An August Rumpus Book Clubs Update

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There’s still plenty of time to join in on the conversation on our August book club selections, Poe Ballantine’s Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere and Brenda Hillman’s Seasonal Works With Letters on Fire. You can sign up here.

Here’s what you get when you join the book club(s): you get books before anyone else does, because we only select books that haven’t been released yet; you get to chat with a pretty smart group of folks who read a lot of books online; and you get to chat with the author online at the end of every month and ask them questions about their work.

So this month, we’re reading Poe Ballantine’s Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere, which was blurbed by, among others people, our very own Cheryl Strayed. She writes, “He is utterly transparent on the page, a rare thing. He’s like a bird that’s almost but not quite extinct. This is his best book ever.”

And Pierre-Marc Diennet of BookReviewTV calls it, (among other things) a “life buoy for the terminally artistic.” Watch the whole video. He’s quite exuberant about the book. I am too.

Bonus: check out Poe Ballantine’s self-interview at The Nervous Breakdown too.

Seasonal Works With Letters on Fire is Brenda Hillman’s tenth collection, and while there aren’t many reviews of it out there yet, there will be one (of sorts) here soon. Camille Dungy, board member of The Rumpus Poetry Book Club, has written an essay detailing why she chose this book. It will run in the next couple of days, but here’s a preview.

It is Hillman’s “radical intensity” I am drawn to in this book. The “uncertainty, complexity, contradiction” I experience in the poems keeps me attentive. In the poem “In the Room of Glass Breasts,” Hillman writes, “It is impossible to describe the world;/that’s why you get sleepy listening to poetry.” I agree and thank her for reminding me what it is that knocks me out sometimes, but I also know I grow more alert when in the presence of some poetry. I know that the truths Hillman expresses enter as the truths of dreams can enter, if I let them, catching me off guard and realigning what I thought I knew and how I thought I’d come to know it. “People come here for their bit of joy,” Hillman reminds us in the poem “In Summer, Everything is Something’s Twin.” Throughout the book, she also reminds us that the world is full of suffering and change that she (and we) cannot (should not) ignore.

What’s not to love about these two books? Sign up now.


Brian Spears's first collection of poetry, A Witness in Exile, is now available through Louisiana Literature Press, and at his personal website. He is the Poetry Editor for The Rumpus, and teaches poetry at Drake University. More from this author →