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.
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.
AMERICAN SONNETS FOR MY PAST AND FUTURE ASSASSIN by TERRANCE HAYES / The repetition of themes/lines throughout appropriately creates echoes that force us to reconcile the following: this isn’t the first we’re hearing of these experiences and yet what has changed? And what will change tomorrow? Anything?
BE RECORDER by CARMEN GIMENEZ SMITH / I’ve struggled to write about the political times we live in. Although I rant on Twitter and retweet other people’s clever or biting tweets about the scandals/horrors/injustice/harms/etc/etc like a mad woman, I can’t get there in my own writing. In contrast, this collection will prove to be an important record (I mean, it’s in the title) of this moment in time.
My reading list is organized with the most recent on top so if, by chance, you stop by more than once for an update, you only have to scroll forever if you have forever to scroll! Note that I’ve extended the time frame to 12-ish months right out of the gate. My days of being so ambitious all the damn time are way behind me.