Virtual Book Tour--At night, the dead

Read Write Poem's first-ever Virtual Book Tour is now underway, featuring a Blood Pudding Press chapbook--the darkly delectable At night, the dead: by the lovely Lisa Ciccarello (with wondrous cover art by Emma Trithart).

Lisa's chapbook will be talked about for a month by various readers/reviewers and the Read Write Poem link below will serve as a hub for the conversation and related buzz. I will also be posting ongoing updates (mostly in the form of the latest linkage) on this very blog

Check out today's entry at Read Write Poem to read more about how this Virtual Book Tour will work, as well as who will be involved.

Blood Pudding Press is delighted to be a part of the festivities and hopes that you enjoy following along with the sure-to-be titllating conversation! Here are a few reference points to start off with.

The blog of poet Lisa Ciccarello who penned this fine collection:


The Blood Pudding Press shop, from which you may acquire the chapbook for yourself, if you'd like to follow the conversation more closely:


And of course Read Write Poem--the locus of all the buzz:


Here are the various readers/reviewers and their blogs:

Tour stops for At Night, the Dead:
Aug. 27 :: Julie Jordan Scott :: julie jordan scott
Sept. 1 :: Jill Crammond Wickham :: jillypoet
Sept. 3 :: Emily May Anderson :: rice in the cupboard
Sept. 8 :: Pam Olson :: amputated moon
Sept. 10 :: Heather Strang :: heather strang
Sept. 15 :: Catherine Fitchett :: poetry chook
Sept. 16 :: Keith Wilson :: The Robotto-Mulatto
Sept. 21 :: Ren Powell/Babel Fruit :: more babel

I'm really looking forward to reading all these different perspectives on one chapbook!

More soon. XO. Juliet


Virtual Book Tour stop #1:

The first reader to offer her wonderfully evocative take on this tome is Julie Jordan Scott.

Here are some excerpts from Scott's review:

“The first poem ushers the reader into a dark chamber where she finds herself oddly delighted to be held, trancelike, inside the sanctuary-womb of the dead…

It begins to feel like a chant or a benedictory incantation…

I found myself reading Ciccarello's words aloud… like a slowing metronome, remembering and watching death simultaneously.

I heard myself read and say 'I am that girl' and I became that girl, no longer a forty-seven year old mother of three…

I was the girl in the poem. I was at night, with the dead. I found myself feeling along windowsills in the dark, hunting for salt by touching it, begging for the vapors of boiling water to touch my thirsty skin.

My favorite of Ciccarello's techniques was her smattering of sweet surprises, like angel-of-death babies that appear unexpectedly within the poems themselves. They peek out from the corner of death's inner chamber, flirting with the reader.

Out of the darkness comes a string of words 'whose love is just a series of letters'.

When you read the words, 'Stop listening' mark the book and close it.

Take the book outside.

Take a breath.

And read the next three poems aloud.”

Read Scott's review in its entirety at her Julie Unplugged blog here:



Virtual Book Tour Stop #2:

The second reader to offer her warmly spooky take on this tome is Jill Crammond Wickham.

Here are some excerpts from Jilly's review:

“Most of us fear the dead. We fear their reach from beyond, their spectral presence in the dark, looming over us while we sleep, the awful things they might do. After reading Lisa Ciccarello’s prize winning chapbook, At night, the dead:, published by Blood Pudding Press, it becomes clear that, though the dead are most certainly here, they are not here to do us harm…They would like to be remembered…

We are supposed to house the dead in our mouths, but we let them stay in our throats when we sing.

The dead, it seems, seek a voice. In the dual role of poet and medium, Ciccarello chooses not only to house the dead in her mouth, but to sing:

I am the dead I am the dead
I am the dead. The song I know.

The mouth is the entryway, the tunnel through which the dead find their voice. Ciccarello’s haunting lyrics–surreal, pensive, often mysterious– linger in our psyche, long after they have provided the release the dead are seeking.

Just as mortals, having seen a ghost, will question their own vision, so readers of At night, the dead: may question what is real and what is Ciccarello’s fantastic imagination. The dead put their fingers in your mouth, the narrator asserts. Despite the next line, You are dreaming, you will soon question whether you, the reader, are awake or asleep, whether there are fingers in your mouth or not. Ciccarello’s stream of consciousness prose poems lull you into a sort of waking sleep-walk. In time, we (readers) take on a spectral form, hovering over each poem, studying it as the dead study the living when:

you are asleep & inside the dream the dead rise up & their bodies are gone but their love has a form & they come to love you but it isn’t a dream

Like the dead, we become ghosts, floating through each piece, accepting it’s improbability for ethereal truth.

