Listen to the audiobook! In her new poetry collection, Evie Shockley mobilizes visual art, sound, and multilayered language to chart routes towards openings for the collective dreaming of a more capacious “we.” How do we navigate between the urgency of our own becoming and the imperative insight that whoever we are, we are in relation to each other? Beginning with the visionary art of Black women like Alison Saar and Alma Thomas, Shockley’s poems draw and forge a widening constellation of connections that help make visible the interdependence of everyone and everything on Earth.
Listen to the audiobook! The Mysterious Island was published in 1874, and it is one of Verne’s longest novels. The plot depicts a group of men who have become castaways stranded on an island in the Pacific during the American Civil War. The novel describes their attempts not only to survive but also, with the aid of the scientific and technological know-how, to rebuild their world from the meager resources of the island. At the end, however, it is realized that Captain Nemo, from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, has secretly been helping the settlers. A marvelous adventure story, The Mysterious Island is also notable for its modern retelling of the utopian deserted-island myth, with repeated echoes of Robinson Crusoe and the Swiss Family Robinson. This Wesleyan edition features notes, appendices and an introduction by Verne scholar William Butcher, as well as reproductions of the illustrations from the original French edition.
Listen to the audiobook! In a strange twist of kismet, Remica Bingham-Risher’s paternal great-great-great grandmother, Minnie Lee Fowlkes, is interviewed for the Works Progress Administration Slave Narratives in Petersburg, Virginia in 1937, and her maternal grandmother, Mary Knight, is sent to Petersburg in 1941, diagnosed with “water on the brain”—postpartum depression being an ongoing mystery—nine days after birthing her first child. Braiding meticulous archival research with Womanist scholarship and her hallmark lyrical precision, Bingham-Risher’s latest collection of poems treads the murky waters of race, lineage, faith, mental health, women’s rights, and the violent reckoning that inhabits the discrepancy between lived versus textbook history, asking: What do we inherit when trauma is at the core of our fractured living? Utilizing primary and secondary sources, Bingham-Risher weaves together a richly textured vision of her foremothers’ everyday and exceptional living: two very different women at opposite ends of their lives, converging upon the same space and time. The lives these women inhabit and generations they fostered add infinite layers to the fabric of the American tapestry. Room Swept Home serves as a gloriously rendered portrait of all that is held in the line between the private and public, the investigative and generative, the self and those who came before us.
Listen to the audiobook! When poet Danielle Vogel began writing meditations on the syntax of earthen and astral light, she had no idea that her mother’s tragic death would eclipse the writing of that book, turning her attention to grief’s syntax and quiet fields of cellular light in the form of memory. Written in elegant, crystalline prose poems, A Library of Light is a memoir that begins and ends in an incantatory space, one in which light speaks. At the book’s center glows a more localized light: the voice of the poet as she reflects, with ceremonial patience, on the bioluminescence of the human body, language’s relationship to lineage, her mother’s journals written during years of estrangement from her daughter, and the healing potential of poetry. A mesmerizing elegy infused with studies of epigenetic theory and biophotonics, A Library of Light shows that to language is to take part in transmission, transmutation of energy, and sonic (re)patterning of biological light.
Listen to the audiobook! Continuing her search for a neotropical mythos in this brilliant second collection, poet fahima ife articulates various scenes of subduction. Spoken in quiet recognition and grounded in desire, Septet for the Luminous Ones imagines a lush soundscape textured in oblique spiritual fusion of the Taíno and Yoruba. Or, what it sounded like coming together for the first time, and what it sounds like ever after, breathless, diaspora calling. Similar to the incidents in Maroon Choreography, what resounds in these poems is an ecstatic love song of the Caribbean Americas, of the main lands and islands, shaped and reshaped as breathwork, ritual, communion, and fantasy. In essence, the collection speaks to raise the vibrational frequencies of all beings on Earth through a pulse of Black English.
Listen to the audiobook! Nothing Special is a disarmingly candid tale of two sisters growing up in the 1970s in rural Connecticut. Older sister Chris, who has Down syndrome, is an extrovert with a knack for getting what she wants, while the author, her younger, typically developing sister shoulders the burdens and grief of her parents, especially their father’s alcoholism. In Nothing Special Bilyak details wrestling with their mixed emotions in vignettes that range from heartrending to laugh-out-loud funny, including anecdotes about Chris’s habit of faux smoking popsicle sticks or partying through the night with her invisible friends. Poet and disability advocate Dianne Bilyak strikes a rare balance between poignant and hilarious as she paints a compassionate and critical real-world picture of their lives. They struggle, separately and together, with the tension between dependence and independence, the complexities of giving versus receiving, the pressure to live as others expect, and in the end, the wonderful liberation of self-acceptance.
Listen to the audiobook! The unique career of choreographer Liz Lerman has taken her from theater stages to shipyards, and from synagogues to science labs. In this wide-ranging collection of essays and articles, she reflects on her life-long exploration of dance as a vehicle for human insight and understanding of the world around us. Lerman has been described by the Washington Post as “the source of an epochal revolution in the scope and purposes of dance art.” Here, she combines broad outlooks on culture and society with practical applications and accessible stories. Her expansive scope encompasses the craft, structure, and inspiration that bring theatrical works to life as well as the applications of art in fields as diverse as faith, aging, particle physics, and human rights law. Offering readers a gentle manifesto describing methods that bring a horizontal focus to bear on a hierarchical world, this is the perfect book for anyone curious about the possible role for art in politics, science, community, motherhood, and the media.