Review for Peter Weltner’s The Outlands

The Outerlands by Peter Weltner

BrickHouse Books 2012 $18.00

A review by Sonja James

Peter Weltner’s The Outerlands is a superbly crafted book of poems that electrify with their emotional impact. Weltner, who lives in San Francisco, writes sensitive and highly aesthetic poems about the Pacific coast, his family, his sexual orientation, and his struggle with religion and notions of the afterlife. He also writes of art, composers, and various poets who have touched his life.

Throughout the volume Weltner revisits his loss of faith which occurred when he was thirteen. He is openly pained by his inability to believe in God. In “A Walk Down Mount Tamalpais,” he excavates the origins of his lack of faith:

 

Thirteen, when I lost my faith, I set myself on

a mortal quest. Old age would come and I’d

be done, having learned what I’d sought, all God

had wrought on this earth, and I’d be willing to go.

Is it too late? In ancient Colonus, death brought

one blind to an olive grove. I wait by the sea.

 

Weltner’s loss of faith and lack of belief in an afterlife informs his poem, “A Dead Man in the Dunes, New Year’s Day.” He posits the life after this one as “nothing” when he states “I’m buying too much stuff: books, CDs, DVDs./There’s not enough time left for me to read,/listen to, look at them. I’ll be nothing too soon.”

He continues this nihilistic trend in the title poem, “The Outerlands,” where he writes of the place where a man drowned “last Sunday.” He describes the loss of the body of the man: “No body has been found washed up on the beach./It’s become unlikely it will ever be recovered,/another soul, his name, lost to Pacific riptides.” He then compares the makeshift gravestone of the man to the wreckage of a ship called the Prince Philip which went down in a tempest in 1886: “It’s mere traces now, fragments/of a vanished world….”

In “Resurrection,” he describes his mother’s death: “I’m always too late. Ninety, she dies alone/in a metallic white, shrilly lit hospital room.” He closes the poem with the conclusion he has drawn about any possibility of an afterlife: “There’s resurrection but not for us.”

The hope of the book lies in the poet’s relationship to other artists, both living and dead. He writes poems that resurrect the dead without glossing over their personal failings. In “Randall Jarrell,” he describes the poet Jarrell at a party given for his step-daughter. He describes it as an evening where “There’s pain in the air.” In “Ezra Pound,” he highlights the anti-Semitism of the Modernist poet, Ezra Pound. He also writes of poets Delmore Schwartz, John Wieners, and George Oppen. He celebrates his love of music by commemorating Joseph Haydn, Rossini, Edvard Grieg, Arnold Schoenberg, Richard Strauss, Shostakovich, and Igor Stravinsky.

Of these poems about composers, one of the most hauntingly beautiful passages is from “Edvard Grieg:” “Such cold is what his music wants to say,/the strange chill of age from the day he was born,/the nip of fall in all he has loved, the notes/of his scores chiseled from ice. That crystalline./That light, impossible to touch or hold, like sleet/to a boy’s delight melting in his hands.”

The sheer virtuosity of the poems in The Outerlands demonstrate that Peter Weltner is a poet to be reckoned with. Both the human condition and the human heart are the subjects of these often gloomy poems where we are allowed to glimpse a moment of salvation when Weltner writes of art and music. This is not a book for the faint-hearted, but then, no work of such brutal soul searching ever is.

 

Sonja James is the author of Baiting the Hook (the Bunny & the Crocodile Press, 1999), Children of the Moon (Argonne House Press, 2004), and Calling Old Ghosts to Supper (Finishing Line Press, 2013).

Poets are invited to submit recent books for review consideration. Contact Sonja James at sonjajames@earthlink.net

 

Yiddish review of Richard Fein’s Yiddish Genesis

Yiddish publication Afn Shvell, which translates to “on the doorstep”, recently reviewed BrickHouse Books author Richard Fein’s collection of essays titled Yiddish Genesis.

Afn Shvell had this to say about Fein’s work:

“This work is a chronological collection of personal essays, written over a period of forty years, which expresses the attitude of the essayist and literary critic, Richard (Rubin-Jacob) Fein to the Yiddish language and to the Book of Genesis. In the moving and learned memoir Fein illuminated the condition of Yiddish tradition from its Biblical roots to the modern creators and innovators. The theme of Genesis and the decline of Yiddish is the repeated conflict in his dialogue with the theme of the Book of Genesis, the book of creation. The strength of his thoughts about Genesis is that we can read the stories of those Biblical heroes such as the Fathers (Uves), Moses the teacher (Moshe Rabeinu), Isaiah the Prophet (Ishaia Hanovi) with inner feeling, through the lens, not of holy language (loshn kodesh), as is ordinarily done, but through the mother tongue (mame loshn).”

