Noel Sloboda’s collection, Our Rarer Monsters (Sunnyoutside, 2013), gives voice to the monsters, misfits, outcasts, and bit players of literature in poems that are funny, insightful, and sometimes, a bit heartbreaking at the core. Our Rarer Monsters appeals to fans of fairy tales, mythology, Shakespeare, and of course, monsters. The book is a slim volume of poems and short narratives that explore what is monstrous and what is human and the places where those elements intersect. Continue Reading »

Blitzkrieg, John Gosslee’s latest poetry collection, recently released by Rain Mountain Press, defined by the poet himself as “a surprise artistic assault by massed electronic, air, sea and ground forces under close coordination” is structured in an unusual way.

After the epigram (“Father, deliver me / I am a pelican / that has swallowed a fish / being reeled in by the fisherman), I read the table of contents, then embarked on my one-sitting read. I found the poems at the beginning of the collection to be straightforward. They can be characterized by possessing concisely rendered images, clarity of insight, descriptions of space and place, musing on time and freedom, human volition and statements about the self’s relation to the universe. They were elusively quaint, yet also absolutely raw and rugged. I felt transported and felt ready for more. One of my favorite poems, entitled “I Stop Like an Axe Flung into a Tree,” has a hellfire immediacy, yet gripping imagery: “I stop like an axe flung into a tree / my hand on the deer’s neck rests / its antlers point at the constellations.” Continue Reading »

Eating the Heart First (Press 53) by Clare L. Martin is a haunting, lyrical collection that cannot be read in a rush, or in a single sitting. Martin cleverly divides the book into several sections, which are micro-poems in themselves: “Fables of Skin,” “A Fire of Words,” and “All That We Conjure.” Nature’s dark side is revealed: images of winter, death, and storms abound. Martin pulls us in and out of a dozen different worlds in this collection, but nature, and its ubiquitous presence even in the most ordinary, domestic moments, grounds many of the poems. Continue Reading »

The Long Way Home

It’s an old story–the child who goes away and the one who stays, the bargain struck and the bond between them and the promises, spoken and unspoken, that must be kept. What does the prodigal one find if she returns? What sacrifices were asked of the one who stayed?
~Bram Shay, Editor

I’ll Bring Her Back

Konstantina Sozou-Kyrkou

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A daring experiment, The Exhibit (Hyacinth Girl Press), by Lauren Eggert-Crowe, might intrigue you, if you’ve ever loved—or suffered the illusion that you had. As Eggert-Crowe specifies early in the sequence, “We had been thinking the exhibit was about love, but it turned out to be something else.” And yet, The Exhibit holds many images of love and many references to it. Imagine visiting the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History crossed with a carnival funhouse, where the museum docent has read your diary. Continue Reading »

Roughly a hundred years ago, James Joyce brought the life of Dublin’s residents to the page with musical, muscular language that hinted at the influential style he would mature into and showed off his ability to describe human frailties. Like Joyce, Mitchell S. Jackson has a deep understanding of human emotion, a keen eye, and a well-tuned ear. His debut novel, The Residue Years, published by Bloomsbury Press, is full of carefully wrought lines that give painful insight into the lives of main character Champ and his mother, Grace, as they fight their self-destructive impulses. Jackson’s novel presents us with a strong, sure voice that draws attention to class division in America that fuels the drug trade and keeps entire families locked in a cycle of institutional life. Continue Reading »

Last Seen in Transit

There’s a certain relief to being in transit: it’s a pleasant nowhere space that gives you permission to kill time and be wasteful, slothful, and potentially gluttonous. Of course, I’m recalling past meals of shashlik-flavored chips on the Trans-Siberian Railroad and phenomenal Chicken McNuggets at the Roma Termini. Things are different from the pilot’s seat of a biplane, on the wrong side of train doors in China, or on the wrong side of the sea from a white city. I wrote once, in a poem, that the dead are always last seen in transit but, so, sometimes are the living. ~T.M. De Vos, Editor

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