Recent releases from our editors here at North of Oxford. We thank all for supporting our work.
Congratulations to North of Oxford contributor Stephen Page on the release of his new book, The Salty River Bleeds !
Praise for The Salty River Bleeds
The Salty River Bleeds is a juicy tale in verse that draws us into the teeming world of a large Argentinian ranch. This world is populated by herds of horses and cows, nefarious ranch hands, foxes, bees, bats, parrots, carnivorous ants, Andean flamingoes, cattle rustlers, horse thieves, to name but a few of its many denizens. The narrative reveals the complicated web of woes in the life of a land manager, the tyranny of weather patterns, and one man’s battle against the encroachment of pesticides. In this world, nature’s staggering beauty and naked brutality are constantly in evidence. A stallion “learns the phases of grass.” Trucks struggle through “the butter of mud.” Cows can explode with bloat, and rain that the narrator prays will be called down from the sky by the croaking of tree frogs can make or break you. As its title suggests, The Salty River Bleeds is packed with the drama of birth, death and eternal conflict.
–Amy Gerstler, author of Bitter Angel
The Salty River Bleeds is ambitious in its scope and its execution, with a relevance to contemporary environmental issues. Stephen Page deftly combines poetry, prose, and letters…and relies on highly refined, compressed imagistic language and strong character development to tell his tale.
–Jim Daniels, author of Places Everyone
The Salty River Bleeds is a continuation of the story of Jonathan and Teresa that Stephen Page began in A Ranch Bordering the Salty River. These poems speak of the visceral life of farming on a fictional ranch in Argentina. Page’s narrative is a journey of perseverance through a physical and psychological wilderness where loveliness and brutality abide together. Here, the likes of a raw and wet “afterbirth slopped into a steamy pile” leads to the mother straining to “stare at her calf until breath raised its ribs.” Page walks us through vulture-ravaged carcasses into pastures and wood and marsh; walks us into the solace of bees, mockingbirds and “a flock of black ibis” that “lift/and cloud away.” This is poetry told with an unflinching, yet reverent eye.
–Carolyn Welch, author of The Garden of Fragile Beings
The Salty River Bleeds is equal parts parable and fable, examining humankind’s destructive and self-defeating tendencies, particularly with regard to caring for the land human beings and animals rely on. Here where the Salty River bleeds, you will find that Myth swims, Old Man lingers on your peripheral vision only to disappear, and Black Dog follows you into the mythic Wood. On the ranch, you will encounter Tattler, Excuse Maker, and Bad Guy, archetypal figures standing in for all those whose motives are to be questioned. By turns imaginative and inventive, gritty and grisly, gorgeous and ephemeral, this is a book that will linger long after you have finished. There are inherent truths laid bare here that we would all do well to pay heed.
–Cati Porter, author of Seven Floors Up
In Stephen Page’s The Salty River Bleeds, the spiritual journey of Jonathan continues from A Ranch Bordering the Salty River. Looking for a story to explain his life, Jonathan meditates on nature, in particular Wood, a place of testing, a place of mysteries ripe to be discovered, and the people who work his land without reverence. With an observant eye for detail, Page brings together striking images of the elements of earth and human life that become both obstacles to and medium through which the speaker of these poems understands his world.
–Caroline Malone, author of Dark Roots
Stephen Page’s The Salty River Bleeds is a pastoral and violent account of ranch life. His poetic collection blends agricultural and rustic contention with eco-rural insight and directness. His delivery is candid and un-floral, thus bestowing the music of his perception an energy of seized quotidian acuity. These poems dare the readers to care about the animals, the daily activities of surviving rurally, and the grammar of the land exploited by genetic modified commerce and industrialization. The work invites the geography of natural breeding life to marry the perennial charm of ranch hardship. There, in his work, exists the sensual preservation of humanity, but also diurnal desires. Page’s bucolic poems “may take you to an unlit alley at night” or “sound like buckets of water being poured on the corrugated roof.” Regardless of the rustic tempo his work imbues you, through Page’s percipient, omniscient eyes, we see and hear everything he observes and feels and yearns. Like sheep hides “salted in the transit room” – Page’s work is designed to ambush us, not with the forcefulness or melancholy of existence, but, as seen here, with the authoritative authenticity of his persistent fervor.
–Vi Khi Nao, author of Fish in Exile
Stephen Page’s The Salty River Bleeds is a collection of connections. Page explores relationships, ethics, and economy through environmental images that ooze the intricacies of farm life. His thoughtful, sensory-rich prose and varied expressions of poetic form delve into the inner workings of losses and discoveries.
–Savannah Slone, Author of Hearing the Underwater
Stephen Page is a true poetic chronicler of the complex business of ranching, that mythic journey. The Salty River Bleeds is iconic storytelling; a hybrid of poems, letters, and prose. Filled with rich images, “wood walks” and myth finding. “Life takes you into some unplanned territory.” Follow Page and we are “wading into wheat” and “working all week to save the corn.” The tractor is broken, the fences need mending, but still we are watching and waiting for Old Man walking by the side of the road, the one who never stops. Follow Page into his dreamscape of visceral reality to satisfy a curiosity, an unspoken desire.
–Elaine Fletcher Chapman, author of Hunger for Salt
In The Salty River Bleeds, Stephen Page poetically and unapologetically reveals the real, harsh truths of running a ranch in Argentina. Johnathan’s daily stressors, created by unreliable employees, weather, and Teresa’s greedy son, Damien, find us anxiously watching him “run across pastures with my sword / Raised, looking for someone to decapitate.” Page softens Johnathan’s persona by peppering the pages with love, beauty, mate, and the whimsy of Wood and Myth as “A wooddove pops / its wings as it departs eucalypti mist auraed by / a vanilla sunrise.” The juxtaposition of the hard and the soft leaves us with a longing to know how Jonathan and Teresa’s story ends. The Fauna of this collection proves to be a mesmerizing sequel to the Flora of the initial introduction of Johnathan and Teresa in his earlier collection, A Ranch Bordering the Salty River.
