The Poetry Question

Discovering the Relevance of Words


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I had the opportunity to go to the book release – at the Independent Publishing Resource Center  – for We Try to Touch Everything, a new chapbook from Portland, Oregon poets Alisha Bruton, and Noland Bo Chaliha, where each poem is titled “We Try to Touch Everything”. It was pretty incredible to watch Noland, and a crew of volunteers, print the pages, cut the pages, work with the covers, and get everything bound. There’s definitely something powerful about a DIY project; it makes it a lot more personal for both the writer, and their audience. It’s a beautiful art form.

There are some standout lines in this collection:

I don’t think you can peer into a child’s face for too long.

Can We establish a relation between

what is known and knowledge?

It’s making me hungry this thought of you …dressed in abandon.

Tired of this witchcraft.





bow down and let butt touch butt.

god himself


Unfortunately, those lines don’t all come from the same piece.


For me, the strongest poem in the chapbook is:

The nuns came home to a voicemail from Pope Francis.

“What are the nuns doing that they can’t answer?”

They both untwisting.

heard he celebrated his birthday with the homeless.

“Similar to you,” she said.

The sea is


The bees are becoming



These are some of the pope’s complaints.

Sometimes we try to touch everything, but can’t. The poems feel scattered. There are pretty lines, and metaphors that take the reader… somewhere? But those metaphors are obtuse. I have read these pieces on repeat for the last few days, trying to figure out where I should be, or what I should feel, but I just feel confused, lost, and curious as to the intended meaning of so many of the pieces in this chapbook.

The release party itself was the highlight of this book. Watching it become something that everyone could touch. I don’t doubt the ability of either author to craft  some wonderful pieces – frankly, I think some of the standout lines could be the perfect place to begin.


About Christopher Margolin

Chris Margolin spent more than a decade in Education as a high school English teacher, and is now an Instructional Coach for the Longview School District. He is also the founder of The Poetry Question, an online journal which focuses on reviews of small press poetry publications, and runs a regular series called "The Power of Poetry," where notable poets share their personal stories of how poetry has affected their lives. Margolin resides in Vancouver, Washington with his wife, and daughter.

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This entry was posted on June 2, 2014 by in Book Review, POETRY BOOK REVIEWS and tagged , , , , .

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