For a welcome distraction during this turbulent time, there’s nothing like the quiet calmness of curling up with a good book—especially one with community ties. Pasadena’s Red Hen Press, one of the few literary presses in the Los Angeles area, publishes a diverse range of poetry, literary fiction, and nonfiction that will have you glued. Currently, Red Hen Press is offering 30% off a selection of both tradepaper and ebook (where available) versions using the code RHR30 here.
Don’t know where to begin? Monica Fernandez, Red Hen Press media manager, shares her reading recommendations below.
STEAM LAUNDRY by Nicole Stellon O’Donnell:
Steam Laundry is a novel in poems based on the true story of Sarah Ellen Gibson, a miner’s wife during the Klondike and Alaska gold rushes. Based on archival research and incorporating historical documents and photographs, the poems approach the past through the ghosts of correspondence. The poems, written in the voices of Gibson, her family members, and the people who knew her, take on love, loss, failure, and desire. Some confront the drama of failed marriages, troubled family relationships, and alcoholism. Others spin the dramatic details of hunting accidents and subarctic survival into compelling stories in verse.
WATER & SALT by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha:
Lena Khalaf Tuffaha’s debut, Water & Salt, sings in the voices of people ravaged by cycles of war and news coverage. These poems alternately rage, laugh, celebrate and grieve, singing in the voices of people ravaged by cycles of war and news coverage and inviting the reader to see the human lives lived beyond the headlines.
A HISTORY OF TOO MUCH by Adrianne Kalfopoulou:
The work begins with poems that address an Athens undergoing the first ravages of political and financial crisis; the inhabitants of these poems voice extravagant losses and the unpredictable, are often torn between a desire “to flee, but flee where?” The gods and goddesses will still be called upon, but Demeter is nonplussed in her mourning, Alexander the Great drunk, and the statues of antiquity exposed to the anarchies of spray-painted slogans and thrown Molotovs. If history’s excesses are exhausted, they are also reinvented in the idiom of the contemporary moment; here where “the costumes were all off” and “the actors overplayed their parts,” there is a story to tell: “The light was almost gone, / the road now dark.”
DANTE IN CHINA by John Barr:
In John Barr’s poems, the ancient masters encounter the modern world. Dante on a beach in China beholds the Inferno: “Flaring well gas night and day, / towers rise as if to say, / Pollution can be beautiful.” Bach’s final fugue informs all of nature. Villon is admonished by an aging courtesan. Aristotle finds “Demagogues are the insects of politics. / Like water beetles they stay afloat / on surface tension, they taxi on iridescence.” And his afterlife: “When three-headed Cerberus greeted him / Socrates replied: I won’t need / an attack dog, thank you. I married one.”
Want more? Red Hen Press puts out reading recommendations three times a week; keep an eye out for new posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday on their blog.