"Arizona: 100 Years, 100 Poems, 100 Poets"
By Stuart Watkins, edited by Hawkeye Watkins (Self-published, $15)
Gov. Jan Brewer is expected within the next few weeks to name Arizona's first poet laureate for a two-year term. The Watkinses - son Hawkeye and father Stuart - have collected material and published it with the goal of promoting the position. Although the cover features a photo of the mounted horseman at the entrance to the Sonoita Fairgrounds, the range of the poems selected by the Watkinses is by no means limited to "cowboy" style.
"Black & White: The Confrontation between Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and Eugene 'Bull' Connor"
By Larry Dane Brimner (Calkins Creek, an imprint of Boyds Mills Press, Inc., $16.95)
A photo-essay recap of the stormy 1960s fight for racial equality in Birmingham, Ala., by award-winning writer Brimner. Baptist minister Shuttlesworth was a founder of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights and a co-founder with Martin Luther King Jr. of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Shuttlesworth was a fiery leader who confronted Birmingham lawman Connor. He led sit-ins, freedom rides and other assorted protests, faced dogs and water cannons, and landed in jail. A tragic event was the Ku Klux Klan bombing of the 16th Street Baptist church killing four young Sunday schoolers. Connor died in 1973, Shuttlesworth in 2011.
"Days of the Elephants: A Story of Lives Lost in Liberia and Found in America"
By Ron Swager and Ed Chinn (Cool River Pub, $15)
Roland Deah was a victim of the civil war in Liberia in the 1990s. The frightening, incredible odyssey of this determined, lucky boy begins in the forests, military and refugee camps of Liberia. It continues through a temporary home in the Ivory Coast and winds up in Tucson with a miraculous encounter with a fellow African. It is told by Swager, a Tucson businessman, with the help of freelance writer Chinn.
"Where the Best Began: Stories of Boy on the American Prairie"
By L.D. Bergsgaard (Dog Ear Publishing, $9.95)
In practiced, readable prose, retired law enforcement officer Bergsgaard recollects a boyhood in Mandan, N.D., at mid-20th century. The wonder of youth is combined with the fondness and wisdom of a retiree. Encompassing a school year, Larry "Moose" Bergsgaard and his friends and family await the arrival of a new teacher, survive the holidays and wind up traveling to Uncle Gus's farm for a "summer surprise," which turns out to be more than anyone bargained for.
"Memories of a Distant Star: Love Stories from Heaven and Hell"
By Rajendra Kumar (Self-published, $15)
In 22 short stories, with a simple straightforward prose style, Kumar, a psychologist, recounts lives and memories of his characters, primarily Asian, living and dead. In the title story, the narrator, a Japanese housewife, recalls a youthful outing in which her companion, a young man, is injured. Revisiting the site of the outing with her husband, she recalls everything in sad, laconic detail. Marriage, she concludes, can bring happiness, but "Love is a distant star … You can never reach it. You can only talk to it."
By Kate Mathis (PowWow Publishing, $14.95)
Melanie Ward is an agent of the Covert Defense Division, a secret branch of the U.S. government known to its intimates as "The Agency," with headquarters in "The Manor," which is also where Ward lives. She is available for any kind of project and takes on assignments from computer hacking to trafficking in human beings. This is the third volume in the series.
"Gifted: How God Is Glorified"
By Jerry McDermott (iUniverse, $18.95)
Though retired from his many career activities, including that of lay pastor, McDermott continues to write stressing the value of a spiritual life over a secular life. "The overall theme of this book," he concludes, referring to "Gifted," "is about God's love for us and his quest for our eternal companionship."
"Put Your Spirit to Work: Making a Living being Yourself"
By Deborah Knox (Wheatmark, $15.95)
On her lifeworktransitions.com website, Knox identifies herself as a "career and midlife transitions counselor." Her latest book, part guidance counseling and part workbook, relies on elements of the Hindu religion, as well as other sources, to help people take hard looks at themselves. The goal is to discover true talents.
Authors who live in Southern Arizona and would like their book included in this column should send a copy to: J.C. Martin, P.O.Box 65388, Tucson, AZ 85728-5388. Include the price and the name of someone who can provide additional information. After the titles appear in this column, they go to the Pima Community College West Campus library. Most of the books are available locally at Mostly Books or Antigone's. Read past editions of Southern Arizona Authors at southernarizonaauthors.org