IN THE FIELD BETWEEN US by MOLLY MCCULLY BROWN & SUSANNAH NEVISON / The poems in this book grapple with all the versions of the self, as they are created, as they are destroyed. Embodying reality in any given moment is a moving target.
TO MAKE ROOM FOR THE SEA by ADAM CLAY / It is satisfying to see our human tribulations set among the stars and also be reminded of the something else out there. Somehow, the poems capture both ego and humility.
LANDSCAPE WITH PLYWOOD SILHOUETTES by KERRIN MCCADDEN / It’s tempting to say the poems in this collection are “about” divorce, parenting, art, rivers, photos/cameras, ocean, ghosts, loneliness, etc., but it feels more to me to be a book about tenderness. Those other topics/items — grief, cartoons, chairs — are present alongside us as living beings. They’re active in our stories.
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?