#TPQ5: DEAN RHETORIC

do graves get wifi – Kristie Shoemaker

Kristie sadly passed away recently, and Ghost City Press have put out another print run of this collection. I love how witty and sharp her poetry is. It’s beautifully observed, introspective writing that doesn’t allow itself to fall into any standard poetry tropes. One of the poem titles in this book, ‘always ask questions there are no answers to’ sums up the collection perfectly. If you’re not usually a poetry fan, but love Elliot Smith or Daniel Johnston, I’d recommend giving this book a chance.

How to Cook a Ghost – Logan February

Although Logan seems to release material at a prolific rate (and everything he puts out is phenomenal), this was my introduction to his poetry, so I have a soft spot for this one in particular. Logan just resonates with people. Earlier in the year, Golden Hare Books in Edinburgh ordered this chapbook, and it sold out within days. He really has a command of the bittersweet, everyday aspects of life and how to cultivate it into this bold, but sensitive dissection of what it means to love, or to sometimes reach for it and find it’s just out of your grasp.

Zenith – Ingrid Calderon

They don’t let poets like Ingrid play in the poetry mainstream, and it’s at a huge loss to everyone. She’s too honest, too working class, and too real for the room. Ingrid (who now publishes as Ingrid Calderon-Collins) doesn’t just end a poem, she puts a definitive line through the entire subject, and leaves nothing for the rest of us. This is my favourite book of hers. It’s like a greatest hits, covering everything from sex and depression to being born during the Salvadoran Civil War.

Love Songs of Carbon – Philip Gross

I’ve probably read this more than any other poetry book, and if I have to travel I’m always sure to pack it in my rucksack. It’s his 18th book of poetry, and very focused on the aging process or the slow decay of things, whether in food, the body, or metaphysics. It’s a poetry lesson throughout. His cadence and rhythm is like reading sheet music, and I’m in awe of the amount of discipline a collection of this kind requires. There’s something about this book that keeps me coming back to it, year after year.

Deep Lane – Mark Doty

I’m not at all educated in poetry. It just wasn’t something I was exposed to. I mostly find what I like through independent presses, or rely on the recommendations of poets I love and admire. Claire Askew bought me Deep Lane as a gift, and it completely blew me away. The writing is so good – it almost looks effortless. It’s agonizing, and so simple at times that it disarms you. Writing about addiction and recovery can be tricky. There’s a risk of it becoming too self-indulgent. Not here. He’s one of those poets that can just deliver an entire novel’s worth of emotion with just a few lines.


Dean Rhetoric is a Herefordian poet quietly vanishing in East London. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee, a BBC Writer’s Room finalist and was once commended for The Geoff Stevens Memorial Poetry Prize. He has been published in Crab Creek Review, Five:2:One Magazine, Rising Phoenix Review and various others.

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