Books 2017

Grief’s Labyrinth and other poems

by Lisa Albright Ratnavira

Grief's Labyrinth COVER 5

  • $18 (softcover, 6×9)   Summer, 2017              Available at

  • illustrated by Gamini Ratnavira
  • afterword by Robert Louis Chianese

Reacting to the sudden death of her daughter, poet Lisa Albright Ratnivara journeys through a maze of melancholy in Grief’s Labyrinth and other poems, finding hope on a path enlightened by the beauty of nature.

Praise for Grief’s Labyrinth and other poems:

“This remarkable collection of poems shares the structure, themes and symbols of a traditional elegy, ennobles the form and establishes for Grief’s Labyrinth a place in a revered tradition.”  —  Robert Louis Chianese, PhD, Emeritus Prof. English, CSU Northridge

“Each person—each writer — knows a unique grief, meanders around it, finds distraction from it, revisits it, and is reminded again that it remains near, forever. In Grief’s Labyrinth and other poems, Lisa Albright Ratnavira offers her poetic journey, from the lamentations of loss to learning to live wholly again to accepting that sorrow is always in reach. In this volume, readers will find common way points, well worth visiting.”    —Kit-Bacon Gressitt

“We will all experience grief at some point in our lives. In these poems Lisa Ratnivera shares so openly and so eloquently what grief felt like to her. But she also shares the hope that walks hand in hand with that grief.”      — Joan Maloof, author of Teaching the Trees: Lessons from the Forest


In the Gardens of Japan,

a poem sequence, by Kenny Fries, drawings by Ian Jehle

     In an eight-poem sequence, each a garden, Kenny Fries leads us into and through another, giving us an understanding not only of what constitutes a Japanese garden, but also how a Japanese garden encapsulates an entire world. Dynamic, like breath, the sequence is set within drawings of unpredictable landscapes. Kenny Fries’s visits to eight famous Japanese gardens is an exploration of how much we can make of and find in the world around us, a world in which we are but a part.

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  • $18.50 (softcover, 5.5 x 8.5:  full color, 32 pages)   Summer, 2017 
  • Available at

“In the perfect calm of these gardens, I circled for hours. Such a book is endless!”                     —  Jen Bervin, author of Silk Poems

“These elegant poems give us intimate and profound glimpses into Japanese gardens. Neither haiku nor tanka, they nevertheless have about them the compression, lucidity, and complexity of ancient Japanese forms. As a student of Zen, I delight in their clear-seeing. This little book is a treasure.”     —  Chase Twichell, author of Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been

“Is the garden ‘rising’?  Do we take it ‘apart’ whenever we think of it?  How do we know where the garden begins, and where our own mutable turn,’ to life beyond its complex, vibrating boundary, is initiated?  Fries incubates a feeling that precedes gesture, a pressure before appearance that flows through descriptions of blossoms, water and color.  The book, in this sense, substitutes for garden, just as reading it resembles, in non-identical ways, a constant orientation to light and shadow: the places in a garden that neither receive nor give.”                —  Bhanu Kapil

     In the Gardens of Japan  is the companion book to In the Province of the Gods  (University of Wisconsin Press):  A beguiling adventure in Japan.  Kenny Fries embarks on a journey of profound self-discovery as a disabled foreigner in Japan, a society historically hostile to difference. As he visits gardens, experiences Noh and butoh, and meets artists and scholars, he also discovers disabled gods, one-eyed samurai, blind chanting priests, and A-bomb survivors. When he is diagnosed as HIV positive, all his assumptions about Japan, the body, and mortality are shaken, and he must find a way to reenter life on new terms.

Praise for In the Province of the Gods:

“In this subtle page turner, Fries helps reinvent the travel-as-pilgrimage narrative.  He neither exoticizes nor shies away from the potential pitfalls of a western mind traveling abroad; instead he demonstrates how, through an all too rare open heart and a true poet’s eye, bridges can be built, and understanding deepened, one sincere action at a time.”     —  Marie Mutsuki Mockett, author of  Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye


Kids! San Diego Poetry Annual

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  • $15.00 (softcover, 6 x 9:  142 pages)   December, 2017 
  • available at

The inaugural edition of the Kids! San Diego Poetry Annual was published on December 1, 2017 after two years in the planning stages.

Over three months last summer, 12 free workshops were conducted at public libraries throughout the county, led by professional poets/educators.  Poetry and art from pre-teenagers (ages 4 to 12) comprise the anthology.

A free PDF of the Kids! SDPA 2017 is available for downloading at

For special ordering and editorial staff information, visit

Sponsored by the San Diego Entertainment  + Arts Guild (SDEAG), a regional arts 501(c)(3) non-profit, the book received funding from the San Diego County Community Enhancement Fund, the Friends of the Oceanside Library and from private donors.

Copies are being donated to public libraries throughout our region.

The KSDPA 2017 constitutes the third separate volume of the complete 2016-17 San Diego Poetry Annual, which also includes a bilingual volume, consisting of poems written in Spanish, with English translations.