Review: OBIT by Victoria Chang

OBIT by Victoria Chang (Copper Canyon Press, 2020)

Reviewed by Rebecca Valley

I wrote my first and only obituary in 2018, for my uncle. His name was Thom. He died quite suddenly, at 48, after decade-old cancer cells appeared again in his colon, took over his liver, swallowed him up.

Which is to say that I am no expert in the articulation of existence. And anyway, how do you go about writing a single document that might convey the precious, imperfect, complicated, wonderful nuances of an entire life? For Victoria Chang, the obituary is not just a death notice, but a mode. In her latest collection, OBIT, she asks: What continues to live when someone we love dies? What dies with them?

“I used to think that a dead person’s words die with them. Now I know that they scatter, looking for meaning to attach to a scent” (18)

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Review: Sea, Land, Shadow by Kazuko Shiraishi

Sea, Land, Shadow by Kazuko Shiraishi, trans. by Yumiko Tsumara (New Directions Books, 2017)

Reviewed by Clara Guyton

Nicknamed “the Alan Ginsberg of Japan” by Kenneth Rexroth, Kazuko Shiraishi brings readers a sight-seeing drive through the mystical mountains of Japan in her collection Sea, Land, Shadow, complete with sharp turns and curves, moments of awe-inspiring depth and darkness, and instants of effervescent lightheartedness.

“on a mountain road in a traffic jam

I have poetry, so I’m fine…” (8)

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From Ecocide to Ecopoetics: Can Poetry Save Us From Ourselves? by Leonora Simonovis

From Ecocide to Ecopoetics: Can Poetry Save Us From Ourselves?

Written by Leonora Simonovis

In his essay “The Language of the Master,” Paul Kingsnorth argues that language is a form of ecocide because it creates a divide between us and our surrounding reality. The author  observes that language “is both our most effective tool and our most powerful weapon.” It can be –and has been– used to manipulate and control others, as well as to impose worldviews and ways of living. It was what colonizers in the Western hemisphere did, and many of the official languages spoken today are living proof of this fact. They have been legitimized and validated, while other languages –indigenous and creole languages, for example– are either in danger of becoming extinct or only spoken at home.

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Review: The After Party by Jana Prikryl

The After Party by Jana Prikryl (Tim Duggan Books, 2016)

Reviewed by Hannah Wyatt

A couple of weekends ago, while wandering through the statuesque dinosaurs and food trucks of my new city, I picked up a $1 copy of Jana Prikryl’s The After Party (Tim Duggan Books, 2016) at a tent sale hosted by Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Library. This being my first read of Prikryl’s work, I was delighted to find that, within the first few lines of the collection, I felt I was reading someone who cared about the world I care about.

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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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