MadHat Press

Conversations and Other Songs by Roy Nathanson

“Read this book: It will give you back the hope we have long lost. These verses speak of the chance beauty in a human face, observed strangers who act as guides, the insides; the veins, the nerves and the absurdities of music, of songs, of words, of the breath within the very mechanism of the saxophone and on into the depth and the sorrow and the goodbye of the ‘Family’ poems. Roy Nathanson’s Conversations and Other Songs loans to the heart and the spirit verses that endure and surpass the melancholy of plague and the bitterness of time with humour and a humility of words and hope in the human breath.”

—Elvis Costello

“Roy Nathanson’s Conversations and Other Songs comes from the same plaintive, wise, playful, heartbroken, innovative, sonorous well that his beautiful music does. And like his horn, these conversations will make you laugh and dance and shake your head and weep. All of which is to say, as those of us lucky enough to have heard him play know, they’ll make you know you’re a part of the song.”

—Ross Gay

“A joyful, sad, rich, robust, raucous music spills out of every poem in Roy Nathanson’s gem of a second book, Conversations and Other Songs. Here is a book vital with the rhythms, notes, blasts, and booms of Brooklyn. A book in love with … Nathanson’s sixth-grade music students teaching him ‘to face the music,’ the NYC transit workers who returned his lost saxophone and ‘the brownish purple kid with the cool green hair.’ … honors all those who struggle each day to survive the horrors of the pandemic, the crazed administration, the systemic racism and brutality that threatens to destroy America.…”

—Jeff Friedman, author of Pretenders and Floating Tales

“… a tender, vibrational, and deeply humane body of poems from the quotidian to a subtle lyrical homage to Thelonious Monk when he has stopped talking and playing. It’s a steady romp through a life playing saxophone with a hipster’s knack for words.… inflected by jazz, that keeps us breathing, laughing, lamenting.”

—Anne Waldman

Paperback: 130 pp.
Publisher: MadHat Press, Inc.
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1-952335-10-5


MadHat Press is a leading publisher of unique and vital contemporary poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and criticism.

MadHat Press seeks to foster the work of writers and poets: explosive, lyrical, passionate, deeply wrought voices that stretch the boundaries of language, narrative and image, vital and enduring literary voices that sing on the page as well as in the mind.

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