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Letter from a Place I've Never Been

2021, Edited by Kwame Dawes

Hilda Raz has an ability “to tell something every day and make it tough,” says John Kinsella in his introduction. Letter from a Place I’ve Never Been shows readers the evolution of a powerful poet who is also one of the foremost literary editors in the country. Bringing together all seven of her poetry collections, a long out-of-print early chapbook, and her newest work, this collection delights readers with its empathetic and incisive look at the inner and outer lives we lead and the complexities that come with being human.

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A Mouthful of Home

University of Nebraska Press, 2020

Ghanaian poet, Tryphena Yeboah's debut collection, part of the acclaimed New-Generation African Poets limited edition 2020 box set edited by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani. Published by Akashic Books.

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Trans

University of Nebraska Press, 2021

This elegant and moving collection of poems grew out of Hilda Raz’s experience with her son’s journey to a transgender identity. Born Sarah, now Aaron, Raz’s child had a profound impact on her understanding of what it means to be a family, to be whole, and to know oneself. The collection moves between past and present, allowing Raz to reflect on her own childhood and on her experience with breast cancer to find ways to connect with Aaron. The journey takes us from intimacy to strangeness and back again, from denial to humor to grief and rage, but always laced with love and acceptance.

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List & Story

Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2020

Hilda Raz has long been a significant voice for American poetry.  She writes of widows dancing and of squirrels fat in late September, of the power of a woman’s voice, solitary, “blessed to be the womb put to use or not.”  Raz brings to her poetry and all the things it may encompass an authority wrought of compassion, of awareness and hard-won wisdom.  She writes, “I bent over the mess, began to gather it up” and this is an apt description for how a life might be crafted into poetry.  She knows where poetry comes from. The reader will remember the triumphs and heartbreaks, where “I lean on rituals of the house. / Is it possible to live forever in silence?”  and where a mother, dreaming,

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A Proper Lover

Main St. Rag Publishing Co, 2017

A Proper Lover is one woman's journey to find and become a proper lover, in spite of what's been done to her. Like the deceptively simple work of Nikki Giovanni, these well-crafted, honest poems of the heart and body whisper their gospel to the soul. 

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If You Turned Around Quickly

Main Street Rag Publishing Co, 2016

There’s nothing fraudulent nor overstated in the often-harsh world that Michael Catherwood presents in If You Turned Around Quickly. Yet, too, there’s surprising beauty, “where a shadow/waits like breath against a cool pane of glass,” or “how sunlight feeds/dust on Venetian blinds.” Catherwood surveys his boyhood past, his years of hard drinking, and his love of art, of painting especially (Max Beckman, van Gogh) in which, perhaps, he “Believe(s) for a moment the sky is clear,/so crisp you can see into your first days.” 

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12023 Woodmont Ave

Willow Lit, 2013

12023 Woodmont Avenue is a poetic memoir. It details how childhood traumas manifest themselves in love and life.

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Dare

Backwaters Press, 2006

The first collection of poems by a man who has been around the block: rough-edged working class poems.

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Eat Your Woolly Mammoths

Greenwillow Books, 2022

Food, glorious food!

If there’s one thing that transcends time, it’s our love for food! But what did people generations ago consume? And what will we eat in the years ahead? James Solheim’s Eat Your Woolly Mammoths! serves up the stories behind the world’s most delicious, nutritious, and amazing foods—from the Stone Age to the future. For readers who love the fascinating facts that bring history to life. Let the feast begin!

Would you like a plate of woolly mammoth? Or perhaps a sample of fresh tuna eyeballs? From scorpions on sticks and llama salami to oysters and chocolate chip cookies, you’ll travel through the centuries and around the world and discover the amazing foods that have been eaten—and enjoyed—throughout history.

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Grandmas are Greater than Great

Greenwillow Books, 2021

A humorous, animated, and informative look at the lasting power of ancestors. Explore families, generations, and girl power in this heartfelt collaboration between James Solheim and bestselling illustrator Derek Desierto.

Everyone has two grandmas, and every grandma has her own two grandmas. This cycle continues going back through time and history. And you needed them all for you to be you!

Traveling from generation to generation, this dynamic picture book offers young readers a bird’s-eye view of how daily life has changed over time. But despite all the differences, one thing has remained the same: a grandma’s love. 

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Forbidden Fruit

Indigo Quill Publications, 2020

Written as a way of exploring our darkest emotions, Forbidden Fruit: Poems of Love, Loss, Hope and Regret is a collection of poetry that pulls at the tendrils of thoughts we tend to sweep aside for fear of what bringing them into the light says about us. 

This collection shines a light on those thoughts hidden within us where despair seems too close and love all too fleeting to be any barometer of truth. The poems guide us through those blackest of feelings back to where we can see the good. They allow us to express the unimaginable and realize we are all capable of regret and loss and, more importantly, love and hope. 

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Waking to the Dream

Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2018

In a love letter to the Midwest, Heidi Elaine Hermanson writes of discovery, heartbreak, and redemption in the natural accumulation of her life as a poet. Inspired by a sense of longing for whatever comes next and for wherever life may take us, Waking to the Dream takes readers on a road-trip (figuratively and literally). Inspired heavily by the relationships we create together and rooted in imagery of place, Hermanson gives readers a sense of home in the search.

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Projector

Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2017

Projector navigates past and present in Michael Catherwood’s world of colorful scenarios of a one-armed Vietnam Vet running pool tables, dreaming alternate endings to John Wayne films, a vacation photo of a father scalping his son next to a teepee in the deserts of Arizona, and a man frozen in time.

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Thought That Nature

Sarabande Books, 2014

Winner of the Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry.