I want to keep telling you about the dead, the narrator says. They write the same word over and over again. Ciccarello does not write the same word over and over again, though there is a ghostly echo to the repeating clues she gives us in each of these sixteen poems.

Indeed, taken as a whole, the collection is a tightly woven tapestry of encounters with the dead, stitched together by recurring threads…

Coupled with Ciccarello’s skill at crafting poems that read like small prayers or incantations, such repetition serves not to keep the dead at bay, but to welcome them, honor and invite them in…

Is it possible the dead are us? You and I, questing readers?

Without doubt, the dead are a metaphor for something. Just what is elusive, so we must continue to read and look for clues. In providing such mysterious little gems, Ciccarello—poet, medium, mouth-piece for the dead–does not disappoint. The sheer lyricism of her language can make a clue out of a seemingly irrelevant detail. Take for instance, this gorgeous morsel of truth:

Here is how I control my heart: I string each thought sparkling behind the next. In the patient necklace each will be touched.

Overall, At night, the dead: is a haunting collection, though not in the traditional sense of ghosts and fear. Instead, it is a series of surreal linked vignettes, brief but memorable encounters with the elusive dead (who may or may not be you and I), ferrying a message that may or may not come clear as the final poem exhales its last syllable.”

Read Jilly's review in its entirety at her jillypoet blog here:



Virtual Book Tour Stop #3:

The third lovely reader review comes courtesy of Emily May Anderson.

Here are some excerpts:

“Lisa Ciccarello's chapbook At Night, the Dead haunts the mind of the reader just as the dead haunt the poems in the collection. There is a tight, almost claustrophobic quality to many of the poems; the reader is located immediately within, inside, while the dead seem to hover just outside. The first poem establishes this enclosure at the outset: “You lock the door. You lock the window. You dream of the dead. You salt the sills from the inside. You are going to dream.” The dead will appear in your dreams, regardless of the precautions you take.

The dead move slowly inside as the poems move forward. By the end of the collection 'you' have disappeared and the dead have taken up residence….Unsettled dichotomies and conflicts of darkness and light, water and salt, dirt and diamonds, heat and home and love and paper and fruit fill the pages, but ultimately fail to make a concerted whole. This may have been the poet’s conscious intention; the mood is certainly constant throughout, but there is no recognizable narrative…

Overall, the chapbook is moody, dark, and haunting; the language is lovely and redolent with images… If you are looking for straightforward narrative poetry, you won’t find it here, but if you’re looking for a unique point of view and a quirky, creepy, set of poems, you will enjoy this chapbook immensely.”

Read this review in its entirety at the Rice in the Cupboard blog here:



Virtual Book Tour Stop #4:

The fourth provocative review has been conjured forth by Pamela Olson.

Some excerpts:

"Lisa Ciccarello’s chapbook is full of textures, tastes, scents, and shivers. Her sparse sentences and phrases quicken the reader’s heartbeat as soon as the first lines call out in a frantic whisper...

You know that you might need some company while reading these poems and you might even need all of the lights on in the house.

Most of the poems in the book are formatted as short prose pieces. Their form reminds one of a grave, full of rectangular width and narrowed length. Her poems are confined by these earthen walls and then are surrounded by the stark emptiness of blank page. This effect makes the reader stop and spend time with each poem, giving it a fitting reverence due to the dead. Since there are no individual titles to the poems, this pause feels necessary. There is a disorientation that occurs when the reader has no title reference to rely on; instead there is only blankness and silence around each poem."

Read this review in its entirety at the Amputated Moon blog here:



Virtual Book Tour Stop #5:

This review was contributed by Heather Strang.

An excerpt:

“Ciccarello dances lightly around what we're all afraid of - death and the dead. And suddenly its not so scary, suddenly it's rather (dare I say it) fascinating. That's not to say some of the poems featured in this chapbook didn't send shivers up my spine; they did. But, that's what good poetry is meant to do - make you feel.”

Read this review in its entirety at Heather's blog:



Virtual Book Tour Stop #6:

Another intriguing perspective has been set forth by Catherine Fitchett.

Some excerpts:

“I have to say that I found Lisa Ciccarello's chapbook At Night, the Dead: challenging to review. My poetry tastes tend towards what is often described as "accessible" although not too accessible. I found the sections of this book a little more mysterious and confusing than my usual poetic reading matter…

Initially, the sense of the dead being a threat that is somehow not quite defined is what I took from the book. Then I read
Jill's review in which she says the dead love us. I went back to re-read and found that there too….

The sections are full of very striking images. The moon is a plug to stopper the dark, it is a coin on the eye of the dead, it is an ember. The sky smells like tea.

