poetry collections...

May 4, 2006


Steel Toe Books Releases Martha Silano’s Second Book, Blue Positive

Bowling Green, KY—Martha Silano is no June Cleaver.

Like that infamous black-and-white sitcom mom, Silano revels in her children’s births and daily doings in expertly-crafted poems like “My Son Considers the Mockingbird,” “Song for a Newborn,” and “Crown of Sonnets for a Son.” But unlike Mrs. Cleaver and other sentimentally-drawn fictional mothers, the speaker in Silano’s poems writes with authority about “What They Don’t Tell You about the Ninth Month” and sagely advises “If You Want a Girl to Grow up Gentle, Lace Her Tight.” In her follow-up to the award-winning What the Truth Tastes Like (Nightshade Press 1999), Silano writes unflinchingly about her bout with postpartum depression and “shows us how a bright and ultimately optimistic sensibility can overcome disaster,” in the words of Peter Pereira, author of an award-winning book published by the prestigious Copper Canyon Press.

Steel Toe Books selected Blue Positive from 115 manuscripts submitted during its open reading period last summer. We at Steel Toe concur with distinguished poet and Virginia Tech professor Bob Hicok, who writes “Martha Silano’s poems are full of sex and birth and food, mind and body. Their richness of detail makes reading this book like entering a home: there is a bustle to her language as she tries to gather everything she loves…. By the end of Blue Positive, I trust both her surprise and her wisdom.’”

Silano, who earned her MFA from University of Washington in 1993, evinces a palpable delight in language in this collection. Poems such as “Picking a Name While Picking Blackberries” and “To Know a Flower” remind us that, to paraphrase and distort Mallarmé, we don’t make poems out of sentiments, but of words. Here is an excerpt from her poem “My Words”:

Ones I never considered memorable or strange—
bubble, banana, anemone—bloomed
when my son began to use them

to describe falling snow, a crescent moon,
a cockatiel’s plume. Plum is a terrible
word for a perfect fruit,…

Silano’s poems have appeared in The Paris Review, Prairie Schooner, Beloit Poetry Journal, Poetry Daily, and many other fine journals and anthologies. She lives in Seattle with her husband Langdon and their two children, Riley and Ruby.

To order a review copy, contact Tom C. Hunley at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
For more information about Steel Toe Books, visit www.steeltoebooks.com.
For more information about Martha Silano, visit www.marthasilano.com.

October 30, 2017

We are pleased to announce Steel Toe Books' most recent release, Street Calligraphy by Jim Daniels. Steel Toe Books acquired this title for publication in 2016.

Jim Daniels is the Thomas Stockham Baker University Professor of English at Caregie Mellon University, where he has been teaching creative writing since 1981. He is the author of seventeen books of poetry as well as numerous short stories and screenplays and the editor of multiple anthologies of poetry. His work has been featured in The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor, Poetry 180 with Billy Collins, and the American Life in Poetry series.

Street Calligraphy is, as poet Afaa M. Weaver says, "an honest and well-honed collection that will bring light to the lives it celebrates, our own." Aimee Nezhukumatathil calls these poems "moving and unflinching poems--brutal and brave." Daniels, a Detroit native, explores the city of the American Midwest, its concrete, factories, and graffiti: nostalgic, but not sentimental. "We never saw stars/above Detroit," he writes, "so why even look up?"

Street Calligraphy, will be available for purchase November 1, 2017, through Steel Toe Books (place an order here) and Amazon. For more information about Street Calligraphy or other Steel Toe releases, please view our titles here.

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