REVIEW: UPTALK – KIMMY WALTERS (BOTTLECAP PRESS)
The poems are pacy, well-timed vignettes where the protagonist tries to bottle steam from the shower to throw at a lover…
REVIEW: UPTALK – KIMMY WALTERS (BOTTLECAP PRESS)
The poems are pacy, well-timed vignettes where the protagonist tries to bottle steam from the shower to throw at a lover…
But when someone nails it you can feel that sweet spot where they’ve balanced the raw emotion and nostalgia. Adrienne Novy hits this balance in Crowd Surfing with God.
#TPQ5: WENDY CHEN
What will Wendy Chen, author of Unearthings (Tavern Books), editor of Figure 1, and managing editor of Tupelo Quarterly, include in today’s #TPQ5? Find out inside?
Life is built on how we deal with our trauma, and Alexus Erin reminds us that it will actually be okay. That we can thrive in a world where survival might be the only option.
Review: Last Stop to Saskatoon, Tony Nesca (Screaming Skull Press):
It’s a world apart – both past and present, angry and sardonic; laughing to keep from crying.
The writing is as vulnerable as it is nuanced, as arresting as it is confounding. Oliver de la Paz is not afraid to leave the reader reaching for meaning, in effect mimicking the very experiences that compelled the allegory in the first place.
Matvejeva writes this rise and fall of love with stark honesty, making it hard to look away from. It’s arresting and engaging and makes the reader yearn to find a connection of their own that elicits such a strong and introspective emotions.
REVIEW: WHEN WE WERE FEARSOME BY JOANNA PENN COOPER
I generally have a pretty good idea what the point of living is—at least for myself—but there are these times when nothing seems to add up and I’m simply adrift in the sea of existence.
The poems here are grounded and quaint. They’re not necessarily trying to say anything larger than themselves, and that’s why I enjoyed them so much.
REVIEW: AMUSE GIRL – HANNAH RAYMOND-COX (BURNING EYE BOOKS)
The reader finds themself met with images of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and cobblestone streets, sex scenes and outbreaks of disease.
This is beauty. It’s power. It’s uncomfortable because it needs to be. It’s timeless because tradition comes and goes and comes again until you can brush it from your teeth.
It’s a study in being a spectator. Viewing life and love like bird watching. Like waiting for something to happen, to change, but not knowing what it is, or what it’s changing.
There is a way to not hide among the trees. A way to say no. A way to take the power back. A way to not be eaten by those you bring into your space – or who bring themselves into yours. Because, you can conquer anything.
#TPQ5: RACHEL CRUEA
What will Rachel Cruea,
a poetry editor for GASHER, include in today’s #TPQ5? Find out inside!
There is a distinct musicality to the poems, syllables punctuated and softened by an underlying rhythm that echoes both hip hop and the long history of oral performance in poetry.
We are the children of those who falter and call us by the wrong name. But we still believe. We still think there is hope. We still practice prayer because, by God, “I’m not dead yet.”
This was written for a glass of whisky, late at night, in front of the fire with a photo album. This was written to share at the baby’s graduation and wedding. This is a reminder of mislabeled key collections and dreams realized. This is important. This is personal.
It’s desolate. It’s too calm. It’s winter and nothing resembles anything, because everything is gone. Two roads do converge, but both have been swallowed by nature.
We see ghosts. They are buried inside our brain, hidden beneath hair and skin and skull. They push at the back of our eyes for every decision we make. They remind us of all our mistakes and fears, but rarely our accomplishments.
What will Maria Castro Dominguez, author of A Face in The Crowd, 2016 Erbacce–press prize winning collection, include in today’s #TPQ5? Find out inside!
…an ode to the complexity of relationships and how often we may be hiding in order to sustain someone else
If you want a quick dive into our collective punk-rock past, these poems will transport you back to being 15 again; old enough to sneak into the bar from backstage but young enough to still covet the drummer
Because of this she believes pain accrued is simply part of life and develops a calloused outlook on love and sex.
