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Book Release: Ground Below Zero

Essays by Nicholas Powers

Essays by Nicholas Powers

The Ground Below Zero combines on-the-ground reporting, memoir and magic realism into an accessible and elegant narrative that spans the high points of the first decade of the 21st Century. Nick Powers writes from racially charged post 9/11 New York to the wild festival Burning Man. He explores the intimate pain of family history, Darfur refugee camps in Africa to the protests against police killings of Black and Latino youth in New York.

“Nicholas Powers takes the most contemporary social issues and events of our generation and examines them from a very personal place seldom seen in media. He effectively captures the innocence of suffering, portrays the nobility of sacrifices and asks questions that are not answered by mainstream society. A must-read for those interested in political, psychological and social development.”

–Lee Mayjahs, The Philadelphia Experiment

“The Ground Below Zero introduces a new and important voice, one with a trajectory reaching from New York’s left and alternative cultures to the present world’s vistas of death. It is a voice partly urban-hip and partly epic-tragic. The story it tells is part journalism, part memoir, and part prophetic-apocalyptic vision.”

–Christopher Z. Hobson

Powers is at his best when recalling the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and his vivid descriptions of the first weeks following the World Trade Center’s destruction bring the period back with incredible force. He captures the scene perfectly, from young soldiers sporting heavy black machine guns as they patrolled city streets to the in-your-face expressions of anti-Muslim bigotry that became ubiquitous.

“Arab was the new black,” he writes. For a brief second this shift caused Powers to feel a sense of personal relief. After all, as a dark-skinned Latino, he had been on the receiving end of racist name-calling and worse. It was an awkward and horrible realization and Powers wondered how long it would take before the “eye swings its spotlight back on me…Under the question lingered guilt that the hate that drained away from me now filled Arab bodies, and we who were black not brown, Christian not Muslim, western not eastern, could wear the American flag like a new skin.”

Eleanor J. Bader “Powers Confronts Power and History in New Book” Truth-out.org

About the Author

Nicholas Powers is a poet, journalist and professor. His first book, Theater of War, was published by Upset Press. He has written for The Indypendent, Alternet and The Village Voice. He teaches literature at SUNY Old Westbury and co-hosts the long running New York City College Poetry Slam at the Nuyorican Cafe.

Nicholas Powers

Nicholas Powers

Nicholas Powers

Nia Nottage: In the book, 9/11 provides the initial call to action for you to position yourself to shine a spotlight on tragedy. Why did 9/11 have this effect, when it could easily have caused you to shut down?

Nicholas Powers: 9/11 was the first time I experienced history in my face. I lived through all of the clichés, including washing my hair to get the smell of the Towers — which just saturated the air in the city for months — out of my dreads. So many things at that time changed the trajectory of my life — the anti-war protests, breaking up with my then-fiancé. Most of all, I felt like a failure because I never physically got a chance to help people at Ground Zero. When Hurricane Katrina came, I directed all of that pent-up energy towards New Orleans.

NN: In the book, after leaving New Orleans in the wake of Katrina there’s one point where you say that you “wanted to be free of caring for people [that you] could not help.” Can you explain what this feels like? After experiencing this, why continue to go back?

NP: I thought I was going to be this big fucking super hero — I went there and I accomplished nothing. Coming back in shame, I aimed to write the most beautiful, poetic, honest stuff I could to get people’s attention, but hardly anyone read it. I just got really angry at the world. I was isolated and ashamed, and that’s what it actually felt like.

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Born Palestinian, Born Black & The Gaza Suite

Born Palestinian Born Black & The Gaza Suite by Suheir Hammad

Born Palestinian Born Black & The Gaza Suite by Suheir Hammad

The Gaza Suite, as well as a new publisher’s note byZohra Saed, an canadian online pharmacy cialis introduction by Marco Villalobos, and an afterword by Kazim Ali.

UpSet Press has restored to print Suheir Hammad’s first book of poems, Born Palestinian, Born Black, originally published by Harlem River Press in 1996. The new edition is augmented with a new author’s preface, and new poems, under the heading, “The Gaza Suite,” as well as a new publisher’s note by Zohra Saed, an introduction by Marco Villalobos, and an afterword by Kazim Ali.

