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Poetry Archives - Red Hen Press

Trace

Through image-rich poems regarding migration, transcultural identity, loss, connection, dream, and aging—some translingual, some ekphrastic responses to ephemeral and surreal works of art—Brenda Cárdenas’ Trace explores conditions of displacement, liminality, and mutability. These poems transgress illusory borders between lands, languages, humans and the rest of the natural world, waking and dreaming, and the living and the dead as they unearth traces of experience that shape and haunt us, traces we leave behind for others to encounter. Although elegy resurfaces throughout this collection as does a poetics of social consciousness, Cárdenas also embraces moments of levity, story, and an effervescent internal music that balance her steps through fraught yet bewitching terrain.


ADVANCE PRAISE


“This remarkable collection migrates from outward to inward—ekphrastic poems charged with ars resistencia to biographical poems of childhood wonder, teen rebelliousness, middle age dreams. Throughout, we are immersed in the ‘morphology of dream, the moonmilk of words.’ Cárdenas loves language—each turn of phrase radiates the power of the word to mean, resonate, and transcend. These poems, like a ‘flatbed full of cempazuchil,’ light the way.”
—Valerie Martínez, author of Count, Each and Her, and World to World


“We enter Brenda Cárdenas newest book, Trace, through an excavation of ‘the ruins / of our purple terrain,’ and so enter the speaker’s configuration of a named-past ever alive in the present as a catalogue of inspiration. Cárdenas resurrects the little joys with which we may all eclipse latent despair, a ‘deer’s skitter,’ ‘xocoatl spiced with chili / y vanilla,’ ‘every instrument and its music.’ Trace shines light into every corner as Cárdenas reimagines the project of ekphrastic lyric not only as a call and response with the artist and the writer, but also as collective construction that informs the speaker’s vast interiority, thereby creating a treasury of souls who harness the creative and transmuting power of art and language. Her arc here is measured and yet playful, mournful only within the context of that happiness which eventually returns. The speaker’s levity often obscures the formal complexity of the stunning craft here, creating a ‘scintillating music’ that ‘crickets / vertiginous missives’ throughout the book which I am not only happy to enter, to languish within, but to which I feel compelled to return with gratitude, again and again.”
—Ruth Ellen Kocher, author of Third Voice: Poems, domina Un/blued, Goodbye Lyric:The Gigans and Lovely Gun, and Desdemona’s Fire.


“In these darkest of days, we are lucky to have the words of a writer as sustaining as Brenda Cárdenas, one who reminds us that poetry has always done the impossible, whether urging us ‘to decipher the morphology of dream’ or summon the wisdom of our ancestors (‘What can we do with this gathering of ghosts / but welcome them home’). To call these poems ekphrastic would not do them justice: they are sculptural, kinetic, sinuous, and syncopated, by turns mythic and quotidian, implacable placa and ‘phosphorescent scrolls,’ and they claim their own brilliantly expanded field (Lucille Clifton, Ana Mendieta, Cecilia Vicuña, Remedios Varo, etc.) with the care and urgency of what Cárdenas calls ‘raucous cariño.’ From her Milwaukee of the heart, this former poet laureate knows that our cities are portals, even as ‘Every migration / bears its fallen’ and we seek out ‘a psalm for healing / without being held’ amid the body’s devastation. Trace is a triumph of poetry as a liminal practice that works against invisibility and facile legibility, at the threshold of the self, where a new consciousness is possible.”
—Urayoán Noel, Author of Transversal, Buzzing Hemisphere/Rumor Hemisférico, Enunciador, and Hi-Density Politics


“To read the poems in Trace is to journey through tierra, myth, wound, and love. With her richly textured imagery and a language layered with music and truth, Brenda Cárdenas paints the ceremonies of the living and the realms of the dead. There is a visceral sense of place and much elegy in this collection; there is also a soulful imagination that seeks healing, as seen when the Mayan moon goddess Ix Chel appears to anoint the bodies of the drowned, or how a funnel of bees hum with ‘the work of finding home.’ For Cárdenas, that quest is everywhere.”
-—Emma Trelles, author of Tropicalia and poet laureate of Santa Barbara


“Brenda Cárdenas flexes, topples, and surrenders to the ‘gathering of ghosts’ who have returned in these resolute and electrifying poems as ‘bright as a quintet of monarchs in milkweed flickering.’ A constellation of ‘brujas, chavalas, carnales, cabrones, rucas, locas, comadres . . . una vieja y sus recuerdos,’ Cárdenas refuses to root herself into solitary complacency and reveals a voice as ‘bright as chrome.’ This collection is a journey of faith and memory tracing a path toward a life lived like a ‘trapeze artist, contortionist, upsidedown, insideout, wracked with sweet pain.’ These poems are a gift of lyrical intensity that move us optimistically toward something yet to be imagined.”
-—Ruben Quesada, editor of Latinx Poetics: Essays on the Art of Poetry and author of
Revelations
and Next Extinct Mammal


Trace is a book of living fossils, a stunning ofrenda that sings the body’s survival in time and life and earth. The poems ask at what cost dare we trespass—or cannot help but trespass—brutally, in raising ourselves from bed, in burying ourselves in body. It is a terrible violence that living means to labor in erasures, drownings, borders, veils. But while death engineers in echoes and ghosts, Cárdenas transcends through music and vision both ekphrastic and ecstatic.”
-—Gina Franco, author of The Accidental: Poems and The Keepsake Storm


“I remember as a child spinning a metal top in my abuelos’ basement with the lights off until I made the universe whir, release star-sparks. That’s the sort of energy that Brenda Cárdenas generates in her capacious, code-switching collection which, by turns, is ekphrastic, combative, nostalgic, elegiac, oneiric, odic, comic, romantic. Put on your safety glasses, ese. Trace is poetry in motion.”
-—Mauricio Kilwein Guevara, author of Poema, Poems of the River Spirit, and The Autobiography of So-and-So


“Brenda Cárdenas’ masterful command of Chicano Caló, USA English, and Mexican Spanish weaves a brilliant celebration of the senses captured by a woman rich with artistic inspiration and keenly aware of her sensual and intellectual worth; it is the core of her new collection Trace. Cárdenas holds us close while providing insight to her childhood explorations, adolescent temptations, or rebellious explorations. She shares her mature mediations of love’s carnal and spiritual dimensions across a multitude of captivating connections to our culture’s ‘literary archaeologists’ and our place on beautiful and brutal earth and cosmos. I guarantee, you will return to Trace, time and again.”
—Carlos Cumpián, Author of Human Cicada, Armadillo Charm, and Coyote Sun


“Brenda Cárdenas’ Trace is an invitation to transform a plastic world of accumulated excess from ‘all our granular wreckage.’ Trace conjures up a multi-layered language attentive to the ‘cumulous algae’ and ‘skunky ruckus’ dreams of artists and workers and celebrating all that we come from—a lineage that ‘refuse[s] to flinch,’ ‘a chorus resounding for acres.’”
—Ching-Inn Chen, author of Recombinant and The Heart’s Traffic


“This book is an ofrenda. With an astonishing awareness of the particular and the everlasting, Trace by Brenda Cárdenas plunges us into the mythic through tales of what is utterly real. These poems take on the healing of soul and the meaning of home. The poetry of Cárdenas is nothing less than the intermingling of the traces of what is spiraling around us and what lay beyond. I highly recommend it.”
—Robin Reagler, author of Night Is This Anyway, Into The The, and Teeth and Teeth

An abstract collection of different color shapes and bodies with the title trace: poems by Brenda Cardenas

Brenda Cardenas

Publication Date: April 18, 2023

Genre/Imprint: Letras Latinas, Poetry

$17.95 Tradepaper

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ISBN: 9781636280936

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City Life

This collection of poetry by the editor of EXPANSIVE POETRY, focuses on life in New York—in language alternately hip, and nostalgic, the ten characters in “Nomads” focus on abortion, divorce, the forces threatening the neighborhoods, and the need to preserve the family; in “The Psychiatrist At the Cocktail Party: A Dramatic Sequence,” Feirstein presents in formal verse a hilarious, and disturbing cast of urban professionals, sexual bandits, opportunists and international terrorists.

Price
Tradepaper: $20 / ISBN: 9781586540746
Casebound: $30 / ISBN: 9781586540890

Story line press legacy tittle Frederick Feirstein City Life, white text against emerald green background.

Frederick Feirstein

Publication Date: August 10, 2021

Genre/Imprint: Poetry, Story Line Press

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Time’s Refugee

Frederick Feirstein’s tenth book, Time’s Refugee, is chock-full of some of his best lyric and dramatic poems.

They are passionate, wise, and totally accessible to the general public. The diction is colloquial, and the form excels in meter and rhyme.

Price
Tradepaper: $20 / ISBN: 9781586540623
Casebound: $30 / ISBN: 9781586541163

Story line press legacy tittle Frederick Feirstein Time’s Refuge, white text against emerald green background.

Frederick Feirstein

Publication Date: August 10, 2021

Genre/Imprint: Poetry, Story Line Press

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New and Selected Poems

This edition brings together selected poems from all six previous editions of Frederick Feirstein’s poetry published between 1974 and 1997. Feirstein is one of the founders of Expansive Poetry which reaches out to audiences beyond the academy and incorporates free verse, formal, and narrative techniques. The poems in this selection combine extraordinary lyric and storytelling skills. A poet of urban anger, humour reconciliation, and revelation. Frederick Feirstein dares to work on an epic scale. His ambitious vision makes for a unique accessible achievement in American poetry. This broad selection of poems is a cause for celebration.

In addition to six books of poetry, Frederick Feirstein has produced seven plays and edited the anthology Expansive Poetry: Essays on the New Narrative and the New Formalism. He has received fellowships from the Rockefeller and Guggenheim Foundations. His many honors include the Poetry Society of America’s John Masefield Award.

Price
Tradepaper: $20 / ISBN: 9781586540760
Casebound: $30 / ISBN: 9781586540951

Story Line Press Legacy Title: Frederick Feirstein's New and Selected Poems white text against emerald green background

Frederick Feirstein

Publication Date: August 10, 2021

Genre/Imprint: Poetry, Story Line Press

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Rorschach Art Too

“Stephen Gibson’s poems are the work of a serious, intent, often appalled tourist. The word might look like a putdown, but his subject is the glamour and horror of history, and when it comes to the past, attentive tourism is the best that any of us can hope for. This tourist’s gaze if focused and fascinated, his tone is even and intelligent (as he has it in one poem, “scared in the headlights, but the brain busy nonetheless”), and his technique is all but flawless (unobtrusively so, a true case of art hiding art). Together the gaze, the subjects on which it alights, and the poet’s superlative skill add up to poems of astute, moving observation and often overwhelming authority.”
– Dick Davis

Price
Tradepaper: $20 / ISBN: 9781586543686
Casebound: $30 / ISBN: 9781586540043

Story Line Press legacy tittle, Stephen Gibson Rorschach Art Too Poems, white text against emerald green background.

Stephen Gibson

Publication Date: July 13, 2021

Genre/Imprint: Poetry, Story Line Press

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Breath in Every Room

Breath in Every Room intertwines parents and children with encounters in the natural world. Ranging from birds in the forest to a boy’s captured frogs, from rattlesnakes in the prairie to a bat fallen from the sky. The book weaves in and out of myth and dream.

Price
Tradepaper: $20 / ISBN: 9781586543815
Casebound: $30 / ISBN: 9781586540968

Story Line Press legacy tittle, Tami Haaland Breath in Every Room Poems, white text against emerald green background.

Tami Haaland ( Author Website )

Publication Date: June 22, 2021

Genre/Imprint: Poetry, Story Line Press

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Without Asking

Winner of the 1989 Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize

The poems in this book also garnered a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship, as well as residencies at the MacDowell and Yaddo artist colonies.

Upon publication, Without Asking received widespread acclaim, including this in the New York Village Voice:

“Journalist Ransom’s first collection of poems is like a sheaf of homunculus short stories. The scale is an inch to a mile, but these poems leave out nothing you could ask for in the best fiction: character, conflict, ambiguity, even plot. A couple of phrases and a metaphor do the work of whole chapters. Her subject is secrecy: an alcoholic father hides the empties “as if they were Easter eggs,” a lonely, terrifying brother throws his thirteen-year-old sister on the bed and begs her to make love with him. Recognizing that early pain can have complicated consequences, Ransom replaces self-pity with sympathy, anger, and honesty.”

