Author photos, left to right: Bradford, Suleiman, Abeyratne, Kelly, Harrison, Jacob
Dr. Cicero Books looks back on the most varied and productive year of its five-year existence, with three volumes of poetry, one of plays (due out this month), and six novels made available since summer 2016.
The poetry includes a new volume, The Secret Name of Now, by the widely acclaimed Robert Kelly, entering his eighth decade and still producing rich and remarkable books of poetry at the same unrelenting rate as ever; and two volumes, Her Mirror is an Unarmed Warrior and Forgetting, by one of Syria’s finest and most highly regarded poets, Firas Sulaiman, of whom Khaled Khalifa states, “In Syrian poetry, Firas Sulaiman stands alone.” Dr. Cicero is honored to be publishing Kelly, an undisputed American master, and Sulaiman, a poet who combines a vision of his war-torn country with a lyricism, both raw and tender, as ancient as poetry itself. 2017 brings two more widely praised and published poets into the Dr. Cicero fold: Celia Bland, with Cherokee Roadkill, and Michael Brownstein, with Slipping The Leash.
The new addition to Dr. Cicero Plays is byMichael Bradford, whose poetic and passionate plays, produced all around the United States from Manhattan to the west coast and back, as well as in Europe, have held audiences enthralled and have elevated Bradford to the front rank of living American dramatists. Ambitious and astonishing, penetrating to the heart of African-American triumph and despair during the past 80 years, his work will last, and Dr. Cicero is proud to welcome their author to our family.
The novels are by Sri Lankan author, dramatist, screenwriter and choreographer Seneka Abeyratne, and by two Britons, Petra Jacob and Carey Harrison.
Abeyratne is well known to and admired by audiences in his native country; he himself is much-traveled, and his new screenplay, Temptation, takes place in Sweden; for Asmita, newly available from Dr. Cicero, Abeyratne returns to his home territory of Colombo, the Sri Lankan capital. Colombo is a ferment of interpenetrating worlds rich and poor, and Asmita’s eponymous heroine spans the extremes: she works the seamy side of the street, but was born to wealth. It’s a tightrope walk for Asmita, and her story is a potent thriller as well as a remarkable debut.
Petra Jacob is another writer Dr. Cicero is proud to have discovered and published before anyone could beat us to the draw. Her novel, Riddled With Senses, is written in an intoxicating and intoxicated poetic prose, some of whose mind spinningly delicious paragraphs James Joyce would have been proud to have penned. Jacob’s characters make this possible, if not, in fact, necessary: they are British teenagers ready to try all manner of mind- and prose-enhancing drugs. Romance and consciousness-expanding experimentation feature in Riddled with Senses, but the brilliance of the writing and the richness of the vocabulary her characters share make it clear that these teenagers have been attending classes and, as riddled as they may have been, at times, their senses are what Jacob’s characters can be trusted to return to.
Finally, Dr. Cicero re-published the first three books of Carey Harrison’s novel-quartet, The Heart Beneath, along with the newly completed final volume, How To Push Through. The first three books, Richard’s Feet, Cley, and Egon, have been highly praised on both sides of the Atlantic, and Richard’s Feet, “work of near-demonic beauty” according to the San Francisco Chronicle, was long-listed for the Booker Prize, winning the UK Society of Authors’ Encore Award, in the same year, 1989. The novel-cycle began life 49 years ago, with two of the volumes (books one and four) requiring a dozen years of work or more. Harrison regards The Heart Beneath as his life’s work, and Dr. Cicero is delighted to bring out a newly re-edited and definitive version of this greatly admired quartet, a 20th-century love story bringing a German hero together with a British heroine, across an obstacle course defined by the Holocaust, the Second World War, and the masks we have had to wear in order to survive them. Tell your children the truth – if the novel-cycle has a message to offer, Harrison has written, it is this. This conclusion of the quartet with this beautiful and epic finale is a major feat for the author, as it is for literature — a coup for us its publishers.