Josh's Wall by Cliff Ashpaugh

Spout Hill Press is pleased to announce the publication of Josh's Wall by Cliff Ashpaugh.

It is the early 1960s. Glendora, California. Along with the country, the city holds its breath between the two most shocking assassinations of the 20th century: Kennedy and King.

Shortly before Kennedy’s assassination, Joshua Crass suffers from an adverse reaction to penicillin. The six-year-old boy wakes from a coma with no recollection of his parents, his brother, or anyone else in his life.  He embarks on a journey to discover who he was, who he is and who he’s going to be, but a wall of forgotten memories blocks his path.  After King’s assassination, he joins the ranks of his textbook heroes to face head on his greatest fear of all, death,  only to discover that sometimes the past is better left forgotten.

Click here to buy Josh's Wall.

Digging a Hole to the Moon

Spout Hill Press is happy to announce the publication of Digging a Hole to the Moon, Scott Noon Creley's poetry collection. Digging a Hole to the Moon traverses the haunting and beautiful story of a generation struggling to survive the realities of the new recession. This collection chronicles the seemingly despair-filled lives of dreamers who try to find spirituality in the haunted mountains, deserts, and crumbling cities of California – Atheist faith healers, despairing angels, and tired immortals brush shoulders with hopeful teachers, politely depressed undertakers, and Byronic suburban street racers as they all search for some impossible transcendence, as they dig their holes toward the moon.

From the introduction by Gerald Locklin:

Scott is impossible not to like. He was that way as an MFA student and he still is today. It’s his absolute authenticity—he just doesn’t know any way to be except himself—and it shines through his poetry as well as his personality. And when you’re as talented and creative and experienced as he is, it isn’t that easy to be that way. He and his poems are as thoroughly and sincerely compassionate—accepting—as you’ll find anywhere in the poetry being written today, which is so often riddled with self-glorification or downright narcissism or, on the other hand, the attempts to escape other selves…

How Formal?

Spout Hill Press is delighted to announce the release of Stephanie BarbĂ© Hammer’s newest collection, How Formal?

How Formal? takes readers on a wild but accessible ride through sestinas, haiku, sonnets and psalms with some stop-overs in free verse and prose poetry.

From Donna Hilbert’s review:

How Formal?  First thought upon opening an invitation to an intimidating, important party (white tie, black tie, beach chic, business casual). Stephanie BarbĂ© Hammer’s poems arrive wearing high-top tennies, tiara, and tulle. But you are welcome to come as you are to these intellectually hip poems, sometimes funny, always bracing—much as we wish conversation to be at said party, but seldom is. She retells fairy tales (hood again in 5), makes up her own, (Doll Defenestration), poet as comfortable in the mall as the in temple. Put on your bathrobe, pour a glass of wine or cup of coffee, settle yourself on the sofa (why fight the traffic) and enjoy the fine company of How Formal?

The Plymouth Papers

Spout Hill Press is pleased to announce the release of Clifton Snider's newest work, The Plymouth Papers.  It is a historical novella which explores the lives of forgotten members of early America, people who love the wrong races, genders, and creeds.

The Plymouth Papers is a unique, multilayered historical novel about an American founding myth.  It is the story of the Mayflower and the founding of the first permanent colony in New England told from multiple points of view and focusing on one of the most interesting Mayflower passengers, Stephen Hopkins, and his family, particularly his sons, Giles and Caleb, and his daughter, Ruth.  It is also the story of the Indians, primarily the Wampanoag, without whom the so-called "Pilgrims" would not have survived.

            What is unique about the story is that it explores not only the relationship Giles has with his wife, a half-Wampanoag woman, but also the relationships Caleb has with a Wampanoag man and Ruth has with a two-spirit woman-man, Pequas.  Needless to say, these characters do their best to hide these relationships from the Puritans, whose penalties for homosexuality include whipping, branding, and even death.

The Plymouth Papers is available on Amazon, here, and at the best independent bookstores.

New Review for Cycling After Thomas and the English

A new review of David Caddy's Cycling After Thomas and the English is up on the Pirene's Fountain site.  Here's a bit of the review, with a link to read the full review following:

Cycling After Thomas carries the overtones not just of Caddy's literary voice, but also of past writers and his own contemporaries. Each example, in its own way, describes a facet of “Englishness” and how to embrace it. The book is part autobiography, part multi-biography, and part geography. No knowledge of English history, or geography, is necessary. The names of the villages, pubs, and roads are enough to make one think they are right there with Caddy in England, on that magical route through the rough and tumble of the English countryside and to identity. It is a fantastic journey into England, and into “Englishness.” It is a great read for those that wish to, or simply cannot, go to England. It winds its way through several centuries of writing, music, religion, poetry, and does not gloss over even the smallest detail Caddy wants to emphasize. It is not simply about tracing Thomas's path: it is about the authors Thomas read, the next generations that read Thomas, and the future English men and women that will read Caddy. As Caddy takes the reader through the English countryside, tracing Thomas' steps, he becomes a poet, and heightens “Englishness” to a place beyond history and into an easily accessible, flowing vein of national identity.

