“Parker is someone who immediately displays a deep understanding of the human condition. She’s also terrifyingly comfortable with vulnerability, unique for first collections”. – Ronnie K. Stephens
Courtney and Chris Margolin sit down with Danez Smith this week to discuss Passions, Process, Pitfalls, and Poetry!
“… the poems also work to remind readers about the oft-ignored moments of grace that surround difficult times”. – Ronnie K. Stephens
“When you’re an 8th grader with a blog where you write sad heartbreak lyrics, a lot of forehead acne, and long, swoopy bangs in hopes it covers it up, something’s gotta give. I had to own up to something, and the thing I took back was my smile.” – Alex Dang
Snapshots of a life lived with those small mundane moments that create someone’s very existence, only to shatter our hopes that it’d turn out differently…. – @Joseph Edwin Haeger
But what stands out most in You Better Be Lightning is grace, for themselves and, often, for those who have harmed them.
This book isn’t about what we wish we could have said. No, it’s a collection full of things we’re too afraid to talk about.
Butler uses a seamless combination of 90s pop culture and imagery with slick rhymes and beautiful sonic and tonal qualities. These are poems that demand to be performed on a stage and to be read studiously at your desk. The musicality he brings elevates the feeling of nostalgia into a full soundtrack; you can see the protagonist walking to their perfect theme song. – Alex Dang
“The reverence isn’t in the experiences, it’s in the powerful men. A woman is supposed to feel flattered when a man finds her irresistible. This book is a middle finger to that expectation”. – Lannie Stabile
There is a sense of independence and protest, a polite shake of the head at social norms that says, “Thanks, but no thanks. We have our own way of doing things”. – Lannie Stabile
Pilgrim Bell takes you to a different you, past, present, and future. Each poem twisted my reality in such a way that it didn’t fully twist back. A new flexibility.
When mother tongue is villain, are you person or correction? When God and mother are both concerned with safety, but neither with voice, does safety exist?
Bloodwarm has the ability to turn heads, create conversation, and lead you toward change.
Because it’s not easy to discover your voice or yourself inside a world that doesn’t love you – or at least doesn’t love you back.
In each poem, readers can feel the undeniable aspect that, like nearly all mixtapes, this chapbook is for somebody (at the very least, the amalgamation of “you” that exists in all of our longings).
Animals burn. Volcanos erupt. We aren’t told the story necessarily as it is; we are told how it feels to live and remember it.
REVIEW: COMB – SHADAB ZEEST HASHMI (SABLE BOOKS)
Migration challenges us to examine the “essence” of what makes us, us, and Hashmi duly documents the details.
REVIEW: GIRLS LIKE US – ELIZABETH HAZEN (ALAN SQUIRE PUBLISHING)
Hazen has an acute ability to make a reader feel many unwanted things. Like recollection. Like commiseration. Like retroactive fear.
REVIEWS & CONVERSATIONS: LET GO OF THE HANDS YOU HOLD – MARISSA GLOVER (MERCER UNIVERSITY PRESS)
When I open this collection, I approach it differently than I would most. I flip pages and find connections in what could be disjointed and unconnected things.
REVIEW: GHOST IN A BLACK GIRL’S THROAT – KHALISA RAE (RED HEN PRESS)
This is a rally cry for self-hood. For respect. For dreams once had that can be had again. This is written to give voice to the timid, a path to the promise of never again escaping the you who you always thought you could be.
REVIEW: THE MATRIX – N.H. PRITCHARD (PRIMARY INFORMATION and UGLY DUCKLING PRESS)
The collection is ultra-visual, a singing arrangement of offerings that has eyes of its own, old eyes that gaze at us from source, unblinking, revealing nothing (and everything).
REVIEW: BY BUS – ERICA VAN HORN (UGLY DUCKLING PRESSE)
You find yourself next to the man licking the eczema on his arm, or next to the singing bus driver. Some of the people you meet on the bus will be lovely; others will be objectionable.
REVIEWS & CONVERSATIONS: PALM LINES – JONATHAN KOVEN (TOHO PUBLISHING)
Since completing its pages, I daydream of skies raining amethyst and words of wisdom yelled from random apartments windows.
REVIEW: THE WORLD ISN’T THE SIZE OF OUR NEIGHBORHOOD ANYMORE – AUSTIN DAVIS (WEASEL PRESS)
It’s an age of transition, somewhere between childhood and adulthood, on the blurry path to independence.
REVIEW: LESBIAN FASHION STRUGGLES – CAROLINE EARLEYWINE (SIBLING RIVALRY PRESS)
What does it mean to live within a body that has been projected upon and harmed? What does it mean to want to be seen anyway?
REVIEW: LOOK LOOK LOOK – CALLISTA BUCHEN (BLACK LAWRENCE PRESS)
There’s a sense of absence in this first section as the mother’s body becomes a singular state once again, but there’s also a slip from autonomy.
