A Change of Maps
Carolyne Wright explores in poetry what it means to live in different worlds, and probes with great sensitivity what it means to live in two or more different worlds at the same time . . . Wright writes with passion, eloquence, and clear moral perspective.
A poet examines his life: what he’s been dealt, what he’s chosen, the workings of history with personal griefs and delights, “amnesty” of an uneasy coming-to-terms with self and others, being his muse. There’s a macabre wit, masculine vulnerability, and soul-conflict in the best of these poems, adding up to a very strong book.
As Is tells the heroic story: loss, struggle, victory, and how god is milk and throat at once, and rock and child, and how the future leaks outlandishly into the present. That the reason humans exist (now didn’t you ever want to know that?), the reason for humans is that we can love. It’s our job because that’s what we were built to do. Join the Divine.
At the Edge of the Western Wave
This collection catches perfectly that special sense of rural Ireland which might be described as mixture of raw satirical humour, tragedy, and a kind of yearning for love and connection in a society that feels a constant tension between materialism and spirituality. At the Edge of the Western Wave is a big and sweeping enough collection to be able to accomodate these themes and their nuances . . .
Before There Is Nowhere to Stand: Palestine | Israel: Poets Respond to the Struggle
Responding to the violence of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead against Gaza in 2008 – 2009, Joan Dobbie and her niece Grace Beeler, descendants of Holocaust survivors, issued a call for poems by writers of “Palestinian or Jewish heritage . . . for an anthology that strives for understanding . . . in the belief that poetry can create understanding and understanding can dull hatred.”
This book is a tribute to resourceful imaginations. Its purpose is to give readers an occasion to perceive the aspirations and passions of those whose lives have been affected by the struggle—in Joseph Conrad’s words, “to make you hear, to make you feel—it is, before all, to make you see.”
The poems are arranged in seven sections, each dealing with an attribute or phase of the Palestine-Israel struggle. When possible, selections alternate between Jewish and Arab authors, effecting dissonance in subject, emphasis, and attitude—an uneasy multiculturalism.
John Whalen’s Caliban is tempest-, whiskey-, and romance-tossed. It is also mordantly funny, peculiarly moving, and always gorgeous. These poems are as deeply pleasurable to read one at a time as in one great gulp, which is all we should ask of any book.
Composing Voices: A Cycle of Dramatic Monologues
Robert Pack’s new volume of poetry, Composing Voices: A Cycle of Dramatic Monologues, is a fabulously expanded version of his 1984 book, Faces in a Single Tree. In each of the poems a single person is talking to one other person to whom he is intimately related, creating deep dramatic tension: a father talking to a bereaved daughter or puzzled son; a sister confronting a sister gone astray or a brother to whom she is confessing her compromised pregnancy; husbands and wives, old and young, reviewing some crisis of their lives together. Combined with these human dramas are the dramas of nature. Pack inherits Robert Frost’s sensitivity to the minutiae of spectacle and evolution, the mysteries of God and Darwin’s theories. He regards these with humor and compassion. And, perhaps miraculously, but surely most wisely, he does it all within the regulations and beauties of blank verse.
. . . Gathered from the root-zones of many different trees, knife-scraped from rock-face, lifted from dung, spore-flung into air, these gathered mushroom poems offer undomestic, distinctive discoveries to all who choose to join the effort to find them.
A woman hides from her husband in a fish tank and another absently bakes sponges inside her tarts. Appliances drop from the sky, men grapple with chainsaws, women struggle with hormonal violence, and abandoned boys beg on doorsteps. Enter into the territory of broken people and the folks that love them. Sensitive and unruly, sincere and absurd, Stefanie Freele’s Feeding Strays is a collection of fifty short stories, both slipstream and modern, about children, family, relationships, and oysters.
Finding the Top of the Sky
. . . In the face of the escalating inanity and aridness of post-industrial life, the fine pieces in this volume insist that compassion triumph over cruelty, meditative clarity over bombast and spin. It is a great delight to feel the weight of Grabill’s conviction (along with his immense talent) and, with sea lions, lorikeets, giant ferns, and humpback whales, to follow it to the top of the sky, where it is so much easier to see what matters and what does not.