–Laurie Higi, author of The Universe of Little Beaver Lake
By Lynette G. Esposito
This slim remarkable volume of forty-five pages of poetry published by Main Street Rag Publishing Company of North Carolina, relies heavily on the readers’ response to suggestions from the contemporary mindset. For example, the title of the volume, Jack Tar’s Lady Parts, is suggestive but instead of being the suggestion it is the referral to the women in Charles Rammelkamp’s life and to women’s “sea” lives in history. This twist of what is expected and what is presented reveals itself in the poetic themes of courage, betrayal and resolution in the book’s three sections: Wives, Prostitutes, and Transvestites.
You can check out the book here: https://mainstreetragbookstore.com/product/jack-tars-lady-parts/
Alien Buddha Press has just released, Stale Bread and Coffee, by contributing editor, g emil reutter. The book is available for purchase at this link:
“As always g emil reutter has the ability to pull us into his world where he conjures up images of late night streets, broken relationships, and men who are on the edge of life and lost in America’s backwaters.” – James D Quinton, (1977-2012), Open Wide Magazine
“The colloquial voice of g emil reutter rises from the valley, circles back through years of close observation with a steady eye. There’s nothing trumped up in these poems, nothing inflated into transcendence. Here life is as it is for the line worker, the waitress, the cop, the perp or the barroom guys. These are the common folk who live in the service alleys of any Camelot, sketched in a subdued cadence whose unadornment honors their lives and does not weary of seeing their glimmer through the tarnish.” – Poet J.C. Todd – What Space This Body
Kenneth Rexroth was considered the senior member of the Beats. He was writing experimental free verse and lengthy exhortations to the world as early as the 1920’s, a generation before Ginsberg, Kerouac, and the West Coast poets.
Ray Greenblatt is an editor on the Schuylkill Valley Journal. His book reviews have been published by a variety of periodicals: BookMark Quarterly, Joseph Conrad Today, English Journal, the Dylan Thomas Society, and the John Updike Society. His new book of poetry, Nocturne & Aubades, is newly available from Parnilis Press, 2018.
By Lynette Esposito
Rustin Larson’s poetry volume, Pavement, is more than slim with only 14 poems but it is also more than powerful. When I read the last poem on page 33, I wanted more; it can’t be over already. I was left on the pavement struggling, visualizing and wishing I was not stuck in “nowhere.” Larson’s tight focus, innovative literary technique, and clearly defined imagery lead the reader down his many forms of pavement.
Larson provides a tight focus on the image of pavement in each of his fourteen poems as well as entitling this tome Pavement. Each poem is entitled Pavement with a number after it going from Pavement 1 to Pavement 14. This almost over focus works well here as the starkness of the multiple references and suggestions are revealed. In Pavement 1, the narrator observes a man in a bathrobe smelling of urine coming into the health shop
where he has gone for a cup of barley soup. The poetic lines are unevenly set up in length and indention which I like in the flow of this one-stanza poem. The suggestion of a health shop where one can pay to be healthy but turns someone obviously unhealthy and desperate out to the pavement serves as irony at its best especially when the clerk goes to wash her hands after touching his bathrobe.
In creating his poems, Larson uses standard literary techniques and images in innovative ways. Diane Frank, author of Canon for Bears and Ponderosa Pines comments …
Pavement breaks into new territory. Larson, for example, says in Pavement 5, The Pallbearer has a rat’s tongue. So many suggestions of what this means almost assail the reader’s imagination and visualizations of funerals he/she has attended. Just like Larson says in Pavement 4, Things we play with at home and mentions matches. The settings of funerals and home are places the reader has been and felt secure in but the images take the readers out of that “comfort” zone. While Larson uses standard stanza formats, he fiddles successfully with line length and spacing to allow his meaning and images to form a visual of stepping and sidestepping on the underlying pavement.
Another example of Larson’s use of innovative imaging is In Pavement 13. Larson says Part of you drinks sunlight. This is a life story of a Norfolk Pine with a dream and hope about life. The metaphor extends beyond the seedling to anyone who has wanted to amount to something with the exception of being an overworked accountant.
All I can say is I loved this book and I am thirsty after reading it. I want more.
Rustin Larson is a graduate of the Vermont College MFA in writing. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Iowa Review, North American Review and others. He is the author of Wine-Dark House (Blue-Light Press 2009) and Crazy Star (selected for the Loess Hills Book Poetry Series in 2005. He has also won many prizes for his work.
You can find the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Pavement-Rustin-Larson/dp/1421837781
Lynette G. Esposito has been an Adjunct Professor at Rowan University, Burlington County and Camden County Colleges. She has taught creative writing and conducted workshops in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Mrs. Esposito holds a BA in English from the University of Illinois and an MA in Creative Writing and English Literature from Rutgers University. Her articles have appeared in the national publication, Teaching for Success; regionally in South Jersey Magazine, SJ Magazine. Delaware Valley Magazine, and her essays have appeared in Reader’s Digest and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her poetry has appeared in US1, SRN Review, The Fox Chase Review and other literary magazines. She has critiqued poetry for local and regional writer’s conferences and served as a panelist and speaker at local and national writer’s conferences. She lives with her husband, Attilio, in Mount Laurel, NJ.