You Need More Sleep: Advice from Cats

You Need More Sleep By Francesco Marciuliano

Our feline friends have spent eons observing, napping, pondering, napping, and taking notes about the human condition. In between naps, they’ve realized that we humans could use some catlike guidance when it comes to handling the ups and downs of life. In this book they’ve condescended to share their invaluable wisdom in short advice columns such as “Always Stay at Least 30 Feet from a Loved One” and “Never Let Anyone Dress You.” Whether it’s coping with romance, surviving a social gathering, or clawing your way to the top of the corporate ladder only to realize you can’t get down, the cats in this book will have you relaxed and ready to take on the world! Just after one more nap.

Blue Horses

Blue HorsesBy Mary Oliver

In this stunning collection of new poems, Mary Oliver returns to the imagery that has defined her life’s work, describing with wonder both the everyday and the unaffected beauty of nature. Herons, sparrows, owls, and kingfishers flit across the page in meditations on love, artistry, and impermanence. Whether considering a bird’s nest, the seeming patience of oak trees, or the artworks of Franz Marc, Oliver reminds us of the transformative power of attention and how much can be contained within the smallest moments. At its heart, “Blue Horses” asks what it means to truly belong to this world, to live in it attuned to all its changes. Humorous, gentle, and always honest, Oliver is a visionary of the natural world.

Richard Renaldi: Touching Strangers

RichardRenaldiTouchingStrangersBy Richard Renaldi

Since 2007, Richard Renaldi has been working on a series of photographs that involve approaching & asking complete strangers to physically interact while posing together for a portrait. Working on the street with a large-format, 8-by-10-inch view camera, Renaldi encounters the subjects for his photographs in towns & cities all over the United States. He pairs them up & invites them to pose together, intimately, in ways that people are usually taught to reserve for their close friends & loved ones. Renaldi creates spontaneous & fleeting relationships between strangers for the camera, often pushing his subjects beyond their comfort levels. These relationships may only last for the moment the shutter is released, but the resulting photographs are moving & provocative, & raise profound questions about the possibilities for positive human connection in a diverse society.

Once in the West: Poems

OnceWestBy Christian Wiman

A searing new collection from one of our country’s most important poets.

Typically cryptic, God said three weasels
slipping electric over the rocks
one current conducting them up the tree
by the river in the woods of the country
into which I walked
away and away and away
—from “Witness”

Once in the West, Christian Wiman’s fourth collection of poetry, is as intense and intimate as poetry gets – from the “suffering of primal silence” that it plumbs to the “rockshriek of joy” that it achieves and enables. Readers of Wiman’s earlier books will recognize the sharp characterization and humor – “From her I learned the earthworm’s exemplary open-mindedness, / its engine of discriminate shit” – as well as his particular brand of reverent rage: “Lord if I implore you please just please leave me alone / is that a prayer that’s every instant answered?” But there is something new here, too: moving love poems to Wiman’s wife, tender glimpses of the poet’s children, and, amid the onslaughts of illness and fear and failures, “a trace / of peace.”

I Knead My Mommy: And Other Poems by Kittens

IKneadMommyBy Francesco Marciuliano

Just when we all thought things couldn’t get any cuter, from the author of the New York Times bestselling I Could Pee on This comes I Knead My Mommy, a book of confessional poems about the triumphs, trials, and daily discoveries of being a kitten. From climbing walls to claiming hearts, these little cats bare all in such instant classics as “And Then You Said ‘No,'” “Ode to a Lizard I Didn’t Know Is Also a Pet in This House,” and “I Will Save You.” With adorable photos of the poetic prodigies throughout, this volume gives readers a glimpse into their confused and curious feline minds as they encounter the world around them.

For All of Us, One Today

For All of UsBy Richard Blanco, 2013 inaugural poet

For All of Us, One Today is a fluid, poetic account of Richard Blanco’s life-changing experiences as the inaugural poet in 2013. In this brief and evocative narrative, he shares the story of the call from the White House committee and all the exhilaration and upheaval of the days that followed. For the first time, he reveals the inspiration and challenges – including his experiences as a Latino immigrant and gay man – behind the creation of the inaugural poem, One Today, as well as two other poems commissioned for the occasion (Mother Country and What We Know of Country), published here for the first time ever, alongside translations of all three of those poems into his native Spanish. Finally, Blanco reflects on his new role as a public voice, his vision for poetry’s place in our nation’s consciousness, his spiritual embrace of Americans everywhere, and his renewed understanding of what it means to be an American as a result of the inauguration. Like the inaugural poem itself, For All of Us, One Today speaks to what makes this country and its people great, marking a historic moment of hope and promise in our evolving American landscape.

