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New Publications – A Book of Essays by Preston Browning and A Book of Poetry by Jordan Pomazon

July 12, 2016

book The Greatest Race: A Collection of Poetry and Rabid Verbalizations book Struggling for the Soul of Our CountryCoincidentally, I have two Massachusetts friends who have published books in the past two months. One friend is an octogenarian who lives in western Mass. while the other lives on the north shore and is in his 20s. One has compiled a collection of essays written over many years, the other a collection of poetry written over the course of a decade.

Preston Browning taught Literature at the University of Illinois (at Chicago) and in his retirement he operates Wellspring House, a writers retreat in Ashfield, Massachusetts. I have spent time at Wellspring House on several occasions and it’s a wonderful place to write, in large part because of Preston’s inspiring presence. He’s often writing as we, the residents, are.

Preston’s just-released book is timely. Titled Struggling for the Soul of Our Country, Preston offers ten essays – with titles such as American Global Hegemony vs. the Quest for a New Humanity and Why I Am a Christian Socialist. What backs his well-informed voice? Here’s his bio (taken from his publisher’s page about the author and the book – link above).

“Preston M. Browning Jr. holds a BA in history from W&L, an MA in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a PhD in Religion and Literature from the University of Chicago. While a member of the English Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago for thirty years, he was a Fulbright lecturer in Yugoslavia. He is the author of Flannery O’Connor: The Coincidence of the Holy and the Demonic in O’Connor’s Fiction and Affection and Estrangement: A Southern Family Memoir. He operates Wellspring House, a retreat for writers in western Massachusetts.”

Jordan Pomazon’s book, The Greatest Race: A Collection of Poetry and Rabid Verbalizations shows promising talent from a young man with a BA in Fine Arts (Graphic Design and Creative Writing) from Montserrat College of Art. Jordan’s book shows steady bursts of literary talent. He strikes me as “a natural” – a poet who spills forth raw-honest musings from his heart. Describing a time when his poetic well had gone dry, he says in the Preface of his book, “It was a mix of lacking content to write about, a lack of motivation, a sense of disconnection between me and other writers and a lack of life experience. I was floundering in a most spectacular fashion…” That’s the truthful voice of youth. And it’s that voice that drives the work in The Greatest Race.

I’ll share here (with permission) the first poem, Bruise, in Jordan’s book. I enjoy the revisit to a Jack Kerouac style of riff that permeates the final verse.

by Jordan Pomazon

This isn’t a bruise
It’s makeup
I like to force the dramatics
And these aren’t shoes, they’re horse-shit
I never had strong foundations
This isn’t a hand, it’s a hammer
I like to wave it around until it’s actually needed
And these clothes, they’re actually clothes
But they don’t really cover much

So what we have isn’t that special
But what we do is a miracle
And we all want to have more
I go to bars
But they aren’t bars
It’s an act of faith
And all the patrons
They’re the faithful

And I go to shows
But they aren’t shows
They’re a carnival
Crazy and wonderful
And honest, of all things
My dashboard is paradise
My mom’s kitchen is Valhalla
My bed is just a bed
But the airport is a sanctuary
The doodle in my wallet contains the universe

We’re people, but no, not really
We’re stars
Standing, shining
Burning, burning, burning
Until we exhaust and explode
Until there is nothing left
And until we all fall back down
And all we want
Is to leave our lives for just long enough
To bruise

If you’re interested, you can purchase either of these books by visiting the links provided in the post.

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