We are equals who do not know it. We are hidden behind skin and bones and names and colors and genders and identity, but we are not whole.
these poems are tender and honest and complex. The speaker turns a critical gaze on himself often, acknowledging his part in the distance that grew between himself and his lover.
What will Nassere Hussain, Lecturer in Creative Writing and Literature (Leeds Beckett University, UK), author of SKY WRI TEI NGS (Coach House Books 2018), include in today’s #TPQ5? Find out inside!
And if things get scary, there’s a comfortable scrap of wool left to pull over their eyes. Hiding in comfort. Things are still good. Stop being so dramatic.
Through poems predicated on the Turing Test structure, Choi introduces the reader to questions that test not just whether or not the respondent is sentient, but also seek to undermine the humanity of specific identities in daily life.
While the poems can at times express hopelessness, rage and what feels like a long held grudge, there is a resilience in these words that very much feels like a reclamation of power – a reversal of every wrong done.
Sometimes we are bored. Sometimes we are lonely. Sometimes we are horny. Sometimes we have to turn around and around and around again to simply fit.
It’s becoming immersed in that which you do not know. It’s starting from scratch. It’s acknowledging the past that had been left out of the histories you told.
[This] is a haunting and eye opening collection which recounts heartbreaking personal experiences being both mother and mothered
What will Shazia Hafiz Ramji, the author of Port of Being, a finalist for the 2019 BC Book Prizes (Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize), the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, and winner of the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry, include on her #TPQ5? Find out inside!
Too many people are Goodwill books – spines taped together, hoping for enough threads to keep them in place. Too many wear covers by which they are judged. Too many are discarded without being read.
Because Cepeda wants you to be the paper to your lover’s pen. Because poetry is so much more than words on paper. Because sometimes sex is more than sex. Sometimes sex is the poem you become for your partner when they need you the most.
This is a call to all who grew up wondering how they ended up who they became, and how to enjoy every second of it before you realize that “no amount of surgery could erase those scars.”
These poems take the reader through generations and geographies a lens that feels deeply personal; the reader becomes a fly on the walls as these families are presented and personified.
What will Jose Hernandez Diaz include in today’s #TPQ5? Find out inside!
These are conversations between friends, lovers, inmates, and acquaintances. These are the stories of someone who lived their life until there was no more. And then, unfortunately, there was no more.
It can be both the push and pull that keeps you moving through life – even if it’s more an I-could-probably-do-this-on-my-own-but-I’m-not-going-to-unless-you-force-me type of push. Other times it just fucking hurts.
It’s okay to be comfortable. To live life day-by-day, and keep it simple. It’s okay to feel like we move through life as a slow drawl – not slow, but easy.
“It’s knowing that it was okay to not want to be royalty. To, instead, want it to be Halloween – to want the ability to wear Vulnerable as a mask without any consequence of laughter.”
If you could reshape history, would you stay woodworm, or would you scrape, claw, stab, and squeeze your way to the top?
From those we love, to those we’ve loved in mirrors, we are left to sift through and decide between thoughts, facades, and realities. This is our path to survival, to strength, to moving on regardless of those who’ve hurt us.
It’s an acknowledgement of those we’ve lost in the fire, and those we’ve gained because of it. That, it’s never the drug, but rather the longing to quell the quiet.
This is the poet, reflecting inwardly, recalling moments when ‘the sad trickles in like morning rays’ with the empowering and uplifting revelation: ’you can rise to face it’.
And after All tackles the passage of time with snapshots of life that has me searching through my own for moments and memories that speak as musically as her words do. And as a fellow Latina poet, she’s an inspiration worth reading again.
breathtaking flights of fancy that will give you the bends before undercutting these mercurial moments with a healthy dose of dark humour. These balloons have anchors.
