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.
SWEET INSURGENT by ELYSE FENTON / Even as we are shown how volatile and precarious life can be, Fenton delivers lines that are tender both in what they reveal and in how they convey vulnerability: “I never planned to love like this.”
THE GALAXY IS A DANCE FLOOR by BIANCA LYNNE SPRIGGS / Sketches — moth, narwhal, astronaut, etc. — appear in a series of “reverie” poems and contribute to the dreamlike, disorienting quality of those poems, which are numbered but presented out of order.
THE WYNONA STONE POEMS by CAKI WILKINSON / I wasn’t sure how I’d do reading an entire book of poems in the third person about a fictional character and her family and community, but Wilkinson really makes it work. Wynona is just as real as any narrator/speaker.
In high school, this kind of angst made me a normal teenager. Now, however, with arthritis in my knuckles, reading glasses on my nose and crepe-paper skin around my knees, this kind of angst just makes me stuck.
MYSTERIES IN A WORLD THAT THINKS THERE ARE NONE by GARY MCDOWELL / For some reason, even though they aren’t unicorns and rainbows by any stretch, the poems themselves create a lightness, a way of levitating.
SOME PLANET by JAMIE MORTARA / I love the experimentation in this collection. In addition to having several poems titled “experiment,” Mortara’s poems attempt several innovative forms, including a table and flow charts that are twice as wide as the regular pages and need to be unfolded to view.
THERE ARE MORE BEAUTIFUL THINGS THAN BEYONCE by MORGAN PARKER / Part of the magic of this collection is that it could be assumed that the speaker is manipulated by all those forces, influences and expectations, but she puppets them instead. The speaker makes forces act the way she wants and say what she wants to say. She has heard their propaganda and uses their same words against them.