Upcoming Nirala Book News: Preparing the Apology : Poems By American Poet, Mike Graves

Preparing the Apology : Poems by Mike Graves ISBN : 978-81-951915-0-5 2021 pp 88 Demy. CoverArt by Vivian Tsao

Mike Graves evokes empathy and in so doing, rises to a transpersonal plane. His is a great gift, speaking of people in poems that become poetry about all our own lives. Here’s a book to take personally–a book to enjoy and share.

– Dr. David B. Axelrod, Poet Laureate, author of All Vows

Mike Graves’s longstanding and outstanding contributions as an arts administrator, notably the series of readings he has masterminded, have been invaluable. In his new book,  Preparing the Apology, he extends his previous contributions as a poet in his own right through moving dialogues between mythological and spiritual worlds on the one hand and the gritty details of everyday life on the other. All these worlds are evoked through subtle sound effects and images like one of my favorites in the book, “ You might pound on the doors of his words / While the meaning lay like a drunkard in stupor / Behind them forever.”

– Heather Dubrow, John D. Boyd, SJ Chair in  Poetic Imagination, Fordham University & Author, Lost and Found Departments, Poetry Collection

Michael Graves writes startling poems employing arresting imagery that is precise yet expansive. He’s the master of presenting his desires, doubts, dreams, and dreads in exact, deliberate language that is always working towards a deeper clarity, a “stepping inward,” as he remarks in one of his poems. In Preparing the Apology, Graves crystalizes the heightened moments in life: his fears, longings, dead ends, conflicts, betrayals, and missed opportunities, offering “generous praise” for all outsiders, especially the dispossessed, misfits, and washouts, who are always winking from the shadows beyond midnight of city streets, park benches, and empty churches that comprise the backgrounds of these poems. Out of his never-ending argument with death and God emerges Graves’ most poignant revelations concerning the Sisyphean nature of our struggle as human beings in poems that neither provide facile answers nor useless prayers. These poems are self-effacing, serious, urgent. They risk everything; their honesty is exacting and terrifying. They express the great arc of human life from exultation in ecstasy to desolation in grief. But, above all, they find redemption through loving acts!

– Bill Wolak, poet, collagist, photographer, author, Love Poems the Hands: Selected Love Poems

Michael Graves’ poems in Preparing the Apology combine an unflinching look into the darkest corners of life, and a kind of caustic wit in response to what the poet finds there.  The title poem illustrates Graves’ dark humor: the limp “apology”, thrice repeated, contrasts hilariously with the lover’s warmth and energy, with the evocation of lust and lust spent, a sly kind of self-awareness.  The dark visions of “Sisyphus Hill” – the terror at the “Hawk-Father” and the bleak despair of the myth – are immediately countered by the perfect aptness of the poet-Sisyphus “Lugging a tombstone / To the top.”  There is a kind of resignation here, but also mysteries both sacred and profane – Judas forgiving Christ, someone on the way to work suddenly “Expecting to fly”, the poet seeking “A sense of grateful wonder” – as well as precise and economical portrayals of people (“Dusk”), place (“Departure”), and sensations like a cat’s purr (“A Graceful Celebrant”).  And there is much more here – this collection repays repeated reading.

– Chris Brandt, Americsn poet and translator

Reading Michael Graves’ poetry brought me back to my days in college, studying poets and poetry, wishing I could master the art that flowed from the WORDs. Mr. Graves has accomplished this feat with his work. His use of precise language creates images bringing the reader into his observations, memories, and introspections portrayed in snapshots of life. He wields his art well, saying the most with the least. Readers will find his poems deep, thought provoking, and at a measured pace. Poets, students of poetry, and lovers of poetry will find Michael Graves’ Preparing the Apology a remarkable read.

– Peter V. Dugan, Nassau County Poet Laureate 2017-19

Michael Graves is a poet old and young, old and new.  He has a past, a memory, a sharp eye and a good ear, a thing about snakes and a foxy way with rhyme, an American’s voice, an Irish-American’s family issues, and an Irish-American’s lapsed Catholic’s history of uneasy commerce with guilt and the Four Last Things

– John Gordon, Professor Emeritus University of Connecticut

Written over a quarter of a century, these poems reflect a consistent poetic voice and the best of Michael Graves.  He balances metaphor and theme to provide a powerful and convincing perspective on the perduring pyschological struggles of being.

– A. Nicholas Fargnoli, President, The James Joyce Society, Professor of Religion and English, Molloy College

Michael Graves’ poetry seems to me to be genuine. I say that cautiously, for though lots of talented people write verse, perhaps even poetry there are only few who qualify as genuine literary artists with a strong sense of commitment to their role as poets. I think that Michael Graves is one of them.

– Maurice Beebe, Founding Editor, The Journal of Modern Literature

Michael Graves is the author of four chapbooks, two of which are digital, and three full-length collections. The chapbooks are Outside St. Jude’s (R. E. M.,1990), Blatnoy (madhattersreview3.com, 2005), Illegal Border Crosser (Cervena Barva, 2008), and Fifteen Villanelles (Robert Perron.com 2020). The full-length books are Adam and Cain and In Fragility (Black Buzzard, 2006, 2011) and A Prayer for the Less Violent Offenders: Selected Short Poems of Mike Graves (Nirala, 2017). He has published fifteen poems in The James Joyce Quarterly and has read from his “Joycean Poems” to a gathering of the James Joyce Society at the Gotham Book Mark, April 12, 2002. His poem “Apollo to Daphne” appears in Gods and Mortals: Modern Poems on Classical Myths (Oxford, 2001) The Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation awarded him a grant in 2006. He organized the conference, Baptism by Fire: The Work of James Wright at Poets House, NY (March 27, 2004). And he has been coordinating and hosting the Phoenix Reading Series for about twenty years.