People want what they want. They want to be dominated, pissed on, talked down to, used, pleased, titillated, and teased. More than anything, they just want to feel like they don’t have to feel anything other than their truest desires for however long time, or money, can afford.
What did Fred Schmaltz put in his top 5? Find out in this edition of The #TPQ5.
She becomes the alpha and the omega, earth and firmament as we become willing travellers on her journey through the hills of Ireland and the drumlins of memory
“…remember that “if you double a bubble / you will have two bubbles / but this information isn’t worth / a pile of rubble.” We don’t always want what we find, but we are often the reason we’ve found ourselves there.”
Monsters are truly everywhere. Usually, though, they look just like us.
It’s the slant-rhyme hymnals with a push-away-from-God-and-man chorus you can’t keep out of your head. These are hymns for the hopeless who long to be significant.
Some ask us how many beats our hearts have left. Others just cut to the core of all our fears, to the ‘kelp-nest of wires’ as her fifth born slumbers ‘tiny and certain’
We can certainly watch The Shining as a movie about ghost leading a man down a path of madness, but isn’t it scarier to think the ghosts are figments of his imagination, and his madness’ provenance is in the anger he ignores and represses?
The reason isn’t always so obvious, but wear masks and costumes at each stage of life. We are, in most moments, who we choose to be. And in others, we become, well, others.
We all have our ideals of life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. If eventually we all die, then what is life if we can’t burn through a paycheck in a day – especially with the ones we love.
Deglane successfully submerges us into the mind of a person troubled by depression, anxiety, trauma, and a Lexapro-fogged brain with an overarching story of hope.
We are caretakers to those who don’t even know they need it. We don’t matter. We are a secondary character in a long history of other people’s lives. We are found in the footnotes.
While it can never be too late, it can be not enough, or just enough, or meaningless. But when most things are stuck somewhere between our dreams and the idea of reality, we tend to cling to some extrinsic hope – real or not.
Is it worth all the struggles and hassles and deductions only to die in the end? Should it all just be sped up? But more importantly, what happens when you don’t have a choice?
we get a straight forward here’s-what-I’m-thinking-and-maybe-I-should-have-just-done-it-earlier thread running from cover to cover. Things don’t always work, but sometimes you need to open the book and find out for yourself.
Sometimes your body is not a wonderland. Sometimes your body wants to be wrapped in clothing or bedsheets or not the arms of someone who will no longer know your name.
I have authored a devil in me to cull in meto lace these boots with rainbows and wade the bogs to Breathe smoke in the cryogenyBreak dismal syntaxof existing as abomination — from “Lottery” Think back to before the digital sky overshadowed the world. Think back to small hands, poppy seeds, summer scenery, vermillion skies,…
There is not a right or wrong way. There is only advice. There is only a suggestion of what you might need – if you were here, and I was not alone.
Music provides a table of contents for life. It doesn’t always make sense, but it’s the order of things and it tries to present some pretty scenery.
When language and bodies and heritage and history don’t make sense, it’s not easy to find yourself within the world. When the words your family speak turn to those once spoken. When your parents silence your voice, and all you want to do is remember the sound of theirs.
What do you do when you have a sentence where the same 10 years acts as the minimum and maximum? When there is no light? A spoonful of food? Pepper sprayed and left without water for weeks? You pace in your cell.
It’s the wondering if we have purpose or if we are allowed to change, or if we are stuck with the who that we are even we are not who thought we could be.
Because at first we are skeletal; we crack, break, and hurt; we lose and win, and lose again until the only choice we have is to either heal, or heel.
“…the attitude and actions of horses have not changed. They live, love, falter, get dragged around, manipulated, fed, ridden, and eventually buried. Sound familiar?”
Sometimes we forget that when we say “I love you” to someone, it is life changing. It affirms and confirms what you feel and what will hopefully be reciprocated. But love can be two-faced and effacing.
