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.
But as the moments move forward, nothing breaking through the quiet, we are met with the release of breath the speaker has been holding for far too long
If this is what it means to be godly, why would anyone stay? And if you are already considered to be straying, why not have some fun with it?
See What Life is Like, is dark and brutal, unsparing in ugly detail. But during a first aid course last week, I couldn’t stop thinking about how smart and accurate her writing is.
REVIEW: HOW OFTEN I HAVE CHOSEN LOVE – XIAO YUE SHAN (FRONTIER POETRY)
Shan’s natural metaphors connect the experiences in this collection to a deep relationship with the physical world, grounding these stories into the earth.
REVIEW: PERHAPS THERE IS A SKY WE DON’T KNOW: A REIMAGINING OF SAPPHO – ANNE PEDONE
Pedone’s poems are more demure than a cleverly placed erection joke, however. She unironically uses words like nectar, taste, and swollen…
REVIEW: DUNCE – MARY RUEFLE (WAVE POETRY)
The poem claims to forbid but finds that grief is not powerful enough to truly erase the names of things.
REVIEW: STRANGERS – ROB TAYLOR (BIBLIOASIS)
Even if it can be painful, love will not settle down into abstraction. It reaches its fingers into the world, pinches and pulls.
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: WE ARE ALL SOMEBODY: A POETRY ANTHOLOGY WRITTEN BY STREET CHILDREN GLOBALLY (FLY ON THE WALL PRESS)
These are the voices and verses of street children. Their stories of hardship and trauma, their dreams and hopes.
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.
REVIEW: NEON HOLLYWOOD COWBOY – MATT MITCHELL (BIG LUCKS)
Made to look like a vinyl, the Neon Hollywood Cowboy fails not to be a soundtrack fit for queering what we know as the cowboy, the body, the wild west as depicted in hollywood.
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.
REVIEW: MUCH LEFT UNSAID – FINOLA SCOTT (RED SQUIRREL PRESS)
Again and again, the poems invite us to follow them into landscapes familiar and foreign, present and past, and observe their colours, textures, atmosphere
“LETTING THE POEMS SAY MORE THAN I WAS AWARE THEY WANTED TO SAY” – TALK TO ME: KATE FOX
I think the rewards of communicating through neurodivergence are not using up energy on masking and hiding. Plus then embodying the fact that humans think/feel/experience the world differently.
REVIEWS & CONVERSATIONS: PROFIT | PROPHET – PATRICK BLAGRAVE (RECENTER PRESS)
While this review differs from my traditional approach, I welcome this variation without question. We must face the reality in which we stand in terms (and conditions) of the captor we simply label as debt.
REVIEW: MEDUSA RETOLD – SARAH WALLIS (FLY ON THE WALL PRESS)
The epic sets apart internal and external narratives through the usage of italic sections, but these lines start to blur as the story unfolds, reinforcing that our internal lives are inseparable from the outside world.
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: TRICKS OF LIGHT – THADDEUS RUTKOWSKI (GREAT WEATHER FOR MEDIA)
He seems to consider care to be of utmost concern, not just for family, but also for strangers.
REVIEW: BREEZE BLOCK – JAKE HAWKEY (LUMPEN/THE CLASS PROJECT)
There’s the story — love, relationships — and the reader follows the dots Hawkey has so carefully placed. In the same poem, the dots are connected between pop culture and the reader
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: WISCONSIN DEATH TRIP – JESSIE LYNN McMAINS (BONE & INK PRESS)
They are unafraid to show the awfulness and bitterness, old beliefs and traditions, terrible acts inflicted by the people who inhabit the snowy state.
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 of Worn by Adrienne Christian (Santa Fe Writers Project, 2020)
And when she writes of family, it’s of more exclusion – the striking disconnect from those with whom we are supposed to be connected.
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.
“AN EXERCISE IN LEARNING TO SURRENDER.” TALK TO ME: JONATHAN KOVEN
I think there’s a level of trusting that people will empathize with my story, and if not my story, then the music of my words.
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.
