PRAISE FOR MANHATTANITE:
In Manhattanite, Aaron Poochigian takes on the role of American flâneur for the twenty-first century, drifting through the frenetic metropolis at a dreamer’s planetary pace. This collection is a celebration of exuberant melancholy, or melancholy exuberance, slick lyric cum urbane pastoral.
—A. E. Stallings (from the foreword), 2016 Able Muse Book Award judge
Manhattanite gives us the Manhattan of speed chess players in the park, tipsy tipplers tipping off the rooftops, the night sky bright with city light, tenants, tenements and supers. Aaron Poochigian is the poet in New York seeking a holy aura in the song of gunshots and spiral sirens, picking like a grizzled pigeon through stray newspapers, bottles, bags, and candy wrappers for a scrap of religion. Each poem is a tower growing out of our human filth and scraping the sky with sky-lines, and together they build a city of words. Put New York in your pocket. It’s inside this book.
Reading Aaron Poochigian’s Manhattanite is a dynamic, kinetic experience. These poems travel at a fast clip, pulling you along through cityscapes, wastelands, and other vistas. Some of the poems tunnel downward, plumbing depths of mood and memory. Whichever way they move, Poochigian’s poems perform with such panache and brio that it’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry. I’d say do both—and keep reading. But be warned: this isn’t a feel-good book. It’s a fearless book.
Thoreau once boasted that he had traveled widely in Concord; Aaron Poochigian’s title indicates that he has traveled widely elsewhere—in the one borough worth experiencing, through western deserts, aboard “an ultra-modern train/ lisping through French or German woods,” and in a Paris of naked bulbs and seedy cabarets. In all of these settings, he deftly choreographs his cast of nameless characters. The concluding lines of “Song: Go and Do It” claim, “I’ll still swear/ we could be happy anywhere.” One sure location of that “anywhere” exists between the covers of Manhattanite.
—R. S. Gwynn
Aaron Poochigian earned a PhD in Classics from the University of Minnesota and an MFA in Poetry from Columbia University. His books of translation, both from Penguin Classics, are Sappho, Stung With Love (2009), and Apollonius’ Jason and the Argonauts (2014). He was awarded a 2010–2011 grant by the National Endowment for the Arts. His first book of original poetry, The Cosmic Purr (Able Muse Press) was published in 2012, and several of the poems in it collectively won the New England Poetry Club’s Daniel Varoujan Prize. His work has appeared in The Guardian, Poems Out Loud, and Poetry.Manhattanite is the winner of the 2016 Able Muse Book Award.
PRAISE FOR THE COSMIC PURR:
Aaron Poochigian’s technique is masterly, the tone tends to be tart, disillusioned, cryptic, and elegant, and it’s easy to be beguiled by these poems’ wit and bravura. But the pyrotechnics are used to serious ends, and the scenes that are fitfully illuminated, whether they occur in landscapes as quotidian as contemporary North Dakota or as otherworldly as mythical Greece, whether they are chilling or exhilarating, are always immediate in their reality, and they speak to the reader with a compelling cogency.
– Dick Davis
Aaron Poochigian is both a classicist and a neo-classical poet. By this I mean that he prefers as subjects the common occasions of our lives and articulates them uncommonly, in verse rich with the kind of detail that becomes a style passed on in an act of friendship between him and the poets of the past who have served as his mentors.
– Charles Martin (from the "Foreword")
It is a delight to have some of Aaron Poochigian’s modern New York replies to famous Sappho poems. Reading them is like eavesdropping on a New York wise guy discussing the “night before” with a classical scholar: sexy, witty, learned, and moving. Worth hearing, worth re-reading, too.
– Diana Der-Hovanessian
What is the cosmic purr? Pussycat poet Aaron Poochigian is the one to show us in his ebullient lines. He returns where he started—to the northern plains—then spins on a dime to the wider world “where life was all night long / drinking and dancing, bursting into song.” In “The Parlor” he nods ironically to his Armenian heritage, and a few pages later he lights an elegiac candle for a dying friend. A major translator from classical Greek, Poochigian offers in his own poetry a hip formality, a timeless sense of the contemporary, and when he brings the classics into this scene they live again as freshly as ever.
– David Mason
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"Highly recommended." --trailsbib.blogspot.com
From the book: "We stood for a moment before the venerable signpost marking the summit. Scored with graffiti and the constant onslaught of weather, it stands perhaps three feet high, a wooden A-frame painted Forest Service brown with recessed white letters:
KATAHDIN 5268 ft.
Northern Terminus of the Appalachian Trail
Below this were a few waypoints: Thoreau Spring, 1.0, Katahdin Stream Campground, 5.2. At the bottom of the list: Springer Mountain, Georgia, 2160.2. More than two thousand miles. It was simply a number, too large and incomprehensible to have any bearing on me. The farthest I had ever walked in a day was ten miles and that was with a daypack. Now I was contemplating a journey of months, covering thousands of miles. All of a sudden, there on the summit with the clouds screaming past us, it didn't seem like such a great idea.
I turned to my sister, half-expecting to see the same doubt mirrored in her face. But her eyes were shining, and she smiled with an almost feral intensity. It was a look I would come to know all too well over the next year and a half, and it meant, I am going to do this and no one had better try to stop me. 'We're really doing this,' she shouted over the wind's howl and the lashing rain. 'We're hiking the Appalachian Trail!'"
At the ages of twenty-five and twenty-one, Lucy and Susan Letcher set out to accomplish what thousands of people attempt each year: thru-hike the entire 2,175 miles of the Appalachian Trail. The difference between them and the others? They decided to hike the trail barefoot. Quickly earning themselves the moniker of the Barefoot Sisters, the two begin their journey at Mount Katahdin and spend eight months making their way to Springer Mountain in Georgia. As they hike, they write about their adventures through the 100-mile Wilderness, the rocky terrain of Pennsylvania, and snowfall in the Great Smoky Mountains--a story filled with humor and determination. It's as close as one can get to hiking the Appalachian Trail without strapping on a pack.
Listen to the Barefoot Sisters read excerpts from their book here:
Southbound Podcast - part 1
Southbound Podcast - part 2
200 species included
More than 600 detailed line drawings
More than 400 color photographs
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Helpful tips for moss collecting