Trey Moody teaches at Creighton University and lives with his daughter in Omaha, Nebraska. 

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Rambo Goes to Idaho

BlazeVOX, 2011

In Rambo Goes to Idaho, Scott Abels has blurred the lines between pop culture and personal struggle, the east and the west, God and Gene Simmons. At once heroic and elegiac, these poems balance on a knife edge not unlike Rambo’s, and what’s most beautiful here is that they sometimes get cut. With additional cameos by Paul Bunyan, Karl Rove, and a transformative speaker that can make you laugh or break your heart, bring your popcorn to this one. Abels notes of Rambo in the first poem “He is good, / but he is a product of the world.” By the end, you’ll believe every word he says.

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It's Disgusting and We Ate It

Aladdin, 2001

How about a nice dish of Colonial Squirrel Pie with a side of milkweed shoots? If that doesn’t grab you, you might think about trying some Garbage Stew, just like they made in medieval England. But if you’re feeling a little tired and need a boost, your best bet is roasted spiders. They’ve got three times the protein of cooked beef. (Is your mouth watering yet?) 

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Worn

Santa Fe Writer's Project, 2021

Tenderness meets pain meets joy here, offering up the voices of Black folks fostering connection with their children, their lovers, and themselves. Christian's third collection of poetry takes the reader through love and longing, and manifests how we all cope and get dressed again after the harsh reality of our world lays us bare. From ghazals about erotic kinks to the disappointment of a father, these poems explore the clothes we reach for first when loss strips us naked.

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All Odd and Splendid

University of Nebraska Press, 2021

This collection of poems is an exploration of lives and selves transformed by choice and by chance. Formally and thematically diverse, these poems are testament to the will to redefine oneself in a world of constant, and often painful, change. Beginning intimately with poems of personal examination and moving gradually to the world of shared experience, Hilda Raz rethinks the structures of family and community while examining the impact of loss and growth. Raz's poems celebrate the strangeness in the ordinary, bringing us into contact with a beauty and pain that are inseparable when we see things as they truly are.

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Divine Honors

University of Nebraska Press, 2021

This elegant and moving collection documents Hilda Raz’s experience with breast cancer. The journey, from diagnosis to chemotherapy to mastectomy, from denial to humor to grief and rage, is ultimately one of courage and creativity. The poems themselves are accessible and finely wrought. They are equally testaments to Raz's insistence on making an order out of chaos, of finding ways to create and understand and eventually accept new definitions of good and evil, health, blame, and personal boundaries—in short, a new sense of self. These poems remain intimately bound to the world and of the senses, becoming documents of transformation.

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New City

 BlazeVOX, 2015

Scott Abels inhabits vestiges that include Mexico, Hawai`i, and Nebraska. Their landscapes are very different, but Abels is more interested in their parallel dysfunctions. The boys who lose arms on Mexican trains join missing hands with the unemployed in the American Midwest. “We can depend upon the land. / But we cannot depend on jobs.” He codes his family history with symptoms (e.g., Rx = prescription drugs; SRP = Strong Religious Preference). Not that everything is hopeless, as Abels remarks with a wryness worthy of strong whiskey: “Happy journey, / Everybody. / We had medical care, / and Coca-Cola / has reached us here.” This is global capital's family tree, whose diagnosis is dire. But Abels's prescription makes the desert of the real a carnival. It's a “Dick Cheney Parade,” and Christopher Columbus shits bricks. Given an oil spill or other disaster, “Whoever owns it / is lord of all he wants.”

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Smell of Salt, Ghost of Rain

BrickHouse Books, Inc, 2015

In pool hall and tenement, pine forest and ocean depths, these poems reclaim the abandoned moment from chalk and rust, shadow and silence. Young summons forth the grit and the ghost, the breakable and the beautiful to show us how we are ''one thing breathing'' in an earthly elegance that is surely the language of grace.

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The Only Alex Addleston in All These Mountains

Carolrhoda Books, 2014

Alex Addleston and Alex Addleston do everything together. They chase Flatt Mountain fireflies. They code secret messages. They collect crawdads named Mr. and Mrs. Sassafras Jorgensen. But when Alex's parents move her family to Kenya, the two friends lose contact with each other.
Half a world apart, each Alex still keeps the other close while climbing trees, counting stars, and playing games. One day, just maybe, they will rediscover what it means to be best friends, no matter what.

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Born Yesterday: The Diary of a Young Journalist

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, 2010

Publishers Weekly Review: As fake memoirs go, this one is a hoot, with Solheim adopting the voice of a precocious infant diarist observing his newly discovered world. The narrator is a kinder, gentler version of The Family Guy's Stewie Griffin: “If I'd known I was going to be born in public, I'd at least have put on a tank top,” he writes. Eight months later, he confidently notes, “Finally—I have it figured out. Some things are noses, some are taxicabs, and some are Belgians.” But most important (both for the story and for the battered egos of readers with new brothers or sisters) the narrator has figured out who's the big Kahuna in the house—and it's not Mom or Dad. Describing his kindergarten-age sister as “some kind of monkey-bar superstar or something,” he also scribbles: “Note to myself: Imitate that girl. Just imitate her.” James's reportorial watercolor-and-ink cartoons make terrific visual punctuation; he never overplays the jokes, and he may well convince readers that there actually are deep, incisive thoughts lurking behind their new sibling's pudgy, pacifier-sucking face. 

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Santa's Secrets Revealed

Carolrhoda Books, 2004

After Stevie tells a reporter that he does not believe in Santa Claus, Santa himself pays him a visit, takes him to the North Pole to show him his operation, and proves that he uses magic as well as science.