REVIEW: BLOOD PERCUSSION – NATE MARSHALL (BUTTON POETRY / EXPLODING PINECONE PRESS)

Sprinkle my ashes across the north side of Chicago & the surrounding suburbs.   the south side has seen too many black boys become the end of a flame. “In the Event of My Demise”  After reading the introduction to Nate Marshall’s Blood Percussion, I was deeply moved, but a little worried that the pieces would be so grounded in the world of Chicago, that … Continue reading REVIEW: BLOOD PERCUSSION – NATE MARSHALL (BUTTON POETRY / EXPLODING PINECONE PRESS)

REVIEW: HERE COMES THE NEW JOY – JOHN BARRIOS (UNIVERSITY OF HELL PRESS)

   I am hesitant to include quotes from the book in this review. Not that it is a bad book, completely the opposite actually. I had such fun reading the book that I feel like any lines or poems I could use would be short changing the book as a whole,almost like watching a few scenes from True Detective and not watching all of the first season. … Continue reading REVIEW: HERE COMES THE NEW JOY – JOHN BARRIOS (UNIVERSITY OF HELL PRESS)

REVIEW: OUR NUMBERED DAYS – NEIL HILBORN (BUTTON POETRY)

    To say I hate you would imply a world in which I kissed more than your stomach. Look, we’ve established that I’m a jerk, so let me say this: I am a flat tire and you are a pothole full of lug nuts. I am a pile of bricks and you are holding a sledgehammer, which is to say I would not exist … Continue reading REVIEW: OUR NUMBERED DAYS – NEIL HILBORN (BUTTON POETRY)

REVIEW: An Electric Sheep Jumps to Greener Pasture – Tyler Atwood (University of Hell Press)

  the truth was a mirror the church led me to believe I discovered the impossibility of finding my reflection in  the pieces when it broke a single-parent household I ran  my fingers through the shards of glass probing the edges  for where they once fit together finding only the  weakness of my own skin An introspective, dynamic collection with more layers than human skin … Continue reading REVIEW: An Electric Sheep Jumps to Greener Pasture – Tyler Atwood (University of Hell Press)

REVIEW: I Want Love So Great it Makes Nicholas Sparks Cream in His Pants – Calvero (University of Hell Press)

If you are looking for soft, pillow talk love poetry, this is not the collection for you. If you are looking for honest, real, hilarious, disgusting, uncomfortable,and fun truths, look no further.  The titles alone were a laugh out loud experience unto itself. “Get ready baby, ’cause I’m about to go balls deep into your heart” and “passion is like hopping on a bicycle with … Continue reading REVIEW: I Want Love So Great it Makes Nicholas Sparks Cream in His Pants – Calvero (University of Hell Press)

REVIEW: When the Gardener Has Left – KIERAN COLLIER (EMERSON COLLEGE)

  “She told me that she bought the ring in San Francisco at an outdoor market. I like to imagine she was watching the Pacific hold the coast the same way she would hold my father later that night. My father is a shore, my mother is an ocean; when they are together you cannot tell where one ends and the other begins.” I am … Continue reading REVIEW: When the Gardener Has Left – KIERAN COLLIER (EMERSON COLLEGE)

REVIEW – THE BONES OF US – J. BRADLEY AND ADAM SCOTT MAZER (YESYES BOOKS)

“The Bones of Us” is part poetry collection, part graphic novel, and all well done. J Bradley and Adam Scott Mazer have given us something we can appreciate from a few different angles. The poetry is moving and relatable… “We will kiss like passengers without floatation devices, Hang on to the side of the bed like a loose plank.” even if it is a bit … Continue reading REVIEW – THE BONES OF US – J. BRADLEY AND ADAM SCOTT MAZER (YESYES BOOKS)

REVIEW: ROBYN BATEMAN – DEAD AS (Bone Tax Press)

  I am baby-faced – I am baby-boned – I am the miracle of every death around me. I do not feel that the deaths of family members, a few familiar co-workers, and an acquaintance or two, truly bring to life the concept of losing someone whom you meet, and then becomes a part of you. Robyn Bateman’s newest chapbook, Dead As, is as close to capturing … Continue reading REVIEW: ROBYN BATEMAN – DEAD AS (Bone Tax Press)

REVIEW: PORTLAND POETRY SLAM – SO, WHAT? (Where Are You Press)