Translation provided by Leon Gildin.

Buy Yiddish Genesis here.

Same review written in Hebrew.

Same review written in Yiddish.

5 Things to Think About Before Getting Published

By: Shelby Hillers

  1. Find outside sources to help– Once you finally have your manuscript together, give it to someone else to look over before sending it out. A fresh pair of eyes can help find any tiny mistakes you looked over and give you a new perspective on your work. You want to make sure your manuscript is the best version it can be before sending it out to be published.
  2. Research the different publishing companies – This might be a given but each publishing company publishes for a specific audience. If you’re writing a sci-fi novel and send it to a publishing company that only does romance novels, you’re not going to be hearing from them anytime soon. BrickHouse Books publishes poetry, fiction, drama, or artistic nonfiction and works hard to make what is published the best it can be. Just know your audience and understand what type of works they’re interested in along with what you as a writer get out of the experience.
  3. Know that there are different formats Once you get published (Congrats!! Time to celebrate!!), start thinking of the post-production of your book. One of the bigger questions is do you want your book to be only print or just an e-book or both? This also ties in with researching the publishing companies- know what format is best for you and your targeted audience along with what the publishing company can offer you.
  4. Marketing In order to spread the word about your book, you’re going to have to do some marketing. Whether that means a small book tour, social media publicity, or literary panels, know that you’ll soon have to be a social butterfly. The endless meet-and-greets are worth it when people appreciate the hard work you put into your writing.
  5. Don’t take rejection so personally Tons of writers get rejected, it’s part of the process. Just see it as you’re one step closer to finding the best option for your publishing your work. There’s a publishing company for everyone and there’s also different options like self-publishing as well. Don’t take rejection letters as a finite no but instead a “No thanks, try somewhere else and good luck!”

 

These are just some of the things to think about before getting published. The list could go on forever. But what are some things you consider before getting published or during the writing process? What’s the main experience you aim to get during the publishing process?

 

Shelby Hillers is the Online Assistant Editor for BrickHouse Books where she helps manage Facebook, Twitter, and the blog. She is a senior at Towson University majoring in English and minoring in Creative Writing. Her works have been published by The TowerlightLimerence Magazine, and TU Career Center’s co-written blog The Thriving Tiger.

Check out the reopening of local historical landmark

250px-PoeHouse-BaltimoreEdgar Allan Poe fans will be pleased to hear that The Board of Directors of Poe Baltimore, Inc. are re-opening the Edgar Allan Poe House National Historic Landmark. The event will take place Saturday, October 5, 2013 at 11:00 AM at 203 N. Amity Street, Baltimore, Maryland. To RSVP email poebaltimore@gmail.com.

For more information check out Poe Baltimore’s website and the flyer: PoeBaltimore Invitation 10.5.13

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Baltimore Book Festival is quickly approaching!

It’s that lovely time of the year again where book nerds (both writers and readers alike) can come together and be enthusiastic about the literature world. The Baltimore Book Festival, happening this weekend Sept. 27-29, will feature some great authors (our own BrickHouse Books Director!) and reading events. Check out the schedule here along with The Baltimore Book Festival’s website for more information. We hope to see you there!

New book features BhB Director’s early poem

51i5GYlgCdLCovet the Oven, the new book of stories by the Israeli-American writer Jerome Mandel, tells tales of the head, of the heart, and of writing. People make surprising announcements, do unexpected things: they die or don’t or can’t, or fall in love and then misplace it. His stories–some gritty, some witty, some smooth–address making choices, puzzlement, growing old, loss and love with wit, intelligence, and sympathy. The title of Mandel’s novel comes from BrickHouse Book’s Director Clarinda Harriss’ early poem which appears in the front matter. Covet the Oven is available in Kindle format and paperback at Amazon.com.

Jerome Mandel won first prize in the P.E.N.-UNESCO International Short Fiction Competition in 1997 for “Third Time, Ice Cream” which appeared in Nothing Gold Can Stay: 18 Stories of Israeli Experience (1999) available in Kindle format at Amazon.com. Sometimes paperbacks, signed by the author, can be found among the used booksellers at inflated prices.

A few stories from both books, together with some of his most accessible academic writing (on Housman, Lawrence, Fitzgerald, Joyce), are available to read for free on his website.

When not traveling, Jerome Mandel lives a quiet, retired life in the center of a busy market in downtown Tel Aviv.

Upcoming book party for GLTTL STP

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Join us for a book party for GLTTL STP, a collection of poems by Doritt Carroll! The party will be held Friday, September 27th at 7pm located at The Black Squirrel 2427 18th St., N.W., Washington, DC. Check out our Facebook for more on the event. Hope to see you there!