You Are Invited to a Virtual Book Launch for REMAKING ACHILLES by Carol Tyx, Winner of our Willow Run Poetry Book Award

Remaking Achilles: Slicing in Angola’s History

ZOOM BOOK RELEASE
REMAKING ACHILLES:
SLICING INTO ANGOLA’S HISTORY

Carol Tyx announces the release of her new book Remaking Achilles: Slicing into Angola’s History.

She will read from the book in a zoom book launch Wednesday May 13 7-8 PM CST. Use the link at the end of this article to register for the event.

Inspiration for Tyx’s work came from a painful historical event in 1951, when 37 inmates of Angola Prison in Louisiana slashed their own Achilles tendons in order to make public the brutal conditions at the prison. Interest in this event led Tyx to the prison itself, where she did extensive research and, with what began as a plan for one or two poems, found herself writing an entire book of poetry based on this incident. Remaking Achilles received the Willow Run Poetry Book Award from Hidden River Press.

At its heart, Remaking Achilles is about resisting injustice and how inmates, with the support of a larger community, pushed for prison reform. “With each vivid and lyrical insight, Carol Tyx weaves a compelling poetic tale depicting the effects of institutional racism and cruelty, of unimaginable hardship, but also of the human impulse to resist and seek dignity,” writes Andy Douglas, author of Redemption Songs: A Year in the Life of a Community Prison Choir.

Tyx’s involvement with prisons emerges from a book club she co-founded at the Anamosa State Penitentiary ten years ago. Getting to know the men in the book club challenged her stereotypes about people who are incarcerated and whetted her desire for criminal justice reforms. Tyx is part of a state-wide coalition, spear-headed by the ACLU, to restore voting rights to felons in Iowa.

Carol Tyx earned her PhD in English at the University of Iowa. A professor emeritus at Mt. Mercy University, Tyx is currently the artist-in-residence at Prairiewoods, an eco-spirituality center in Hiawatha. Her previous books include Rising to the Rim, published by Brick Road Poetry Press (2013), and The Fifty Poems, published by Raven Rocks Press (2003). She is available for readings, and review copies are available upon request.

TO ORDER: Signed copies are available from our wonderful local bookstore, Prairie Lights. At present Prairie Lights is closed to shoppers, but will deliver without charge in the Iowa City/Coralville area and will ship to further locations. To order a copy from Prairie Lights call 319-337-2681. You can also order the book directly from the author at caroltyx@gmail.com. Two dollars from every sale will be donated to Inside Out Reentry Community, a local returning citizens support organization. Carol’s book is also available at online booksellers, such as Barnes & Noble and Amazon — but we encourage our readers to make their purchases through BookShop.org, which is the platform for online booksales from independent bookstores. That link can be found here.

TO REGISTER FOR THE ZOOM LAUNCH: https://us02web.zoom.us/w/87267201305?tk=men1nhxj_kgqeZ5bsfMdJZls0PnrSLINwe_8qhTJ4qo.DQEAAAAUUYfRGRZSMFFJOFZCVlMzRzRNU3lNZkwwUG5BAA

The Story of the String-Heel Incident of Angola Prison is Told Through Poetry in Remaking Achilles: Slicing into Angola’s History by Carol Tyx, Willow Run Poetry Book Award Winner

Carol Tyx
Winner of Willow Run
Poetry Book Award

We are pleased to introduce you to Carol Tyx, of Iowa City, Iowa, who is the inaugural winner of our Willow Run Poetry Book Award for her stunning collection, Remaking Achilles: Slicing Into Angola’s History. Tyx received the cash award of $1,000 and her manuscript has just been published on the Hidden River Press imprint of Hidden River Publishing.

Inspiration for Tyx’s work came from a gruesome historical event in 1951, when 37 inmates of Angola Prison in Louisiana slashed their own Achilles tendons in order to make public the brutal conditions at the prison. Interest in this event led Tyx to the prison itself, where she did extensive research and, with what began as a plan for one or two poems, found herself writing an entire book of poetry based on this incident. More information about Carol’s experience with this horrifying history can be read here.