From “A Letter From My Well-Adjusted Adult Self (Whenever That Will Be) To My Current Mid-Twenties Self”  To get out of bed on a good day with depression, the ghost of your hope still needs to hop up first, pick up the frame, and shake you out. – Leyna Rynearson I feel pretty honored to live a mere 15 minutes from where the Portland Poetry … Continue reading REVIEW: PORTLAND POETRY SLAM – SO, WHAT? (Where Are You Press)

REVIEW: SARAH BARTLETT – FREUD BLAH BLAH BLAH (Rye House Press)

  My body wants to meet your body in a dark alley and say things in Braille. When I leave notes on your pillow it’s supposed to be a gimmick. Still, here we are in love, careening toward death like a flower. Have you ever written a letter, an email, or a text message, and then waited by the mailbox, clicked refresh over and over again, … Continue reading REVIEW: SARAH BARTLETT – FREUD BLAH BLAH BLAH (Rye House Press)

REVIEW: KRISTINA MARIE DARLING – VOW

    We are made and unmade by those we love: expectant white backdrop against which shots are fired at a distance. In a world with a divorce rate north of 50%, it feels sort of refreshing – in a darker way – to read about the tragedy of innocence lost after a wedding day. Kristina Marie Darling’s Vow is an honest inner-monologue where our speaker … Continue reading REVIEW: KRISTINA MARIE DARLING – VOW

REVIEW: MOLLY GAUDRY – WILD THING

from “Fairy Tale” She was just beginning to get her wings back when she hit a rock and crashed headfirst into the cement. Molly Gaudry’s Wild Thing is here to remind us that we exist until we don’t, and whatever do in the meantime, well, that’s called surviving. I really like this little 49 page pamphlet, but I’m not sure how it makes me feel. It’s well … Continue reading REVIEW: MOLLY GAUDRY – WILD THING

REVIEW: JOANNA PENN COOPER – WHAT IS A DOMICLE

  from “Crown” In this photograph, I am a girl child. My thoughts come out in my hands and my hair. If only I could realize it. Be just the person I just am. With What is a Domicile, Joanna Penn Cooper has essentially written the ironic version of “Easy Like Sunday Morning.” Where Lionel sings: Why in the world Would anybody put chains on me? … Continue reading REVIEW: JOANNA PENN COOPER – WHAT IS A DOMICLE

REVIEW: EMILY BLUDWORTH de BARRIOS – EXTRAORDINARY POWER

  “An awful silence reigned throughout those subterraneous regions,” Just be yourself is not such good advice. In that it presumes the self is a defined entity which one wishes to hide. When the self is in fact just loose. One works to define a context for one’s life. It’s a glass-half-empty-but-at-least-that-half-is-whiskey sort of theme for Emily Bludworth de Barrios’ Extraordinary Power. With its titles taken from Horace Walpole’s … Continue reading REVIEW: EMILY BLUDWORTH de BARRIOS – EXTRAORDINARY POWER

REVIEW: JENNY DRAI – :BODY WOLF:

[Facebook] splits at seams : instructions to reduce your look Avoid: just : these : five : food : no : exercise : miracle : fruit the other orchids posing that way But I’m thistle Spectrum of stick you meant poke me my own toe Could be the hatred of mirrors : last year’s concubine : her orchid glow There is a lot to take in when it comes … Continue reading REVIEW: JENNY DRAI – :BODY WOLF:

REVIEW: DELPHINE BEDIENT – DOWN AND OUT ON A YACHT

DISASTER Men kept smiling at you today, but you felt like a disaster. You were an influenza epidemic, you were Hurricane Katrina, you were a four-car pileup, and there they were, these men, smiling.   Dear Insecurities, We have company. We have found a friend. It’s okay to step out of the shadows, talk to the guy at the bar, say our name loud and … Continue reading REVIEW: DELPHINE BEDIENT – DOWN AND OUT ON A YACHT

REVIEW: ROSS ROBBINS – ALL IN BLACK BLOOD MY LOVE WENT RIDING

See me taxidermied – a prom date after four wine coolers. Ooh la la! Such romance. You see me cross-sectioned, slit and pinned a science class earthworm. Point to my parts, label them clearly. This is amateurish, groping.   Thank you Ross Robbins for splaying yourself open like the science class earth worm. For letting everything out in the open. For being the extroverted mass transit … Continue reading REVIEW: ROSS ROBBINS – ALL IN BLACK BLOOD MY LOVE WENT RIDING

