Review: Nature Store by Mary Kasimor

Nature Store by Mary Kasimor (dancing girl press & studio, 2017)

Reviewed by Ann Tweedy

Mary Kasimor is an experimental poet who has published numerous books and chapbooks and who, more recently, has begun to establish herself as a visual artist.  Now retired, she served for many years as a professor at a technical college in Minnesota.  She describes her art as being like her poetry in that it is “very experimental and abstract.”  She uses thread, ink and paint (watercolor or acrylic).  Her paintings, reminiscent of Rothko’s early work, have soft shapes connected by wavy lines which are set against a colorful background.  Her poetry is imagistic and non-linear and often explores gender and other social justice issues, along with her own experiences. 

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Recommended Reading: Pride Month 2019

Queer literature isn’t just about representation. It’s about making room for fluidity, hybridity, experimentation, the complicated, difficult to define realities of the way we define ourselves, the ways we love, the ways we see and move through the world. This month, we celebrate LGBTQ+ authors — those we’ve covered in the past, and those we look forward to reading in the near future.

Favorites we recommend…

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Review: Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett

Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett (Tin House Books, 2019)

Reviewed by Emily Nelson

Florida has a pretty brutal reputation. Between the ghastly riches of the Florida Man meme to Marco Rubio, there’s definitely more than a few reasons that a decent portion of the U.S. sees it as the embarrassing Drunk Uncle of the states. But if Kristen Arnett has anything to say about it, Florida is on the come up — at least, as far as literature is concerned. Her debut novel, Mostly Dead Things, is as much a love letter to her state of residence as it is a darkly sweet story of grief and growth in a family of taxidermists. Arnett, a darling of Literary Twitter for her dispatches on working as a librarian and her dedication to convenience stores (her Twitter bio declares her a “7-Eleven Scholar”), creates in Mostly Dead Things a universe conjured from swamp magic and sweat, something gritty and wild and aggressively real that makes it instantly unforgettable.

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Review: Forgiveness Forgiveness by Shane McCrae

Forgiveness Forgiveness by Shane McCrae (Factory Hollow Press 2014)

Reviewed by Rebecca Valley

In the past few months, I have read two books by Shane McCrae. First, I read his latest collection In the Language of My Captor – a series of persona poems and loosely autobiographical musings which focus on the complicated nature of race and racism in American history. I fell in love with the way McCrae refuses to bow down to stereotypical narratives of what it means to be black. As a mixed-race man raised by white grandparents, McCrae explores is own nuanced identity beside the identities and imagined experiences of African Americans kept in cages by white museum curators, all the while refusing to preference once experience of blackness in America over another. In In the Language of My Captors, McCrae acknowledges the complicated nature of communicating this spectrum of black experience in the language of white Europeans – this is particularly true when thinking about poetry as a genre whose canon is made up almost entirely of white, male faces.

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Review: The Emissary by Yoko Tawada

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The Emissary by Yoko Tawada, trans. by Margaret Mitsutani (New Directions 2018)

Reviewed by Rebecca Valley

It had been my intention all along to review Yoko Tawada’s most recently translated novel The Emissary this week, and the announcement that Tawada was the recipient of the first award for translated literature since the National Book Award became the National Book Award in the early 1980s only solidified my thrill at getting the chance to write about this novel. Though all the books selected this year are exciting – I am particularly interested in finally reading Sigrid Nunez’s The Friend – I am particularly happy to see this nod to translated books in American literature. Compared to most countries America’s publication of translated works is nominal, and I respect and appreciate the National Book Award in their effort to encourage publishers to look internationally for new voices. Continue reading

Review: Moon: Maps, Letters, Poems by Jennifer S. Cheng

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Moon: Maps, Letters, Poems by Jennifer S. Cheng (Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2018)

Reviewed by Rebecca Valley

At a poetry reading in September at a planetarium on the Amherst College campus, Dorothea Lasky and Alex Dimitrov talked about astrology – in particular, they talked about moons. Our individual moons: closer to us than other planets and yet too far to ever touch, milky and always changing their shape to match the rhythm of months,. Moons in Scorpio, Aries, Leo, Capricorn. Our moons, they told us, are where our poetry comes from. They were sure of this. Continue reading

Review: The Descent of Monsters by JY Yang

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The Descent of Monsters by JY Yang (Tor, 2018)

Reviewed by Carl Lavigne

I have never read a book quite like JY Yang’s, The Descent of Monsters, the third novella in their silkpunk Tensorate series. I have read and loved their first two installments, I have read Victorian epistolary novels, I have imbibed mysteries, thrillers, and other assorted noir, but never something that so successfully wove all these disparate DNAs together. Continue reading