Read the full review here:

Pushcart Prize Nominations

Spout Hill Press is delighted to announce our nominations for the Pushcart Prize:

Gerry Locklin for "Final Finale" from Come Back, Bear,
T. Anders Carson for "To the Library" from I Knew It Would Come To This,
David Caddy for "Salisbury" from Cycling After Thomas and the English,
Simon Fruelund and K.E. Semmel for "History" from Civil Twilight.

We are so proud of the great work that our authors have done!

New Review For David Caddy's Cycling After Thomas and the English

Jay Ramsay's review of David Caddy’s Cycling After Thomas And The English will appear in Resurgence magazine this autumn.  Link to follow when the article appears online.

2014, as we know, is a major anniversary year: it is also the 100th anniversary of a particular poet’s pilgrimage into nature—on a bicycle. Edward Thomas cycled from Clapham South West into the countryside: the result was his book In Pursuit Of Spring (1914).

David Caddy, the Dorset-based poet, travel writer and editor of probably the best and most inclusive poetry and reviews journal in the UK, Tears in the Fence (since 1984: the name refers to the fence at Greenham Common) is also a keen cyclist as well as a deeply rooted Nature poet, and decided to emulate Thomas’ journey a century later when our perception of Nature is ever more important.

Thomas’ genius for detail that made him such a fine critic as well as writer is also naturally matched by Caddy’s eye for the living image, story, and memory. Cycling After Thomas and the English is also about our heritage, woven into and sometimes concealed in the landscape; and it is about that elusive thing, ‘being English’—especially with reference to the radical and liberal tradition which artists and writers as naturally subscribe to.

David Caddy weaves his narrative effortlessly between past and present: his 24 gear bike trailing Thomas on and off map references, and down roads with now vanished pubs (Thomas lists them as he goes). The result is both a Baedeker and a kaleidoscope of fascinating and fine things where the pleasure of travelling and writing is palpable, heightened by the context of pilgrimage—a journey which is something much more than A to B.

It is a poet’s pilgrimage in, as Keats said ‘this vale of soul-making’. He begins and ends in Sturminster Newton (near Gillingham, Dorset): friends drive him and the bike up to London. And he begins with a brilliant chapter on the bicycle, and how it came into prominence as a result of the Suffragette movement which saw women cycling to work. As he says ‘the bicycle itself has a deep association with freedom and perspective’. And he quotes one character he meets as saying ‘It’s something I worry about and the Government seems to be ignoring the liberties that our ancestors struggled for’.

That sense of liberty permeates the whole text, refreshing and generous as its author who is open to meeting anyone and who trusts in the moment. Caddy’s grasp of Thomas himself is equally inclusive and subtle: an often moody man who had an abusive and belittling father, which (we might surmise) is also what drove him to the front line…where he was killed by the vacuum created by a closely falling mortar shell—his body completely intact. He also brings to life the milieu Thomas moved in which parallels the society of the best and most committed poets writing today, all of whom are equally alive spiritually, ecologically and politically at the same time.

As he later reflects (on p.89): ‘The attachment to roots, place and ecology that one finds in Shakespeare, Blake, Wordsworth and Shelley has been increasingly sidelined by mechanistic thinking, policy making and unethical business and banking practices underpinned by belief in linear progress that is vehemently anti-community and anti-local’.

Caddy celebrates all that is not that in all his discoveries and diversions which include the origin of the picnic (at Box Hill), William Cobbett (the 18th C. sociologist on horseback), the cricket commentator and poet John Arlott, John Keats’ ‘Ode to Autumn’ (drafted in Winchester), Graham Nash (of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) and the essayist William Hazlitt…with numerous other references and thumb-nail sketches. Local is universal.

The text itself is correspondingly non-linear, even as it traces a line in space. Its very form is the opposite of mechanistic. It couldn’t be further from a text book in that sense. It is a questing journey which turns up treasure: etymology and memory combine in to what we need to remember that is not only ancestry, not only literature even, but a living and lived example of what it means to be engaged and human. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I think you will, too.

Jay Ramsay is a poet, performer, workshop facilitator, psychotherapist and healer in private practice in Stroud and London. His latest collection is Monuments (Waterloo Press, 2014).