by APRIL’s Frances Dinger
This book is brief, but in a pleasant, breathless sort of way. And, despite what the title would suggest, it doesn’t require any background in Heideggerian philosophy but a cursory understanding of Marx does enhance the reading experience.
Regarded by some as a South American Howl, Papasquiaro’s book deftly confronts the collision of working class culture and high art.
His juxtapositions are often both comical and poignant: “& all because you need to you’re desperate to let go & cry openly / with nobody & nothing to interrupt you / not even those chicks in hot pants … / & you’re not the only 1 who claims to be the only passenger / on his schizophrenic submarine”
For Papasquiaro, the personal is political at the same time that the individual is entirely singular but also just a part of a larger social structure entirely out of their control. This is the kind of poetry you want to read in a rage against injustice, or hungover, or heartbroken.
In brief, this is the perfect summer poetry book because it lets you choose your level of engagement. Enjoy the ride of the language or engage with the political subtext. Either way will honor this book.
But that is enough from 1 person with 1 opinion. Grab a cold beer or iced coffee, sit on a stoop and read this book.
Buy Advice from 1 Disciple of Marx to 1 Heidegger Fanatic here.
Seattle-based Wave Books (publisher of June’s APRIL Book Club title) publishes beautifully designed, award-winning titles by established poets and their catalog is STUFFED with our favorite books. Here’s a few to start:
Destroyer and Preserver by Matthew Rohrer (an APRIL 2013 reader)
Bluets by Maggie Nelson
Snowflake / different streets by Eileen Myles (2 books in one!)
The Most of It by Mary Ruefle
If I Don’t Breathe How Do I Sleep by Joe Wenderoth
PS- Check out their subscriptions!
Check out all the super-cool books we’ll be reading as part of APRIL’s third Book Club! Learn more right here.
by Tara Atkinson, APRIL Managing Director
I thought about the syntax of the phrase If I Should Say I Have Hope for so long, before and after reading the book. There’s plenty of word play in the collection, but the title captured me most.
It’s not the question “Should I have hope” or “Do I have hope” or “Is there hope”, but “If I should say,” maybe not even a question, but the dependent clause of an if/then statement, the first half of a syllogism — “If I should say I have hope, then what?” Or it’s a to-do list.
I have lists of shoulds like this: I wonder if I should take time to travel, if I should quit my job, if I should reheat this burrito in the oven or the microwave. A “because” (a then) is implied in every should, but why is usually self-evident. But it is not evident in Lynn Melnick’s poems why the speaker should say they have hope. The book is not a journey from hopelessness to hope; the final sentence (another “if/then” statement) is not exactly redeeming, but ambiguous: “If you had told me… // that the light hitting the sickly coral of the beach hotels / could travel further inland / and all the way east to find me, // …I might have hastened from my ambush / angling upward to the moon, / black and gravitational” (“Wallflower”). The light has reached her, but if she’d known it was coming she would have become a dark spot on the moon; dawn, but complicated, because it happens to you, in spite of you, from the natural and indifferent rotation of the earth: should I say that’s hope?
But if I wanted to make a statement about hope, what could I or anyone say without jumping to abstractions about human nature, Life, Love, etc., statements general and somewhat false-ringing? If I wanted, instead of repeating the traditional litanies I accept when I need them, to offer an honest statement about hope based in the evidence of my lived experience? Then I guess I’d acknowledge that hope is a thing we choose to say and break my life into lines detailed, specific, intimate, realistically ambiguous. I guess I’d write Lynn Melnick’s book If I Should Say I Have Hope.
I thought this thesis of hope-as-a-thing-we-say was depressing at first, but then I remembered it’s Poetry Month, and I acknowledge this holiday month and take particular pleasure in reading poetry at this time because I think words are powerful. (And now have I said that if you like to read poetry you have hope?— )
“Yes I knew better then; // yes I didn’t” (“Lagoon”) If I Should Say I Have Hope answers the question of its title in these kinds of contradictions. We’re not such good assessors of our current state anyway — “You wouldn’t know happy if it kissed you on the mouth” (“Of Being Lost Forever”); “I must have walked because I am still walking” (“These Pretty Years”). It’s this uncertainty and specificity I appreciate the most about these poems. If I Should Say I Have Hope is an action shot, not a still life, full of the drama of motion, appropriate to the season.
Get If I Should Say I Have Hope from YesYes Books here.
April’s Book Club title, If I Should Say I Have Hope, has us eager to pick up more titles from YesYes’s precisely curated catalog. Plus, guess what? YesYes Books is one of several poetry publishers offering a FREE book with every purchase —all month!— so you can pass a poetry collection on to a friend or family member in need of a little Poetry Month inspiration.
Our picks from YesYes Books:
I Don’t Mind If You’re Feeling Alone, Thomas Patrick Levy (APRIL Book Club’s July pick!)
Boyishly, Tanya Olson
Man Vs Sky, Corey Zeller
April’s Book Club art pairing: Isamu Noguchi’s Peking Drawing (man sitting), 1930
The Frye Art Museum has a beautiful new exhibit of ink drawings by Isamu Noguchi and Qi Baishi. Book club member Mattilda suggested this image to pair with Lynn Melnick’s If I Should Say I Have Hope for how it works against itself, the motion of the lines crashing into each other in a way similar to the contradictory emotions of Melnick’s poems.
See the exhibit, bring the book, let us know what you’d pair.
—with some pretty great quotes and photos!
APRIL was extremely lucky to see Rich Smith’s face at every APRIL event this year. His smart and entertaining coverage ends with the verdict that
“All the readings worked, felt different from each other, featured different sorts of literature, and challenged received notions about where literature belongs. And, ultimately, the festival set up a context that strengthened and created new connections among Seattle’s art worlds, and among the nation’s independent literature scene in general.”
