The color, noise, and often cryptic images of classic video games set the prose poems in B.J. Best’s But Our Princess Is in Another Castle in motion, but the poems soar far beyond their nostalgic springboards. And while Mario, Pac-Man, and pioneer families forsaken on The Oregon Trail populate these pixelated landscapes, this book translates the games and plays them in the real world, so an Asteroid becomes just one more star shot with lost love, Space Invaders might have communist sympathies, and God is just as bad at Tetris as the rest of us. Written for gamers and non-gamers alike, the book’s levels explore how our past virtual lives can inform our present actual ones. A coming-of-age narrative turned love story turned philosophical journey, But Our Princess Is in Another Castle deftly combines two mediums into vivid poems as lyrical as they are imaginative.
«In But Our Princess Is in Another Castle, B.J. Best retools the Bildungsroman for the new century. This mesmerizing book is part poetry, part virtual reality, and part search for grace. Withe images more human than pixelated, and in cunning, perfect language, Best texture maps a beautiful coming of age in our ordinary electric kingdom. It’s a blast to quest through Best’s levels, from the blissful to the haunting and the hilariously surprising where, among Ms. Pac-Man and Frogger sightings, a speaker navigates his life, Noah struggles on the ark, and God loses at Tetris.»
Amy Newman, author of Dear Editor
«Remember that tingle when you first heard the sword flash in The Legend of Zelda? The giddy ecstasy of those rising tones when you first found a piece of the Triforce? Feel it again within these pages. In his latest collection, B.J. Best honors the traditions of prose poetry and of gaming with nuance and depth while instilling a sense of unmitigated discovery you will recognize from those years when you were open to pleasure in any form. But Our Princess Is in Another Castle is a book that constantly surprises with its clarity, like another leap in processing power that yields graphics the likes of which you’ve never seen before.»
Phong Nguyen, author of Pages from the Textbook of Alternate History
B.J. Best is the author of two previous books of poetry: Birds of Wisconsin (New Rivers Press) and State Sonnets (sunnyoutside). He is also the author of three chapbooks from Centennial Press, most recently the prose poem collection Drag: Twenty Short Poems about Smoking. He teaches at Carroll University and lives in the Wisconsin countryside with one wife, one son, three cats, and nine video game systems. He asserts he is the only person in the history of the world to have beaten Super Mario Bros.—with an actual Nintendo and television—on a pontoon boat. Visit his website here.