NOt Flowers by Noreen Ocampo (Variant Literature 2022)
Reviewed by Jillian A. Fantin
Very infrequently does a poet arrest their reader in so few pages and with such a delicate touch as does Noreen Ocampo. Following her debut micro collection Teaspoons, Ocampo’s Not Flowers continues her exploration of the soft, the familial, and the power of memory. The poetry of Not Flowers reads with the serenity of a Studio Ghibli meadow combined with the timeless Victorian illustrations by Kate Greenaway, curating a fantasy-adjacent field of poetry combining memory and the senses. Nonetheless, Ocampo’s Not Flowers remains deeply rooted in the present, utilizing the power of sensorial memory to curate the speaker’s soft, loving contemporary moment. Ultimately, Ocampo disrupts the seemingly dichotomous relationship between being a flower versus a “not-flower” and finds tenderness and nostalgia to be elements of strength, rather than of weakness.
The Kissing of Kissing by Hannah Emerson (Milkweed 2022)
Reviewed by Rebecca Valley
A few days ago, a friend sent me an article about a black hole at the center of the Milky Way, which scientists recently captured on film for the first time. The author writes: “despite its ‘supermassive” designation, is not very large in the grand scheme of things.”
Seeing the Body by Rachel Eliza Griffiths (WW Norton and Co. 2020)
Reviewed by Margaret Anne Kean
“…her body was the only home/I cared about.”
Poet Marilyn Nelson has said “when you go to listen to a poet read, you leave having learned not only about the poet’s reality but also about the reality you are living.” She calls this “communal pondering.” Through Rachel Eliza Griffiths’ exquisite fifth book, Seeing the Body, we are invited into communal pondering about the physicality of grief, silence and absence, as the poet grapples with her mother’s death, its effect on the poet’s body and psyche, and the necessity of living beyond such a monumental loss.
Study of the Raft by Leonora Simonovis (University of Colorado Press 2021)
Reviewed by Rebecca Valley
“I chant I’m home
How many times
will it take
to feel it?”
Requeening by Amanda moore (ecco press 2021)
Reviewed by Leonora Simonovis
When members of a beehive are diseased—when their temperament changes or the queen is unable to lay eggs–– beekeepers use a practice called requeening, in which one queen is substituted for another to disrupt the current patterns in the hive and create new healthy patterns that will allow its members to grow and thrive. It is impossible not to notice the irony: the queen has an important role in keeping the hive actively developing and yet, once her “usefulness” has passed, she is discarded.
Karthik Sethuraman is an Indian-American living in California. His works have appeared or are forthcoming in The Rumpus, AAWW, Hot Metal Bridge, and Fairy Tale Review, among others. One work, Saramakavi, was performed at the Asian Art Museum where he was a KSW writing fellow. His chapbook, Prayer Under Eyelids, is available from Nomadic Press.