Price
Tradepaper: $20 / ISBN: 9781586540685
Casebound: $30 / ISBN: 9781586540869

Story Line Press legacy tittle, Jane Ransom Without Asking Poems, white script text against emerald green background.

Jane Ransom

Publication Date: June 15, 2021

Genre/Imprint: Poetry, Story Line Press

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Scene of the Crime

Scene of the Crime exposes the poet’s inner criminality, where matricide and mother tongue engage in diabolic discourse. Confessing her outlaw sexuality, Ransom grapples with feminist theory and disembowels postmodern philosophy. Delighting in the multiplicity of self, language and desire, Ransom fires puns dead-aimed to riddle any interpretive reduction.

Price
Tradepaper: $20 / ISBN: 9781586540678
Casebound: $30 / ISBN: 9781586540821

Story Line Press legacy tittle, Jane Ransom Scene of the Crime Poems, white script text against emerald green background.

Jane Ransom

Publication Date: June 15, 2021

Genre/Imprint: Poetry, Story Line Press

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Hunger

This book is about Latina identity, a timely subject in today’s America. The author’s journey begins as she, full of love for Mexico and its culture despite her closest blood connection being her bisabuela, boards a bus. She starts out determined: “Yes foreign is a word for fear. Yes I am coming home.” But then, because “it is afraid, staying in a language where you were not born,” she retreats, hiding first behind we, then behind masks. But when it becomes clear that the masks are her true self, she loses her fear, and barrels ahead as I, fully committed, all the way to the end.

Price
Tradepaper: $20 / ISBN: 9781586540616
Casebound: $30 / ISBN: 9781586540937

Story Line Press legacy tittle, Lola Haskins Hunger Poems, white script text against emerald green background.

Lola Haskins ( Author Website )

Publication Date: June 29, 2021

Genre/Imprint: Poetry, Story Line Press

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Hurricane Sisters

Hurricane Sisters, award-winning poet Ginger Andrews’ second collection, contains poems of fierce candor and sharp, unique awareness from the perspective of Andrews herself, a cleaning woman in North Bend, Oregon. These Carver-esque insights into the everyday of the American working class balance grief, depression, lust, poverty, and, above all, faith; not in something beyond or higher than the living experience, but in a spirituality amidst the material truths of this world, even under the grimmest of circumstances. Hurricane Sisters stares into the holy, the barbaric, the beautiful and the hideous, the realities of blue-collar Americana, with the frankness and empathy of a survivor and a believer. It sees everything and never averts its eyes.

Price
Tradepaper: $20 / ISBN: 9781586540753
Casebound: $30 / ISBN: 9781586541101

Story Line Press legacy tittle, Ginger Andrews Hurricane Sisters, white script text against emerald green background.

Ginger Andrews

Publication Date: June 1, 2021

Genre/Imprint: Poetry, Story Line Press

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An Honest Answer

“The presiding spirit behind Ginger Andrews’ first book, An Honest Answer, must be William Carlos Williams. When he said he wrote in the speech of Polish mothers, he could have included the American working class anywhere. The sinewy resilience in Andrews’ individual poems honors the tradition of his free verse lyrics. She listens for the poetic measure in American speech and reproduces it in unique forms. I would venture to say that the poetry of Ginger Andrews is as close to the tradition of Williams as American free verse has ever been. . . . As for the voice speaking to us in these poems, it is as fresh as Ray Carver’s seemed twenty-five years ago. Another poet who comes to mind is her fellow Northwesterner Vern Rutsala, himself a descendent of Williams, who, like Williams, has kept his eye on the working poor throughout his career. Andrews is working class, born again in Sappho, an Ahkmatova who cleans houses and teaches Sunday school. These figures come to mind not for the sake of hyperbole, but to help understand the originality of this new and remarkable poet.”
— Mark Jarman

Price
Tradepaper: $20 / ISBN: 9781586540661
Casebound: $30 / ISBN: 9781586540883

Story Line Press legacy tittle, Ginger Andrews An Honest Answer, white script text against emerald green background.