Taiwan born, American painter Vivian Tsao has exhibited her oils and pastels at the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Butler Institute of American Art, Tenri Cultural Institute, Queens Museum, The National Arts Club and Ceres Gallery in the U.S. She has also exhibited at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts and The National Museum of History in Taiwan. Based in New York, Tsao received an M.F.A. degree in painting from Carnegie Mellon University. A recipient of the Artist-in-Residence grant from the New York State Council on the Arts, her art and writings in both Chinese and English have appeared in books such as Pratik Magazine in Nepal in 2019, 100 New York Painters by Cynthia Dantzic and Paintings by Vivian Tsao published by the National Museum of History.

Vivian Tsao

Upcoming Nirala Book – SOS: Surviving Suicide – a collection of poems that may save a life

SOS: Surviving Suicide: A Collection of Poems that may Save a Life Edited by Dean Stalham Foreword by Carlotta Allum ISBN: 978-81-951915-1-2 Pages 159 Demy

Surviving Suicide is an astonishing collection of poems that delves into often tabooed subject of suicide with its connected mental health issues. It showcases over sixty poets from four continents who pay homage to those who have lost lives and to those who have survived. British poet, art collector and philanthropist Dean Stalham, in collaboration with Stretch Charity,  brings together a very special anthology of survival methods expressed through the medium of poetry. A must read for all those interested in caring, sharing and helping others in their most dire hour of need. This collection offers a rare opportunity to see things connected to suicide from all sides and angles. Many people are and have been touched by suicide in many different ways. This anthology is a testimony to the turbulent times we live in. 

The work that Dean Stalham does is invaluable – he brings to animating the artistic impulses of society’s dispossessed and downtrodden, offering a rare sympathy, he’s been to a place of condescension. He believes passionately in the role art in saving lives, always making good on his promises. His projects in the visual arts, performance and education give people who have lost their way back their dignity, enabling them to move forward.”

–Will Self, celebrated English novelist, journalist, political commentator and television personality, author of Dorian, an Imitation &  Great Apes

Whether they are about, for or by the marginalised, Dean Stalham’s projects and collaborations never fail to pulse with originality and, most of all, passion. This collection of heartfelt verse brings together the unheard and well-known with the common aim of extending a hand, often right through your chest.

–Iain Aitch, distinguished British journalist, author of A Fête Worse Than Death &  We’re British, Innit

This first of its kind collection celebrating life in the times of Pandemic deserves ample applause and attention.  Surviving Suicide shall be treasured as a modern-day survival kit by its readers all over the world.

–Yuyutsu Sharma, renowned Himalayan poet, author of Annapurna Poems and A Blizzard in my Bones: New York Poems,

“The empathic approach Dean uses in these creative initiatives pulls together highly creative people in such a way that it’s compassionate and inspirational. This anthology celebrates his creative energy, a genuinely brilliant work!

–Keith Brymer Jones (Dr of Arts) – Head of design for Make International, and master potter. Television presenter, and Judge on Channel 4 ‘The Great Pottery Throw Down

“Dean had a vision for a collection of work that was not about the poets or the egos of particular artists, but about honest raw responses to a mental health crisis. A book that could  perhaps make somebody think, somebody stop or save a life.”

–Carlotta Allum, Director, Stretch in the Foreword

The SOS Anthology Poets

Ravi Shankar dPart Banu Ercon Danielle Butters Christopher Southgate Roy Barker Benjamin Zephaniah Tim Tomlinson Karen Little Sadie Maskery  Anon Wendy Young Mike Graves Sophie Cameron Alby Stockley Karen Corinne Herceg Eve Mcdougall Megan Garrett-Jones Mat Lloyd Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas Carrie Magness Radna  Martin Head Jason Wisteria Jeremy Reed Anne Casey  Agnes Marton  Suzanne French Pat Leacock  Aka PdLpoet Madeleine F. White Henry Madd Patrick Lyons Rory Paddle Aka Rawbynature David No One  Sam Rapp Agnes Meadows Gil De Ray Simon Miles David Erdos Dave Mankind Gill Fewins Kirsty Alison Judith Mok David Axelrod Bill Wolak James Ragan  Catherine Alice Woods Fern Angel Beattie Amar Aakash Tim Kahl Gerard Beirne Timothy Gager Sandra Yannone Yogesh Patel Anna Halberstadt Megha Sood Patricia Carragon Dariusz Tomasz Lebioda  Amanda Govan John Prastitis Luke Sullivan Yuyutsu Sharma Carlotta Allum Dean Stalham

Dean Stalham is a British artist, poet and writer currently living in Margate in the UK. Since leaving prison Dean has written and produced a number of plays to critical acclaim. Dean has always been a campaigner for the arts and its ability to give people a voice. He founded the charity Art Saves Lives and recently worked with Stretch as a curator and project coordinator creating a platform for Outsider Art. Dean is currently writing a book and is regularly sponsored by the Arts Council in England. Dean is a published poet and this project came from his desire to use the format to say something about people in these difficult times.

Editor Dean Stalham