“Horse Story” at Tuesday Poem

My poem, “Horse Story,”  from Etymology, has been featured by Sarah Jane Barnett as a Tuesday Poem. Many thanks, Sarah.

Ephraim’s Eyes Available as E-book

Ephraim’s Eyes, named a Best Book of 2010, has just been published as an e-book. The collection is available both for Kindle and as an I-Book for US$2.99.

Praise for Ephraim’s Eyes:

“These Stories are extraordinary things.” (Mary McCallum).

“Walpert’s stories jump through matters as diverse as ecology, mycology, super-hero mythology, the role of the olive through history and Buddhism. It’s an impressive collection with stories that resonate with compassion and insight. (Robin Lewis, LeftLion Magazine


Slightly Peculiar Love Stories

The story “Earth-One, Earth-Two,” from Ephraim’s Eyes, has been published in a new ebook short fiction anthology, Slightly Peculiar Love Stories, out from Rosa Mira Books. The anthology features authors from New Zealand, Argentina, Israel, Hong Kong, the US, and the UK .

From the publisher:

Slightly Peculiar Loves Stories paint a grand mandala of experience and circumstance: love appears and disappears; it yearns after an old flame or a new planet; it dares to declare itself, or to wait for the right one; it aches in the head, the heart, the groin, and all over. Love is characterised in the curve of a hip, in the folded corner of a page; it fondles memories or fast-forwards into fantasy or fetishism, even psychosis. It falls for unlikely people and suffers fits of jealousy …
You’ll read of love in a time of war; late, old love; love left too late; and mysterious new love that demands a leap of trust. A couple of stories poke into dark corners where love is whittled to a sliver of hope or a single compassionate act.

Whimsical, intense, pensive or amorous — in SPLS you should find a story for every mood.

Find out more about our eclectic and talented authors, the famous and the daisy-fresh,  on the Rosa Mira Blog

Ephraim’s Eyes Named a Best Book of 2010

Ephraim’s Eyes was named one of the top five books for 2010 by NZ novelist Mary McCallum on a Book Review segment today on Radio New Zealand National.  You can list to the segment here (scroll down to Book Review–Best of 2010).  Here is Mary’s list of the top five books of 2010:

Katherine Mansfield The Storyteller by Kathleeen Jones
Published by Penguin

Ephraim’s Eyes by Bryan Walpert
Published by Pewter Rose Press

Lie of the Land by Pat White
Published by Victoria University Press

These I Have Loved edited by Harvey McQueen
Published by Steele Roberts

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
Published by 4th Estate

Check out Mary McCallum’s blog, where last year she posted this review of Ephraim’s Eyes.

Being an Author: Lessons from the Front

One of the more difficult (and humiliating at times) parts of being an author is setting up readings. Difficult and humiliating because you’re not always warmly welcomed. But it is enlightening. Big book chains have very strict systems for ordering books, which made it difficult and in some cases impossible, for various reasons, for me to read there. But what surprised me was that larger independent bookstores made things difficult as well–and were not as friendly as I expected.

For example, I tried to set up a reading in May 2009 from my poetry collection, Etymology, with the Boulder Book Store, a store I frequented when I lived in Boulder, Colorado. I was told that 1) my publisher (or I) would have to pay a “$200 promotional co-op fee which helps to cover costs of event promotions,” a rather large outlay considering the number of books likely to sell; and 2) that they’d have to see how the book sold off the shelf first before committing to an author event: “Once we see how sales progress, we then decide if we think we can draw in a large enough audience to warrant hosting an event,” I was told by email. 

I was shocked: The store’s founder, David Bolduc, was also a founding member of the Boulder Independent Business Alliance (BIBA). The alliance was created because, according to its website, “Local independent businesses increasingly are being displaced by national chain stores that have become the dominant retailers of everything from books and office supplies to groceries, hardware, and coffee. As corporate businesses displace local merchants, America’s towns are becoming marked by stark uniformity and lack of human scale.”

Here was an independent bookstore, then, touting the importance of shopping at independent stores–but it wasn’t offering the same sort of loyalty to an independent literary press. As for selling off the shelf first–how many copies of a small press book of poetry would sell, exactly, without precisely the sort of promotion the reading was for? I didn’t try to do a reading there when I returned to the U.S. last month to read from Ephraim’s Eyes.

