Alvin Lu was born and lives in San Francisco. He attended Brown University, where he received an MFA in writing, and has worked as a journalist, a salaryman in Tokyo, and a publisher of manga. He is the author of a novel,Â The Hell Screens, and has been at work on a pair of interrelated novels, from which the section in this issue ofÂ Your Impossible Voice is excerpted. More writing at City God.
In Somewhere Near Defiance, his sixth full-length collection of poems, Jeff Gundy is at the top of his game. The book revisits Gundy’s usual catalog of subjects — small-town life in the Midwest, nature, Mennonites, being on the road, and so on — but these themes remain fresh under his deft touch. Like two of his poetic influences, William Blake and Walt Whitman (who each appear in several poems), Gundy is a poet of the people in that his poems examine everyday life in a way that elevates it to the sublime. One of the book’s early poems, “Having It All Four Ways,” is written as a catechism, inspiring the desire to read it reverently, as one would whisper a prayer during morning devotions, but focuses on the holiness of fleshly being: “[s]weat, chocolate, lust, and fire” (23). The parallel emphasis on the earthly and the divine is present throughout this collection as an argument that the two are much more closely related than is often assumed. Read More