“We are maps to the present and the past. An erasure poem of everything that has been a part of our life. It’s cloudy, dense, and filled with fog. And then everything repeats…”
“Postpartum depression is still surrounded by stigma and shame is often directed at mothers. Horan does not shy away from sharing this darker side of motherhood…”
“…he has taken all the pieces, the histories of hands, waterfalls, sanity hammers, shepherds, and suitors, and built the puzzle only to watch it fall to the floor, and have to put the pieces back in the box.”
I kept thinking to myself about the idea that nature is—and will always be—in charge, and we’re destined to bend to its will
Havens has a savage wit and open wound for you to see on every page. Their lyricism surpassed only by the abundant imagery, you can almost feel the poems being written for YOU.
Wars are waged. Bodies are born and bathed and dying. Language is lost. Friends and lovers, too. If we are “guardians of God’s words” then what is it exactly that we are guarding
We are stuck in age-old definitions of gender and personhood and parenting and life. Somewhere in between those definitions is the person we, ourselves, long to be, and who we should “just be.”
She’s taking understated moments from life and creating fantastic poems around them, bring a whole new meaning to day-to-day moments.
Kirby’s poem had to be read twice and three times and more because it grips you by the throat and doesn’t let go.
It’s an encyclopedia of the seedy, the attractive, the “I” of life within modern times and modern body. It’s sort of like the words many want to say, but then get caught up in the moment, and can’t remember what they were thinking anymore.
It’s the way the ants that crawl from skin become guides and senses. It’s the way that when you meet another splinter, the bugs are meant for each other – in sickness and in health.
Reading Lyd Haven’s work makes me want them to win. Makes my real world seem to fade away, replaced with someone I want to see succeed despite and because of their troubles.
It’s the mirror as a reflection of who you think they want – the makeup, the high heels – but really it’s the only way to be seen. No(Body) asks you to question the idea of being capable within the moment. It’s the attempt to be Beyonce, or not death.
Adam Sol’s How a Poem Moves: A Field Guide for Readers Afraid of Poetry, is a window into how poems move rather than what they state. It’s a personal approach to understanding how someone else’s words make you feel.
There is a misconception of place, time, and atmosphere of the Heartland. It’s not always calm. It’s not rolling hills and farmland and nice people who do nice things for other nice people, and continue their existence in a silo of that same nice feeling.
If life is lived, vicariously, through dreamscapes and if the moon hotel’s bellhop is “trolleying [the moon’s] baggage on a brass birdcage cart,” then we are destined to hold the weight of the universe on our backs.
It’s being told that “making love is for making babies / and gays are intrinsically disordered,” and realizing all the misguided beliefs behind that statement. Realizing that your love for another is in no way a disorder.
Elfie gives us a look at the daily struggle that can be experienced when fighting against these natures, and in the end, shows us the relief that comes with the recognition of our own personal truths.
If Death brings a flash of life before our eyes, and we see each detail of what and how we’ve lived, and everything that was once background became foreground, then Where the Road Runs Out, the new collection from Gaia Holmes is that flash.
Dominik Parisien’s poems embody chronic pain, elevating the traumas, and illuminating the act of breathing being the most essential part of living. He uses body parts, the act of breathing, religion, and science, to illustrate the struggle and the pain that the poetic voice endures.
This is a notice that life is genuinely what you make it, and that if you live it while looking at it, you might miss what is actually in front of you.
Alongside beautiful imagery there is stark loneliness, the desire to curl up apart from what we might naturally think of home, a metaphor perhaps for the isolation death might bring, or the boundaries that come with having an earthly body.
It’s a world where men paint women, and women have no say. It’s the world in which she knows “you wanted to fuck her unconscious / and have her wake to your fists.”
This is the tale of gutting it out until you think you want to tap out. It’s a glimmer of hope because, damnit, you’ve worked too hard for there to not at least be a glimmer.
This is a collection of survival in spite of all that happens in life. It’s the learning of “the sound liquid makes as it works through the body’s waterways.” The unrelenting feeling that while life is draining from one body, another is taking it back.
