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NEW ENGLAND LITERARY NEWS

New poetry collection aims light in the dark caverns of experience

Ilyus Evander's new poetry collection is both raw and refined.
Ilyus Evander's new poetry collection is both raw and refined.Adalaide Rye

Providence-based poet Ilyus Evander’s flaying and forceful new collection of poetry, “Heavier Than Wait” (Game Over), does deep and painful depth-plumming, aiming light in the dark caverns of experience — into depression, wanting to die, dysphoria, being called by their “deadname.” Evander writes of psychiatric hospital wards, of blood and drugs and trauma. Don’t picture a boy and a razor when you hear the words “self harm,” Evander guides, “instead, a body desperate/ for anything to put it to sleep.” Evander, a transfem non-binary activist, organizer, and writer, uses the language of code and flow chart in some of the pieces, and balances the technical robotic voice with lines of gorgeous meat: “If Eve was born from Adam’s/ rib, I must be the tooth/ he lost to the knowing fruit.” There is bite to this collection, a sense of chewing through, gnawing, and teeth being bared in both snarl and in pain. “There is no word/ hungrier than wait.” The sense that throbs behind many of the poems is not the pain of being born into the right or wrong body, but the pain of being born into a body at all. Evander peels back their skin and shows their wounds, and we are fortunate to be able to see.

Books by design

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Connecticut-born graphic designer Audrey Meyer worked for over 40 years as the art director at the University of Washington Press, and the arresting book covers she designed get a close look in the second issue of “Design Brief,” the every-so-often mini-journal put out by dynamic Katherine Small Gallery in Somerville. In her appreciation of Meyer, Mary Yang, a Boston-based graphic designer and assistant professor at BU, calls Meyer “a female art director who played a critical role in shaping knowledge and scholarship in the world of publishing,” The covers strike one for their bold typography, rich color, and deceptively simple design. On “Mao’s China” the yin-yang symbol is flipped so as to seem like a dark wave, with a tectonic tear through the middle. “Decision and the Condition of Man” features a trippy hypnosis spiral in red and green. And “Opponents of War, 1917-1918” blasts the holder of the book with a fuchsia NO, partially eclipsed, against a royal blue background. As Yang writes, “To my eye, these covers are clever, delightful, and honest, translating complex, abstract (and perhaps, at times, boring) topics into deliberate graphic forms.” The Katherine Small Gallery is open on Fridays and Saturdays and by appointment; issues of “Design Brief” can be bought on their website at ksmallgallery.com.

Room for more

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Meg Wasmer and Julie Karaganis, two veterans of the bookstore scene, bought the Beverly bookstore Copper Dog Books, formerly known as Cabot Street Books, last August, and they’ve just announced that they’ll be expanding the store, increasing the space from 1,000 to 1,800 square feet. They’d wanted to grow the place for a while, and when they heard the business next door was thinking of relocating, they did the math and decided that taking over the space made sense, both financially and for the vision of what they wanted to do with the store. Initially, they’d seen the additional room as an event and gathering space; now, it’ll be a way to allow for safe browsing with ample social distancing. They’re anticipating that construction won’t take too long, about a month: The adjacent storefronts used to be a single space. Though not open for in-store browsing yet, in advance of the expansion, they’re holding a big sale, with every book on the shelves priced 25 percent off. “The less packing we have to do, the better for [the] booksellers,” they write.

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Coming out

A History of My Brief Bodyby Billy-Ray Belcourt (Two Dollar Radio)

Crossingsby Alex Landragin (St. Martin’s)

The Sky Is Blue With a Single Cloudby Kuniko Tsurita (Drawn & Quarterly)

Pick of the week

Brittany B. at Trident Booksellers in Boston recommends “When I Grown Up I Want To Be a List of Further Possibilities” by Chen Chen (BOA): “I don’t generally pick up books of poetry, but I loved the title so much I decided to read this one. I’m glad I did: It was funny, heartbreaking, and thought-provoking, sometimes all in one poem. It helped me discover that I, too, aspire to be as fearless as a mango.

Nina MacLaughlin is the author of “Wake, Siren.” She can be reached at nmaclaughlin@gmail.com.