Faster Than Light

Faster Than LightFaster Than Light: New and Selected Poems, 1996-2011 by Marilyn Nelson, Connecticut poet and UConn professor

Conjuring numerous voices and characters across oceans and centuries, Faster Than Light explores widely disparate experiences through the lens of traditional poetic forms. This volume contains a selection of Marilyn Nelson’s new and uncollected poems as well as work from each of her lyric histories of eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century African-American individuals and communities, and The Cachoeira Tales, a long riff on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Poems include the stories of historical figures like Emmett Till, the fourteen-year-old boy lynched in 1955, and the inhabitants of Seneca Village, an African American community razed in 1857 for the creation of Central Park. Bivouac in a Storm tells the story of a group of young soldiers, later to become known as the Tuskegee Airmen, as they trained near Biloxi, Mississippi, “marching in summer heat / thick as blackstrap molasses, under trees / haunted by whippings.” Later pieces range from the poet’s travels in Africa, Europe, and Polynesia, to poems written in collaboration with Father Jacques de Foiard Brown, a former Benedictine monk who becomes the subject of Nelson’s playful fictional fantasy sequence, Adventure-Monk! Both personal and historical, these poems are grounded in quotidian detail but reach toward spiritual and moral truths.

National Book Critics Circle Awards Finalists

The finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Awards for 2012 have been announced, and Byrd’s Books carries some of the top titles selected as nominees! You can browse them under the award nominee tag, or just check them out below:

Autobiography & Biography

Criticism & Nonfiction:

Orphan Masters SonFiction & Poetry

Fragile Acts

Fragile ActsBy Allan Peterson

The world is terrifying and exhilarating. Believing firmly in the romantic notion that “embellishment is love,” Allan Peterson in Fragile Acts combines the intellectual force of T.S. Eliot and Wallace Stevens, the ethereal wonder of Robert Hass, and the tight lyric beauty of Elizabeth Bishop and Donald Hall. These steely, wide-ranging poems are at once personal and philosophical, incisive and meditative–funny, serious, compassionate and searching.

Juxtaposing the fast pace of contemporary society with the quiet localism and naturalism of the great American transcendentalists, Peterson’s sinewy, muscular collection reveals a profoundly intelligent, curious mind leaping from object to thought to emotion. And yet, poem after poem, Peterson somehow binds seemingly unrelated elements into one stunning whole. You’ll nod your head in reflection one moment and laugh out loud the next. These moving poems are a profound delight to read.

Peterson writes with wondering beauty: “As a child I knew I was sleeping when I began / falling though still furled in my sheets / and I would look over other people’s shoulders / to see what they were reading / the headlines the footnotes / Extra! Extra! / a boy has left his room through a map on the wall.”

And again later, with a sly smile: “When she twirled and slapped / a mosquito and missed, a red sun stayed on her leg throughout / most of the chapter on Self Reliance.”

Fragile Acts is currently a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry.

Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations

BewildermentBy David Ferry

Winner of the 2012 National Book Award for Poetry

To read David Ferry’s Bewilderment is to be reminded that poetry of the highest order can be made by the subtlest of means. The passionate nature and originality of Ferry’s prosodic daring works astonishing transformations that take your breath away. In poem after poem, his diction modulates beautifully between plainspoken high eloquence and colloquial vigor, making his distinctive speech one of the most interesting and ravishing achievements of the past half century. Ferry has fully realized both the potential for vocal expressiveness in his phrasing and the way his phrasing plays against – and with – his genius for metrical variation. His vocal phrasing thus becomes an amazingly flexible instrument of psychological and spiritual inquiry. Most poets write inside a very narrow range of experience and feeling, whether in free or metered verse. But Ferry’s use of meter tends to enhance the colloquial nature of his writing, while giving him access to an immense variety of feeling. Sometimes that feeling is so powerful it’s like witnessing a volcanologist taking measurements in the midst of an eruption. Ferry’s translations, meanwhile, are amazingly acclimated English poems. Once his voice takes hold of them they are as bred in the bone as all his other work. And the translations in this book are vitally related to the original poems around them.

Bewilderment is currently a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry.

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