Apocalypse on the Linoleum
(Lily Poetry Review Press, 2023)
Praise for Apocalypse on the Linoleum:
“I may not be ready. It is perfect,” candidly declares the speaker of Josette Akresh-Gonzales’s emotional Apocalypse on the Linoleum, and just as the speaker jumps in, full heart and lyrical uncertainty, so does the reader into a world sitting shiva and “last seeds / buried safe inside the Arctic Circle, our flooded future, this heat, / and under my breath, my parents, this sustained note on my tongue.” Readers are invited to sing “Shabbos blessings and drink wine / every Friday night — you’d be welcome anytime,” to share rituals and prayers embedded in her poetry that will leave you with the urge to “crawl with vines / in the ruins / of hurricane bloom.”
—Rosebud Ben-Oni, Alice James Award Winner of If This Is the Age We End Discovery
Josette Akresh-Gonzales’s debut collection, Apocalypse on the Linoleum, is a portrait of the beauty found in tension. Throughout the book, she weaves several strands of wariness and concern that are both natural and absurd: the question of whether to give your child a cell phone, the delicacy of ending screen time, or losing a loved one are juxtaposed with the surreal loss of white rhinos, Jewish homelands, and life in the Anthropocene. These anxieties and sorrows are fraught with a fatalism “a slate wiping is due” but also perseverance: “We Jews don’t fuck around with death.” Each caesura aches, a fissure to fall into; each hash mark becomes a wall to be breached or one to accept prayers. This is not a hopeless collection; instead its stark, unflinching look at the world for what it is and was for the faithful, for mothers and their children, reminds us that we must become comfortable while encompassing so much: here we are learning to hold our losses “quietly apocalyptic” and without regret.
— Jared Beloff, author of Who Will Cradle Your Head
In reading Apocalypse on the Linoleum, I was reminded that apocalypses, before they meant events of widespread destruction, described a literature of secret knowledge. Today it seems we are constantly confronted by what we know. History, conscience and consciousness, the alienation and depression of our global-news and social-media saturated minds, are all cataloged by Josette Akresh-Gonzales. She has an honesty I admire, and in her best poems — “There Was a Man Named Job,” “The Front Gates of the Jewish Graveyard in Cairo,” “Meleke, The Royal Stone, a White Coarse Crystalline Limestone,” and “The Cleanup Crew at the Western Wall” — a music that delicately balances uncertainty with prayer. Still there is room for the small joys of daily life: “religion of summit and breath, / barbecue and a good dog and beer and acres of thigh-high grass / touched by the first draft of evening.”
—Joshua Gottlieb-Miller, author of The Art of Bagging
This is a moving collection. I admire the poems’ ardor, candor, beauty. (Also dry wit.)
— Andrew Sofer, author of Wave
Anthology: Choice Words
Purchase Choice Words: Writers on Abortion
Edited by Annie Finch
A landmark literary anthology of poems, stories, and essays, Choice Words collects essential voices that renew our courage in the struggle to defend reproductive rights. Twenty years in the making, the book spans continents and centuries. This collection magnifies the voices of people reclaiming the sole authorship of their abortion experiences. These essays, poems, and prose are a testament to the profound political power of defying shame.
My poem "I Am Used to Keeping Secrets About My Body" is included in this book.
Contributors include Ai, Amy Tan, Anne Sexton, Audre Lorde, Bobbie Louise Hawkins. Camonghne Felix, Carol Muske-Dukes, Diane di Prima, Dorothy Parker, Gloria Naylor, Gloria Steinem, Gwendolyn Brooks, Jean Rhys, Joyce Carol Oates, Judith Arcana, Kathy Acker, Langston Hughes, Leslie Marmon Silko, Lindy West, Lucille Clifton, Mahogany L. Browne, Margaret Atwood, Molly Peacock, Ntozake Shange, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Sharon Doubiago, Sharon Olds, Shirley Geok-lin Lim, Sholeh Wolpe, Ursula Le Guin, and Vi Khi Nao.
(Pen & Anvil, 2019)
This set of six broadsides excerpts five poems from my series Jerusalem.
Author’s Note: Growing up as a conservative Jew and attending an Orthodox day school in New York, I was taught from an early age to love Jerusalem, the city that means “holy” to three major religions. I went there twice as a teenager. Every year at Passover we sang, “l’shana ha’bah, b’Yirushalayim”—“next year in Jerusalem.” Elders explained, “of course, we don’t mean that literally.”
These poems are about more than the city of Jerusalem and my (and my family’s) experiences there; they examine the idea of Jerusalem, and the way we all can’t let go of it. In 1995, when Arafat and Rabin came the closest to signing a peace agreement, they each referenced Jerusalem in their public speeches, hinting that a shared city of gold might be only a dream.
Jump to the spring of 2018. I watched in horror as Trump and Netanyahu colluded to do the unthinkable—moving the Israeli capital to Jerusalem, and sparking a series of Palestinian protests and disproportional Israeli violence. Though the thought and feeling in these poems are drawn from decades of lived experience, it is this lattermost crisis that prompted the actual writing of these poems.
Breakfast All Day
A Menu-Style Chapbook
Purchase Breakfast All Day
Edited by Cat Dossett
(Pen & Anvil, 2018)
From the Editor's Note: "Taking the time to cook a proper morning meal is a daily, feasible luxury, so long as you can muster the energy to roll out of bed. Breakfast is quiet by nature: waking up to the smell of bacon and burnt toast, or the tension of an empty stomach. And something about the act of cracking eggs over a sizzling frying pan invites examination of conscience. So reflect with me a while: the coffee is almost ready, and sixteen poems of breakfast are here for you to enjoy."
My poems "Eat the Pears" and "Lessons from Suburbia" are included.