The Columbia Award Bundle
by Rose Solari
Along with their involvement in Alan Squire Publishing, longtime friends Rose Solari and Reuben Jackson also share another unique piece of history. Their first poetry collections, Difficult Weather and fingering the keys respectively, were published by the same small press, DC’s late, lamented Gut Punch, and each book was honored with the prestigious Columbia Book Award.
Difficult Weather was chosen for the award by poet Carolyn Forché, who said of Solari “Her language is by turns raw and luminous, her perceptions uncommonly acute, and her vision at once incisive and compassionate.” Reuben’s fingering the keys was awarded the Columbia by Nobel Laureate, Joseph Brodsky. The full text of that book is included in Reuben’s 2019 ASP title Scattered Clouds: New & Selected Poetry, which also features an introduction by poet and Cave Canem fellow Abdul Ali. We’ve paired that book with the second edition of Difficult Weather, which includes an introduction by esteemed poet and translator Katherine E. Young. Reuben and Rose love reading live together, and this paring will show you why.
This new edition of Difficult Weather provides an important window into the origins and early influences of this now-established poet and novelist. Though most of these poems are set in Washington, DC, and its less affluent suburbs, their lyrical, often elegiac depictions of family and neighborhood life, first love and first losses, will be sure to touch anyone who, like Solari, grew up in a place “more interesting than safe.” In selecting Difficult Weather for the Columbia Book Award, Carolyn Forché, now Director of the Lannan Center for Poetry, said of Solari, “Her language is by turns raw and luminous, her perceptions uncommonly acute, and her vision at once incisive and compassionate.” Michael Collier, Director of the Bread Loaf Writer’s Center, wrote that she is “a poet of passion and precision… Difficult Weather will delight and surprise us all.”
This edition features a new introduction by poet and translator Katherine E. Young, who places Solari’s early work in a national context, and traces some of the poet’s most powerful influences. Its publication, timed to coincide with that of Solari’s third poetry collection, The Last Girl, insures that all of Solari’s published poetry collections are now in print, for her fans to savor and for new readers to discover.
Scattered Clouds & fingering the keys
Scattered Clouds is a volume of lyrical, emotionally forthright meditations on love, loss, and longing. The volume contains the complete text of the author’s award-winning first collection, fingering the keys; his nationally lauded poem, “For Trayvon Martin”; and his suite of ruminations on a long-time and deeply missed friend, the late barbershop owner Amir Yasin, and his widow Khadijah Rollins. These poems, exploring Amir’s late-life romance with Kadijah, became a national internet sensation.
An introduction by poet Abdul Ali places Jackson in his rightful context as a Black American poetry elder, who has influenced generations of younger poets with his musical wisdom as well as his poetry. Ali is a Cave Canem alum and the author of the poetry collection, Trouble Sleeping.