Over the summer, I received the most lovely chapbook of poems by Renee Emerson called Where Nothing Can Grow. It's published by a small press called BatCat Press and you should definitely check them out.
I receive a lot of books in the mail, but this one definitely got my attention.
First, it's a chapbook, but it's hardbound! And hand-constructed. I opened to the center and could see where they punched holes and threaded the stitching, yes, hand-stitched. Oh books, how I love you. And the inside cover has a beautiful navy blue design and a velum cover page. Yes, each individually bounded and numbered by hand. To me, these books are a work of art and we need to support these presses.
You would think that a book like this would be $50 or more, but no, $10 for a piece of beauty.
And I haven't even mentioned the poems. Beautiful, also. Renee Emerson writes poems that ground the reader in place and story. She writes in the poem, "Sons and Daughters," The one with the most expensive camera/becomes the photographer... And her poems are snapshots of life, snapshots of stories and moments.
I read this chapbook while being driven someplace and that is how I felt while I read, as if I was being taken from my life into this paper world.
As in this poem "True Story"--
Oh, what we could've had!
Co-mingling, litters of star-mice,
true luminous bodies, scattered
in long grass, reflecting ...
Renee writes in a way that invites the reader in. I cannot tell you how much I admire this trait in a writer, she is happy to have us along for the ride! And it shows in her poems, she writes with music throughout her narratives, looking back and considering, bringing us into the place. It's a true gift of a poet to be able to bring a place to a reader.
The last poem was probably my favorite, the poem, "What we have and why we have it," where she writes:
Because my hands are ink stained
from notes to suits from suits, and my heels
are chaffed by cheap shoes...
And rent, with its baby
bird O of a mouth opens
Because we fill it, each mouth, each month...
You can pick up Renee Emerson's book WHERE NOTHING CAN GROW here
You can learn about BatCat Press here.
You can learn more about Renee Emerson here at her webpage.
And here's a link to another of Renee's poems from Boxcar Poetry
I am thankful to be introduced both to a new poet and new press, though both aren't exactly new, except new to me, but how lucky I feel to have found them.