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, Señor 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)








 

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