Interestingly, I was not told last year about the consignment policy, with fees ranging from $25 to $225, depending on the package, which I’ve noticed today on the store’s website. The latter fee entitles you, among other things, to a reading with two other authors. Perhaps it wasn’t available at the time. But the bookstore still charges a fee, even if split three ways. And it has created this second-tier system specifically for small publishers (and self-published books).  This seems to me an example of precisely the sort of corporatization and “lack of human scale” that BIBA suggests it opposes. So was the (seemingly) form response that I received by email. 

In fact, the local Border’s in Boulder was much warmer: They were very friendly and encouraging both times I contacted them, even though in both instances (for different reasons) their purchasing policies prevented my reading there. Their exchanges with me were, in fact, also more personal and encouraging  (the events manager said something nice about the cover, for example, so it was clear she’d looked it up) than those of the Denver-based independent Tattered Cover Book Store, which gave me a runaround when I called them in 2009 and responded with only a curt reply–that their event schedule was full–this year.

The good news is that I’ve been warmly welcomed by other (smaller) independent shops, who were happy to have me read without any fee. During my recent trip to the U.S., I read from my collection of stories, Ephraim’s Eyes, at the Ivy Bookshop in Baltimore, where I also read from Etymology last year, and the Broadway Book Mall in Denver. Both were wonderful to work with. (The Ivy ordered Etymology directly from the UK publisher.) Ron and Nina Else at Broadway Book Mall even put out a spread of nibbles and drinks at no charge. In New Zealand, I’ve been warmly supported with readings and booksales by Bruce McKenzie Booksellers in Palmerston North in conjunction with the Palmerston North City LibraryUnity Books in Wellington sold my books at an off-site reading and at the store.  Thanks to all of those people who supported these readings.

Signed copies of Ephraim’s Eyes are available at both The Ivy Bookshop and Broadway Book Mall, should you be in the neighborhood; either way, please support these stores!

Review of Ephraim’s Eyes

Ephraim’s Eyes has received a kind review from LeftLion Magazine (issue 37, Oct-Nov 2010) in England:

Ephraim’s Eyes
Bryan Walpert
Pewter Rose, £8.99

In this, his first collection of short stories, New Zealand author Bryan Walpert tackles tragedy, how it invades our lives and how we take refuge from it. Whether it’s the sudden and violent death of a beloved spouse or the sickening realisation that the promise we were once sure we held has evaporated while we weren’t looking, each story revolves around loss and pain. Walpert’s deceptively meandering style hides a sharp punch to your gut as he leads us through the manifold ways we meet grief and disappointment. Some hide, some obsess, some flee into fantasy, and others hold on to their sanity with whitened knuckles. It’s a slim volume, but Walpert’s stories jump through matters as diverse as ecology, mycology, super-hero mythology, the role of the olive through history and Buddhism. It’s an impressive collection with stories that resonate with compassion and insight. Robin Lewis

Tuesday Poem: In the Photograph


In the Photograph

that I have never seen,
the one my wife refuses to show me,
the one in the frame hugged to her chest,
she stands in a crowd, as I imagine it,
her hair larger, and looks ahead
to a future she has no idea includes me
imagining in the past
framed by this photograph a bird
sits just barely discernable in a tree
behind the voluminous mane of her head.
It has a red beak or, if the photograph, 
which I may have mentioned I have not seen,
is black and white, it is a beak one might
have to imagine to imagine to be red.
I may be making too much of the beak.
The tree might be what most matters
in this photograph, the way its skeletal
branches importune something about
winter sneaking up behind her,
like the future she thinks
she’s looking into, so young,
younger than I’ve ever known her.
It’s a group shot, but the photographer
has noticed her. Not her hair,
which is beautiful, but the red line
of her lips, the smile he commands
darting too quickly across her face,
a bird alighting on a branch
then flurrying away, like the present,
as if noticing it has been noticed
by someone who wants to say to the person
beside him, Quick, look at that bird,
but that person will say, What bird? What tree?
Anyway, she’ll say, this person beside him,
the person putting the frame face-down
on the table, then placing a book on top of it,
she’ll say, Anyway, it’s winter now,
and what’s gone is gone.

Mary McCallum generously asked me to post one of my own poems today. A bit immodest, but how often does a poet get requests? The poem was published originally in the journal Runes. It’s in my manuscript, A History of Glass, currently seeking a publisher. I’ll skip any critical commentary on the poem, though; might give me a split personality. For more Tuesday Poems, visit the Tuesday Poem site.