NOLA BOOK AND LITERARY NEWS

from Nathan C. Martin and Friends.
Butchers sugar

Butcher’s Sugar
By Brad Richard
(Sibling Rivalry Press) 

Reviewed by Taylor Murrow

The title poem in Butcher’s Sugar is one that wrecked me. If you read the book from front to back, it appears about a third of the way through. By the time you reach that poem—the one that begins “Beyond the candied peristyle / and sticky portals of the body”—you should realize what you’re in for, how dark and formidable these poems are, how the speaker intends to unzip himself for all to see. A voice commands you: “eat: / too late to say you’re hungry / but not for this.”

We gain knowledge of the body—our own and others’—through blind, sweaty fumbling. A nebulous echo of sexuality lingers years after the adrenaline has faded. In Butcher’s Sugar, Brad Richard retreats to these moments and seeks out the hidden pockets of the inner self, all through the queer perspective.

Richard’s speaker self-excavates, a “scrape of a blade honed in the heart.” He is a confessed changeling, haunted by monsters and men in the dark who have followed him into adulthood. Guilty, naked, and exposed, he confronts the deepest, most sacred myths within himself—and by extension, within the reader as well.

Tightly structured stanzas cage lines that unearth self-loathing embedded in desire. In “My Jesus Poster,” a disturbingly sensual image of Jesus gets juxtaposed later with a brutal description of crucifixion. In “Hermetic Nocturne,” the repetition of the line “and I don’t know who I am” at the end of all but one of the stanzas becomes a prayer that escalates to a frenzied climax: “star’s last spasm.”

When the internal gets muddled and confused, perhaps the first instinct is to reach outward into the natural world, a place that is simultaneously terrifying and alluring. The nature motif in Butcher’s Sugar—embodied in oak and elm, poinsettias, Japanese plums, cicadas, cat, thrush, sparrow, dragonfly—becomes a place of refuge. In “First Love,” the speaker recalls being fourteen and sunbathing. Three tight tercets trap the speaker in a landscape that responds to his exhilaration and apprehension. “I’m pinned in a moment that hasn’t happened / yet for me. Sweat prickles in my crotch. / The canal stinks. Reeds click and hiss in the breeze.” The powerful sounds of these lines make the scene practically tactile.

Richard leads us into the caves, the dense sticky portals, perhaps with the goal “to write himself whole again, a self / wholly written beyond himself, the words” and no task seems more daunting. By the book’s end, one callous point is made clear: The boy is gone: I’m all that’s left of him.

Hand-in-Glove Conference Guide

Hand in Glove Conference Guide
Essay by Amy Mackie, edited by Bob Snead, designed by Erik Keisewetter

This beautiful book, designed and printed by Erik Kiesewetter of Constance for the Hand-in-Glove Conference, includes a guide to all of the conference happenings Oct 17-20, 2013, an informative map of the artist run spaces on and around St. Claude Ave, and an extensive essay by Amy Mackie about the history of self organized contemporary art [...]

Photo by Sophie Lvoff in WE'RE PREGNANT

We’re Pregnant
Words by Nathan Martin. Photography by Akasha Rabut, Sophie T. Lvoff, and Grissel Giuliano.

We’re Pregnant is a chapbook of short fiction by Room 220 editor Nathan C. Martin along with photography by Akasha Rabut, Sophie T. Lvoff, and Grissel Giuliano. The book contains three of Martin’s short stories—which explore in morbid fashion anxieties related to sex, disease, marriage, and childbirth—with images inspired by the stories from each of the photographers.

final_cover (2)

The People Is Singular
Poems by Andy Young and Photographs by Salwa Rashad

The People Is Singular, by local poet Andy Young and Egyptian photographer Salwa Rashad, is a personal response to the Egyptian Revolution. Rashad’s vision includes everyday people—Muslims and Christians, young and old, the foregrounded and the peripheral. Her perspective is from inside the events as they unfolded. Andy Young, a New Orleans poet married to [...]

curtain_optional (2)

Curtain Optional
by Brad and Jim Richard

In both poetry and prose, Brad Richard explores the influence of his father’s work on his own, as well as the experience of growing up as the son of an artist while becoming an artist himself. Jim Richard is a professor of painting at the University of New Orleans and has exhibited at the Solomon [...]

howtorebuild

How to Rebuild a City
Edited by Anne Gisleson & Tristan Thompson w/ design and artistic direction by Catherine Burke

Beautifully designed, sometimes fun, always informative, How to Rebuild a City: Field Guide from a work in Progress, is a reflection of the many ways that New Orleanians have realized our way towards recovery, actively and creatively engaging with our communities.

bitterink

Bitter Ink
by Brian Zeigler & Raymond “Moose” Jackson

BBoth originally from Detroit, cousins Brian Zeigler and Raymond “Moose” Jackson began collaborating while Brian was harboring Moose in Vermont during Katrina evacuation. While their doodling proclivities may have made them rustbelt exiles from the rest of their autoworker family, together they produce seductive aphorisms of wit and weirdness that provoke, confound and celebrate a [...]