2016 St. Lawrence Book Award Winner
This year we also selected one of the finalists for publication, so a hearty welcome goes out to Matt McBride, author of the poetry collection Polis.
Both titles will be published in 2018. Look for Basements and Other Museums in March and Polis in May. Please read on to learn more about the two newest members of the Black Lawrence Press list and to enjoy excerpts of their forthcoming collections.
Vedran Husić was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina and raised in Germany and the United States. He has work published in The Gettysburg Review, The Massachusetts Review, Mississippi Review, Witness, Ecotone, Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading, and elsewhere. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Excerpt from “Witness to a Prayer”
They would meet in Partizan Park, on leaf-dappled benches near statuesque pines, a bunch of student poets, Ivan’s friends from the gymnasium, reading their lyrics to each other and the crickets. So many distant mountains! She was among them sometimes, a freshman, Marko Novak’s sister, the silent participant in a loud circle, biting her thumbnail or peeling a translucent piece of skin from her upper lip. Ivan barely noticed her, only that she was tall, displaying in her movements that touching discomfort of young women not yet accustomed to their stature, and that there was a long albino scar on her left ankle, perhaps from a slip on beach rocks.
Ivan had known Marko only for a while and they quickly lost touch when Ivan moved to Sarajevo to attend university, and he didn’t think of Vesna at all, except that sometimes at night, during intense fits of insomnia, he saw her suddenly reflected against his inner lids, dressed in the thigh-length shorts and sleeveless shirt of her volleyball uniform, vivid, knee-high socks covering her scar. The image recurred throughout his years in Sarajevo, and one especially terrible night he finally tracked down its source, remembering how Marko had once come to pick him up with her in the backseat, how she sat in the middle of the seat quietly until they dropped her off at practice, slouching as much as her tall body would allow in the tight space and looking out of the left-hand window, her profile somber—how, as the car took a steep slow curve, she turned slowly away from the window and met his gaze in the rearview mirror, her big green eyes infused at the moment with the infinite tenderness of human abstraction.”
Matt McBride’s poetry has previously appeared or is forthcoming from Across the Margin, Cream City Review, Diagram, FENCE, Forklift, Ohio, Map Literary, The Mississippi Review, Ninth Letter, Typo, and PANK amongst others. His most recent chapbook, Cities Lit by the Light Caught in Photographs, was published by H_NGM_N Books in 2012. He holds an MFA from Bowling Green State University and a PhD in English and Comparative Literature from the University of Cincinnati. Currently, he is a lecturer in the Department of Rhetoric at the University of Iowa.
Selected poems from Polis
CITY OF MOTELS
On a taupe chair
with no definitive edges,
you watch clouds clot,
contemplate a 1992
lost to rewinding VHS cassettes.
All you ever wanted
was a box big enough to hide in.
The soap is tiny
and shaped like various waterfowl.
The telephone ringing
in the other room
will be your only remainder.
CITY OF THE VULNERABLE
You carry a sharpened melon baller
and portion yourself to every stranger.
You watch 8-mm films of the rain
on bedroom walls.
The dome light of every car
stays on ’til dusk.
Dandelions dispense Chinese fortunes,
things like In less than a decade
no one will remember cottage cheese,
or Each man is a half-open door
leading to a room for everyone.
Satellites keep getting caught in trees
and need to be poked out
with broom sticks.
Every picture is of you,
bitten by sheep.
CITY OF INCANDESCENT LIGHT BULBS
The resistance to sleep
The children all
rendered for soap.
strung from hangers,
turning to paper
in a closet.
The gramophones can’t be turned off.
All I ever wanted
was to find you lacking.