HALF-HAZARD by KRISTEN TRACY / As likely as we are to fall down, break up, stumble or choose wrong — or, when the stakes are even higher, to die — we can’t despair about it all the time. Quite simply, these poems exist in a very familiar space: Being Human, Planet Earth.
THE SECOND O OF SORROW by SEAN THOMAS DOUGHERTY / As a huge fan of the prose poem, I found a lot in this collection to admire. The prose poems in The Second O of Sorrow both contain narratives within their margins and fail to contain them, which I mean as a compliment. The sentences and fragments in this book’s prose poems take us on wild rides and cover incredible distances.
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?