“Nervy, desperate, and mysteriously stoic, Motika’s debut is a paean to California’s artists, geography, and history that wrestles with urban diminishment and cacophony every step of the way.”
Available in print.
Stephen Motika was born in Santa Monica, California. He is the editor of Tiresias: The Collected Poems of Leland Hickman (2009) and the author of the poetry chapbook, Arrival and at Mono (2007). His articles and poems have appeared in Another Chicago Magazine, BOMB, The Brooklyn Review, Eleven Eleven, The Poetry Project Newsletter, among other publications. His collaboration with artist Dianna Frid, “The Field,” was on view at Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois, Chicago, in 2003. A 2010-2011 Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Resident, he is the program director at Poets House and the publisher of Nightboat Books.
“[Western Practice] is a gorgeous almanac of Motika’s West Coast aesthetic. . .”
—The Poetry Project Newsletter
“Publisher of Nightboat Books, Motika offers generous fractured poems that spread like starfish over the pages of his first book.”
“While there’s a dreamy Venusian quality to Stephen Motika’s poetry, it’s also driven by a care and clarity that animates its landscapes. Western Practice is a book that deserves attention for its rich intersections of projective acrobatics and coming-of-age memory-textures, conjuring the roar of the Pacific at every turn of the line.”
“If twentiety century California artists established a tradition of speculative innovation, then Western Practice ushers visionary West Coast poetics into the twenty-first. Motika’s ingenious ear renders place prosodic; his ‘baroque leaps’ tender a sprung rhythm that turns history into ‘a theory at map’s edge.’ The ‘mystic/gather’ of this music give Motika’s ambitious projective praxis visual beauty and structural rigor. Open this book—’crawl inside & lie down against the future.'”
“How to approach a microtonal notation of a life? Within a diverse field of spacing, Motika’s poem “Delusions Enclosures: On Harry Partch (1901-1974)” scores a biography of the sounds of words and phrases written by the composer himself in and among the poet’s own. In a way, notes. And a fine debut.”
“. . .Western Practice is a vast poetic anthropology. . .Motika’s poems shed the trappings of the solipsistically subjective, producing an efflorescence of wonder about the world at large.”
—The Brooklyn Rail
“Motika’s writing looks and sounds different than his contemporaries’, yet there is no denying the way the light shines on these poems. . . . Western Practice does for the west coast what Leaves of Grass did for the east: it reveals art in everyday life.”
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