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C of I’s Raptosh to release new poetry book

Straddling street corners from state to state, “sign twirlers” can be found dancing, gyrating and spinning signs to steal the attention of vehicle passersby. 

And it is from the perspective of a female sign twirler that many of the poems in College of Idaho professor Diane Raptosh’s new book, Human Directional, are delivered.

“Would that we lived in a world where poetry had the kind of visibility that advertising—and even graffiti—seem to enjoy,” Raptosh said. “My vision for this collection is that at least some of the poems could make it into communities in some of the very forms it borrows from the realm of advertising.”

Pointing and spinning from Fifth and State in an American west city, the sign twirler “hangs deranging rectangles”: prose poems, micro-fictions, flash essays, free verse, and monostiches. Some of the works come to the reader in poems simulating such forms as digital billboards, light boxes, and 3-D broadsides. Using signs “like guitars with a mind / to feed people what they can feel,” the twirler aims to “hook up reason / with passion-acumen.” Along the way, she hopes to team up with the reader in order to “draft a better system in scratchitti / on the sides of buses.”

Raptosh’s most recent work, American Amnesiac, was named to the National Book Foundation’s Longlist for poetry in 2013. The Idaho Writer in Residence’s forthcoming collection of poems will be published by the same publisher, Etruscan Press, and is scheduled for release in September of 2016.

Etruscan Press describes the new collection as “a remarkably original, unpredictable, devastating epic, revealing the heartbreak and absurdity of our world by exploding its most sacred memes.”

If 2016 is too long to wait for Raptosh’s poetic prowess, then readers can drop in on any of the readings and workshops she will be doing this summer:

-          July 14: Ketchum Public Library reading, 7 p.m.

-          Aug. 2-8: Writers at Harriman, Harriman State Park

-          Oct. 8: College of Southern Idaho reading, 7 p.m., Twin Falls

Founded in 1891, The College of Idaho is the state’s oldest private liberal arts college. The C of I has a legacy of academic excellence, a winning athletics tradition and a history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, four NFL players and countless business leaders and innovators. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. For more information, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu.