Our poetry celebration (co-hosted w/ Tumblr) knocked my socks off. The spectacular evening at Housing Works Bookstore featured poet laureate Philip Levine and 2012 Pulitzer Prize winner for poetry, Tracy K. Smith. In addition, beloved newcomers Karolina Manko and Saeed Jones, dazzled the crowd with their sharp verse.

Just started reading a book called "The Dog Stars" by Peter Heller,

and I landed in this immensely beautiful passage. I want to share it with you:

Sometimes back then, fishing with Jasper up the Sulphur, I hit my limit. I mean it felt my heart might just burst. Bursting is different than breaking. Like there is no way to contain how beautiful. Not it either, not just the beauty. Something about how I fit. This little bend of smooth stones, the leaning cliffs. The smell of spruce. The small cutthroat making quiet rings in the black water of a pool. And no need to thank even then. Just be. Just fish. Just walk up the creek, get dark, get cold, it is all a piece. Of me somehow.

Melissa part of the same circle. But different because we are entrusted with certain souls. Like I could hold her carefully in my cupped hands, like to bear her carefully carefully, the country I cannot, but her I can, and maybe all along it was she holding me.

I have just started but if you’d like to share in this experience: go get a copy!


Finished it one sitting. Damn. What a read. Read it through tears. Hemingway meets McCarthy. It’s perfect.


Meanwhile, standing by: the stars;

a field where the moon shines;

cloud suddenly darken the field.

If nothingness were a rug, we’d buy it.

Houses go uncharted, week after week;

whole lifetimes happen on schedule,

a child arrives without incident,

grows up to be an astronaut I mean assassin.

Dan Chiasson tonight, April 10, at 7 PM

Where’s The Moon, There’s The Moon

Happy birthday to Alfred A. Knopf

The man responsible for publishing some of the finest literature was nothing short of a perfectionist, in every aspect of his life:

[The] outspoken aspect of his character sometimes found voice in letters of complaint to hotels, restaurants, and stores that failed to meet his high standards. These letters grew increasingly frequent and more severe as he aged. One striking example is the six-year-long war of words he waged against the Eastman Kodak Company over a roll of lost film.

This Borzoi was created by Warren Chappell. It is believed that he created at least dozen different versions of our beloved logo. This one is favorite of mine!

Chappell was devoted to book design and illustration and was closely associated with the firm of Alfred A. Knopf/Borzoi Books for which he designed many books. He also did illustrations for Random House, Harper & Row, and Doubleday. He was typography consultant to both the Book of the Month Club and American Type Founders.

If you want to learn more, check out www.typophile.com

A Conversation with Maggie Shipstead, author of SEATING ARRANGEMENTS

"…and when I started drafting Seating Arrangements, I decided early on to include an exploding whale. I didn’t have the plot mapped out at all, but I was strangely confident there would be an opportunity somewhere to work in the whale.”

This exceptional debut author will be here July 16. The full interview is under the cut.

Read More

Coral Road
  • Coral Road
  • Garrett Hongo
  • Knopf Poem-a-Day 2013

The title poem of Garrett Hongo’s third collection tells of his Japanese great-grandparents, immigrants to Hawaii who became contract laborers along the North Shore of O`ahu. Here they are on the run under the moonlight, trekking from one plantation to another, as Hongo considers the difficulty of honoring their memory.

Coral Road

I keep wanting to go back, across an ocean, blue-gray and uncaring,
White cowlicks of waves at the continental shore, then the midsea combers
Like white centipedes far below the jetliner that takes me there.
And across time too, to 1919 and my ancestors fleeing Waialua Plantation,
Trekking across the northern coast of O’ahu, that whole family

                                                              of first Shigemitsu
Walking in geta and sandals along railroad ties and old roads at night,
Sleeping in the bushes by day, ha’alelehana—runaways

From the labor contract with Baldwin or American Factors.

My grandmother, ten at the time, hauling an infant brother on her back,
Said there was a white coral road in those days, pieces of crushed reef
Poured like gravel over the brown dirt, and, at night, with the moon up,
As it was those nights during their flight, silver shadows on the sea,
It lit their path like a roadway made of dust from the Ocean of Clouds.
Michiyuki is what they called it, the Moon Road from Waialua to Kahuku.

There is little to tell and few enough to tell it to—
A small circle of relatives gathered for reunion
At some beach barbecue or Elks Club veranda in Waikiki
All of us having survived that plantation sullenness
And two generations of labor in the sugar fields,
Having shed most all memory of travail and the shame of upbringing
In the clapboard shotguns of ancestral poverty.

                                               Who else would even listen?
Where is the Virgil who might lead me through the shallow underworld of this history?
And what demiurge can I say called to them, loveless ones,
               through twelve-score stands of cane
Chittering like small birds, nocturnal harpies in the feral constancies of wind?

All is diffuse, like knowledge at dusk, a veiled shimmer in the sea
As schools of baitfish boil and revolve in their iridescent globes,
Turning to the olive dark and the drop-off back to depth below,
Where they shiver like silver penitents—a cloud of thin, summer moths—
While rains chill the air and pockmark the surface of the sands at Sans Souci,
And we scatter back inside to a humble Chinese buffet and cool sushi
Spread on Melamine platters on a starched white ribbon of shining cloth.

Learn more about Garrett Hongo and Coral Road

To share the poem-a-day experience with friends, pass along this link »


Last Tuesday at The New York Book Show,  Knopf, Doubleday, and Pantheon imprints won awards in various production and design categories.

For General Trade:

1st place Book in General Fiction: The Night Circus

 Judges said:  Gorgeous! Stunning! So beautiful! Thorough pack­age and well thought out from the case to the ends to the overall design, both inside and out. 

2nd place Book in General Fiction: 1Q84

Judges said: Design reflects content of book. See-through jacket and cover design are intriguing. Innovative, readable.

 Merit Award Book in Poetry:  The Hunger Moon

Judges said: Classic but still unique design.  Beautiful composition.

Created by T.M. Cleland in 1930’s

Born and raised in New York City, Thomas Maitland Cleland became one a noted graphic artist and typographer. At age 15, he convinced his family to send him to the Artist Artisan Institute, a struggling art school in New York City. It was there that he became fascinated by graphic design and typesetting.

His first success as a graphic artist came when he submitted a series of drawings to a trade journal, the “American Bookmaker”. Later, he sold a decorative border to an illustrated sports magazine for five dollars. Flushed with these small successes, he left art school for good at age 16.

With the help of a family friend who was a printer, Cleland began teaching himself the art of typesetting and printing by working on pamphlets, handbills and booklets. In 1907 he became the art editor of “McClure’s Magazine” and also did a thriving business in advertising design. His clients included Pierce Arrow and Marmon automobiles. He developed the design formats for “Fortune” and “Newsweek” and included book publisher Alfred A. Knopf among his admirers. 

Butler Institute of American Art: