TURNING PLOW PRESS
Publisher of fine poetry and short fiction
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Within these pages are poems that present childhood and parenthood with equal frankness, that edge the everyday with humor, and that touch base with lyrical masters. Whether he writes about baseball players, the terrors of our modern world, or the little dis/comforts of home, Berecka’s poems verily zing with presence.
--Joey Brown, The Feral Love Poems and Oklahomaography
The title of Alan Berecka’s new book of selected and new poems is Atlas Sighs, and the reason Atlas is sighing instead of shrugging has a lot to do with the lightness Alan injects into the world with his poetry. What he’s given us here is a book that pulls from four previous collections and adds a new collection’s worth of poems to the mix. It’s a lovely way to re-visit Berecka classics side by side with new permutations of that world weary yet world loving point of view of his that reorders the broken world just the tiniest of bits so that we can carry on, like Atlas, still burdened but lighter of step.
--Hank Jones, Too Late for Manly Hands
Generally speaking, the use of humor in poetry is a characteristic of “light verse.” In the case of Alan Berecka, however, humor is not only pervasive in much of his poetry but skillfully enhances his exploration of family quirks and eccentricities, philosophical introspection, spirituality, and trenchant social commentary. Hence, Berecka’s body of work is anything but “light verse.” This reviewer has been privileged to witness Berecka’s poetry readings on numerous occasions and has never witnessed an audience erupting into laughter in the manner this poet’s audiences routinely do. He utilizes humor with the skill of a brilliant comedian, but a comedian whose mastery of the written word rivals that of his extraordinary performance on the stage.
With the new poems in this long-awaited volume, Berecka has blended the “comic” and “sublime” into a poetic conceit uniquely his own. The following lines from his stellar poem, “Of Spiritual Storms and Ports” illustrate the poet’s remarkable achievement: “…we use wine not grape juice / at communion because that joyous buzz / from a good belt of wine is a precursor / of the joys we can find through the Lord…”
Alan Berecka is a poet to be carefully read and heard.
--Larry D. Thomas, 2008 Texas Poet Laureate
Winner, 2023 Spur Award (Western Writers of America)
Author of As If Light Actually Matters: New & Selected Poems
"In the Choctaw language, Oklahoma means 'courageous nation' or 'brave people,' and in these Oklahoma stories by Mark Walling, readers encounter different varieties of courage from characters who feel grounded in this region—and rooted to it. I Can Hear Everything From Here is an important collection from a writer who burns with hopefulness and heart."
--Aaron Gwyn, author of All God's Children and Wynne's War
“Mark Walling writes about his characters with great empathy, but his tone is never cloying. He puts us in the minds of these people, tells us what happened to them, and gets out of the way. Consequently, I felt very close to all of them, and I admired this book enormously."
Nominated for the
2024 Griffin Poetry Prize
Come Before Winter is a polite invitation written with a keen and pressing awareness of time passing, measured and marked by the turning of seasons. Like the pastoral letter from Paul to Timothy, from which the title is derived, these poems arrive as exhortations to the reader to meditate, as Emerson says, on “the flux of all things.”
“Ken Hada’s poems in Come Before Winter are exhilarating: richly textured, humming with energy, and deeply felt. Hada finds depths where no one else bothers to look. I read this book twice and I’m just getting started with it.”
Read a review of Come Before Winter in World Literature Today.
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Praise for The Currency of His Light
Roy Beckemeyer, in his shining new collection of poetry, explores, questions, laments, and celebrates the mystery and power of light in language, art, spirit, and life. His deep and abiding investigation of the natural world generously gives these poems grounding, heft, and precision so that what’s often beyond words can take flight. From murmuration at large to robins in particular, he brings what’s often the backdrop of our lives into clear view, amplifying “the last August cicada saws” as well as the “Vidalia onion’s dream.” His homages to the arts and artists, including Monet and Milton in the title poem, reveals the sparks that make art, “…coined by eye and hand/ and light’s merciless vicissitudes.” Going deeper into mercy and its opposite, he writes of grief, love, and memory with startling tenderness, especially in the villanelle, “A Father Who Lives Longer Than His Son.” Beckemeyer speaks intimately to the reader and his beloved, telling us, “You are the beguiling yin-ness / and yang-ness of mythology’s shape changer,” encapsulating in this poem how light is the ultimately shapeshifter. This whole book is an ode to wonder, and the kind of wonder we especially need to illuminate our lives right now.
--Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Poet Laureate of Kansas 2009-13,
author of How Time Moves: New and Selected Poems
Roy Beckemeyer’s penetrating and beautiful new book of poems, The Currency of His Light, illuminates the wonders and mysteries of the natural world, the depths and hopes of seasoned love, and the power of his elegant poetry to enlighten and delight. These are poems to relish; they lead to myriad inroads of joy. And throughout is the light. At first blush, we notice how it quickens Beckemeyer’s perceptions and poetics. In his expert hands, the vividly painted birds of the Kansas plain burst into a sharply focused new existence: They not only obey their nature, but they incarnate the poet’s words, emotions, and meditations in their fluid movements over the fields. What’s more, their avian glory is underwritten by the poet’s imagination – the hidden fourth dimension of all things. With it, nature blossoms into its full essence, encompassing the yearnings of our lives, as well. And for Beckemeyer, nature’s finest demands poetry’s best. And in this book, his best, he delivers. As with E. E. Cummings, love transports Beckemeyer’s poetry to its rightful place between heaven and earth. The light shines on it, and beauty blooms from the shadows, sparkling with elevated diction, visceral imagery, keen metaphor and “the color of blessing.” Highest recommendations.
--Arlice Davenport, author of Kind of Blue: New Poems.
Winner the 2023 Oklahoma Book Award for Poetry
"Our stories must be told” ends the poem “Augusta Savage: In Her Hands,” and in this dynamic debut collection, poet Mary Gray does exactly this, telling stories of African American lives from myriad perspectives through her artful, musical lines. Bass Reeves, Augusta Savage, the Fultz quadruplets, Michaela DePrince, Doris Payne, and Michelle Jones are some of the more famous figures who appear alongside girl scouts, WW I soldiers, the poet herself, hiplet dancers, and victims of police brutality. Gray makes this polyphony of voices cohere through her elemental, mythological language as well as her deft use of rhythm, rhymes, refrains, themes, and forms. At the same time, she uses these voices to explore concepts such as freedom, violence, duty, self, family, country, and pleasure that are often less than coherent, especially given African American history, which is synonymous with American history. In sum, this collection provides real knowledge, shining beauty, and disciplined hope.
Timothy Bradford, author of Nomads and Samsonite
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poems by Ken Hada
2022 Oklahoma Book Award for Poetry
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