Will things be normal after the pandemic? This poet hopes not and contemplates the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for change that’s before us for now.
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.
EVERY ROOM IN THE BODY by KERRI FRENCH / This book isn’t “just” about a high-risk pregnancy. It’s also about how we experience the world when we have something else that’s consuming us, the way time passes (or doesn’t) when we are preoccupied, the way we can be, as they say, of the world but not in it.
As Olds said, I need to confide in a reader who is myself. When I fail to do this, I have nothing to share with the world. And I’m not talking only about poems.
SOMETHING LIKE FORGIVENESS by REBECCA SCHUMEJDA / As a single long poem about a family tragedy, it’s a massive undertaking both emotionally and poetically, and she hits it out of the park. This book is engaging. It’s breathtaking. Her torment is palpable. I paused more than once to cry. I put the book down and sobbed.