“I had a dream about you. We were in the gold room
where everyone finally gets what they want.”
– from “Snow and Dirty Rain”
Crush opened doors for me I never knew existed. It was my first experience reading a book of poems by another queer person that was so bare, so tender, so devastatingly beautiful.
“We broke the world
you’re living in,
– from “Banana Palace”
Meditative, contemplative, measured, a series of signal fires. Reading through one of Dana Levin’s collections is like turning a diamond and seeing the light change – it’s the same light, you’re just seeing it in all new, nuanced ways.
“Because I am what gladiators call
A man in love—love
Being any reminder we survived.”
– from “Colosseum”
Would I be wrong in saying that Jericho Brown is one of our sharpest, most innovative, and most exciting poets? Who would even disagree with me? (If they did, they’d be wrong.)
“When his grandchildren had been little, they had asked if they could hide inside the clock. Now he wanted to gather them and open himself up and hide them among his ribs and faintly ticking heart. When he realized that the silence by which he had been confused was that of all of his clocks having been allowed to wind down, he understood that he was going to die in the bed where he lay.”
– from Tinkers
Tinkers is quite simply one of the most gorgeous novels I’ve ever read. Perhaps it’s Harding’s highly lyric style or his fierce, cutting images, but either way Tinkers resonates with this poet’s ear so very well.
“The fruit blushes // to attract a mouth, any mouth // that will finish it in dirt. Honey oh orange honey sweetness, the eyes are all over // feasting. Fruit, old flower, quit acting like a girl.”
– from “shock”
I’m lucky to be able to say that one of my poetry heroes was also one of my first poetry teachers. Beth’s work is a protest, an indictment, a sparse and stark interrogation into the nature, use, and weaponization of language.
Jim Whiteside is the author of a chapbook, Writing Your Name on the Glass (Bull City Press, 2019) and is a 2019-2021 Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry. He is the recipient of a Tennessee Williams Scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and a residency from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Jim’s recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Ploughshares, The Southern Review, Pleiades, Crazyhorse, and Washington Square Review. Originally from Cookeville, Tennessee, he holds an MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and lives in Berkeley, California.