“…it’s the constant feeling that some person, some feeling, some moment is lurking in the shadows, waiting for the opportune time to make their move…”
Generally, I will take another sip of water (but it’s really vodka) and make deep eye contact with whomever I’m speaking to, whether it’s the niece Lily or the Prime Minister of Britain. — from “When I am President of the United States” I remember the day that Kurt Cobain died, sitting on my neighbor’s…
Written masterfully, in prose form, quotations italicized, Walsh’s stories embed the past and the present, while questioning religion and the hetero-normative masculinity.
It’s the push-and-pull of one language and culture erasing the other; it’s the beauty and decay of both. It’s the changes that feel like too much change. The Sea that Beckoned is the tightrope walk between being ourselves and the self we may yet become.
In short, this book is a microcosm of identity politics, giving faces and names to those who must learn how to exist in various spaces simultaneously.
To them, she is not real. She is who they will fantasize about when home with their wives. She is the babysitter driven home by every father. She is the toy of their desire. She is within reach, but untouchable from above them.
One thing that distinguishes Kaminsky from many poets writing in English is that his poems are never just rage, never just fear, never just joy or whimsy or lust. Instead, Kaminsky’s lines are fraught with the full, messy truth of humanity.
Brumett walks through “butcher paper bed sheets” because sometimes that’s how it feels to evolve. Sometimes you have to discover the clitoris and learn about dolphin masturbation in order to get to the part where we can leave legacies and deal with cleaning out memories from closets.
But, body is language. Code talking is language. Coding is language. Even “math is poetic in nature;” It’s just that people aren’t too interested in listening to that which they don’t care to understand, let alone anything poetic.
These poems are moving, beautifully written, and fascinating, elaborating on the fears, the excitement, the trauma of pregnancy, and anything in between from the labor, and the everlasting relationship between Gruber and her daughter, Quintana.
all this can be yours is a patchwork quilt of what should have been said by all the dicks in the room.
You have to be ready for this collection. You have to prepare to feel. You have to be able to breathe. You have to know that War/Torn is a journey, and a metaphor that digs well beyond the surface.
Giantess is like an a cappella Americana album — it’d be nice to hear the picking of the strings, but they aren’t needed to dance with these words.
Directness is difficult. It’s not easy to be bluntly-gentle. But that is exactly what Whiteside has done in his newest collection of poems from Bull City Press.
REVIEW: UNMONSTROUS – JOHN ALLEN TAYLOR (YesYes Books):
It’s rare to read a piece that so beautifully captures the anger, emotions, beauty, and need for survival while trying to navigate all the evils of the child-to-adult journey.
REVIEW: Most of My Heroes Don’t Appear on No Stamps
Walker gives us our “Window Seat” to the world, as we consider why we are where we are – the good and the bad, the understood and ignorant, the anger and excitement, the love and passion of the way the world is today.
Over the course of your correspondence, you begin to discuss your dreams. Begin, in fact, to have dreams that echo the other’s. There is a house, creepy yet somehow luminous. Stables. Treasure, possibly, among the muck. But should you be there? Who (or what) lurks in the dim? – JPC from “You Correspond with a…
The physicality of life and the ache that it can bring – through love, death, sex, and survival – makes Robbin’s writing visceral and emotive and painful and beautiful all at the same time.
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…
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…
I had the esteemed pleasure of getting to see Mighty Mike McGee twice in the last week – once at St. John’s Booksellers for Them’s Fighting Words, and at Slabtown for the Portland Poetry Slam – and when he performs, the audience listens. It’s no different with Harmony, his newest CD release. In fact, after…
There is something about C.D. Wright’s 40 Watts (Octopus Books) that tugs at my heart strings – strings that are often silent, often questioned. The romance inside these 40 pages reminds me so much of my grandparents, that I can’t help but watch the movie of their lives play on my eyelids as I read, and re-read,…
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…