Friday, September 30, 2022

Announcing My New Book Some Alphabets

Pleased to announce the publication of my new book, Some Alphabets, just out in the Opuntia Books series of Agincourt Press. It is available to order here at SPD.

The back cover copy reads:

          It’s in the gnarled wonders of its diction that John Latta’s poetry has its most immediate charm. The 130 poems of Some Alphabets fizz between levels of diction—the demotic, the formal, the high theoretical, the archaic, the futuristic, the expansive, the pinched, the ordinary and the just plain weird—so that every sixteen-line stanza becomes a foray into the delightful unexpected.
          Latta has always had a way with words, a kind of weighty insouciance everywhere evident in Rubbing Torsos and Breeze, his previous collections: the ability to spin out simultaneously concrete sensual observation, offhanded bon mot, and penetrating insight. Some Alphabets focuses that linguistic multi-tasking to an abbreviated, impacted pitch, and stirs into the mix a dark and glittering compost of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century language. . . . “Stubbled profligate, I / Paw th’ancients, who paw me.”
                                                                                                  —Mark Scroggins, in the Introduction

          Born in 1954 in Willow Run, Michigan, John Latta spent early childhood in the Pigeon River Country of northern lower Michigan, and later attended high school in Ann Arbor. He was educated at Cornell University (A.B.), the University of Virginia (M.F.A.) and SUNY at Albany (Ph.D.). Since 1997 Latta has worked in Hatcher Graduate Library at the University of Michigan, in a variety of positions.
          Latta’s first collection, Rubbing Torsos, was published by Ithaca House in 1979. A second collection, Breeze, won the Ernest Sandeen Prize in Poetry (selected by John Matthias) and was published in 2003 by the University of Notre Dame Press. Between 2006 and 2014 Latta kept a lively blog called Isola di Rifiuti.

                                                                  *       *       *

Poems collected in Some Alphabets originally appeared in the following publications: 1913: A Magazine of Forms, American Letters & Commentary, Backwards City Review, Bird Dog, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Cello Entry, Chicago Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Conundrum, Critical Quarterly, Crowd, Damn the Caesars, Electronic Poetry Review, Epoch, Famous Reporter, Fence, Free Verse, Gam, Good Foot, Harper’s, Intercapillary Space, Jacket, LIT, Magazine Cypress, The Modern Review, Near South, New American Writing, The New Review of Literature, No: A Journal of the Arts, Notre Dame Review, Origin, Parakeet, Poetry Review, The Poker, Puppy Flowers, Rossocorpolingua, Skald, Sonora Review, Typo, Vanitas, Verse, Where We Put Our Hats, Xantippe, and Your Black Eye.

                                                                  *       *       *

Three sample poems:


A daunting map is all

We got, smudgy-ink’d in

Green relief. It lends airs

Of disbelief to our fever’d

Marginal lot. Books we read

Are the sort antiquarians recommend—

The frenzy of a zealot’s

End, the history of a social

Obligation, sexual exercise for sport.

Out the tent-flap door

One sees the piercing blued

Stretch of a lake obtrude.

An envoi reports ‘the way

Is mere wavering,’ unmark’d, and

Apt to sully souls used

To hours of senseless hammering.

                                                                  *       *       *


The lumbering bumblebee is out

Buttering up its bronze thighs

With pollen’d orbs of echinacea.

It’s a period piece, a

Gap in the goldenrod, dud

Erasure against vetch-trifled embankments,

Hap what hap might. Toot

A coup I got ‘promptitude

O’ the toong’ and I

‘Misewell’ make something of it.

Madder ’n a mad hen

Is how I been lately—

One summery day a redhead

Hopped off a blue bicycle,

Order’d a scoop of mocha-

Chip. Her razor smile. Period.

                                                                  *       *       *


That final lassitude. Oh shepherdess.

Fed up with Greek antiquity,

Drowsy and remiss. The ample

Sky fills up with thousands

Of soot-daub’d swifts circumnavigating

Fiery smokestacks. ‘To God, to

God’ the chittering goes: hungry

Men bang incinerators open one

By one. ‘What falshede is

In mariage’ means the sign

Is hanging off the door.

So the dare, the haughty

Zone, th’unpresuming shrug. So th’immense

Defiant pity for what one

Cannot say. Moon is not

Moon, moon is sawn bone.