Carol teaches writing and American literature at Mt. Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Her teaching interests include African American literature, U.S. Latino literature, creative writing, and service learning. Along with a colleague and many students, she facilitates a prison book club. Her poetry has most recently been published in Minerva Rising, Hunger Mountain, Big Muddy, Iowa City’s Poetry in Public, and Rising to the Rim, published by Brick Road Poetry Press.

Some early praise for Remaking Achilles:

Remaking Achilles brings alive the vivid realities of Angola’s history. I study Angola, …this collection paints the horrors and injustices of time past in a way that the simple facts never do. Carol Tyx has done a remarkable job of reminding us all of where we came from and why we do not want to return.” (Marianne Fisher-Giorlando, retired criminal justice professor and Angola historian)

“These sterling voices pretending to be persona poems are so well researched and authentically rendered that the painful and traumatic memories of Angola will continue to haunt readers long after the last pages are sliced open and left bleeding.” (Frank X Walker, author of The Unghosting of Medgar Evers)

“A compassionate and imaginative retelling of a harrowing period in American penal history. With each vivid and lyrical insight, Carol Tyx weaves a compelling poetic tale depicting the effects of institutional racism and cruelty, of unimaginable hardship, but also of the human impulse to resist and seek dignity. In the darkest hours, there are sparks of light.” (Andy Douglas, author of Redemption Songs: A Year in the Life of a Community Prison Choir)

Like the ghostly inmate who takes his place in the long line of U.S. prison atrocities, Carol Tyx claims her place in a long tradition of poets like Muriel Rukeyser (The Book of the Dead, 1938) and Carolyn Forché (The Angel of History, 1994), incorporating individual impersonations and historical documents into lines that incriminate us all. (Cecile Goding, The Iowa Summer Writing Festival)

Remaking Achilles: Slicing into Angola’s History is available at online bookstores, and can be ordered at your local brick and mortar store. It is currently a newly available book on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It takes a little longer for IndieBound and Powell’s to create a listing, but they will be making the book available shortly as well. The eBook version will also be uploaded shortly, so if you prefer an eBook, please give us about a week, and check back!

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

The Willow Run Poetry Book Award is offered yearly for a book-length collection of original poetry. The next submission deadline for the Willow Run Poetry Book Award is February 20, 2020. For more information, please see our guidelines.

The Precarious Artist

Musicians performing in Nashville. (Alamy Stock Photo)

A stunning vote to oust the current president of the Musician’s Union and replace the leadership was prompted by grave concerns about the on-going difficulties of a musician’s professional life. Michael Cooper of the New York Times writes, “The leadership team of the New York local of the musicians’ union — the union’s largest local in the nation — was voted out of office on Tuesday in a stunning upset, amid concerns over the underfunded musicians’ pension plan and broader changes facing music, the original gig economy.”

Valid concerns about the underfunded pension plan is what sparked the vote to change leadership; it also sparks larger questions and concerns about the ways in which union representation has failed to keep up with the needs of membership — not just with the musician’s union, but with all unions. Artists have long lived the life of “gig economy” practitioners, and unions are meant to protect them from the many ways in which a capitalist culture undervalues, underpays and exploits their work. Fears that union representation is out of touch with its membership are well-founded; it is one of the reasons that younger artists are opting out of union membership.

The newly-elected president of the Musicians Union, Adam Krauthamer, was elected with a robust 67% of the vote. Before his election, he founded Musicians for Pension Security, out of a growing concern about mismanagement of the union’s pension funds.

The widespread insecurities of life in the arts cannot be off-set by unions which fail to ferociously guard the well-being of their membership. Addressing such problems is essential in an economy that makes survival of society’s artists even more at risk. Looking beyond the issues with unresponsive unions, it isn’t hard to identify problems with the financial well-being of visual artists, writers, poets, photographers…..In a society that refuses to adequately support its artists, that leaves us to try and protect ourselves. We here at Hidden River Arts welcome ideas and comments about ways in which we can all support each other – how might the artistic class (I don’t use the phrase “creative class” since that term has been usurped by the business community) build their own networks, inter-disciplinary networks, in order to support and protect each other? What sorts of projects and protections might we establish to protect our fellow artists?