favorite poets, like Sandra Simonds, Kaveh Akbar, Danez Smith, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, and Emilia Phillips. And despite making a fool of myself in front of all of them (I’m really good at this) seeing them made my month. This was my first AWP, so it was a special time and a great way to launch into the giant world of literary mayhem. I was so happy to be at AWP that I bought TWENTY FIVE poetry collections. TWENTY FIVE. So, needless to say, featuring awesome poetry collections on this blog for the next few months will not be a problem. Here’s a couple of the books that I bought that I’m looking forward to reading and writing about:

  • Because When God is Too Busy: Haiti, Me, & the World by Gina Athena Ulysse.
  • Further Problems with Pleasure by Sandra Simonds.
  • Field Guide to the End of the World by Jeannine Hall Gailey
  • I’m So Fine by Khadijah Queen
  • Ugly Time by Sarah Galvin
  • Mad Woman by Shara McCallum
  • For Filthy Women Who Worry About Disappointing God by Seema Yasmin
  • Portrait of the Alcoholic by Kaveh Akbar

I’m biased, but I do think I had the best AWP book haul! Aside from spending hours browsing the book fair, I also spent some time at a few really fabulous panels. The American Smooth: A Tribute to Rita Dove panel had me laughing and crying all over the place. Jericho Brown read (or rather cried through) the powerful Letter to the Editor by Rita Dove  which protests the lack of black poets in Garrison Keillor’s anthology Good Poems (2004). I encourage you to click on the link above and read it. Brown explained how much this letter meant and still means to him today. Another great panel I attended was the Writing the Dual Self: Opening Spaces for Hybrid Identities. Panelists discussed what having a hybrid identity means, and Thrity Umrigar said “I wear the hyphen like a rose.” These words struck me, and I keep them in mind when I’m writing now. Other helpful panels I attended include We all Have to Start Somewhere: How Bad Writing Gets Good and Page Meets Stage16708403_736749439815406_7767143907815017065_n.jpg

I have so much gratitude for all of the panelists, organizers, and press editors who helped me find the wonderful collections I bought and all of the swag I came home with. The panels I attended gave me so much to think about, and I found them to be very helpful. I was overwhelmed by all of the beautiful events and people I was surrounded with for those three days. Thanks so much to all, and I can’t wait to see you all again next year in Tampa, Florida.

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AWP MADNESS

Friends,

AWP has been a blast! I’m still recovering from all the madness / amazingness. Check back next week for a full post about my first AWP and all of the adventures I had in D.C the last few days. I hope everyone reading this is getting some rest and having a safe trip back home.

Thanks,

NPP

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Preparing for AWP

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AWP is in a few days and I am so excited to be attending! This is my first time at the conference, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to meet some of my favorite poets and writers. The book fair will give me a chance to restock on poetry collections for this blog, too.

Here’s a few panels / speakers I’m enthusiastic about seeing:

  • Criticism or Poetry? Poetry Reviewing Today: Thu, Feb 9 from 1:30-2:45 PM with Andrew Ciotola, Kyle Dargan, Shara Lessley, Kaveh Akbar, and Kelly Forsythe.
  • Keynote Address by Azar Nafisi: Thu, Feb 9 from 8:30-10:00 PM.
  • A World of our Own – Women’s Voices from Three Continents in Cultural Exchange: Fri, Feb 9 from 12:00-1:15 PM with Tess Barry, Jan Beatty, Eleanor Hooker, Zeina Hashem Beck, and Clodagh Beresford Dunne.
  • Page Meets Stage: Fri, Feb 10 from 4:30-5:45 PM with Taylor Mali, Sarah Kay, Carolyn Forch, Nicole Homer, and Derrick Brown
  • The Art and Importance of the Poetry Interview: Sat, Feb 11 from 9:00-10:15 AM with Kaveh Akbar, Melissa Studdard, Emilia Phillips, Lindsay Gsrbutt, and Hafizah Geter.
  • A Reading by Rita Dove, Terrance Hayes, and Ocean Vuong: Sat, Feb 11 from 8:30-10:00PM.

Also, on Friday, February 10th, I’ll be reading for Diode Poetry Journal alongside the magazines and journals posted in the flyer above.

Be sure to download the AWP17 application, and follow NPP on Facebook here. I’ll be posting photos on the FB page, as well as my Twitter.