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The Sounding Machine

Patty Paine

Winner of the 2011 Accents Publishing International Poetry Book Contest, The Sounding Machine is an exquisite collection of poetry that interrogates memory, culture and loss with courage and compassion. The poems are powerful and urgent and ultimately, with great empathy, they offer solace and the possibility of wringing beauty from ruin. Judge Lisa Williams, who selected the manuscript, provides a perceptive foreword as an entry into the book.

What Others Say About The Sounding Machine

Patty Paine writes with a humanity and compassion that makes history personal, that forgives even as it indicts, that burns with a truth learned from hard places. Deeply revealing and poignant, this new collection marks a strong voice.

—Chris Abani

With intelligence and an awareness of the limits and possibility of metaphor, Patty Paine explores the fierce unclasping and clasping of memory as she writes of family, history, and our bonds to the world. In The Sounding Machine, she works into the complicated, messy, hearts of situations, not shying away from multiple perspectives; in one poem the devoured prey says of the predator: "It was my blood ... muscle and sinew / warming his gut." One believes these strong forays.

—Talvikki Ansel

We all recall Frost's definition of poetry as "the clear expression of mixed feelings." Yet if we think for a moment about this observation, we can't help but be fearful—Frost asks that we hold ourselves to an almost impossible standard. Can we ever really contend with the fraught ambivalence that prompts good poetry? Patty Paine has pondered this question long and hard, and addressed it with spare, tough-minded but exquisitely modulated lyrics. Dualities and uneasy mixtures abound in her poems—Eros and Thanatos; an Asian ancestry and a North American one; the yearning for beauty and a similarly powerful yearning for a hard-bitten realism. Yet with both emotional complexity and a finely honed mastery of technique, Paine unflinchingly reckons with these issues, and does so with honesty and courage. The Sounding Machine is a stunning first collection.

—David Wojahn



A man in prison spends hours
constructing elaborate mazes
on the floor with match sticks.
He pools Tabasco at the end
then lays down a thin trail
of sugar to guide ants
when they come. They come,
and he watches them wind
methodically through his maze.
When they reach the pool
of Tabasco they falter.
Some die, and then more,
until the pile of dead becomes
a bridge. Ants that cross
over are rewarded
with a small mound of sugar
they carry off a crystal at a time.
In Hiroshima those far
from the hypo-center still speak
of the pika followed by the don.
Those close don't remember
seeing the pika or hearing the don.
What they remember is heaving
under their feet. What we remember
is mushroom cloud
leading the eye higher, until
the man excusing himself
for bumping dead bodies
as he stumbles naked
down the street is almost
too small to see.

Details and Ordering

Publication Date: March 1, 2012
Format: Softcover, 6" x 9"
ISBN: 978-1-936628-11-7
Price: $12.00

Ships on or before March 1st

About the Author

Patty Paine is the author of Feral (Imaginary Friend Press), Elegy & Collapse (Finishing Line Press), and co-editor of Gathering the Tide: An Anthology of Contemporary Arabian Gulf Poetry (Garnet Publishing & Ithaca Press). Her poems, reviews, and interviews have appeared in Blackbird: an online journal of literature and the arts, The Atlanta Review, Gulf Stream, The Journal and many other publications. She is the founding editor of Diode Poetry Journal, and is an assistant professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar where she teaches writing and literature, and is assistant director of Liberal Arts & Sciences.

Copyright © Accents Publishing 2012