How Formal? is a 142-page collection of intriguing, quirky, and original — the three qualities  I look for in a book — poetry by Stephanie Barbé Hammer recently released by Spout Hill Press, an independent publisher in Southern California. How Formal? takes readers on a wild but accessible ride through sestinas, haiku, sonnets, and psalms — with some stopovers in free verse and prose poetry.

From Donna Hilbert’s review: How Formal? First thought upon opening an invitation to an intimidating, important party (white tie, black tie, beach chic, business casual). Stephanie Barbé Hammer’s poems arrive wearing high-top tennies, tiara, and tulle. But you are welcome to come as you are to these intellectually hip poems, sometimes funny, always bracing—much as we wish conversation to be at said party, but seldom is. She retells fairy tales (“hood again in 5”), makes up her own, (“Doll Defenestration”), poet as comfortable in the mall as the in temple. Put on your bathrobe, pour a glass of wine or cup of coffee, settle yourself on the sofa (why fight the traffic) and enjoy the fine company of How Formal?

Find How Formal? by Stephanie Barbé Hammer at Amazon.com.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Descended from Norwegian plumbers on one side, and bohemian Russian aristocrats on the other, Stephanie Barbé Hammer wrote her first poem at six and has never stopped loving poems. She has published short fiction and poetry in Mosaic, The Bellevue Literary Review, Pearl, NYCBigCityLit, Rhapsoidia, CRATE, and the Hayden’s Ferry Review among other places. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize four times – most recently, in 2013, for her nonfiction work on converting to Judaism and her relationship with French. Her prose poem chapbook, Sex with Buildings, was published with Dancing Girl Press in May 2012. She is the recent recipient of an MFA from the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts and is currently working on a series of novels about a secret branch of Anabaptists that uses puppets for rituals. A former New Yorker, Stephanie divides her time between Los Angeles, California and Coupevillle, Washington. She lives with her husband, Larry Behrendt, at least two unfinished knitting projects, and a bunch of cookbooks whose covers she has never cracked.