The Comic Flaw by Alan Berecka
I've known Alan probably about 5 years and to be honest, I hesitated to publish his book. Yes, I can be that dumb sometimes. My reasoning was that Alan had good publication credits, was popular at readings, and just a really, really good poet. I felt he deserved better than my micropress. Maybe I still do. But he had sent out the manuscript to a few places with nothing more than a nibble here and there.
And then it was Larry D. Thomas, who just completed his tenure as the 2008 Texas Poet Laureate, who brought me to my senses. How often was I going to get to publish someone like Alan's first full collection? What was I saying about my aspirations by not jumping on this opportunity? In a world where too few publishers even consider poetry, why shouldn't I take this gift of publishing such an accomplished poet?
So I said, okay, I want to publish Alan Berecka's first full length collection. (He's previously had two very fine chapbooks published---both quite successful for their respective presses, as I understand it.)
I've really been quite lucky with the people I've gotten to publish so far. Starting with that short story collection, Able to..., with such an eclectic mix of the best writers you've never heard of, to Christopher E. Ellis's Fatal Gift of Beauty and Other plays, a collection every theater should take a look at if they're producing short plays at all, to Necropolis by poetry rock star Jill Alexander Essbaum . . . I sometimes have a hard time believing I could be so lucky. I've thought about using "Publishing writers who deserve a much better publisher" as a slogan for neoNuma Arts! I mean, I'm very tiny, publishing these gem of books with too little time, money, and knowledge for getting the word out about them properly.
But I've come to accept that I have to take the gifts that are handed to me with this enterprise and do the best I can. Let's face it, with people like these in my "catalog" (which still fits in a tri-fold brochure!), I can't help but feel like I have more than a little "lit cred."
I hope you'll check all of them out, but since I've said so little about Alan's book let me type on a bit about it. These poems are funny. They're heartbreaking. They're profound in their simplicity. Seldom has a childhood full of rough characters resulted in so much beauty. A father who drank too much and flipped the bird at his children, an aunt who thought she was a cow, a priest who dies during the Easter Vigil, Lithuanian and Polish ancestry visiting in dreams, dirty tricks and cruel turns of fate . . . all of these are viewed through Alan's wonderfully skewed lens. Even more, we see them as Alan sees them, with an affection that saves them all from condemnation.
In other words, this book is a work of grace. Steven Schroeder called it a sacrament, and that sounds right.
Next up, and I really mean it, is Nighthawks by Evan Guilford-Blake. This has hit some snags along the way, but it will truly be worth it when it arrives. A wonder of a play, stark in its realism, moving in its humanity, another work of grace.
Perhaps the slogan: Another work of grace from neoNuma Arts.