The poet Wallace Stevens said, “We live in the description of a place and not in the place itself.” I want my experience of the Ohio River Valley to be more than what I have read and been told. I want to live aware in this place. I want to see and smell spicebush. I want the pleasure of discovering in yet another spring Jack in his pulpit in the shadows of our yard. I want to see the profusion of spring white and the brilliance of autumn leaves on our dogwood. All of this roots me in place. It anchors me to Here and, therefore, also to Now.
With Extreme Prejudice: Lest We Forget is Emmett Wheatfall’s latest foray into observational truth-telling. This collection bears witness to the early arrival and historicity of the COVID-19 pandemic, which Wheatfall elegantly describes as The greatest hitchhiker on earth … / making its rounds (“Every Nation Under The Sun”). In poem after poem, he explores both the ongoing fear of a disease that has taken at least a million lives as well as the hope for that brighter future we all yearn for.
Enter River Skin, a collection that traverses a landscape of lilacs, switchblades, and creeks. These poems squeeze grief through a cider press and heap addiction high on a wood pile. Interrogating the domestic with a candor that evokes Sharon Olds, Smith’s debut returns us to the forest, where she unearths a tenderness that aches, splinters, and renews.
The collected poems in Royal Blue Shutters explore the pull and tug of language, the tin-like sounds, the careful alignment, and robust admiration of words. Stanzas are bulked up with their own musicality—songs that can’t be sung but only released from the lips in a prattle.
What happens when the ex-wife of an ex-cop, with a penchant for TV detectives, speculates about her own disappearance? Poet, Carol Lynne Knight mixes imaginary investigations with the intimate, often stark, realities of life as the wife of a street cop. If I Go Missing mixes of the sensual with procedural detail in a surprising, original new trope.
What is the fascination of the unfinished work of art? It is alive. That is because the unfinished is the doorway allowing the spirit of the reader to experience the universe around us and within us. Unfinished clothing, unfinished wars, unfinished symphonies, unfinished art pieces, unfinished books, unfinished stories. Untold stories found on a trail […]
Regarded as one of the most prolific Filipino poets in the twenty-first century with eighteen volumes of poetry under his belt, Hollow represents the many conceits present in both Arguelles’s past and succeeding works. While older Filipino critics tend to describe Arguelles’s work as a welcome departure from the weary lyrical and symbolist tradition, doing so does not really do much justice to what his works have to offer. For instance, the poems “Your Life Will Always Fail” (Ang Iyong Buhay ay Laging Mabibigo) and “Vocabulary” (Bokabularyo) can be seen as more relaxed, refined, and chiseled versions of Arguelles’s “surface poetry” and non-lyrical pieces in Menos Kuwarto (Pithaya Press, 2002) and Ilahás (High Chair, 2004). “Exercises in Futility” (Pagsasanay sa Walang Saysay), on the other hand, reads like a sequel to his first book-length erasure project in Alingaw (High Chair, 2010) and a prequel to the same project featured in Pesoa (Balangay, 2014). Then there are, of course, pieces that showcase the deceptive simplicity of Arguelles’s language and how they lend themselves to translation in different ways.
These poems showcase frustrations and deep-rooted hungers so authentically human we almost catch the heartbeat’s throb in each line we ghost over. Every part of nature – the lover, the moon, snow, the sky, hummingbirds mating, a heard of elks – is worshiped on these pages, and with its incantations about how a woman resides within the (un)holy rooms of her body’s longing and belongings, Home Beneath the Church crafts a home, a sanctuary, for any reader to cohabitate with the language of the prismatic familial and sacred.
Tiel Aisha Ansari is a Sufi warrior poet. Her work has been featured by Fault Lines Poetry, Windfall, KBOO and an Everyman’s Library anthology, among others. Her collections include Knocking from Inside, High-Voltage Lines, Country Well-Known as an Old Nightmare’s Stable, and The Day of My First Driving Lesson (including the Pushcart-nominated “1969”).
The poems of Tim Hawkins range widely in geography, tone, and style in search of the extraordinary in the things we take for granted, guided always by the desire to be both in the moment and apart from it at the same time. To read these poems is to move slowly, serenely into some distant and exotic place – yet find oneself in the comfort of home. Hawkins’ lines – characterized by deftness of phrasing, skillful craft, freshness and impact of imagery, boldness and penetration of thought, and by engagement with an impressive range of subject, form, and mood – will leave an imprint on your heart.