REVIEW: CLEMENTINE VON RADICS – HOME

  It’s Just So Strange He used to love me, and now he’s just a stranger who happens to know all my secrets Clementine von Radics knows her way around a heart – yours, those she keeps close, and sometimes her own. In her newest collection, Home (Where Are You Press), she is not afraid to leave everything on the page. It’s ironic that while I type this, … Continue reading REVIEW: CLEMENTINE VON RADICS – HOME

REVIEW: ASHLEY SPIRES – THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING

  How does something become magnificent? One regular girl and her canine assistant work together to answer this question in Ashley Spires’ book, The Most Magnificent Thing (Kids Can Press). One day, the girl has a wonderful idea. She is going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing! She knows just what it will look like. She knows just how it will work. All she has to … Continue reading REVIEW: ASHLEY SPIRES – THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING

REVIEW: REBECCA BRIDGE & ISLA MCKETTA-CLEAR OUT THE STATIC IN YOUR ATTIC

  Confession time. I hate the blank page. As a writer, this poses a bit of a problem. Somewhere along the line I picked up the idea that I might write “the wrong thing”. That somehow, my inferior first few words would sully the pristine white of my page past the point of recognition and basically the world would end. Logically I know that a … Continue reading REVIEW: REBECCA BRIDGE & ISLA MCKETTA-CLEAR OUT THE STATIC IN YOUR ATTIC

REVIEW: WILLY CLAFLIN-THE LITTLE MOOSE WHO COULDN’T GO TO SLEEP

 Far away in the Northern Piney Woods there lives a storyteller named Maynard Moose. Every full moon in the forest, the animals come from far and near to hear him tell the old Mother Moose Tales, handed down so long ago. Maynard Moose is back and telling tales in his fourth book entitled, The Little Moose Who Couldn’t Go To Sleep. We are introduced to Little … Continue reading REVIEW: WILLY CLAFLIN-THE LITTLE MOOSE WHO COULDN’T GO TO SLEEP

REVIEW: JEFF ALESSANDRELLI – THIS LAST TIME WILL BE THE FIRST

Lately, I’ve been reading some poetry collections that feel as if they were written solely for the doctoral student. So many dollar words, when nickel and dime phrases would do just as well. It gets frustrating, because I know the work is well written – the pieces, beautifully structured – but I need a dictionary for every piece, and it makes me move away from … Continue reading REVIEW: JEFF ALESSANDRELLI – THIS LAST TIME WILL BE THE FIRST

REVIEW: AMANDA MACIEL-TEASE

  The summer before Sara Wharton’s senior year was supposed to be filled with friends and parties. Instead, Sara finds herself immersed in a world that believes she’s responsible for the death of her classmate, Emma Putnam. Faced with charges of harassment and bullying, Sara has to learn to deal with the consequences of her choices. But is it really Sara’s fault? Sara’s not so … Continue reading REVIEW: AMANDA MACIEL-TEASE

REVIEW: JESSE PARENT – THE NOISE THAT IS NOT YOU

Jesse Parent looks like he would hurt you, and then hug you, and probably sit you down to explain exactly what you did wrong. And you would listen. You would listen well, because he doesn’t mince words. He’s not going to throw metaphors at you, or make you figure out what he’s trying to say. Jesse Parent is one of poetry’s straight shooters – and … Continue reading REVIEW: JESSE PARENT – THE NOISE THAT IS NOT YOU

REVIEW: SHARON CREECH – HEARTBEAT

I was first introduced to Sharon Creech as a student teacher. Her ability to weave together story lines and characters that left an imprint upon readers caused me to devour books such as Ruby Holler, Walk Two Moons, Bloomability, and Love that Dog. But somehow, I missed Heartbeat until recently. Published in 2004 by HarperCollins, Heartbeat is the story of Annie, a quirky twelve-year-old, struggling to make sense of the world, and her … Continue reading REVIEW: SHARON CREECH – HEARTBEAT