“It’s lucky for us to have this new edition of Born Palestinian, Born Black, Suheir’s first book, published more than ten years ago. In the decade since, Hammad has achieved an international reputation as a poet. These poems are the groundswell from which her future work and political commitment springs. Like June Jordan, like Mahmoud Darwish, it is the passion and penchant for lyricism that is the true engine of these poems…”

–Kazim Ali, The Fortieth Day (BOA Editions)

Suheir Hammad

Suheir Hammad

Suheir Hammad’s books include breaking poems, ZaatarDiva and Drops of This Story. An original writer and performer in the TONY awarded Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry Jam on Broadway, Suheir appears in the Cannes Film Festival Official Selection, Salt of This Sea. She has delivered her poetry to folk around the world.


Suheir Hammad’s TED Talk:



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The Blond Texts & The Age of Embers by Nadia Tueni


Nadia Tueni (1935-1983) was a Lebanese Francophone poet who published numerous volumes of poetry in French. She received several prominent awards for her work including the Order of La Pléiade and the Prix Said Akl.

Throughout her writing career, Tueni remained fiercely independent and unattached to fashionable schools of thought. Her fondness for her native land is intertwined with her need to reflect upon the realities and conditions that surrounded her. The operations at work in her poetry–from the varied linguistic play to the jarring juxtapositions, from the ambiguity of certain passages to the playful manipulations of syntax–are intensely original and delightfully strange. Scenes from her own childhood accompany imagery drawn from Christian mythology and rituals, while tales of lovers scorned are juxtaposed with those of gods abandoned. Revelatory descriptions of springs, mountains and street-scenes accompany metaphysical contemplations, themselves masked by layers of striking imagery. Forceful and meditative, two books that present internal and emotional landscapes as well as a sensual if fragmented portrait of her urban and natural surroundings.

–Amir Parsa, Translator


Photo from Jesus & Mary School in Lebanon website

Francophone Arab poet, Nadia Tueni is known for her poetry on the Civil War in Lebanon.Is a collection of a poets’ work complete without her earlier work? This is the first time these two early poetry books have been translated into English. In it she explores the heart and the process of becoming. UpSet Press brings back her little known early work. Here are the poems of a young woman just as she is developing her own voice.

Poetry of body, of space, of identity, and of growth… this is an essential read for scholars, poets, and poetry lovers.

Zephyr, Amazon Review

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The Comeback’s Exoskeleton by Matthew Rotando

Matthew Rotando

Matthew Rotando

The Comeback’s Exoskeleton

Matthew Rotando


“Incorporating the density of Spanish surrealism and a sprawling Whitmanesque line, this amazing first book finds Rotando engaged in a poetic biathlon which draws equally from maximal and minimal traditions.

There are tight, economical poems, free verse forms derived from the sonnet, poems leaping about the page, but my favorites are the wonderful prose poems tumbling over and under themselves toward gnomish statements that feel both didactic and self-parodying.”

—Trace Peterson, from the Foreword

“The rich, exultant writing in Matthew Rotando’s first collection is both comic and cosmic.

Lyrics steeped in the Latin American literary tradition disclose what might be called the surreality of reality in contemporary American culture, while cadences of Stein and Barthelme make the prose poems in The Comeback’s Exoskeleton ring with laughter of great philosophical depth. This is a writer unafraid to love and to err, and to do so with irrepressible grace and humour.

To read such unapologetically joyous work is a tonic for melancholy and a prescription for wonder.”

—Srikanth Reddy

“Truly worth its weight in ancient philosophies, Rotando’s The Comeback’s Exoskeleton, with tender contagion, celebrates the moon’s grit, stares into chameleon-eyed walls, and, cliff-topped near a high monastery, honors the plight of being made of thought, rats and voices alike.”

—Amy King

Matthew Rotando is a poet and a doodler hunting the Duende. He leaves parts of himself all over the world and then tries to find them again.

Who doesn’t? He has a B.A. from Duke University, an M.F.A. from Brooklyn College, and a Ph.D. from The University of Arizona. His first book of poems is THE COMEBACK’S EXOSKELETON (2008). His second book, HAIL, is due out soon from Upset Press.

The Comebacks Exoskeleton

The Comebacks Exoskeleton

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