Press 53 . PO Box 30314, Winston-Salem, NC 27130-0314
Winner of the 2016 Press 53 Award for Poetry
by Richard Garcia
A Tom Lombardo Poetry Selection
8 x 5.25 paperback, 88 pages
Richard Garcia won the 2016 Press 53 Award for Poetry for Porridge. He is the author of six books of poetry, and his poems have appeared in many journals, such as The Georgia Review, Crazyhorse, The Cortland Review and Ploughshares. His work is also included in many anthologies, among them, The Best of the Prose Poem, The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses, and Best American Poetry 2005. He is the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Pushcart Prize, the Mudfish Prize from Mudfish Magazine, the Greensboro Award from the Greensboro Review, the Cohen Award from Ploughshares, and the Georgetown Prize from the Georgetown Review. He was poet-in-residence at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles for twelve years, where he conducted workshops in art and poetry for hospitalized children. He teaches at the Antioch University Los Angeles MFA in Creative Writing program. He lives in Charleston, South Carolina, with his wife, the poet Katherine Williams, and their dog Max.
Advance praise for Porridge
Porridge is an outstanding collection of adult fables, remixed lullabies, and ars poeticas. The poem, "Vasko Popa," is the best critique of big data I've read ("The computer wants you to save everything"). "The Promise" delivers a heartrending, mythical coming-of-age tale. Richard Garcia is a superlative fabulist.
—Jillian Weise, author of The Book of Goodbyes
Richard Garcia must have put Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Aesop’s Fables, and his own journals into a magic sack, swung it three times over his head, and pulled out the shimmering poems of Porridge. In Garcia’s deft prose poems, door after door opens: God and Satan companionably stack invisible squares, in pops Little Red Goldilocks or the Scarecrow, and a snow globe begins speaking. When the floor falls out, I land in the lush language and jazzy rhythms of Garcia’s sentences. I am surprised and delighted by these prose poems. After I read Porridge, I only wanted more.
—Kathleen McGookey, author of Stay
Richard Garcia’s Porridge is a fractious mash-up of fairy tales, nursery rhymes, cartoons, games, dances, popular songs and the Bible—with an occasional nod to the greatest hits of English literature. Imagine Shakespeare, Walt Disney and the Brothers Grimm on a road trip, and you’ll have an idea of the invention, wit, and virtuosity of this mesmerizing collection of prose poems. Garcia’s quirky fables are by turns playful, humorous, and haunting, and Garcia guides us through his dream-like evocations with wonder, charity and aplomb.
—Gary Young, author of Even So: New & Selected Poems
Stumbling in my eighth grade social studies classroom, I collided with Karen Jungnickle; my hands, accidentally, at the height of her breasts. I did not have time to caress them because we passed right through each other and found ourselves in another galaxy. Karen and I stood there, in the vapor trail of a comet, stunned, suddenly awake, like after we had seen Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show. Then we were in a forest, walking hand-in-hand along a path, making our way back to the social studies classroom. Karen wondered about the breadcrumbs. How had they lasted so long on the path? I wondered about the crows that crouched on the branches. Why were they so silent?
Attention all departments: the computer wants you to save everything. It is compiling a history of the universe. That’s all it is, you know, a verse: Uni—one. One furrow of the plough out and back again. Attention all departments: Vasko Popa is coming. He will ask you a question. Do you like white or red wine? Say red. Pay no attention to his translator. He is working for a government agency. Contract spy, agent provocateur. Vasko Popa is coming. He will ask you a question. What became of the cow that was sold for five beans? You will have one chance to answer. Just one.
"Imagine Shakespeare, Walt Disney and the Brothers Grimm on a road trip, and you’ll have an idea of the invention, wit, and virtuosity of this mesmerizing collection of prose poems."