Landscape of The Wait by Jami Macarty (Finishing Line Press, 2017)
Derived from the ancient word for “watching,” waiting seems especially relegated to the human animal. Waiting implies the existence of a thought process as well as biology–a stasis, a trance. The state implies a wish, as a reaction to time and action. It makes sense that the literature of waiting has ancient origins, and that the sub-genre thrives during war. The world’s most important epics are also part of the body of the literature of waiting. The Odyssey and Penelope’s wait, and The Aeneid and Dido’s wait are two of our most essential examples. Naturally, the literature of waiting thrived during World War II, when Yehuda Amichai wrote the marvelous poem I heard him read in Hebrew and in English at the Hillel Center at UCLA in the 1990’s, where he said, in essence, that the war was not worth the poems made by the light of warfare. It begins
Out of three or four in a room,
One is always standing at the window.
Forced to see the injustice among the thorns,
The fires on the hills.
Moon: Maps, Letters, Poems by Jennifer S. Cheng (Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2018)
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
Contributing editor Leonora Simonovis interviews poet Victoria Chang about her fourth collection of poems, BARBIE CHANG, out from Copper Canyon Press in 2017. They discuss resistance, the idea of being and representing otherness, the playfulness of poetry, and Chang’s forthcoming collection, which features short obituary poems written after the death of her mother. Continue reading
Royals by Cedar Sigo (Wave Books, 2017)
Cedar Sigo exemplifies a poet who is deeply read and constantly aware of the poetic influences upon him. In Royals, published by Wave Books in late summer 2017, Sigo’s topic is largely the poetic world he inhabits. In fact, the book goes so far as to be meta-poetic—the poems are about creating poetry, conversations with other poets, written to and for poets, and contain allusions to the works of other poets. Poetry as subject is infused into virtually every poem in this book. Continue reading
Review: Whereas by Layli Long Solider (Gray Wolf Press, 2017)
I was lost, looking for a wedding in the Valley of Fire, Red Rock, Nevada. At every curve in the road, I thought the towering stone formations might reveal my friend’s white dress. When it was clear I wouldn’t find the party, I parked the car and wandered into the crevices between the rocks. I waded through the fine, pink sand to the place where I could see the petroglyphs carved into their faces. Around me were creatures who looked rabbit-human, goat-human, and spirals, and horned insecta. I walked deeper into the rock, looking for more of the 3000-year-old language, the setting sun making the world more red. Continue reading
Calling a Wolf a Wolf by Kaveh Akbar (Alice James Books, 2017)
Reviewed by Rebecca Valley
I saw Kaveh Akbar read last month under a white tent lit with string lights in Emily Dickinson’s garden. The garden, of course, was not as tranquil as it had been when Emily sat there. Akbar read over a hum of street traffic and chatting pedestrians. At moments, though, it was quiet. Akbar read elegy after elegy – for lost language and lost friends, for a version of himself that drank more and hurt more – and I thought of Emily. “One need not be a chamber to be haunted, / One need not be a house…” Continue reading
Queen of Pentacles by Audrey T. Carroll (Choose the Sword Press, 2016)
When looking through my tarot deck one night, I picked out the Queen of Pentacles card and thought about her meaning. When upright, she is motherly, down-to-earth, and warm—when reversed, she is a woman in a toxic environment, neglected and imbalanced. Her identity, along with all the good and bad it comes with, permeates Queen of Pentacles, Audrey T. Carroll’s first poetry collection about mental illness, being queer, and the healing (as well as the destruction) that comes from the feminine self. Continue reading
The Body’s Alphabet by Ann Tweedy (Headmistress Press, 2016)
Reviewed by Rebecca Valley
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Ann Tweedy’s collection The Body’s Alphabet is a book of in-betweens – in-between homes, in-between loves, in-between sexualities. It is a book about motherhood and memory, and the space we keep for our childhood long after we have grown up around it. Though Tweedy begins The Body’s Alphabet with the lines “I tread through / the world mindful that upsets / follow unguarded movement” (1), over the course of the collection she finds strength in those quiet and delicate moments, and in doing so steps out from her own carefully crafted betweenness to affirm her presence in the work. Continue reading
celeris by Emily O’Neill (Fog Machine, 2016)
There’s a famous Cat Power breakup song from her album The Greatest that interrupts its own declarations of love to reflect on “horses galloping,” asking someone to bring them to her (presumably when they’re done galloping, the lyrics are unclear). O’Neill calls her second chap her book about horses, and given the central galloping/charging motif present, as well as several of the titles involving that animal, it seems to be true. Power’s song “Where Is My Love” is important to keep in mind for Emily O’Neill’s wonderful second chap precisely because it represents everything O’Neill subverts in her book celeris, out since March on Fog Machine. Continue reading