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.
The janitors clean up the mess left from cheers, jeers, and broken hearts. The lights go out. You say goodbye to the players, loved ones, enemies, and continue with the game of life. As long as the ball keeps bouncing, life will continue.
They are our pain. Our love. Our fight through relationships when we can’t do it ourselves. They need food and water and shelter but don’t always have that option – even if they’ve been there for years.
It’s who we are when least expected. It’s the big feelings we can’t explain. It’s the reason we cower in the dark. It’s the reason we raise our voices to those we are said to love. It’s the reason some loves end or begin or don’t.
Most of all, it’s about when body meets the inside of the body because the outside just doesn’t make sense anymore. It’s when space feels like a metaphor for a much larger universe, and you wish for a black hole within which to hide.
REVIEW: BOAT BURNED – KELLY GRACE THOMAS (YESYES BOOKS)
I found myself walking away from it often, not out of discontent but out of a need to process the full brunt of the emotions laid bare by the author.
REVIEW: BECOMING THE BRONZE IDOL – RITA MOOKERJEE (BONE & INK PRESS)
This collection helps readjust the way we look at our world and showing that the first step in fixing something broken is to recognize that it needs to be fixed in the first place.
REVIEW: THE WHIMSY OF DANK JU-JU – SASCHA AURORA AKHTAR
Magic is broken unless we understand the trick or allow ourselves to suspend our disbelief and just know that everything is taken care of, and that we are okay.
This is not a guide toward love, light, and inspiration. This is not a tribute to finding God through death. This is looking at Death, and letting them know that while it might be a minute, you’ll leave a light on.
It is not just a book of confessions, but of acceptance that we can be beautiful and flawed and problematic and good, that the only thing we ought to require of ourselves is the permission to be fully human. Buddy no longer apologizes for fucking things up.
REVIEW: A LIVE THING, CLINGING WITH MANY TEETH – KOLLEEN CARNEY HOEPFNER (SPOOKY GIRLFRIEND PRESS)
We’re shown a woman who has to come to terms with pain and discomfort being her new reality. And then the idea of change is more frightening than her continued torture.
Reading each section becomes the experience of the burning fire; it builds and burns and, even as it goes out, smolders and lingers long after it’s gone.
What will Kayleigh Campbell, winner of the Gloucestershire Poetry Competition 2019, include in today’s #TPQ5? Find out inside!
These poems make clear that Olayiwola, current poet laureate of Boston, is just beginning what is sure to be a long and much-lauded tenure in American poetics.
Trying to get away is understandable–hell, it’s even appealing to a certain degree–and it’s here that we can discover what’s so intriguing about McCartt-Jackson’s collection: your history doesn’t allow you to hide from it.
from how people viewed them to how they viewed themselves, we’re given an intimate look at their effects on the world.
FORGIVE YOURSELF THESE TINY ACTS OF SELF-DESTRUCTION – JARED SINGER @buttonpoetry
“…a manual for the last kid in the kickball line. It’s a must-read for those who can’t remember why they need to remember. It’s for those who sometimes forget they matter.”
Denehan is sort of like Bukowski, if Bukowski wrote while drinking rather than drunk. It’s proof that poetry doesn’t need to be complicated to tell a damn good story.
This collection is about taking stock of your life and how things have changed or remained the same. It is a look at how your perspective shifts over time and people inevitably view you differently as your circumstances transform.
This is the past seen as scenes with edits. This is how family works and doesn’t and how people are more than just reflections of what came before.
Her work explores the sheer vastness of the Canadian landscape with a personal lens; experiences we cannot share are made beautiful and engaging.
This book is, quite simply, indispensable. My only lament is that it does not fit in my pocket, as it is the kind of collection one wishes to have with them at all times, the sort that reminds one how to live with equal parts grief and grace.
It’s a headfirst take on being simply yourself in a sardonic world that wants to throw cancer and queer and God’s erect penis at you like they are insults.
#TPQ5: D.A. GRAY
What will D.A. Gray, author, Retired soldier and veteran, include in today’s #TPQ5? Find out inside!
#TPQ5: TJ NEER
What will TJ Neer, a bookseller at The Book Loft in Columbus, OH, include in today’s #TPQ5? Find out inside!
Review: An Offering – Stewart Sanderson (Tapsalteerie Publishing House)
A small, majestic journey is what comes to mind while reading An Offering; the kind you take close to home in the fresh damp of morning’s first light.
Review: 99 Names of Exile, Kaveh Bassiri (Newfound Poetry)
This is a work of tender vulnerability, offering a glimpse of deeply personal stories through the abstraction of metaphor.
he visceral memories echo Sharon Olds and Rachel McKibbens, taking on a confessional style that does not flinch at trauma but also makes space for complexity of loving one’s parents even as abuse continues.
Though a quick read, it’s unique and candid look at this relationship offers quippy anecdotes and humor.
REVIEW – SPACE STRUCK BY PAIGE LEWIS (SARABANDE BOOKS)
In a year of absolutely gorgeous verse, Paige Lewis sets themselves apart, at once informed by the masters of craft and entirely unique in their own right. This is a collection you won’t want to miss.
REVIEW: CAN I KICK IT? – IDRIS GOODWIN (HAYMARKET BOOKS): The lines are sometimes swift, sometimes heavy, but there is always a discernible rhythm which propels the reader forward with deliberate, measured pace.
REVIEW: EVE AND ALL THE WRONG MEN – AVIYA KUSHNER (DANCING GIRL PRESS)
Religions converse along with the characters as works of art come alive, translated into the text by the viewer’s keen eye.
REVIEW: THE DEATH OF A CLOWN – TOM BLAND (BAD BETTY PRESS)
Bukowski and Monica Drake would be proud. This is sex and hard drugs and love and the general misfiring of everyday life when nothing is really everyday life.
Instead, we find a couple working on a relationship – because after-all, they are work. Relationships are wonderful and beautiful and trying and difficult and sometimes we don’t always like the person we love, but it’s not something that we can’t overcome.
REVIEW: SELF-PORTRAIT – ELISABETH HORAN (CEPHALO PRESS):
What do you do when you must lie on your back? When you can’t stand up for yourself – literally. You make the best of it. You create art like you’ve never created before.
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!
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.