Tag Archives: St. Lawrence Book Award

“Reading Tandon’s poetry is like pushing through the twelve hours of an all-night Relay for Life.”

Emi Greiss wrote a very favorable review of Jason Tandon’s Give over the Heckler and Everyone Gets Hurt for the Green Hills Literary Lantern. Here’s our favorite excerpt:

Reading Tandon’s poetry is like pushing through the twelve hours of an all-night Relay for Life.  At 9:00 PM the white paper bags decorated to honor fighters and victims of cancer are lit up from the inside by candles and make you cry.  At 6:00 AM, tired and drained, you laugh to see those special luminaries lining the track crumpled up and thrown away.

You can read the entire review here.

Give over the Heckler and Everyone Gets Hurt, which won the 2006 St. Lawrence Book Award, is available from Black Lawrence Press and Amazon.

Fred McGavran on WVXU

Check out this interview with Fred McGavran, author of the 2007 St. Lawrence Book Award winner The Butterfly Collector, on WVXU.

National Poetry Month Spotlight: Julia Cohen


Wildlife wraps
around my scarf as

tires on the road
explode like crows

I’m trying to get
in front of those

backs of heads

Are they holding signs
or giant spoons?

Rows indicate the wait

Don’t panic at my wilderness

Who are you if you
lie about your dreams?

The dent
in an over-ripe melon?

I’ll never go below
ground, just be absorbed
by it

Spider-fractures on glass
mean no pristine alliance

Though when I sleep, fill the
empty parts of the door

Q: Do you remember where you were and what you were doing on the day you wrote the above poem?

A: I started collecting lines for this poem at the end of the summer, when I was traveling by Uhaul from New York to Colorado with my partner. We kept passing fragments of blown-up truck tires, and every time I thought they were crows or ravens that had been killed. I think during this trip we also discussed where we’d like our physical bodies to go after we die. My partner loved the idea of donating his body to a body farm where as I was pro organ donation and then cremation, so the line “I’ll never go below ground…” probably generated from that conversation. I wrote the poem, though, this fall in Denver. I was reading Sophocles’ Philoctetes and there is this great line “do not fear me and panic at my wilderness, no” and when I read that, I knew a poem would pull together with this phrase.

Q: What is the last book you’ve read that made you want to grab a pen and write?

A: That would be Julie Doxsee’s Objects for a Fog Death (Black Ocean, 2010). She knows how to turn nouns into verbs, and I continually go back to her books when I’m working on a poem with concise lines, because somehow her short lines turn into eerie tendrals.

Q: What is the most sublime meal you’ve ever eaten?

A: I don’t know. But almost every Friday my partner makes a delicious tofu-scramble for brunch, with spinach, carrots, tumeric, and garlic amongst other ingredients. I peel the garlic. I look forward to it all week long.

Julia Cohen is the author of nine chapbooks, most recently For the H in Ghost, published by Brave Men Press. Her full-length collection of poems, Triggermoon Triggermoon, was a finalist for the St. Lawrence Book Award and is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in September 2010.

National Poetry Month Spotlight: Brad Ricca


The frizzy-haired senior
gets a blue Chinese character
on her right upper hip so
“only people I want to”
can see it.
I am clearly not one of them
but I spy it anyway
as she tugs down her jeans
to show the guy in the corner
with the baseball hat.
He smiles his whole life.
The dumpy girl with short hair
writes of putting the plastic cap
of her cheap blue pen
in a dark, lower place.
This is trotted out as brilliant.
Her words appear on the board.
Their adjectives unease us.
The cute, no
girl with long black hair writes on the tender subject of
and succeeds beyond anyone’s dreams.
She reads:
the white light of the drugstore absorbs me
or something similar. We stare
at her bottom.
I write my first poem
(this is not it): a
long multi-stanzaic affair
(this is not it)
about the girl down the street
who killed herself
in the eighth grade.
It is my magnum opus
my Collossus at Rhodes.
Beginning at the pool
and her green bikini
“stuck to her skin.”
Ending in the close garage
with the hum of the motor
like a secret.