REVIEW: SELF-PORTRAIT AS A SINKING SHIP – ERICA ABBOTT (TOHO PUBLISHING)
At times, certain stanzas feel like diary entries not meant for us to read– intimate glimpses into tormenting experiences: the illness of a parent, the paralysis of true friendship, the lure of self-harm, the temptation of suicide. –
#TPQ5: JADE HURTER
What will Jade Hurter include in today’s #TPQ5? Find out inside!
REVIEW: YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE A FRIEND – ASHLEY ELIZABETH (NIGHTINGALE & SPARROW PRESS)
…Dear John letter, ending with the words, “you are hurting me. i am letting you. i do not want to.” There it is, cut and dry: a breakup. Except it’s not.
WORKING ANIMALS – LIAM BATES (BROKEN SLEEP BOOKS)
After reading this body of work, I discuss its topics and subject matter with a respect that I did not expect to have when starting it.
YELLOW JOURNALISM: THANK YOU FOR THE CONTENT – REGGIE JOHNSON (RAD PRESS BOOKS)
One of my favorite wordplay moments, in this collection, can be seen in the confidence exuded in lines like “Reciprocation at its simplicity, You was the one taking shots, And now you stay missing me” (I Love Me).
REVIEW: GHOST FACE – GREG SANTOS (DC BOOKS)
But if who we are is a combination of our past and present, environmental and biological, how can we really know ourselves if we don’t look?
REVIEW: IF YOU DISCOVER A FIRE — SHAUN ROBINSON (BRICK BOOKS)
You start in one place—a forest on fire, a restaurant where you’re stacking individual creamers into a tower, falling in love wearing colorful pants—and by the end, you realize you’ve run into yourself.
REVIEW: MOTH FUNERALS – GAIA RAJAN (GLASS POETRY PRESS)
It’s innocence in a sense because while we all have to grow up, but it’s still okay and sad and happy and other adjectives. But to be Blackbird, or a lonely doll in a fancy dollhouse, or be “ball-gowned, butcher knifed” would be a story to be told.
REVIEW: FOEVERHAUS – KAILEY TEDESCO (WHITE STAG PUBLISHING) – review by Kristin Garth
There is a candy-coated communion of saints inside these poems that encapsulates the terror of treats of childhood. A “peppermint Jesus” and “cinnamon virgin” cohabitate in these pages with the Bloody Mary.
REVIEW: IR /RATIONAL – KALEB TUTT (ROARING JUNIOR PRESS)
If you have ever wondered if “that” one in a million situation could happen, Tutt has opened the floor for its discussion. – Bradley Galimore
REVIEW: WOUND FROM THE MOUTH OF A WOUND – TORRIN A. GREATHOUSE (MILKWEED EDITIONS)
it is of value, why try to fix the other parts, “…make them/more normal”? Would it be better to embrace the body in its natural state? – Martha Warren
REVIEW: IMPERMANENCE – COLIN BANCROFT (MAYTREE PRESS)
When relationships end, or flowers wither, or family passes away, we hold onto whatever we feel will give us some type of permanence, but in the end, no matter how hard we try, everything dies. Everything ends. But if we accept the beauty of the process, we can carry each moment with us until we ourselves are no more.
REVIEW: WAYS WE VANISH – TODD DILLARD (OKAY DONKEY PRESS)
We are the hopes and dreams of those who would not live to see us get there – because death, and not for any other reason; however, those times where new life beckons as old life waves goodbye can bring light enough to brighten the sky to an otherwise desolate moment.
REVIEW: NEW DISEASE STREETS – DAVID O’NAN (SELF-PUBLISHED)
New Disease Streets isn’t going to calm your senses or negate your fears about the current state of the world, but it will remind you that even when all the stars are punched from the sky, there will continue to be a guiding light – even if it’s only peeking through holes in your quilt.
REVIEW: WOUND FROM THE MOUTH OF A WOUND – TORRIN A. GREATHOUSE (MILKWEED EDITIONS)
Her poems don’t just show the reader these issues, they pull the reader into them, making them wear them like a skin.
REVIEW: RUSTED BELLS AND DAISY BASKETS – ANDREA PANZECA (FINISHING LINE PRESS)
… she shows the grittiness of her fighter self in her dreams, while simultaneously rejecting the idea of men as saviors.
REVIEW: THE TALES OF FLAXIE CHAR – ELIZABETH HORNER TURNER (DANCING GIRL PRESS)
“…explores the line between the fantastical and insanity in a woman pushed to the brink by tragedy…”
REVIEW: THE TALE OF TURKISH CARPET – JACQUELINE SAPHRA (BAD BETTY PRESS)
The poem is a great tale of how we ‘interpret’ other people’s lives when we go to other’s cultures and yet might forget the constraints on our own, thinking them normal. Until – it all gets too much.
