front cover of The Floating Bridge
The Floating Bridge
Prose Poems
David Shumate
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008
"Vanquishes once and for all the notion that the prose poem is somehow inherently 'not a real poem.' Exhibits a sustained level of innate lyricism and imagism rarely seen even in conventional lyric free verse. Unfailingly, the little prose jewels in 'The Floating Bridge' exhibit the most fundamental property of fine poems: each whole is many times greater than the sum of its parts." --Cider Press Review "Shumate's collection consists of over 50 gems...each one loaded with the living essence that hovers just beyond rationality's gate. [He] is a master of this forthright form. His book is a key to the room where dreams are stored." --Nuvo "I was deeply taken by David Shumate's The Floating Bridge. There is none better working now at this very difficult genre, the prose poem." --Jim Harrison

front cover of High Water Mark
High Water Mark
Prose Poems
David Shumate
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004
Everyday mindreading, a house full of Buddhas, and the papaya scent of the soul. An interview with Custer at a place of his choosing, “probably a steakhouse.” The ability of dogs to smell the uncool.

Hitler's barber imagines what might have been if only he'd leaned his weight into the razor. An oblivious Coronado narrowly avoids an ambush on the American plains. Freud lecherously lifts the skirt of a Mexican housekeeper who has far too much work to be bothered by “a pillar of modern thought. Or just some dirty old man.”

In lesser hands such disparate elements might fly wildly out of control. But in David Shumate's understated, brilliant prose poems, they come together in miraculously vivid riffs.

The narrator of the title poem rhapsodizes, “I wouldn't mind seeing another good flood before I die. It's been dry for decades. Next time I think I'll just let go and drift downstream and see where I end up.” Shumate's deft and refreshing collection takes us to amazing places with its plainspoken meditations.

front cover of The Religion of Hands
The Religion of Hands
Prose Poems and Flash Fictions
Ray Gonzalez
University of Arizona Press, 2005
"A man doesn’t sleep with the moon. He sleeps with his hunger, gathers bowls of avocados and wipes his lips with his sins."

The Religion of Hands does not foster sleep. Look quickly and you will catch the hint of a fox streaking in front of your car’s headlights at night. Look more carefully out your bedroom window and you may see your life going by, lost loved ones waving hello.

"Who were you when the stars were misinterpreted as the fingertips of God?"

Ray Gonzalez blends symbolic play with lyrical beauty as he works from a vast and complex palette to infuse popular culture with myth. The Religion of Hands is imbued with magical realism: a suffocating dream of tamales, mysterious reptilian allusions, a man who "finds God walking down the stairs to hand him an old, tattered phonebook from the year he was born." It offers strange prophecies: "A steady vegetation will grow across the empire as more homeboys are killed in drive-bys. . . . Microscopic scratches on an old vinyl record will form a message discovered in twenty more years when the album is bought at a garage sale." And in 14 flash fictions, it tells of a tiny old man kept in a glass jar, an accordion stored in an old family trunk, tales of sharks and bandits. The religion of hands has its own unspoken sacraments. "The fingers take over, teaching whoever holds the moment that the rapid weight of the open hands is a dangerous way to live."

Seamlessly, effortlessly, multi-dexterously, Ray Gonzalez spins words that speak our very dreams.

front cover of The Trauma Mantras
The Trauma Mantras
A Memoir in Prose Poems
Adrie Kusserow
Duke University Press, 2024
The Trauma Mantras is a memoir by medical anthropologist, teacher, and writer Adrie Kusserow, who has worked with refugees and humanitarian projects in Bhutan, Nepal, India, Uganda, South Sudan, and the United States. It is a memoir of witness and humility and, ultimately, a way to critique and gain a fresh perspective on Western approaches to the self, suffering, and healing. Kusserow interrogates the way American culture prizes a psychologized individualism, the supposed fragility of the self. In relentlessly questioning the Western tribe of individualism with a hunger to bust out of such narrow confines, she hints at the importance of widening the American self. As she delves into humanity’s numerous social and political ills, she does not let herself off the hook, reflecting rigorously on her own position and commitments. Kusserow travels the world in these poetic meditations, exploring the desperate fictions that “East” and “West” still cling to about each other, the stories we tell about ourselves and obsessively weave from the dominant cultural meanings that surround us.

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