Winner of a 2010 American Book Award and the 2009 Asian American Literary Award for Poetry
"Sesshu Foster's World Ball Notebook is a tour de force of the wide shot and the close-up. On the 'world ball' field, the actions of governments ricochet off each other and their citizens; simultaneously, the moves each individual makes in her life produce private effects and global reverberations. Very few contemporary writers have captured with such skill and feeling the specific geography and register of Los Angeles—its relentless highways, urban milieu, mixes of peoples and languages, various local struggles—and its inextricability from much larger geographical, political and human landscapes that stretch from the American West to Central and South America to Asia. Past and present and future constitute their own playing fields, too. What distinguishes World Ball Notebook from an array of contemporary poetry books is the capaciousness of Foster's vision, one that never generalizes or makes reductive, and his empathetic respect for the individual characters whose lives might otherwise be lost to history."
—Dorothy Wang, Judge for the Poetry category of the Twelfth Annual Asian American Literary Awards
The first team sport in human history was played with a ball made of stone, on courts that have been found from the Mayan ruins of Central America to Arizona. Thus we find a soccer dad walking the sidelines of a scuffed LA field, its goal lines swirling, nets strung loosely between daylight and the spirit world—Foster's inimitably fierce and powerfully evocative mix of the fantastic and the mundane.
Visit Sesshu Foster's blog, East Los Angeles Dirigible Air Transport Lines.
Listen to a podcast of poet Sesshu Foster reading from his eclectic World Ball Notebook, recorded at City Lights on April 29, 2009, under our podcast home page.
Praise for Sesshu Foster's World Ball Notebook:
"World Ball Notebook is Sesshu Foster's breakthrough book, the one where he raises the trenchant deadpan observations of City Terrance Field Manual (1996) and the alternative universe hijinks of Atomik Aztex (2005) to a new and ever more potent level (Beware, dear reader, the contents of this book are radioactive). Always able to be surprising and incisive, he now arrives at the marvelous in the ordinary, banal, and abject, and, in words that dance and tremble, conveys the sheer (and often terrifying) wonder that one is alive in a terrible, weird, and nutty time. It is this wonder ––this sense of seeing everyday life for the first time, and embracing every part of it without exception––that places Foster at the forefront of innovative and daring writing. This book is exhilarating, and I am grateful to the author for giving me the chance to see the world this way."
—John Yau, author of Borrowed Love Poems
"As if channeling Robbe-Grillet, who strove to establish 'new relations between man and the world,' Sesshu Foster's electrifying prose poems tenderly examine then fiercely weave stark-and-broken realities into luminous dream-like narratives on the game of life."
—Wanda Coleman, poet and writer, Jazz and Twelve O'Clock Tales
"What playing field are we on exactly? The game gets hotter more interesting and 'stranged' as Sesshu Foster expands the metaphor in this dizzying collection of 'high energy constructs'. A delicious mongrel mix of cross-cultural underbelly reveries, anecdotes, observations, snapshots, histories, politics. He is one of our wittiest, wide-awake, astute, 21st century raconteurs. 'Take me out to the ballgame...I don't care if I never come back...'"
—Anne Waldman, The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics
"Read this book and you will reach Nirvana in one hour. You will have become many lives, entered into the empty space of form and non-form, substance, texture and anti-being, you will have loved immense figures and you will have been spotted as a jazzy molecule in the stadium where all lives go to whirr and burn. A delicious lightning bolt of ecstatic urban Goddess-breath. This book is made of love. Read it now and be saved."
—Juan Felipe Herrera, author of 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can't Cross the Border and Thunderweavers / Tejedoras de Rayos.
"In a vanguard literary community that valorizes the political as either schizoid submissions to academia or the witty recycling of dilettantes, Sesshu Foster's hybrid poetry is scandalous in its revolutionary spirit and aims. And what is the primary aim of World Ball Notebook? To witness: the street, the people, the neighborhood, the city, and through each of them, the game. I feel Mission of Burma in this writing; and peasant rebels, goalies, Adorno, and beer. Guy Debord would have liked this book--it is nothing less than one brave man's pocket-sized encyclopedia of daily life, rage, and delight in L.A. The curation of its 'entries,' and the mix of their contents and registers, is so deft as to be explosive. The difference between Debord and Foster, however, is that one speaks from snide isolation, the other from street-level absorption. The book's soccer frame is absurd and useful: it reminds me I don't really know where I am, primarily as a reader, but also as a citizen. I don't know what the score is, but I am always in attendance. Sesshu Foster is a punk, a father, a traveler, a lover, and a writer."
—Jeff Clark, author of Music and Suicide and The Little Door Slides Back
Praise for Sesshu Foster's Atomik Aztex:
"It sounds completely unmanageable, but readers will be blown away by Foster's control over the material, the beautiful segues between worlds and the way in which the question 'what time is it?' accrues more and more weight. Brilliantly inventive . . ."
—Publishers Weekly Starred Review
". . . A book so heedlessly imaginative it often seems ready to burst its pages like a comic-book POW." —Bookforum