WOMEN WRITERS OVER 30: REVIEW: LARARIUM – RAY BALL (VARIANT LIT)
She says “snakes always my company” and just like Medusa she apparently has the power to elicit stoicism in her father. In this way, she is taking some of the power back from her father in their difficult relationship. However, also just like Medusa she is mortal, as seen in the line “cannot shed their skins.”
REVIEW: BODEGA NIGHT PIGEON RIOT – AMANDA DEUTCH (ABOVE/GROUND PRESS)
Like riding in the car, riding the subway is a moment where many people wrestle with their thoughts. Sometimes these thoughts are a diagnosis of the self, other times they are external, a commentary on the troubles of the world around us.
REVIEW: TO FALL FABLE – ALICE WICKENDEN (VARIANT LIT)
It’s all the obstacles in the way of self-discovery. It’s the fantasy of the moment. It’s the newness of everything. It’s doing something that might change your life, and should. Just not sure how.
REVIEW: F LETTER – GALINA RYMBU, EUGENE OSTASHEVSKY, AINSLEY MORSE, EDS. (Isolarii)
Am I a poet or a poetess? Do I need to embrace a male style of writing, of interest, of canon, or someone else’s definition of radical feminist poetry?
REVIEW: THE CARTOON DIARIES – DAVID O’NAN (SELF-PUBLISHED)
This collection acts as a roadmap through the never ending cacophony – the voices, the fears, the Gods, and the everlasting sense that if you were to slow down for one moment you may never start again.
REVIEW: THE GULL AND THE BELL TOWER – KARI FLICKINGER (FEMME SALVÈ BOOKS/ANIMAL HEART PRESS)
We never really escape our own disasters. In fact, “owning them is an irredeemable trait”. It’s unsettling, it’s frightening, but it does turn glass to stone. It does, however, create beauty.
WOMEN WRITERS OVER 30: SARA LUPITA OLIVARES – NATALIE MARINO
“…adapting to lives of constant movement and living between space and “unspace” has led to centuries of generational trauma.”
REVIEW: STORAGE UNIT FOR THE SPIRIT HOUSE – MAW SHEIN WIN (OMNIDAWN)
A storage unit is inevitably a reduction of life’s expansive possibilities. It is by nature a place of pause, a place of restrictions on the field of associations.
REVIEW: TRAVELOGUE – PAIGE MELIN (GHOST CITY PRESS)
“….she recognizes that she no longer has complete agency, having surrendered to her travels: “nothing will pull me / from this trajectory”, she writes, “not even its own / destruction”.
REVIEW: SEEDLING – ALANA SALTZ (MAVERICK DUCK PRESS)
So if our memories are selective, and somewhat inaccurate, how do we keep those we loved with us after they’re gone?
REVIEW: AMNESIA – HAL Y. ZHANG (Newfound)
The pressures of assimilation run deep. To what extent do we forget our mother tongues when we immigrate to a new country? How much of ourselves, our culture, our language, can we retain?
REVIEW: LA BELLE AJAR – ERNESTO CEPEDA (CLASH BOOKS)
A revitalized love story for an upended generation. Cepeda brings beauty to the parts of us we fear the most: desires, sex, love, guilt, self.
Ursula K. LeGuin I grew up immersed in sci-fi and fantasy, and I’ve seen all kinds of worlds; LeGuin’s have always been the most imaginative and engaging. Octavia Butler Butler makes *character* the central part of her characters. They are intensely personal, believable, and relatable. Piers Anthony As a youngster
REVIEW: VENUS IN PINK MARBLE – GAYNOR KANE (HEDGEHOG PRESS)
This is a collection that moves around the themes of love, lust, futility and desire and the search for a self through these conflicts of empire and colonialism.
REVIEW: ALCHEMY OF LOVE – SOPHIE FOUCHER (SELF-PUBLISHED):
In simple lines of pure feeling these ‘30 poems and dreams about love’ challenge us to leave our troubles behind and enter Foucher’s vision of equanimity.
Review by Jane Berg
REVIEW: PITH – TRACY FUAD (NEWFOUND PRESS)
Day-after-day, emails – I get it. And for the rest of the day, I wondered where God fit into all this technologyand war of scorched earth?
Review by Martha Warren
REVIEW: NO SAINTS – KEANA AGUILA LABRA (LAZY ADVENTURER PUBLISHING):
Maybe the hard, unyielding material is not mankind’s intolerance of what is other, as we have always thought.
Review by Lannie Stabile.
REVIEW: LOST LAGOON/LOST IN THOUGHT – BETSY WARLAND
Thoughtful and contemplative, the writing captures the seasons of nature, the sounds and rhythms of the lagoon, and I wonder whether especially now, in times of uncertainty and fear, more of us should make time to be quiet
Review by Martha Warren
REVIEW: LET’S PHOTOGRAPH GIRLS ENJOYING LIFE – JASMINE GRAY (BROKEN SLEEP BOOKS)
This small poetry collection hits hard, it makes us voyeur and complicit in the diminishment of what gender and sex are.
Rev by @jessmkrjy