THE SECOND O OF SORROW by SEAN THOMAS DOUGHERTY / As a huge fan of the prose poem, I found a lot in this collection to admire. The prose poems in The Second O of Sorrow both contain narratives within their margins and fail to contain them, which I mean as a compliment. The sentences and fragments in this book’s prose poems take us on wild rides and cover incredible distances.
MISERY ISLANDS by JANUARY GILL O’NEIL / There’s so much tenderness in this book, and that’s such a surprising response to these lived experiences (illness, betrayal, divorce, racism, etc.). I know there’s also rage. It’s not just backdrop for the poems but in a couple of instances it’s front/center. However, overall I receive these poems as tender blessings.
A CRUELTY SPECIAL TO OUR SPECIES by EMILY JUNGMIN YOON / Yoon’s delight in manipulating words based on their sounds contrasts with the heavy subject matter, and the search for the right word creates an experience for the reader: do we even have words for these horrors?
WHAT I LEARNED AT THE WAR by JEANETTA CALHOUN MISH / These poems assert that women’s stories matter. They hold space for the female body and its wars. They get down in the dirt of place (region, town, house, room) and of poverty and the working class.
I can relate to the standstill/stare-down Natasha describes in the opening of her post. When I go visit my manuscript, it doesn’t even welcome me. There’s no room for me in it anywhere. Not even space for me to park my car out front.
The old version of myself would’ve called the experiment a big failure. But now, I’m happy to thank that prior self for her service and back away from her slowly… LOL. What I’ve come to is a place solidly situated in self-care.
PARADISE INDIANA by BRUCE SNIDER / A sense of place — and heat from all that sex — is exactly why the opening poem “Map” grabs me right away. That, plus it plays with what’s expected and unexpected, which is the precise kind of texture “place” needs in our poems.