In the universe of Melissa Studdard's poems, both the speaker and the audience will always have their cake and eat it too. After all, "Life's never dull when your name's Melissa," and oh my goddess, does Dear Selection Committee serve hard as a brilliant 21st century take and critique of the epistolary, filled with infinite heart and infinite humor and infinite neon signs that point towards the larger-than-life nature of poetry. This is excess. This is extravagance. This is the definition of sensuality. Studdard has the tremendous gift of finding the center of every poem, giving us the whole damn thing. ―Dorothy Chan
Missing centers on the author’s connection to William Maxwell, legendary fiction editor at The New Yorker and old friend of Cornelia Maude Spelman’s parents. Maxwell and Spelman become acquainted in his later years; through him, she is able to see her parents as young people with potential, when previously she’d been saddened by what seemed like their mediocre, unsuccessful lives...Maxwell’s presence dominates the first chapter with warmth, affection, and charm; later, his appearance in the book is sporadic and just right: otherwise, readers might miss out on Spelman’s fine narrative voice and rich nonfiction storytelling skills. ―Lisa Romeo, Forward Reviews
In Suzanne Frischkorn’s intoxicating Fixed Star, content and form mirror and echo each other, twin and twine. From the opening line in the first of a sequence of sonnets that generates the book’s architecture, we learn that the subject is separation, from first language, landscape, and heritage, a loss, a violence, a thievery carried by and negotiated within the body, which becomes, itself, a translation. So what, then, can poetry be? In Frischkorn’s hands, it is—well—everything. It is the cry and the answering cry, the body’s disappearance and revolution, history and tangled myth and the site of self-creation, honoring the fragments while languaging them into something greater, more songful than a whole...And then there are the voices she braids into the poems. Transtromer and Plath. Keats and John Cage. Shakespeare and Olga Guillot. They are lyric companions on a perilous road....Fixed Star cannot be reduced to anything but itself. I am in genuine awe.
Memory, grief, and self-reflection mingle in debut author Garza’s account of the death of her sibling. The 52-year-old author recounts her experience with survivor’s guilt, dissociation, and spirituality, as she undertook a long journey to reconstruct her identity. Throughout, the author illustrates, in observant, poetic prose, the reverberating effects that grief can have on a life and the many ways that her family has coped with it. Garza draws on multiple outside sources, including the work of Rebecca Solnit, the words of Saint Teresa of Ávila, and the Tibetan Book of the Dead, to explore how people understand and interact with death and how they ultimately learn to accept it as a constant companion. An achingly vulnerable, elegantly worded meditation on grief and recovery. ―Kirkus Review
The rain-sodden, southern world of David Wesley Williams’ Everybody Knows overflows with satiric fun as it churns up a rich detritus of Biblical allusions, political backstory, musical opinions, literary puns, and local anecdote. The story, set a decade hence, introduces a raft of characters, too, including musicians, an escaped felon, a tyrannical governor atop his state’s old electric chair, various and likable sidekicks and mistresses, and even a writer, the ironic double of the work’s author, whose enthusiasm for his subject matter spills over into strongly opinionated footnotes. And that’s all before the pirates arrive. Original, energetic, and obsessive, Everybody Knows recalls the worlds of Faulkner, Welty, Flannery O’Connor, Kurt Vonnegut, and John Kennedy Toole in its broad wit and sorrowful joy.
Not since Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf has a writer given us such an intense, provocative, and poetic look at the tensions between art and marriage, illusion and reality. Jean McGarry’s Blue Boy is as heartbreakingly beautiful as a pieta by an Old World master.
The Spring is the haunting account of a young woman's return, alone, to her family's house in the Tuscan hills and of the locals and foreigners who jostle around her in uneasy community. Subtle, intense and elegant, Weiler's novel evokes rich experiences and essential themes.
Barbara Cully's meditations range widely in subject and temperament: from ambushed troops in Afghanistan to the shorelines of her California youth, from Kristallnacht to our present ecological degradations. Driven by an unstable, seeking impulse...the poems remain in flux, animated by a constant reckoning of self in history, in landscape, and especially among others.
Dive into this “introspectacle” and weird world of the Curious! This anthology of eight plays offers readers irreverent and iconoclastic narratives by playwrights with a keen ear for the eccentricities and homespun quirks of language. The Curious Theater Branch offers an ensemble of diverse creators with plays ranging from experiments in form to character-driven stories exploring the absurdity of human nature and the banality of personal relationships. Curious Plays is a celebration of Chicago’s beloved Curious Theater Branch and The Rhinoceros Theater Festival, a mainstay of Chicago’s experimental theater. Curious Plays reflects the theater company it is: a team of creatives who put writing and originality first. With an introduction by playwright Barrie Cole and historical reference materials, the anthology showcases Curious’ 35-year history of making diverse, experimental theater while flagrantly flouting the ordinary.
Exquisite and precise, Caroline Goodwin’s newest poetry collection, Old Snow, White Sun, traverses various terrains with grace and a commitment to astonishment. Here, Goodwin brilliantly gathers mothlight, herbal lore, psychedelia, heavy metal, and old charm to capture a world that is bountiful, magnificent, and impermanent...Ferocity and decaying bodies populate these poems, but also tenderness and rhythmic hope. Find in these poems a heron, a river, a hurricane, a floodgate, a levee, a story. “The one where the girl is strong enough. The one where she survives.” Where she dwells and how she rises. —Aileen Cassinetto
The poem of the natural world, like nature itself, is threatened by harsh forces: sentimentality, obviousness, easy identification. The difficulty in writing about nature only makes the achievement of Trapline that much more remarkable and provoking. Goodwin sees nature and ourselves as we are in all our manifestations, intertwined and inseparable. ―Keith Ekiss
Under the Hours is a new-century work, a voicing of Cully's tidal sense of the temporal, her premonitory stillness, written by desert and sea-light, inscribing the endurance of loss, the necessity of vigilance. Her images are beautiful and precise, her sensibility profound. ―Carolyn Forché
Undersea is Seaton's free-wheeling series of love notes to her transplanted sea-struck self and her salty sidekick─poems that celebrate her signature wit and joy in that wild state of mind called Florida. Poet Julie Marie Wade notes,"Undersea is a novella in poems. I was flung loose from my body so many times, sailing across the Sunshine State on a cloud of sensuous imagery."
The world is never too much with us in Maureen Seaton’s poems. True to its name, Genetics is a collection of origin narratives, each poem keenly attuned to the biological, intellectual, and spiritual DNA codes that simmer under the surface of everyday life. Seaton’s exuberant poems unfold in conversational language and in pitch-perfect, sometimes zany, revisions of poetic forms such as the sonnet crown, the sestina, and the prose poem, and in the remixed lyric verse of found language and collage...In this way, she defied the odds, being herself and brave beside the dying and the dead.
Daring and brilliant, Neil de la Flor's latest book, The Ars Magna for the Manifold Dimensions of z, is a big kick in the rear to absurdist theater. It stars a very tough Meta, a member of the Danish underground. "If my head had been cut off," says Meta, "you would've been next." The book explores "parallel worlds that are unaware of the other, but are layered atop of each other like minks or foxes wearing stoles and fur coats." Characters pursue each other through five acts, a series of emails, and an epilogue invoking Minkowskian Spacetime – I won't go there, but wow! de la Flor dives deep into meta-Meta-mind. ―Terese Svoboda
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