Who Lets Go First
by Gian Lombardo

ISBN: 978-0-934714-27-3
Swamp Press (Northfield, MA), 2010
80 pp., softbound, 5.5" x 7.5"
$16.00 ($20.00 boxed set with throwing coins)
PROSE POETRY, with artwork by Wayne Hogan

Individuals: Order directly from Swamp Press, ed at swamppress dot com, 15 Warwick Rd., Northfield, MA 01360, or download order form.

Bookstores: Contact Swamp Press, ed at swamppress dot com, 15 Warwick Rd., Northfield, MA 01360.

In this series of sixty-four meditative prose poems, Gian Lombardo refigures the timeless allegory of the I Ching into a contemporary “guide for the perplexed.” While Who Lets Go First takes its form and inspiration from the ancient Chinese book of divination, it is not a translation.The poems are reflections based on the imagery or hint of a narrative derived from reading the commentary and symbolism of the I Ching’s hexagrams.

In the journal The Prose Poem: An International Journal, Brian Johnson wrote,“these poems, at once good-natured and dark-spirited... are attempts to create a harmony—or negotiate a truce—between opposing elements.This is a book of elemental conflicts: land and sky, low and high, light and dark, hunger and satiation, free will and fate, departing and arriving.”

John Olson, in Tillalala Chronicles (tillalala.blogspot.com) said,“Lombardo’s parables are both edgy and whimsical. The phrases are lyrical delicacies... and the images are rich and timeless... sometimes they have a quirky huckleberry tartness.”

Who Lets Go First was letterpress printed with metal type in a limited edition of 100 hardcover books and 350 softcovers.The softcovers were bound using an antique Smyth book sewer from the late 19th century and the covers were attached using a novel die-cutting slot and tab system developed at Swamp Press.The book features illustrations by Wayne Hogan and the boxed set comes with three reproduction antique Chinese coins and instructions for throwing a hexagram.

From Who Lets Go First...

#1: Sky Upon Sky

If you are told in a dream you can fly, would you jump from a cliff after waking? As you dream you are flying, do you care to wake?

Everything you know — your books and paintbrushes, your saws and shovels, family, love and fears— lies below. You appear as a small speck in the field of sky. You think if you wake in your dream, you will not fall.

And if you see anyone fast approaching, do you open your arms?

Now look up. See how much air is still above...

#38: Oil & Water

The rope you hold begs the question: How to tie a noose and toss it over a branch?
Put it over your head to see how it fits.

But before you can braid that deadly knot, someone grabs the other end and runs. You dig in your heels.

With the rope taut, the other circles around you. You twirl, describing a smaller orbit to keep from being wrapped in the line. Soon the world’s a queasy blur.

Who will let go first?

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