The review is a sketch. It delighted me, as I was already curious about inventive ways to respond to the books we read. I had written a nontraditional review to an essay collection a couple years back, but I had no idea what else was out there. With this blog post, I attempt to correct that.
For a poet, I think I’m late to the nesting and writing stages of coronavirus grief. But thanks to a cat, perimenopause and Natalie Goldberg, I’m here now.
EMERGENCY BRAKE by RUTH MADIEVSKY / It’s absolutely appropriate that Jill is the one who pointed me toward this collection: like Jill, Madievsky’s writing is next-level playful and imaginative. Both of them have a gift for freshness with language that’s soooooo enviable. Each analogy makes you wonder what just hit you and if you’ll be lucky enough to be struck again.
HOMIE by DANEZ SMITH / I deeply admire how exuberance in the poems can’t be untangled from mourning and how Smith crafts so many of the poems in Homie to condemn white supremacy simply by putting it on display: Smith allows it to incriminate itself by its very existence, by its insistence, by its cruelty, what it permeates.
Maybe you have a place like this: a spot where you see yourself with such clarity it both inspires and frightens you. For me, that’s almost always when facing, touching and diving into the Atlantic. This year, I rediscover grace for my body and a thirst for my writing life.
MADWOMAN by SHARA MCCALLUM / I can’t stop thinking about this pair of lines: “Stories wake in us what is inconsolable, / begin in us again our animal mewling.” It’s one reason I turn to poetry: to validate my thirst/hunger, which feels — regardless of what I’m craving — absolutely primal. Anyone else?
Will things be normal after the pandemic? This poet hopes not and contemplates the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for change that’s before us for now.
LOVE, ROBOT by MARGARET RHEE / Should we lay bare the truth about that: isn’t what we teach others is designed to “improve” their code so they better meet our needs? How does it usually go when we try to change the other?