The Argument of Time series by Teresa Carson


Teresa Carson has been working on a series of books, poetry of an experimental or inventive kind, one might say. Though there is more than one book, underneath the separate books is one unbroken thread, or one poem. This concept is explained by the author in the note below which is in book II.

The Argument of Time    {From the back matter of book II, Metamorphoses, Book XVI}

My formal education in ancient literature has amounted to little more than a sprinkling from Homer and Ovid, and my knowledge of ancient languages has been limited to phrases of response that I learned when the Roman Catholic mass was still said in Latin; nevertheless, in my fourth decade I found Ovid’s Metamorphoses and suddenly entered a genre of literature that I felt more at home in than in any other. Ovid led me to Homer led me to Vigil led me to Dante … in short, I discovered the epic form.

This deep connection to epic poetry makes sense because I am, above all else, interested in the why and how of the stories that we humans tell. Stories about ourselves, about others, about the world and the universe, about the past and the future. Stories. For more than two decades I nursed an unexpressed wish to write a modern epic.

Ostia Antica transformed that wish into reality. After having an intense experience of Time and Memory during my first visit there in 2014, the structure of a series, now titled The Argument of Time, appeared, all at once, as if in a vision. From the beginning the series was conceived as a five-book epic poem. In addition, I saw each of the five books as an epyllion, a short epic poem. Therefore, the pieces in each book connect into one poem; the five books connect into one large poem.

Now, the definition for epic in The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry & Poetics goes like this:

An epic is a long narrative poem of heroic action: “narrative,” in that it tells a story; “poem,” in that it is written in verse rather than prose; “heroic action,” while reinterpreted by each major epic poet, in that, broadly defined, it recounts deeds of great valor that bear consequence for the community to which the hero belongs. An epic plot is typically focused on the deeds of a single person or hero, mortal though exceptionally strong, intelligent, or brave, and often assisted or opposed by gods. Epic is set in a remote or legendary past represented as an age of greater heroism than the present. Its style is elevated and rhetorical.

On the surface The Argument of Time falls short of these requirements; while it definitely tells a story and definitely is written in verse, it does not seem to contain “heroic action,” an “epic plot,” or an “elevated and rhetorical” style; worst of all, it takes place in historical time. But what if we question the traditional definition of an epic? What if we expand that definition to allow for the actions of the community in a specific place over a period of time? What if their deeds are the stories of everyday life? What if Time itself became the hero of an epic? What if the narrative were written in a common style? All of which is exactly what I chose to do; under this new definition, The Argument of Time is an epic.

 

The first book in the series, Visit to an Extinct City is available. Even though this post may exceed a length some readers appreciate, we wanted to give a certain impression of these books and the work involved by more than just a cover and a blurb.

And those words of thine thus made to serve for the time, did the outward ear give
notice to unto the intelligent soul, whose inward ear lay listening to thy eternal Word.
Saint Augustine, Confessions, XI-VI

Visit to an Extinct City, poems by Teresa CarsonVisit to an Extinct City, the first of five book-length poems in The Argument of Time series, was triggered by my first visit to Ostia Antica in 2014. My reason for going there was simple: I was determined not to leave Italy without visiting an extinct city, and I did not have enough time to go to Pompeii or Herculaneum. Yet from the moment I stepped through the Porta Romana, the place had an inexplicable hold on me. My daylong exploration of the ruins turned into a profound experience: everything in the landscape spoke to me. By the end of that visit, Ostia was pulsing through my veins. Back in New Jersey, I wrote down the title of all five books in The Argument of Time without any idea what the actual content of each book would be, except that it would be connected to Ostia in some way and that the poems would have to exist in English and Italian. Good fortune brought Steve Baker into my life; he approached the translation of Visit to an Extinct City with the same care and attention with which I approached the original.

While there are many excellent sources for detailed information about the history of Ostia, here is a brief introduction. Unlike the resort towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, Ostia was a commercial center that served as the main port for goods coming into Rome from everywhere in the Roman Empire. By the second century a.d. its landscape was a densely packed mix of warehouses, apartment houses, temples (for various religions), baths, toilets, bakeries, and takeout food shops. Its decline from prosperous to extinct happened over a few hundred years; by the eleventh century its marble was being scavenged to build cathedrals throughout Italy. For centuries after Ostia’s abandonment, treasure hunters scoured its ruins for desirable artifacts that ended up in private collections, museums, and even the Vatican. Fortunately for us there is still much to find in Ostia. Today, systematic excavations undertaken by scientists continue to reveal its complexities and marvels.

—Teresa Carson

Each book is presented in both Italian and English. View previews of the books here.

And book II here.

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Review of Glyphs by Rick Lupert


Today I painted the walls with the Glyphs presented in Martina Reisz Newberry’s book, Glyphs. These meditations with an acute awareness that a lot of time has passed with occasional glimpses into a fantastical world “I have wondered if he could lift / heavy objects with his mind” comes along and you wonder if it is possible. Has it always been possible? Or how about in Residue when the tree trunks are let to “…believe they are tent poles keeping the stars above us where they belong.” Yes, trees…this is your job.

