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*The Awful Truth* reviewed at *MQR*

Much thanks to Ryo Yamaguchi for a considerate and beautifully written review of Diana Hamilton's The Awful Truth over at Michigan Quarterly Review. You should take a few minutes to read the whole thing, but here is a short excerpt:

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Okay but so I want to make of this moment — as it completes a kind of triangulation — a special effort of focus and attention. It should be clear now that dreams and cinema are sort of polar horizons on either side of Hamilton’s theory of composition. The brilliance of her engagement with this simple structure is an honesty as to composition’s value, or at least, the ways we ordinarily conceive of its value. As I hope these few examples have demonstrated, composition as a practice is not automatically sanctified. It won’t necessarily free you. It is, in fact, a promise that maybe never delivers, a haunting, an obsession, indeed, a bondage. It seems to be the case that composition — via dreams and cinema — is both meaningless and over-meaning; it both gives us nothing and let’s us have nothing of our own. It is a form of nihilism.

But maybe there is a way to transcend through, as it were. This is the distinct takeaway I take from The Awful Truth. These repeating dream and cinema structures are a kind of hard fact of our psychic and social existence, but as such they are ours, and with them we make an effort toward something, maybe, toward mastery, self-sovereignty. And we do that by being good. I’m not exactly sure — this point might happily be a joke of impossibility — but I will be a believer. All throughout this book there is an orientation of care. It is in Hamilton’s own precise writing and effort toward the true (even if it is awful), but also her care for others and a powerful discipline that no matter our confusions about ourselves or the world, it is never unclear that we should always try to treat each other right. This “treating” is a kind of attentiveness, and one gathers a cumulative sense of attention — dreams and cinema both as forms of attention. The earnestness of this become apparent as one progresses, and so it seems that the author must develop this play of syncretic intertexts toward some ultimate exertion of attention, a composition that is finally allowed.

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See the entire review [here]

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First Proof: new work from Mark in *BOMB*

Check out a "sheaf" of new poems from Mark Johnson in the new print issue from BOMB . . .

Also available online [here]

The work comes from his manuscript-in-progress, Sham Refugia. A small sample from the sheaf:

Embarassing

When I back a creature into darkness
I feel I am adorable. Adorable. How else
caricature a grieving beast,

destroy art supplies with snot? Memory

sees the river wend its clarified way
town and expensive farms and on
past a peachtree to marrow, as if to nothing

the marrow of nothing. Yea

loan-stars binge on my kingdom. I am old,
and this dish of vanilla melts,
this dear spoon I can’t remember

buying or stealing or accepting
remains a bent example
of pure invention; particles of rain
blown through the screen contaminate my treat
here on the porch, yet water on my face
wards off the Sleep. I begat

in my dream a biographer-son

guide through the season after winter not spring
before the cut flowers have dried,
dust in the chiseled name blown away.

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Diana Hamilton & Rachel Blau DuPlessis

See Golias author Diana Hamilton at a great event this week at NYU:

On Thursday March 22nd at 6.30pm the Modern and Contemporary Colloquium (MACC) will host its first guest speaker of the Spring 2017 semester, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Professor Emerita at Temple University. The lecture, co-sponsored by the NYU Cultures of War working group, will take place in the Event Space (Room 106) of 244 Greene St., New York NY 10003. The lecture will be entitled ‘Writing Over: Beginning Modernism All Over Again.’

Professor Blau DuPlessis is both a poet and a critic. Her talk will discuss the challenges facing authors and interpreters of long poems in the aftermath of modernism, drawing on her background as a critic to highlight the problems she confronted in Drafts. The talk will be followed by responses from the scholars Michael Golston (Columbia), Diana Hamilton (Baruch), Josh Schneiderman (CUNY), and Mark Scroggins (Florida AU). Wine will be provided.

Event details [here]

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Mark Johnson’s *How to Flit* appears from Roof Books

 

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Congrats to Mark on the publication of *How to Flit.* Born of the same worldbuilding project as Golias's Can of Human Heat and developed from a different--dare we say more lyrical?--perspective, *How to Flit* shows Mark's prodiguous readerly and writerly talents in a new light (now with more line breaks!). Buy it now from the legendary Roof Books; see Mark on the road this spring for some readings!

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AWP18: Golias goes to Tampa

Chris went down to represent at AWP and sell our wares at the offsite book fair--we tabled with the generous gents at Birds LLC, saw some old friendly faces, attended a great reading hosted by Ed Steck and MC'ed by Wonder's Ben Fama, showed up to the Birds/Third Man reading-rager, hung poolside on the roof of the Marriott with the Northamptoners, and just generally slung books around town out of bike panniers. The real stars of the show were Tampa's weirdness and overnight Amtrak--evidentiary photos attached...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Handpicked!

 

The folks at SPD Books have chosen Diana Hamilton's The Awful Truth as one of their "Handpicked" selections for March!

This month, they're all about the REVERIE  - what happens when our dreams overtake our waking moments? What can we learn by following the monsters into the closet? Fantasy has much to teach us about the way we live our lives, the way we represent our reality. Let yourself fall into it and see what might come. 

Get 20% off your copy until the end of the month, and check out the other three selections [here].

If you'd like to purchase a copy of The Awful Truth direct from our store, click [here].

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Diana Hamilton, Hyperintimate Poetry, & the Machine for Fighting Anxiety

Marie Buck shares a really wonderful write-up of Diana Hamilton's The Awful Truth and Some Shit Advice (2014, The Physiocrats) over at Harriet. I'm going to append some selections below, but please check out the full essay for yourself and learn more about precarity and our world-historical moment. Buck is the featured writer at Harriet this month, and you can check out the rest of her posts--on Brandon Brown and her "favorite poem"; on pleasure and political despondence--[here]. 

From Marie Buck:

What I mean to say is: while of course a lot of poetry deals with intimate topics—lyric poetry is classically about love, lust, the self, and so on—Hamilton’s Some Shit Advice and The Awful Truthactively thematize it and create a sort of hyperintimacy, the feeling that the reader is in the role of a close friend or lover or therapist. Except actually, since we’re often reading about close friends and lovers and therapists and their interactions with the speaker: the reader is somewhere even closer, communing with the speaker through the medium of the book.

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Hamilton’s work offers a sort of antidote to anxiety by 1) explicitly describing something that is often a public secret and 2) creating a utopian vision in which we all have plenty of people to whom to confess our dreams, our weird shits, our desires, our self-consciousnesses. This is, I think, why there is so much emphasis on documents of various sorts, and why both books are presented as gatherings of other texts (advice column, found manuscript, email, etc.). The books aren’t self-expressive projections of these intimacies into an implicit public sphere of readers. Instead, through doubling personae and through the use of multiple, expanding framing devices, they create scenes in which the reader is a participant. The expanding framing and reframing devices cause us to consider the actual publication of the book as the biggest frame, a frame that includes the reader

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We need, they say, “a machine for fighting anxiety” that would allow us to act out of desire rather than fear. Hamilton’s book is a utopia of sharing and listening that exceeds social norms—that reorients our fears about the world into desire for our friends and for our lovers and for a better world for us all.

Purchase a copy of Hamilton's The Awful Truth  [here].