REVIEW: THE SAMURAI – LINDA M. CRATE (YELLOW ARROW PUBLISHING)
Or perhaps she felt this unfamiliarity with her body all along and only made sense of the reason why after her discovery of the reincarnation. – Robin D. Hendricks
REVIEW: I’LL FLY AWAY – RUDY FRANCISCO (BUTTON POETRY)
What Rudy Francisco has done in I’ll Fly Away (Button Poetry) is to build a language where one did not exist. Place letters in front of letters to create new emotions, new meanings. It’s guterall. These are new words needed in these new times to help somehow coalesce these ancient feelings.
REVIEW: SENTIMENTAL VIOLENCE — GABRIELLE HOGAN (GHOST CITY PRESS)
As we all know, though, joy does not exist without violence — not for Tonya, and not for any of us.
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.
YELLOW JOURNALISM: QUIET, GRIT & GLORY – RICKY RAY (BROKEN SLEEP BOOKS)
Many of the pieces in this book challenged me, while some baffled me, others stirred tears I frequently wipe while composing this review.
REVIEW: LATE SUMMER FLOWERS – JULIAN DAY (ANSTRUTHER PRESS)
Yes, it really is just a ravine, but Day shares the significance of the place, the things that happened there. Place of sport and suicide. Place of celebration.
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: ELECTRIC SARCASM – DIMITRA IOANNOU (UGLY DUCKLING PRESSE)
Electric Sarcasm is an elegy faithful to the Greek root of the word; a lament for Greece, a country so important for its ancient ruins, facing financial ruin.
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: SPECTRUM OF FLIGHT – DAVID HANLON (ANIMAL HEART PRESS)
Utilizing the layout of text on the page, suggestive titles and clever wordplay, he creates an intricate narrative that enhances the reading experience.
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: AT FIRST & THEN – DANIELLE ROSE (BLACK LAWRENCE PRESS)
if Rose decided to give a craft talk on titles alone, I would slam my fist, fanning with twenties, on the table and scream, “Here, take my money!” – Lannie Stabile
REVIEW: LIFE IN SPACE – GALINA RYMBU ( TR. JOAN BROOKS) (UGLY DUCKLING PRESSE/AFTER HOURS EDITIONS)
Sex is set against a backdrop of war and politics, so devoid of emotion and joy you can “count the bites and hickeys from dead lovers.”
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 CANDLELIGHT MASTER – MICHAEL LONGLEY (WAKE FOREST PRESS)
“This is a collection about the power of aging. He shows us how the lives of old poets companion us on our journey….” – Jessica Mookherjee
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 I was endlessly entertained by…
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: GRAVITY – LYNNE SCHMIDT (NIGHTINGALE & SPARROW)
In that moment of vulnerability we are often not our best selves ultimately becoming lost. but sometimes we overcome these bad relationships, saving ourselves in the end.
Review by Chris L. Butler
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
REVIEW: THE BOWER – CONNIE VOISINE (UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS)
The daughter’s eyes are a wonderful vehicle fully exploited by the poet yet never to the point of exhaustion. That childish brio drinks in the wonders of flags and drums and studiously ignores the bottle of urine at a sectarian march.
REVIEW: CAPABLE MONSTERS – MARLIN M. JENKINS (BULL CITY PRESS)
What I’ve learned is that sometimes you need to crawl within your shell to gain the power to face the rest of the world, and sometimes you need a Mewtwo to get you there.
REVIEW: FORTY STITCHES SEWING A BODY AGAINST A RAMSHACKLE NIGHT – C.T. SALAZAR (ANIMAL HEART PRESS)
And when we catch up to ourselves, we find we are tingling toes, prayer birds, wolf cubs, and gravity collapsing around you. C.T. Salazar gives us both a story of love, but also of finding oneself amidst the distractions of, well, everything else.
REVIEW: RECKLESS PAPER BIRDS – JOHN McCULLOUGH (PENNED IN THE MARGINS)
The tone of communication is exuberant and rife with polysemic connotations, producing a psychedelic effect. A sad Lady Gaga prompts us to reflect on how “terrible” it is “to be a god and listen”….
Review by Rodanthi Tzanelli
REVIEW: ALMS BASKET FOR YOUR HEART – MACKENZIE MOORE (VARIANT LIT)
It is a tender little book and a reminder that, yes, not all dreams come true, but that doesn’t mean we should stop dreaming.
@mxkmoore @whatisaletter @VariantLit
REVIEW: A QUARTER LIFE- TYLER PUFPAFF (SELF-PUBLISHED)
We can put ourselves in these cracks and pops of a body learning how to be on its own.
REVIEW: WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE CALLED? – KIRBY (ANSTRUTHER PRESS)
Maybe the boy would look up from his gadget. Where no one cares if it’s a vulva or a penis. Where everyone has the sensibility of a 2-year-old. Because at two it’s really just a silly question. It’s not judgement.
REVIEW: LITTLE MASTICATED DARLINGS – LANNIE STABILE (WILD PRESSED BOOKS)
It’s just a photograph. It’s just a reminder of a moment in time. That smile…the style of clothing, the wallpaper, the innocence, the murderer.
This is a scream that you are not tainted water. You are part of the moment, not the moment gone. You will not be discarded. Somewhere you remember “that joy of being alive”.
REVIEW: HOT WITH THE BAD THINGS – LUCIA LOTEMPIO (ALICE JAMES BOOKS)
You tell yourself who you are – the good, the bad. You have opinions but wonder if they are yours. LoTempio challenges you to look for a life somewhere between love, abuse, and self.
REVIEW: DISINTEGRATION – PAUL ROBERT MULLEN (ANIMAL HEART PRESS)
It’s the idea that maybe if one could be anything other than a poet – like maybe a bird – they should still be a poet. It’s the notebook of words you can’t remember or won’t dare to write down.
REVIEW: CUT TO BLOOM – ARHM CHOI WILD (WRITE BLOODY)
Wrong leads to cuts and bruises. Cuts and bruises lead to silence, lead to knives and stomaches, and the need to become “the fracture that makes the needle jump, land on anything but this”. But in the end, cuts and bruises can bloom and become anew.
REVIEW: DAWN’S FOOL – KYLA HOUBOLT (ICE FLOE PRESS)
If this is poetry of place, it is the pastoral idyll rendered uninhabitable by a human species.
Review by @aliner
REVIEW: INDIGENOUS – JENNIFER REESER (ABLE MUSE PRESS)
In this work full of masterful lyricism, you will find a history once hidden, a story passed from one generation to the next, and traditions held in the hearts of Indigenous peoples.
POWER OF POETRY #113: DIANA RADOVAN
Our world is fractured, but it was already fractured before the pandemic. Free-form poetry and hybrid forms are simply reflective of our times.
REVIEW: THE RITUALS OF MUMMIFICATION – JOSEPH D. REICH (SAGGING MENISCUS PRESS)
Each piece almost feels a ritual, setting you firm in the notion that you are not alone in your experience, or your discontent.
#TPQ5: JEAN ÒRE
What will Jean Òre (Gianfranco Orecchioni), Italian songwriter and poet, include in today’s #TPQ5? Find out inside!
REVIEW: THE LIFE OF THE PARTY- ADRIAN SOBOL
It’s in the checkout magazine’s interest to make you wait & consider options, the difference between content, contentment, & continent—which one, you think, is big enough for you?
POETRY IN THE NEW WORLD #1: ERNESTO CEPEDA
Let us use poetry to be the spark that lights up others who are consumed by darkness. We will be the flames, the candles and the fire, keep writing, reading, submitting and posting our work.
it’s the TKO after 12 rounds at the bar. But you’re looking up from the mattress wondering where Dr. Bottle and Nurse Amphetamine were to throw in the towel.
REVIEW: POSTCOLONIAL LOVE POEM – NATALIE DIAZ (GRAYWOLF PRESS)
I have never encountered a writer more capable of balancing softness and strength. These poems are quiet and technical and precise, yet the speaker never feels weak or timid. Rather, there is an everpresent sense that the rage lingering just beneath the lines may bare its teeth.
It’s the way society sees itself but refuses to remedy anything. There are no roses growing here. This is sidewalk chalk guiding readers through each crack in the concrete.
REVIEW: HOMIE – DANEZ SMITH (GRAYWOLF PRESS)
These poems are beautiful and messy and surprising and honest; they are everything a storied friendship is.