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.
GARMENTS AGAINST WOMEN by ANNE BOYER / The opening poem seems to describe both degrees of suffering and our attachment to suffering, and in this way, the rest of the collection continues conversations in which the narrator argues both for and against herself. It’s partly how Boyer is able to implicate both structures (like capitalism) and the self at the same time: systems are so internalized as to be indistinguishable from our human nature.
SAVE OUR SHIP by BARBARA UNGAR / “Save Our Ship” is a cry for the planet. And not just environmentally. It’s an SOS for our species (dear God, what we inflict on one another in relationships and global conflicts).
OCEANIC by AIMEE NEZHUKUMATATHIL / I want to return to this book to study the “self portrait” poems more closely. Very often with persona poems, I’m too distracted by the device/set-up that I can’t get lost in the language/effect. But the persona poems in this makes the cloak invisible, and I’m curious how it’s achieved.
Poetry teaches us how to listen, and poetry helps us know things, like urgency, tenderness and the value of each story.
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.”