There is a good deal of repetition. The dead, the moon, salt, coins, the dark. I feel the poems walk a fine line between being darkly obsessive and merely repetitive and boring. Sometimes they wobble a little, but never quite fall off the tightrope. In fact, on each re-reading, I notice details that I missed the first time, and they grow richer. In "accessible" poems, this happens less, because they offer a clear picture which we understand on first reading, and put all the pieces in place. With these poems which I find harder to understand, the mind at first rejects the details that don't fit the initial picture. Words change their meaning - salt appears to be symbolic, but what is it symbolic of? Does salting the sills keep the dead away, or does it feed the dead?

The music of the poems also interested me. The sound does not always appear to flow smoothly. It is sometimes chopped up into many short sentences…

At other times there are long sentences with many clauses in which it is difficult to find a place to take a breath…

It is not that it is unmusical, but that to me it resembles modern music...sometimes fragmented, sometimes discordant, not always easily singable but more exciting and compelling for its surprises.”

Read this one in its entirety at Catherine's Still Standing On Her Head blog:



Virtual Book Tour Stop #7:

The first male voice on this tour, Keith Wilson addresses darkness & death & more in his review.

Some excerpts:

At night, the dead is a chapbook which concerns itself with the dead, which is literally everywhere, 'in our throats when we sing' as well as within the pages of the book itself. But don't mistake what may initially sound like George A. Romero's book of poetry for anything like the gory, shambling dead we have come to expect from our dark media….

Instead, the dead in Lisa Ciccarello's chapbook are more akin to those remembered in the practices of Mexico's Day of the Dead, or in the stories I have heard from Puerto Rican culture. They are everywhere, a part of our everyday lives…

At night, the dead is not so much a story as it is a long running chant or benediction with many repetitions of imagery in its terse lines. Different forms of water, diamonds, salt, things burned, and especially the dead repeat themselves throughout the book…

These are poems with pressing images, and short lines that give a sense of urgency to getting to the next line. As I've said, it reads to me very much like a sort of protection spell…

…the images themselves, and the mood that such short poems portray—blanketed as they are on the page with whiteness—are what this book seems to be all about. Not with understanding the who/what/when/where/why, but with sharing in a feeling…

There are many references to primal symbols and words that surely affect us all in similar ways. The word dead immediately sets a mood, and its repetition disallows our escaping that mood. The moon too, and even coins, associated with Chiron on the river Styx, all drive home an idea not of an abject terror, but of a dull one, a constant struggle between acceptance and fear of the dead.

It is not the complete peace of Native-American spirituality. One where ancestors, are welcomed to guide and protect us. Instead, it is a kind encroaching and pervasive dead. A perversion of that innate human feeling that the dead are with us coupled with a modern fear of death, and refusal of acceptance…

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys in their poetry mood and imagery above all else, or who likes their dark forays into art properly dark, instead of what passes for dark these days…"

Read his review in its entirety at his The Robotto-Mulatto blog, here:



Virtual Book Tour Stop #8:

This review was contributed by Ren Powell, editor of Babel Fruit magazine.

Some excerpts:

“Final stop on September’s ReadWritePoem virtual book tour.

Lisa Ciccarello’s chapbook is an example of why poetry books are important as works of art. That is, “poetry book” distinct from “book of poems”.

I must admit that I am not drawn into the poems in At night, the dead:, as individual poems, but, as with any charm, the context of the repetitive whole is mesmerising.

The vague references to superstitious practices are never fully fleshed within a cultural context…

This vagueness allows for the ambivalence that characterizes the collection. The charm to ward off the dead becomes seductive, just as children are seduced by the fear of the Ouija board, just as pleasurable touching becomes painful within the context of insistent repetition, just as pain can become almost pleasurable. The dead are feared and longed for: ‘The dead put their fingers in your mouth’.

The sestina-like repetition in the collection creates a pleasing tension with this reader, as I want to speed through the increasingly familiar phrases, but am stopped short for close reading by the poet’s attention to detail and abbreviated metaphors…

Clearly Ciccarrello’s poems grow from their communion with the dead – the kind of growth that needs the space of chapbook.”

Read the review in its entirety at the More Babel blog:



Thank you very much to everyone who contributed a review, as well as to those who have been reading along!

If your interest has been piqued re: 'At night, the dead:' it is not too late to acquire your very own copy via http://www.bloodpuddingpress.etsy.com/.

Coming next (hopefully soon) from Blood Pudding Press, a chapbook by Dana Guthrie Martin, after which your intrepid Blood Pudding Press editor (that would be me) will be taking a spell to focus on her participation within the dusie kollektiv 4!

During this time, submissions will stil be accepted for Thirteen Myna Birds on an ongoing basis.

XO. Juliet

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