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.
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?
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?
DIRTY BOMB by MARK NEELY / Our deep fried, Disney-fied, four-lane highwayed, strip-malled communities are ripe for poetry, and I love love love when that shit makes its way into the work.
OCULUS by SALLY WEN MAO / Sally Wen Mao skillfully teases out how technology infiltrates our world/physical beings and what it means to be alive in that confused (conflicted? commandeered?) space.
PARTIAL GENIUS by MARY BIDDINGER / Where prose may imply narrative, the content within each “stanzagraph” defies the narrative. By telling fragmented stories, these poems keep their distance somewhat. Like teenagers. The narrative kind of “ghosts” us in these poems; its delightful, intriguing and tantalizing.