Translators: Bruce and Ju-Chan Fulton Inspired by the case of a torture specialist in 1980s South Korea who from 1988 to 2000 was a fugitive in his own house, The Catcher in the Loft (published in South Korea in 2011 as Saenggang) is in equal parts a portrait of a man coming to terms with his notorious past and a coming-of-age story centered in his dependent relationship with his college-age daughter, who has always thought of him as a patriotic policeman. The novel begins at breakneck speed, with a victim perishing under the torture artist (renamed An)’s watch, and a hurried decision that An must take cover. The remainder of the novel is a dual narrative related in turn by the torture artist and his daughter, Sŏn, who must harbor her father in a loft above her room. There follows a counterpoint of concealment (An) and revelation (Sŏn), with the daughter discovering the “festival” of her own body during an infatuation with a university classmate, followed by the sobering knowledge, manifested firsthand in her encounter with one of her father’s shattered victims, that the father she had idolized is a sado-masochist reduced to abject dependence on her for all of his daily needs during his concealment in the loft. When the novel ends, years later, the focus is equally on An’s ultimate capitulation (he turns himself in to the authorities) and Sŏn’s awakening to her autonomy.
Nobody captures the infuriating challenges or transporting joys of fatherhood like Steve Lewis. Written with honesty, humor and compassion, as well as an abiding love of the remote beauty of Hatteras Island, A Hard Rain is the masterful and compelling story of one man’s attempt to reclaim a sense of self and rebuild his family after his wife inexplicably disappears.
—Karen Dukess,The Last Book Party“What begins—and remains—a poignant love story also immediately becomes a mystery that pulls the reader through to the very end. The family at the heart of A Hard Rain learns to reckon with a change so profound that every member is affected, as well as every reader. Lewis tells a story that moves us all, well beyond even the last word of his brilliant novel.”
—David Masello, author, playwright, cultural critic, Executive Editor of Milieu magazineForget what you know about motherhood as you dive in to Steve Lewis’ A Hard Rain. He places you skin to skin with a family wading through grief and mesmerizes you with prose that makes you feel each carefully placed comment, each grain of North Carolina sand beneath your feet. I have seldom read such beautiful writing or felt so taken by a group of characters.
—Annabel Monaghan, columnist and author of the Digit books and Does This Volvo Make My Butt Look Big?Steven Lewis has the uncanny ability to write about your life without actually knowing you. In his latest novel, an unrelenting hard rain falls on the Hudson family. A rain shrouded in mystery that leaves each member scanning the horizon for a glimmer of sunlight. A reprieve from the squall of their lives. A beautifully observed story of a family’s search for understanding on an island with few answers, rich in heartbreaking poetic detail, by an incredibly gifted writer of whom I couldn’t be more jealous.
—Peter Steinfeld, Screenwriter, Drowning Mona, Be Cool, 21
The authors of this collection are seven older women from diverse backgrounds who are members of a longstanding Hudson Valley writing group composed of academics, a social worker, a psychiatric nurse, a teacher and a lawyer. Some are retired, some are still working, some are musicians. All are volunteers, activists and artists. The sections of the book— Remembrance, Joy, Visibility, Resistance, Resilience, Transformation, Aging, and Bearing Witness—grew from the authors’ individual passions and from their collective perspective of being women-of-a-certain-age in a culture that tends to render older women invisible, irrelevant. This collection is filled with honest, insistent poetry and prose that demands to be heard by readers of all ages, genders and perspectives.
Most of these “fragments” were written by Jack Cain in group poetry sessions he was facilitating. The sessions were designed to be an exploration of the distinction between material arising from the subconscious mind as opposed to material arising from our ordinary consciousness. This direction came from G.I. Gurdjieff’s startling and impertinent statement that our subconscious is our “real” consciousness and our ordinary waking state of consciousness is “fictitious.” The group writing session would begin in quiet, participants would watch what arose and then write from that. Once everyone was done, the results would be read and there would be an exchange on what had been observed. These exchanges helped those present understand that we are all much more deeply connected than we realize.
2019 | 96 pages
The image of paper, beautifully wrought as the controlling metaphor, runs through each poem sometimes to lament humanity lost over dazzling civilization, sometimes to call for restoration by means of everything good a sheet of paper symbolizes, all in a voice quite pithy and restrained. This poetry book is a grain of seed in light of the poet’s longing for warm human nature, and of her effort to restore it; it also bears her love for paper. If you tire out, all giddy flustered navigating from site to site, then take a sheet of blank paper and with all your mind write down each letter of your name stroke by stroke. —from “Charm”
2018 | 84 pages
Reflecting Pool: Poets and the Creative Process is an innovative volume of poetry and essays by twenty-five New York State poets who teach the writing of poetry, run poetry workshops and publish the poetry of others. The book is both a poetry anthology and an informal textbook with contributing essays by each poet that offers the reader personal insights and opinions about how poetry is created, crafted, and presented. Included are a wide array of prompts and exercises that these mentors use in their classes and workshops to stimulate the creative process in poets of all ages. Also added are basic ideas about how poets can best present their work in public readings. The book can be used as the focus for symposiums on teaching the writing of poetry as well as a textbook for high school and college students, adult and senior writers, and for those who run poetry workshops or reading series. 2018 | 172 pages
The Crazy Thing tries to respond to this endless question. It is a love story entwined with a philosophic quest. Beginning from the question about dying it goes on to explore some ways in which it might be possible to begin over again, and perhaps still learn how to live ‘somewhere near the end.’ The Crazy Thing is a memoir with three themes: the story of the author’s long love affair with the poet Celestine Frost; the drama of his enigmatic calling as an artist, writer, and thinker; and his lifelong search for the incalculable limits of the self. The Crazy Thing is a work in progress, whose outcome is yet to be known. This first small volume will be followed by several more. It contains an invitation to the reader to post their questions, comments, and refutations regarding the book’s conclusions on a website — thecrazything.net. The author will take into account the most pertinent of those challenges to his understanding as he composes the subsequent installments. In the end, the book will be a work of collaboration between the author and the community it creates. The Crazy Thing is an artist’s book, composed of drawings, photographs, and fragments of text. The fragments describe events from the author’s past, which alternate with journal entries from the present, in which the old man confronts the younger man he once was. The book is made up of many pieces, but all of them point to one conclusion — the picture of a man in search of his full stature. As for the Crazy Thing itself no one can tell what it is. It is the X-factor that can’t be named because it is not a thing among the things of the world. Nor is it a power. Anyone may feel its inexplicable influence, but they will search in vain for the cause. The Crazy Thing is present only in its absence. Listen carefully and you may hear it sweeping the top of the sky clean.