Ginger Andrews

Publication Date: June 1, 2021

Genre/Imprint: Poetry, Story Line Press

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Extranjera

This book is about Latina identity, a timely subject in today’s America. Its journey begins as the author boards a bus, full of love for Mexico and its culture despite her closest blood connection being her bisabuela. She starts out determined: Yes, foreign is a word for fear; yes, I am coming home. But then, because it is afraid, staying in a language where you were not born she retreats, hiding first behind we, then behind masks. But when it becomes clear that the masks are her true self, she loses her fear, and barrels ahead as I, fully committed, all the way to the end.

Price
Tradepaper: $20 / ISBN: 9781586540609
Casebound: $30 / ISBN: 9781586540920

Story Line Press legacy tittle, Lola Haskins Extranjera Poems, white text against emerald green background.

Lola Haskins ( Author Website )

Publication Date: June 29, 2021

Genre/Imprint: Poetry, Story Line Press

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What the Body Remembers

Adèle Slaughter’s first book of poems, What the Body Remembers, was published by Story Line Press in 1994. It is an autobiographical collection of glimpses into a childhood fraught with familial violence, alcoholism, and trauma, and the life that has been led in its wake; the failure of a marriage and the experiences that forever mold us as human beings. Through all the abuse and suffering these poems portray, however, the driving theme behind What the Body Remembers never falters: the reader is left with an inspiring picture of courage, perseverance, femininity, and the survival of the truest self. The subject of the work remains always the poet, the speaker, even as great attention is drawn to the circumstance surrounding her, providing an impactful example of how our greatest pains may leave us changed, but not defined, and never defeated. Pat Monaghan called the book “a stunning debut volume.”

Price
Tradepaper: $20 / ISBN: 9781586540692
Casebound: $30 / ISBN: 9781586540791

Story Line Press legacy tittle, Adele Slaughter What the Body Remembers Poem, white script text against emerald green background.

Adele Slaughter ( Author Website )

Publication Date: May 11, 2021

Genre/Imprint: Poetry, Story Line Press

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The Long Conversation

The Long Conversation combines David Dooley’s books The Volcano Inside and The Revenge by Love to create an extended dialogue between past and present, between stories of everyday life and accounts of historical figures, between the demands and delights of art and those of life, culminating in an eleven-poem sequence about the painter Georgia O’Keeffe and her husband, the photographer Alfred Stieglitz. Lyrical moments flourish within traditional dramatic monologues and a bold and unusual mix of other narrative strategies. The language ranges from vigorous Southern dialect, and even profanity, to a confident and original high style. In The Long Conversation, love is always complicated, the angle of vision is often surprising, and language must be able to cope with every kind of challenge.

Price
Tradepaper: $20 / ISBN: 9781586540739
Casebound: $30 / ISBN: 9781586540876

Story Line Press legacy tittle, David Dooley The Long Conversation Poems, white script text against emerald green background.

David Dooley

Publication Date: April 27, 2021

Genre/Imprint: Poetry, Story Line Press

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The Island

The Island begins with a haunting 1848 journal entry from a man jailed on Spike Island in Ireland: “Gazing on gray stones, my eyes will grow stony.” Nearly 150 years later, Rosemary Canavan, a poet and painter, teaches literacy at the prison on Spike Island. How do her painter’s eyes and poet’s spirit meet the stony gray of prisoners’ eyes? Throughout these poems, and especially in her long sequence “The Island,” Canavan explores with tenderness and pathos the plight of the incarcerated. With lyrics that seem to be written in primary color, Canavan also celebrates love and children, her struggles as a working mother, and the emerging, vibrant feminist consciousness of a new generation of Irish women.

Price
Tradepaper: $20 / ISBN: 9781586540593
Casebound: $30 / ISBN: 9781586540845

Story Line Press legacy tittle, Rosemary Canavan The Island Poems, white script text against emerald green background.

Rosemary Canavan ( Author Website )

Publication Date: May 11, 2021

Genre/Imprint: Poetry, Story Line Press

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