There are links between these poems and pages. Witness Martina falling off the world in Cartography 101 immediately after showing us Evelyn McHale’s famous 1947 leap off the Empire State building. Martina is building connections between herself and the world presented to her, between one poem, and the one that follows it.

There are a handful of erotic departures (and as they become more frequent we realize they may be more “returns” than “departures”) including tales of her virginity going away and a third person account of how Sadie has sex with the ocean. Sadie is present throughout Glyphs. She’s a recurring muse, an inspiration, a fantastical figure in her own right who goes about “her usual miracles.” Sadie is your companion throughout the book, her songs and miracles documented as an essential component of the overall story.

So much of the human experience of Martina’s poems resonates with me personally. The story in Starlings of the boy who had his BB gun taken away after shooting at birds reminds me of an indelibly present experience from my past when I witnessed something similar. I was in middle school and there was another boy with a BB Gun (maybe the same boy?) Undoubtedly this fueled my later vegetarianism (and anti-gun-ism for that matter) and forever idea that “apple cores will do the trick.”

Ekphrastic poems such as Street Scene and Bar Room Kiss expand on the visual of the paintings Martina is responding to (be sure to visit the links to see the originals) with expanded stories that talk to the scenes the artists portrayed an provide the perfect narration. Art was meant to talk to art and these ekphrastic glyphs are exactly the conversation they should be having.

Occasionally Martina surprises you with a word you never new existed. Cocklight for example which, makes perfect sense and will now be a permanent part of my diction.

Explanations come parenthetically. For example in Slouched Against a Stair Rail, the descriptive “purple” is followed by “(purple)” in an effort to make you fully understand she wasn’t kidding about the purpleness present in the sports coat. Sometimes the parenthesis are not closed (See Welcome Mat) blurring the conversation between poem and clarification. Walls are being torn down in these poems for you to be able co-exist in multiple worlds, and perhaps not fully knowing which one you are in.

In Welcome Mat, Martina tells us “nor have I felt sin / in any of it.” There are no regrets in these poems, only confident musings about what has been done, and what has been imagined.

Like Pavarotti whose presence is only protruding slightly into Los Angeles as he sings from the greater realm of wherever he truly exists, Martina presents her elevation over this world in a way that resonates with any artist’s filter…or to the common-person who hasn’t yet discovered their inner muse. These poems shine a light for them, and all of us, into realms we are glad to have revealed.

Reading these poems is like walking through a city’s neighborhoods…each neighborhood with its own characteristics. You’re on the same walk and you can see the connection as you turn a corner from one poem/page/street to the next, even though the one you’ve ended up on tells a different story, and smells and sounds different.

Borders begins with “I am here to astonish you”…most of the way through the book. I’m torn at what must be the launch into Glyph’s denouement, between the idea that the book could have begun with this poem, and the realization that, this far through, I have been astonished.

Rick Lupert, author of God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion, and The Tokyo-Van Nuys Express

Rick Lupert has been involved in the Los Angeles poetry community since 1990.  He is the recipient of the 2014 Beyond Baroque Distinguished Service Award for service to the Los Angeles poetry community. Visit his site

2020 – year in books


Here it is November, and a turning point in seasons, and you know the rest – political crisis on top of a world-wide health crisis.

Everyone is finding new ways of living, creating, working, teaching, and many are suffering great loss while struggling to keep their housing and feed families. Deerbrook Editions is fortunate, as many independent presses probably are, continuing to work since most of the work is remote normally. And many businesses, such as the printer/manufacturer that does the press books, found ways to continue while being safe. We are thankful for their still being there. And we are thankful for all the responders in the hospitals, the state CDC, legislators, and everyone ordinary or professional, think of those that work in grocery stores. Everyone is doing their part. And we are thankful for the orders that come in from our Website, through the distributor, and amazon. It all helps.

And while we keep learning and finding ways to keep marketing and keeping engaged with readers, there is nothing like ‘in person’ readings and visits to books stores. We all want to go back to normal.

One of my ‘normal’ things to do that helps me stay sane, is reading. After hours I listen to music and do visual art. I don’t credit myself, but some of my work is on the covers of books I design.

Here are the books from this year. Forthcoming books are being planned for 2021 and will be appearing soon.

These are in the order of appearance, Until They Catch Fire having recently come out October 15th, and is now featured in spdbooks.org handpicked list, so folks out west can order from them. Although we love getting orders on deerbrookeditions.com, individuals can order from spdbooks. And on the press Website I’ve updated the menus to include author names to titles, and just so you know, 2019 was a great year when the press released 11 titles of excellent work

A Rising & Other Poems by DAVID SLOAN

Blues for French Roast by Martina NewberryLove Is Sweeter by HC HsuDaybook II by Toni OrtnerUntil They atch Fire by Deborah Cummins

News by video


The press is going modern with promo videos. We’re just getting started, but here is one to check out. As we get further along, the videos will become more focused on books, authors, or events.

 

Some poems from A Rising & Other Poems by David Sloan


Available now

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View/listen to David Reading on YouTube for a virtual book launch 4/23.