REVIEW: ANNELYSE GELMAN-EVERYONE I LOVE IS A STRANGER TO SOMEONE

Annelyse Gelman is a woman I’d love to get to know over a glass or, let’s be honest,  a bottle, of red wine.  Humor weaves itself through this collection of poetry and intertwines with a raw sense of self in a way that can only be described as fascinating, and leaves me wondering how one poet can present such range of styles in a single body … Continue reading REVIEW: ANNELYSE GELMAN-EVERYONE I LOVE IS A STRANGER TO SOMEONE

REVIEW: HIEU MINH NGUYEN – THIS WAY TO THE SUGAR

When I showed Hieu Nguyen’s “Buffet Etiquette” to my high school juniors, one of my students stood up, cheered loudly, and exclaimed, “He got that so right!”. Given that the student is one of my quietest, it only emphasized the power in Nguyen’s words. The connection he’s able to build with his readers and listeners is impressive, and it has everything to do with the … Continue reading REVIEW: HIEU MINH NGUYEN – THIS WAY TO THE SUGAR

REVIEW: EIREAN BRADLEY – the little BIG book of GO KILL YOURSELF

Let’s get real for a moment: we have all had dark thoughts. Sometimes those dark thoughts overtake us for a while, and we have an essential need to either act upon them, get help for them, or laugh about them. Eirean Bradley seems to have done all three – though the second one might be a bit hazy. There’s a difference between a poet who … Continue reading REVIEW: EIREAN BRADLEY – the little BIG book of GO KILL YOURSELF

REVIEW: ROSS ROBBINS – HOT BRIGHT OYSTER

  I met Ross Robbins in Portland, Oregon at Powell’s Books. We were both sifting through the shelves of the small press poetry section. I had a few ideas of what I wanted to find, but seeing someone else in the same section always leads me to press them for what they think I should be reading. It’s a welcomed conversation in a world where … Continue reading REVIEW: ROSS ROBBINS – HOT BRIGHT OYSTER

Review: NO MATTER THE WRECKAGE by Sarah Kay

Enchanting. Honest. Humble. Uplifting. Delightful. Courageous. Finding just one word to encapsulate that which Sarah Kay brings to her debut collection is like choosing my favorite star in the night sky. Already familiar with poems such as “B” and “Private Parts”, I was delighted to delve into No Matter The Wreckage (Write Bloody Publishing). From the first verse, Sarah invites us to witness the journey of … Continue reading Review: NO MATTER THE WRECKAGE by Sarah Kay

REVIEW: Robert Duncan Gray – Ticklish Animal

  I’ve seen Robert Duncan Gray in his underwear, screaming poetry from the top of his lungs, and then staring down the crowd like a mic drop. It was brilliant. His stage presence is powerful because he is – obviously – very comfortable with who he is, and more importantly, makes no apologies for it. His poetry, however, is not always comfortable, and that is … Continue reading REVIEW: Robert Duncan Gray – Ticklish Animal

REVIEW: Leah Noble Davidson – Poetic Scientifica

  Leah Noble Davidson tells you exactly what she wants you to hear. It’s stark. It’s creative. In ways, it’s incredibly vindictive, and vindicating all at the same time. It’s mostly unique – but we’ll get to that in a bit. Davidson wants to catch you cheating. She gives you a poetic introduction, and then throws you a curveball, as her table of contents is, … Continue reading REVIEW: Leah Noble Davidson – Poetic Scientifica

Courage: Daring Poems for Gutsy Girls

  Review by Courtney Myers   As I looked at piles of chapbooks spread across the coffee table, ripe for review, I couldn’t help but pluck this one from the bunch. Being a gutsy girl myself, the title demanded my attention almost as much as the featured authors did. Honestly, you had me at Patricia Smith, Andrea Gibson, and Sarah Kay. Just as the title … Continue reading Courage: Daring Poems for Gutsy Girls

REVIEW: Alex Dang – You Can Do Better…But The Bar Has Been Set Pretty High

  Living just over the bridge from Portland, Oregon, I’ve had the esteemed pleasure of watching Alex Dang at the Portland Poetry Slam over the last couple of years, and it is quite the treat. There’s an ease to which he carries himself that makes him incredibly approachable, but when he steps on stage, the emotion, the conviction, and perfectly well-phrased pieces flow straight from … Continue reading REVIEW: Alex Dang – You Can Do Better…But The Bar Has Been Set Pretty High