Much thanks to City Arts Magazine for sharing APRIL’s authors as well as our junk foods and other party refuse with Seattle all week long. Rich Smith, surely you are endowed with a liver as strong as ten men’s and a second heart filled only with language.
Read every day here:
MON: Launch Party
TUES: Happy Hour #1 and “A Poet, A Playwright, A Novelist and a Drag Queen”
WED: Happy Hour #2 and Vignettes + APRIL
THURS: Happy Hour #3 and All Made Up (with the Satori Group)
FRI: Pizza Party
SAT: Independent Publishing Expo and Closing Party
One night’s reading isn’t enough—bring the 2014 APRIL authors home to keep (via their books)! Links to buy books directly from their independent publishers:
Ryan Boudinot, Blueprints of the Afterlife and Misconception (Black Cat)
Zubair Ahmed, City of Rivers (McSweeney’s)
Matt Briggs, Virility Rituals of North American Teenage Boys and Double E (Publication Studio)
Richard Chiem, You Private Person (Scrambler Books)
Donald Dunbar, Eyelid Lick (Fence) and Slow Motion German Adjectives (Mammoth Editions)
Eroyn Franklin, Another Glorious Day at the Nothing Factory, Just Sheets, Detained and more handmade books and comics on Eroyn’s website
Mark Leidner, Beauty Was the Case That They Gave Me (Factory Hollow Press) and The Angel in the Dream of Our Hangover (Sator Press)
Kate Lebo, A Commonplace Book of Pie (Chin Music)
Jac Jemc, My Only Wife (Dzanc)
Lauren Ireland, Dear Lil Wayne (Magic Helicopter) and The Arrow (Coconut Books)
Shin Yu Pai, Aux Arcs and Equivalence (La Alameda Press), Adamantine (White Pine Press)
Ed Skoog, Rough Day and Mister Skylight (Copper Canyon Press)
Maged Zaher, Thank You for the Window Office (Ugly Duckling Press) and Portrait of the Poet as an Engineer (Pressed Wafer)
Kids, what a blast it was. So much fun was had, it took me an extra couple days to get this last post up.
Saturday was a dream. I walked over to the APRIL bookfair, grabbed a mimosa and got to browsing.
I stocked up on way to many books and talked to not enough publishers.
I ate a blt latke sandwich and then Kellen kindly interviewed me, complete with a wandering pug who showed up in my lap for a good part of the interview. I went for a long walk and had a delightful, low-key dinner at Tallulah’s with Amber Nelson.
I arrived at Vermillion for the closing party and drank the tallest glass of grapefruit juice. What an awesome space! Business (a gallery) in the front, and party (a bar) in back. A. Minetta Gould, Cameron Pierce, and Mark Leidner brought it for the final night. DJ Res rounded things out and there was more dancing to be had.
I am so, so thankful to everyone who had anything to do with APRIL. I had such an incredible time and it was such an honor to be the first writer-in-residence. Thanks to Tara, Willie, Frances, and Kellen. Thanks to all the readers and performers and designers and videographers and publishers and hanger-outers. Thanks to all the pizza and the praise be to the whiskey gods. Pat yourself on the backs. You earned it.
Yesterday I needed a reboot. I stayed in getting work and writing and napping done and reading Claire Vaye Watkin’s Battleborn.This is the only picture I took yesterday, but it seemed appropriate.
I met up for a rosemary lemon soda at Oddfellows with my friend Jen Towner. Jen showed me these intricate grief drawings she’s been working on and told me of an upcoming project about road trips, where she’ll drive to Vermont and back, stopping at the Vermont Studio Center for a month, and doing slide shows and talking to people about road trips. It seems like the project could be super expansive and I can’t wait to see what comes of it.
At the pizza party at Hugo House, I drew on the paper table cloths with crayons and ate pizza and drank a delicious root beer float. Donald Dunbar flipped my mind around with some incredible poetry. I especially liked his take on a dedication page for his book Eyelid Lick which he allowed to flower and metastasize in a satisfying way.
We also got to hear some new work from Mark Leidner. I’m paraphrasing, but one line of a poem said something like, “Believing in God is like doing a really really really hard Magic Eye.” I like how he really takes his time at the mic. I get nervous and read quickly, but he seems so calm and considered up there.
Finally Eroyn Franklin took the stage, reading from her book Another Glorious Day at the Nothing Factory accompanied by lovely, grotesque paper cuts that accompany each passage in the book. I hope there might be copies of this at the bookfair today because I would love to read it, but I ran away pretty much immediately after the reading ended.
Walking home I thought about how I’d spend the rest of the evening, and a movie seemed like the right speed for me. I’d passed the Harvard Exit movie theater on a walk some day this week and seen a poster for the new Lars von Trier, Nymphomaniac Vol.1. What a beautiful little building. I felt like I was in an old, swanky campus building from Good Will Hunting or something. Wikipedia tells me that it used to be the Women’s Century Club and it’s haunted by a woman in 1920s garb.
Usually I like von Trier’s work, but this one felt like a bit of a miss to me. It felt silly (a running metaphor of fly fishing and a wide-eyed Stellan Skarsgard flipping all of Charlotte Gainsbourg’s shame on itself like a “Gee whiz, that’s not so bad” machine). The dialogue felt flabby. Uma Thurman shows up in a scene that is entirely strange and incongruous with the rest of the film. The screen is taken over by equations and visual metaphors at times that feel both easy and reaching. Anyway, I’ll see the second one in the hopes that all of this will resolve itself. And I will have Rammstein’s “Fuhre Mich” in my head for the rest of the week. That is a gift Lars has given me.