The teacher of poetry,
from Washington Heights, NY
displaced into tiny, red
Oxford, Ohio
is enormously tall
and told us on the first day
that if there was a Woody Allen movie at The Princess,
he did not want to see us there.
He puts his hand to his chin
and deflates me.
My poem spins out and wrecks,
glass is everywhere.
An airlift is summoned.
Strangers hold hands.
Weeks later,
I am in his office
and his tune changes:
he is drawn to the fact
that my father sells windows.

Q: Do you remember where you were and what you were doing on the day you wrote the above poem?

A: No idea. But it is based around the first poem I wrote in my only writing workshop, which I was lucky enough to have with James Reiss when I was in college.  So when it was time to read my poem aloud (which I found out was the payback for the self-absorption of writing poetry in the first place), it was really shattering that my big, personal epic about this tragic moment was not very, um, well-received. So this was me trying to rescue (or avenge?) it years later by focusing on the other poems (and people) instead.

Q: What is the last book you’ve read that made you want to grab a pen and write?

A: Final Crisis by Grant Morrison: “Seal the crime scene at 20,000 miles above sea level. No one must leave or enter the gravity well.”  This is an absolutely unacceptable sentence on many levels, so it is funny, powerful, even dangerous.

Q: What is the most sublime meal you’ve ever eaten?

A:  I think “sublime” should involve an element of strangeness to it, even absurdity. This will make me sound way cooler than I actually am, but a few years ago I was in Kyoto and ate dinner in a temple on the top of a giant mountain (no, seriously). We were served an incredible, almost unrecognizable meal in dark wooden boxes by smiling monks who looked like Marines. It was unbelievably hot outside and I remember looking up from the floor and this monk poured me (disheveled, gaijin, far from home) a tall glass of golden Asahi beer in slow motion. It was a big, bizarre scene that was too big for my Midwestern brain, but the tastes not only tethered it all to reality, but to everyone in the room.

Brad Ricca is the winner of the 2009 St. Lawrence Book Award for his manuscript American Mastadon, forthcoming in 2011 from Black Lawrence Press.

Neither Here Nor There

We at Black Lawrence Press are proud to announce the second printing of Neither Here Nor There by Marcel Jolley. This short story collection, winner of the 2004 St. Lawrence Book Award, is deeply rooted in the Pacific Northwest. Eight deceptively simple stories introduce the reader to drifters, lovers, and Outsiders—people searching for a future both elusive and frightening. From barrooms to lonely highways to city busses ridden by enemies who have never learned each other’s name, Neither Here Nor There seeks out every character’s rough edges, deftly exposing the extraordinary ways that ordinary people dream.


A book as beautiful and infused with longing as the landscape it depicts, Neither Here Nor There marks the debut of an extraordinary new writer.  Marcel Jolley is a connoisseur of desire, and the people in his stories, caught between lives they can hardly tolerate and futures they can hardly envision, are as real and complicated as the people we know.  What binds us to them is their capacity for hope — that in the next town, or in the next season, they will finally get what they seek. This is a stunning and unforgettable book.
— Ryan Harty, author of Bring Me Your Saddest Arizona

Fasten your seat-belts, dear readers, for Neither Here Nor There is the best sort of adventure in fiction—it finds a way to make most unassuming things strange and mysterious by the means of its attentive and muscular prose.

— from the foreword by Ilya Kaminsky


I am, for the most part, unremarkable. I am twenty-six years old, a conservative thirty pounds overweight, and I work as a clerk for Kinko’s. The company prefers “copy artist,” but in the interest of honest self-appraisal, I decline the title. I was reared in Beaverton, Oregon, a collection of Olive Gardens, Red Robins and Pier One outlet stores completely interchangeable with countless other parasitic suburbs riding the coattails of our country’s better-known cities. Combine this heritage with a 2.7 undergrad GPA and half a master’s degree from a state university and my milquetoast normalcy only solidifies. I do have something, though, to set me apart from most people, an ace up my sleeve.  I have an archenemy. Anyone would agree that is not normal…

To read the rest of “Archenemy”, follow this link.

Neither Here Nor There is available from Black Lawrence Press and Amazon.

Jason Tandon on Verse Daily

Jason Tandon’s poem “Grace” from his book Give over the Heckler and Everyone Gets Hurt (winner of the 2006 St. Lawrence Book Award) has been featured on Verse Daily.

Give over the Heckler and Everyone Gets Hurt is available from Amazon and Black Lawrence Press.