2014 | 100 pages
Codhill Poetry Award Winner 2018In The Now Dark Sky, Setting Us All on Fire, Robert Krut unveils surrealistic imagery and apocalyptic moments that encroach on his cityscapes. Entering his urban vision of off-kilter fingerprint police, helix fireworks, and lockboxes replete with “unsewn / buttons from the shirts of dead men” (“The Vault”), we are invited to witness how “daylight peels silence / off the sides of buildings” to reveal vampire teeth and arrows (“Phantasmagoria at Six AM”), how “every single body on the street / turns to paper” (“At This Very Moment”). Krut dismantles the world around us and in turn remakes it into something dark yet alive, a place seething with desire, where “A thousand leaves are worth one wish” (“This All Starts With You, and This All Ends With You”) From the very first poem in this quiet and intimate collection, Robert Krut inventively crafts image after shape-shifting image, each suggesting an alternate universe designed to help us better understand our real one. From a preacher in a lentil rainstorm to a doorman wearing a hat full of beetles, we meet people (and see places) filled not only with what is real but with what is possible. Between these magical details runs a clear and steady narrative: a speaker who dons the “too-small sweater of summer.” Who knows that “danger isn’t a bomb, danger is a drip.” And who survives “this pension of suffering.” The graceful poems in The Now Dark Sky, Setting Us All on Fire beautifully balance being both agent and acted upon. Krut is a poet of vivid imagery and distinctive voice.
—Patricia Colleen Murphy, Hemming FlameRobert Krut’s newest collection, The Now Dark Sky, Setting Us All on Fire, paints a landscape of imagination where the Lord of Time might be bargained with as we are left “waiting to be swallowed whole.” The seductive tactility of Krut’s language reminds us of our bodies, our bones and teeth, our veins and fingerprints even as we move among dragons and giant arachnids. A provocative pendulum swinging from fantasy to physicality and back again, these poems acknowledge our longing for escape but leave us with the inescapable conclusion that we are tethered now and forever to ourselves and to this blood-drenched world.
—KMA Sullivan, Inclined to RiotA poem inside a poem is a guest, and Robert Krut’s new compilation The Now Dark Sky, Setting Us All on Fire is worth putting the kettle on to serve. I am in awe at his ability with composing words, where the music from deep imagination comes easily to him. I’ve dined with these poems, went for long walks with “Now, Breathe Fire” and “Dear Demon” inside my coat pocket. I wrote his poem “Welcome” on a lotus leaf and posted it on my front door because it reminded that it is good to welcome the essentiality of darkness from time to time. Let these poems be lanterns to the door you are about to open. This collection is a treasure and good reason why we must keep on breathing.
—Sam Roxas-Chua, Saying Your Name Three Times Underwater
2019 | 80 pages
It is most apt that the poems in Tilt / Hover / Veer utilize the modular refrain of in the pith of, dovetailing nicely with pith’s dual meanings: spongy plant tissue and the crux of / essence. Newell’s pithy fragments capture the essence of fleeting moments in time, whole worlds of weather, and portals into the wider universe. With a calm convergence of science, nature, and delicate imagery, Mary Newell’s poems speak to us in a distilled yet expansive diction that pulses and chimes with empyrean elegance and a rhythmic beauty. This chapbook glows with fire and light.
—Cindy Hochman, editor-in-chief of First Literary Review-East
Breathe in…tilt hover veer…breathe out…tilt hover veer. At any time in life, let alone these endangered times, tilt hover veer becomes a mantra, a pith, an essential part of our quiet. So “listen forward,” the poet encourages early in these pages, as the world’s great motor churns. For “We enter this world floundering”…
—Mike Jurkovic, poet, pundit, provocateur. President, Calling All Poets Series, New Paltz & Beacon, NY
Rich in surprising, often musical language Mary Newell’s poems bring us into the essence of experiences often overlooked. Tracing small details in the natural world Newell asks us, again and again, to pay attention to what matters.
—Ruth Danon, author most recently of Word has it
The Hinge poetry of Mary Newell arrests and lifts like the centrifugal surge to a sleeping volcano—with blasts of magmatic visage.
—Jonathan Mulcahy, poet