Enough with the stupid stuff a poinsettia, some battery-operated lapel pin or an I Feel Bad About My Neck book. Wouldn't you like to give and receive a literary gift that brings enlightenment and years of enjoyment? That's what Jefferson Airplane was talking about in that "White Rabbit" song it's time to "Feed Our Heads." This year, great poetry, fiction and memoirs, a few published locally, were released by Detroiters and former Detroiters. These noteworthy books make great gifts:
Chocolate City Latina
by Esperanza Malave Cintron
Swank Books-MA; $12, 104 pp.
A good collection of poems by a Detroiter whose work has been described as bicultural and biracial. Poems of sisterhood, motherhood and Detroit politics.
The End of the World
by George Dila
Pure Heart Press; $10, 70 pp.
Here's a hilarious short story debut by a longtime Detroit fiction writer, now making his home in Ludington, presenting wild and thought-provoking stories about such subjects as Siamese twins, talk show hosts and satire on the Biblical period "Shaft Men" of Israel.
The Seed Thieves
by Robert Fanning
Marick Press (Detroit); $14.95, 104 pp.
Robert Fanning, program director of the Inside Out Literary Arts Organization, is one of Detroit's literary treasures. He writes satirically and cynically about "The Man Who Names Wars" and uses wonderfully extended metaphors of the sea speaking to the shore and vice versa in a collection of rich and poignant poems.
by James Hart III
Marick Press (Detroit); $11.95, 59 pp.
This young Detroit poet is the master of short, imagistic pieces packed with philosophical ideas. Some poems in this small-sized edition are only two or five words long, such as "The mouth swallows the mouth."
The Blue Tail Fly
by VieVee Francis
Wayne State University Press' "Made in Michigan" Series; $15.95, 77 pp.
Francis' debut book is Detroit's best-selling poetry collection of 2006. Her poems take the form of historical narratives of African-American soldiers and "outsiders" from the Mexican War to the Civil War.
by Daniel Padilla
Merick Press (Detroit); $11.95, 50 pp.
Plymouth poet and artist Padilla crafts short word paintings reminiscent of William Carlos Williams' poetry if he'd lived in Motown. This is an unusually sized and beautifully designed first book, which includes some of the poet's own artwork.
The Singing Fish
by Peter Markus
Calamari Press; $10, 88 pp.
From the author of Good, Brother comes The Singing Fish, a fantastic and original book by a fiction writer, teacher and Metro Times freelancer who sees the world exceptionally. These stories of "brother" and "girl" will kick your brain in high gear as you try to figure out how he does it. It's one of the most inventive pieces of fiction written anywhere in America of late.
Just for a Thrill: Poems
by Geoffrey Jacques
Wayne State University; $19.95, 128 pp.
This substantial collection of poems by a longtime, well-known Detroit poet and cultural critic (now living in New York) presents socially and politically insightful poems.
by Rhoda Stamell
Mayapple Press (Bay City); $18.50, 102 pp.
Stamell's recent collection of short stories offers fresh narratives about our city that nationally acclaimed novelist Charles Baxter described as having "All the grit, humor, intelligence and darkness of Detroit."Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org