Monday, March 23, 2020

On Hold

These are unsettling times. We here at the press were as blindsided by the rapidity of onset of the health crisis and the closing of businesses as were you all. Although I agree with the social distancing and self-isolating that we've been encouraged to follow, it has impacted NBP in ways I didn't foresee.

Because of the way NBP approaches an art-book concept, we rely heavily on various small businesses to continue our work. At the core of the press is how we obtain our paper and card stock. As all non-essential businesses are now closed in Ohio, I cannot get the paper, nor the card stock, I need to make books. I also cannot have covers printed at our local print shop. NightBallet Press is on hold.

Although I have some titles in stock, I will not be going out to the post office, so book orders are also on hold. This includes both individual titles to the public, and bulk orders from NBP poets who want more copies of their book.

I wish to reassure my poets, my subscribers, my readers, my supporters, that NightBallet Press is very much alive and eager to get back to work. We can only hope that this crisis passes quickly and that our friends can get their businesses reopened so we can resume publication. I realize how disappointing this must be for many of you, and I want you to know I appreciate, from the bottom of my heart, your friendship, your patience, your understanding, and the trust you've put in me and NBP.

May you stay healthy and safe during this time. I love you.

Dianne Borsenik
Editor/Publisher NightBallet Press

Sunday, February 23, 2020

DROP JAW by Rikki Santer

NightBallet Press is ecstatic to announce
the publication of its 124th title,
Drop Jaw by Rikki Santer!


Drop Jaw is a brilliant concept book of poems about ventriloquists and their dolls/dummies. After visiting the International Ventriloquist Vent Haven Convention in July, 2019, Rikki Santer pursued investigating the art of ventriloquism at the Vent Haven Museum. The Vent Haven Museum in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, houses more than 900 dolls used by ventriloquists from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries, and is the world's only museum dedicated to ventriloquism.

With references, sometimes overt and sometimes oh-so-subtle, to Charlie McCarthy, Se├▒or Wences, Darci Lynne Farmer, Lamb Chop, and Jeff Dunham's Achmed, the poems in this book sing with appreciation for the cultural touchstones of ventriloquism. Santer lays bare the search for identity between ventriloquist and doll, exploring both inner and outer dialogues.

Praise for Drop Jaw:

Rikki Santer is that rarest of poetssomeone more interested in the investigation of other lives than in meticulously documenting her own inner weather. She seems fascinated by the intimate minutiae of "ordinary history," from her previous book on the decades-long presence of the Kahiki Supper Club in Columbus, Ohio, a dismantled cultural landmark that now lives on in her poems, to this new study, Drop Jaw, where like some kind of surrealistic sociologist, she lets us wander through the inner history of the ventriloquist's world. As such, through this wild documentary tourpart historical record, but more often a verbal play on where voices come fromshe becomes the poet of mirrored second-hand through the transformation of her language, where who is speaking is as much a mystery as where all those many thrown voices were coming from. Do they arise from lips that appear not to be moving as all, or from the poet herself, imagining the twisted avenues inside these dreams-out-of-timeas she puts it, a kind of "vaudeville language with wings"?

Terry Hermsen, author of The River's Daughter (Bottom Dog Press, 2008) and A House for Last Year's Summer (Bottom Dog Press, 2017)

Drop Jaw pursues the kind of space only the traveling voice occupies. These lines dutifully collide as concrete and illusion, a surprising arrangement of precise details and sound. Santer's poems perform a trick within a trick: where craft is in complete control, each word plucked and places on a tight wire. Here, carefully constructed imagery and diction inhabit oddities and a precarious politiceach rendering, an unknown and in between, like the dead air listening closely.

Dionne Custer Edwards, poet, educator, creator of Pages at the Wexner Center for the Arts

Drop Jaw, printed on creamy ivory paper, contains thirty-two pages with eighteen poems. It also features a full-color art piece within its pages, "Brainyo" by Dana St. Mary. "Brainyo" originally appeared in  Rattle's Ekphrastic Challenge, October, 2019. Permission was given by both the editor of Rattle, Timothy Green, and the artist, Dana St. Mary, to reproduce the image in Drop Jaw, for which we are grateful.

Many thanks to Jeanette Powers, who graciously consented to my Photo Lab PRO manipulation of their photograph to use for the front cover of Drop Jaw. Is the figure the ventriloquist or the doll? Has the figure been turned into fragmented mirrors? Is the figure throwing something (throwing the voice)? The tattoo on the right arm says it all: Know Thyself.

About the author:

Rikki Santer's poetry has appeared in numerous publications both nationally and abroad, including Ms. Magazine, Poetry East, Margie: The American Journal of Poetry, Crab Orchard Review, Grimm, Hotel Amerika, and Slipstream. Her work has received many honors, including five Pushcart and three Ohioana Book Award nominations, as well as grants from the Greater Columbus Arts Council, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. She earned a M.A. degree in journalism from Kent State University and a M.F.A. degree in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She lives in Columbus, Ohio.

To celebrate the release of Drop Jaw, Rikki has scheduled a book launch that will feature ventriloquist Bob Abdou, a.k.a. Mr. Puppet, at the Streetlight Guild, 1367 E. Main Street, Columbus, Ohio, on March 3, 2020, at 8 p.m. This promises to be an evening to remember!


You can order your very own copy of Drop Jaw here, through PayPal, for only $12 plus $4 shipping/handling! Order your copy today!

(U.S. customers only; out-of-country customers please contact NightBallet Press publisher Dianne Borsenik for information on the cost of postage)


Tuesday, January 7, 2020

THOSE WHO PRAY TO RICE by Julio Montalvo Valentin

NightBallet Press wishes all of you a very Happy New Year!

To celebrate the beginning of 2020 — a new year, a new decade 
we have a very special treat for you!

We are enormously pleased to announce the publication of
Those Who Pray to Rice, a new book of poems by Julio Montalvo Valentin!!

                                         (Striking cover art by Jeanette Powers)

Those Who Pray to Rice contains nineteen beautifully written poems about Puerto Rico and what it means to be Puerto Rican-American, expanding on themes of family, food, and the experiences of hurricanes, poverty, and survival. He deftly weaves Spanish words and phrases throughout his poetry, musically and naturally, to give the reader a true sense of his cultural identity. 

Of Those Who Pray to Rice, Antonio Barrios, Executive Director at The Lorain Arts Council, has written, "What joy Mr. Valentin brings with the wonderful analogies uses of the everyday simple pleasures of cultural identity through food...and he has added depth to the age-old story of Juan Bobo."

Beginning with the central theme of "13 Ways of Looking at Rice," Valentin continues to explore how rice is not just a staple but a way of life in poems like "Rant," "Interlude in My Mother's Mouth," and "The Power Went Out for Three Days."


and no one died.
and the bodegas fed everyone.
and we used the supplies for Y2K.
and the drum fires sang us to sleep.
and the fiends shared their childhood memories.
and the sirens went silent.
and the zombies kept watch.
and litter didn't float in the sky.
and no one had to sell their food stamps.
and we all sipped on the goodnight juice,
and we didn't have curfew.
and all the stars appeared in the Bronx.
Fifteen years ago,
Grandma cooked all the rice in the neighborhood
and no one died.

Other poems offer the intriguing titles of "Diaspora of the Banana Cloud," "Under Steve Buscemi's Eyes," and "She, the Bomb."

Julio Montalvo Valentin (they/them) has authored two previous chapbooks, Don't Give Up the Ship (2015) and Ship Lost (2016). Julio is poetry editor for Coffin Bell Journal and Variety Pack, both based in Buffalo, NY. They also serve as teaching artist at Just Buffalo Literary Center. Aside from studying poetry and English literature at Buffalo State University, they can be found working on their next project, converting a school bus into a poetry caravan.

Those Who Pray to Rice is only $10 plus $3 shipping, and is available through PayPal, right here and now! You need not be a member of PayPal; just have your debit or credit card number available for checkout. (All prices are for U.S. customers only; for out-of-country postage prices, please email the editor.) Get your copy of Those Who Pray to Rice today!

Those Who Pray to Rice made its initial debut at "Streetlight Imaginations: Poets Read from Recent Books" at Cuyahoga County Public Library in South Euclid, Ohio, on November 23, 2019. Sponsored by Laurie Kincer and co-hosted by NightBallet Press/Dianne Borsenik and Crisis Chronicles Press/John Burroughs, S"treetlight Imaginations" brought eight poets together for a wonderful afternoon of readings. This event doubled as the book release for Those Who Pray to Rice



"Streetlight Imaginations"
Pictured left to right: Karen Schubert (NBP), Nicole Hennessy (CCP), John Burroughs (publisher of CCP), Julio Montalvo Valentin (NBP), Dianne Borsenik (publisher of NBP), Elaine Schleiffer (CCP), Sean Thomas Dougherty (NBP), Lisa M. Dougherty (NBP), Cat Russell (CCP), and Nick Gardner (CCP).