Shadowed: Unheard Voices is now available for purchase!

Shadowed: Unheard Voices is now available for purchase!

Shadowed: Unheard Voices now available for purchase!

Shadowed: Unheard Voices from Now & Then & Again on Vimeo.

Shadowed is an extraordinary book of 148 prose poems written in response to photographs spanning the first half of the twentieth century—each photo accompanied by the imaginative speculations of a gathering of contemporary women poets.

To order Shadowed, and for more info, click on ABOUT and POETS & PROCESS. Hear the voices, see the images, experience a taste of the poetry.

announcing the release of Shadowed: Unheard Voices, found photographs and poetry

announcing the release of Shadowed: Unheard Voices, found photographs and poetry

After several years in the making, I am excited to announce the release of a beautiful book curated and edited by Joell Hallowell and Meg Withers. I was one of the 28 poets who contributed writing and found photographs to this collection, available in hard cover and as an ebook.

On a personal note, there is a story from my childhood that sometimes gets repeated in my family. I used to save up my allowance to buy candy or toys from yard sales in our neighborhood. One weekend I went to a yard sale down the block, and came back with a photo album. The entire album was filled with black and white photos from the 1940’s and early 1950’s, but it was clear in paging through the album that it was not focused on the people in the photographs, but the dog in the photographs: a boxer. There were no notes in the album, other than names and dates on the backs of the photos, which were affixed to the heavy black paper with cloth tape. In the beginning photos: a day at the beach, playing on the front lawn, posing with various children, asleep on the porch in the sun- the dog was young. By mid-way through the album, the dog, along with the children, had grown older, and finally, one of the last photos was of a gray-muzzled dog with milky eyes, with a young boxer puppy sitting next to her. I remember the look on my stepmother’s face when I brought that album home-: I didn’t understand then why it struck her that of all the things I could choose to buy, that is what I wanted. The book has been lost, physically, since– but it has become a template within me that I carry everywhere. I still feel compelled to collect the photographs of strangers. Especially those of people and animals who are most certainly dead now. This is not a morbid fascination in any way: it’s not about death at all. It’s about life.

The photos I contributed to this book were of strangers. I found these photos in various locations throughout San Francisco: second-hand stores, antique shops, even forgotten between the pages of used books.

A tribute to unknown women, “Shadowed: Unheard Voices” is an anthology of 146 prose poems and 50 compelling photographs. 28 women poets were invited to respond to an eclectic assortment of images from the late 1800s to the 1940s. Delving into the nature of memory and loss, the poets wondered, invented, and conjured the lives of unknown women—those who left no legacy, only a fading image from which to speculate. The resulting book is a collection of imaginative prose poems from contemporary writers under the influence of the mystery and magnetic force of photography.

List of contributors:

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The Takeaway Bin, by Toni Mirosevich

The Takeaway Bin, by Toni Mirosevich

The Takeaway Bin

The Takeaway Bin
by Toni Mirosevich
(55 pages/Spuyten Duyvil/ New York City 2010)
ISBN-13: 978-1-933132-81-5

Any archaeologist will tell you that you learn the most about a culture by what it throws away. In her new book of poetry, The Takeaway Bin, Toni Mirosevich takes the odds and ends of our post-analog language and sends them through a mystical generator inspired by Oblique Strategies, a dilemma-based game invented by Peter Schmidt and Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno (aka Brian Eno, godfather of ambient music.)

Writerly gamesmanship, in the hands of a lesser poet, might alienate the reader- offering a wink and an ironic jab to the hopes with which many readers approach poetry: to be compelled, surprised, expanded in some way. But Mirosevich is more than worthy of the task: handed a dilemma, she neither plunges her head into the sand, offering up easy but empty salvos, nor takes the academic chicken-exit, barricading herself behind impenetrable and inaccessible word-play. What Mirosevich does is demonstrate that there is a sweet spot in poetry where wit, defiance, warmth and irreverence embrace:

No one told the bird dogs. Their eagle eyes spot the morning dove and they start up. The neighbor yells “noise pollution!”and before you can say Jiminy Cricket someone else joins to pollute the argument. “You’re polluted,” she said to her hubby when he returned from the bar with six pints in him. She’d been fuming in silence on the couch, waiting for the big shebang which never came. The neighbor calls for her orange tabby, Fluffy, Fluffy,and when that doesn’t work, screams Fluffy, you prick! and the holy night is broken.”

But Mirosevich isn’t just playing just for play’s sake: beneath the wit, beneath the snappy turns of sentence, arch reversals, and tumbling teases, the rumble of deeper workings can be felt. The Takeaway Bin arises out of an ultramodern language aftermath: the fragments and shards of language we are currently left with in an age of verbal foreshortening, where Photoshop has imploded the failsafe idea that “seeing is believing,” and Wikipedia has shifted the idea of fact into the realm of a constantly updating consortium. This melee of reference points is the Takeaway Bin’s fuel, and the profound plasticity of modern reality is the engine Mirosevich harnesses:

Even though it would be nice… to go buck naked into the world… there are veils and shadows and shadow puppets in the firelight glow, someone’s hands all over the strings, ghosts who manipulate… the past is clearly no longer of use… yet what is no longer serviceable clearly persists, like a cough, or a mangle.

Mirosevich has a bat-girl-worthy toolbelt, hung with sing-song sayings, back-woods phraseology, drunk-uncle slurrings, pop-lyric retorts, nautical arabesques, down-home cliches and uber-intellectual tongue-twisters: each of which she snaps, skins, and tosses into Eno & Schmidt’s machine, which is really a helmet the poet dons in order to unthink the norm.

…somehow a slight infraction became an infarction, we turned one cheek, then the other, and soon we were spinning, face forward, then butt ugly. It’s a vertiginous life,said the prophet, a guy who’d lost his footing more than once. Before we could stand upright someone stepped on our knuckles, shove came to shove, and we went ape over the debate, creationism versus crustaceanism. You say you want an evolution, well, we all want to change the world. “He was a cretin,” Eve, said, after her first date with destiny, “a fumbler, a stumble bum.

What comes out is heartfelt nose-thumbing. Flippant and sincere, showboating and shadowboxing, sincerity and shrugs: Mirosevich is sifting through the rubble and word-noise of language and cultural legacy and coming back with a hollaback that though all thought seem pre-thunk, though all feelings used, all insights, conclusions and hopes at times seemingly mass-produced, all words only rearrangements of the same few letters, and therefore all meaning seemingly mere rearrangements of the same few words– the key is in remembering who is steering this juggernaut:

Question what is handed down, deconstruct, then sand it down… Toss aside the roof, the joists, the rafters… Sweep the darkened closet clean: of moon boots, bow ties, leisure wear… all garb in which you cannot move.

At the heart of The Takeaway Bin is a twinned idea: that reclamation and invention are not opposites, but parts of the same process, that all that distinguishes junk from jewels is the process of seeing anew.