Liz’s Weekly Poetry Series: Wave Books

by lizard

Eileen Myles has a new book out, titled Snowflake / Different Streets (reviewed here by Jacob Kahn of the Indy).

An accomplished poet like Myles, who spent last spring in Missoula as the visiting Hugo writer teaching at UM, doesn’t need to fret too badly about how to get a book of poems published. This from Kahn’s review:

Myles came of age in the New York art world of the ’80s, initially as an avant-garde punk-poet who hung around the likes of Patti Smith and other art-world badasses. Since then, she’s published over 20 books (including fiction, non-fiction, plays and even a libretto, in addition to poetry), ran for president in 1992 as the first openly female and lesbian write-in candidate and shared the stage with Sonic Youth. She currently appears on the newest Japanther record, “Rock’n’Roll Ice Cream,” reading from Snowflake / different streets.

Obviously a poet with a badass pedigree like Myles has choices when it comes to publishing, and for this latest book she chose Wave Books.

I have at least a half-dozen Wave Books titles in my collection, including a signed copy of Michael Earl Craig’s Thin Kimono, so when I saw a link on Silliman’s Blog, I eagerly clicked.

What I found was a great piece written by Broc Rossell for the Los Angeles Review of books—Portrait of a Press: Wave Books.

Here’s a teaser:

If you’re getting the sense that Wave has a different idea of what constitutes a “book” or a “publication” than other publishers, you’re on to something. That aesthetic is embodied in everything from how Wave supports its poets, through and beyond the editorial process, down to the way Wave books look, and it’s a stance Wave authors buy into. The books themselves seem to be conceptualized as curiously isolated moments in a sustained lifestyle of creativity.

“The only difference between a publication and a performance is the format,” says Myles. Myles sees the book as “a trailer of the performance. When you do a reading you stand up and you read these seven poems, the event is constructed just like a book is.

“When you’re writing a poem or an essay or even a novel, it’s improvisational; you’re opening your mind up and making choices, and so the book and the performance resemble each other. The only difference is the form, the accommodation to time. When I have people in front of me in a room, I only have so much time, and I have to make choices; some of them are even predetermined. There is a downpour of language we exist in. And a writer just makes different choices for different occasions, which is what literary form is, finally: a kind of occasion.”

The personalities that make Wave Books breathe have exhibited a manic dedication to the occasion of poetry. In 2006, their Poetry Bus Tour embarked on a 50 cities in 50 days tear across the states that included a stop in Missoula (up Butler Creek).

I was lucky to be in attendance that evening as a fantastic smattering of poets bounced their amplified voices off the hills.

So in the spirit of performance, instead of text, I offer this performance by Michael Earl Craig. Enjoy!


  1. 1 Letters To Wendy’s « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] those of you that read the article that inspired this post about Wave Books two weeks ago, you might recall it opening with the story of how Joe Wenderoth became the first […]

  2. 2 Liz’s Weekly Poetry Series: Matthew Rohrer « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] week’s poem is by Matthew Rohrer, from his collection titled Destroyer And Preserver (Wave Books, 2011). And if you want to know more about Wave Books, one of my favorite publishers of poetry, […]

  3. 3 Liz’s Weekly Poetry Series: Anticipating April | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Wave Books […]

  4. 4 152 Poetry Posts to Celebrate April, National Poetry Month | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Wave Books […]




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