In this elegiac collection fittingly titled Everyone I’ve Danced With Is Dead, Mamie Morgan’s poems are exquisitely stitched as they offer up lamentation for, and salutation to, the dead. These are dedicatory jeremiads against loss that flame with anger, anguish, feminism, and, yes, even humor. And though they are underscored in a bladed nostalgia, they are never sentimental; instead, they are “finding new ways to feel” while “flinging every street-facing window open.” Swirling in the poetic spaces of this book, are caribou, witches, and chickens as well as cameos by Amy Poehler, Mary Oliver, and Iphigenia; but, most importantly, ascending from the book’s foundation is Morgan’s incantation for the living and the dead—the clear and sustaining phrase, “I want you alive.”
Karen Rigby writes with "fingers cocked like a gun." Deliciously inventive in its linguistic unfurlings, Fabulosa fibrillates with "noir and glitz" in these strange, seductive poems that are in conversation with a range of players from Dior to Endeavour Morse to Hieronymus Bosch. Shimmering with diamond-cut precision, Fabulosa underscores Rigby's observation that "I never write / without measuring, each line / hooking a quicksilver hunger." There is no bloat in this book; it is exquisitely hewn. Underpinning the collection is a keen interest in cinema, fashion, feminism, transformation, and textuality (from ars poeticas to portmanteaus to ekphrastics). Seamed with goldshine and darkness, we find in these fireball poems a "wilderness / glanced through the bull's eye." As the title suggests, Fabulosa is indeed absolutely fabulous!
Rita Mookerjee’s False Offering, while providing a trenchant critique of the oppressiveness of “white space,” is also glittery, culinary sumptuous, and scythe sharp. Shot through with equal parts “nectar and venom,” Mookerjee’s poems pirouette with muscular grace in a kaleidoscopic whirl of myth and alchemy, gods and feasts, rot and rose gold. False Offering is a feminist ledger of “battle armor meeting ballet.” Like a medieval tapestry, it is piped through with an elaborate galaxy of nightviolets, rosewater, bonedust, “snakes and shibari,” origami, and the KKK. It is a rare book in that even while flipping the middle finger; it has its hands held out in tenderness to those in need.
Recalling Joni Mitchell’s famous lyric “They paved paradise, put up a parking lot,” Solastalgia is a heart-wrenching and harrowing overview of environmental destruction. Though it is an ominous exploration of the Anthropocene era and the ways humans have contributed to the changing climate and landscape, it spends much of its time honoring all the strange and wondrous creatures—“may you outlast us”— that humans, both intentionally and unwittingly, are shoving toward extinction’s cliff. Solastalgia is an eloquent tribute to all the awe-inspiring flora and fauna that we have failed as a species. I love this book not only for its incisive eco-eye but also for its dazzling language terrains. Using language as the tool to effect change, these poems make you want to be better, do better.―Simone Muench
Not only a meeting of minds, but also a meeting of hearts, lives, and imaginations links Mary Shelley and Jessica Cuello. Urgent and original, gripping and shocking, thoroughly research-based and deeply intuitive: surely this captivating collection of illuminating epistolary strangeness is exactly what Shelley might have wished a poet of our time to write about her.
—Annie Finch, Spells
Finalist, 2022 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award
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....Fixed Star cannot be reduced to anything but itself. I am in genuine awe.
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
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
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.
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. ─Tony Trigilio
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
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.
Like Brecht, she uses music, text, broad characters, very few props. Her people are curious and smart and very funny. They are always out on a limb, divulging something terribly embarrassing. In Magnus' stories, characters have unexplained encounters that are so lively and absurd that it takes a moment to realize they are in pain. There's just no rest for the lazy in these scripts. Here is the work of an artist as courageous as you'll ever experience. Here is the work of an artist, timeless and true. Relish it.
There is a journey between the source image and the target image in the glitch. From the surface to the bottom. From what is rationally structured to what is its original code. In Rank, Kristine Snodgrass places side-by-side visual works and poetic writings that share the same root: a subversive intention with respect to the abused and crystallized languages of everyday communication and power in search of what is subterranean, corporeal, and germinal. "Syllables of mortal flesh," she writes. A gesture - in images and words - almost physical and performative, which demystifies the apparent and reveals the substantial. ―Cinzia Farina
The poems in this collection wrestle with social habituation and its strident demands on the mind and body, often relaying this struggle through the viewpoint and voice of a robot. Snodgrass, through the use of repetitive language, exploits the electricity of the chant, and the power of the glitch, to shift meaning and its implications….These poems create disruption in the complacent mind and ask the reader to look askew, to look slant, for the truth of how we live. They are a powerful commentary on our modern world. —Karla Van Vliet
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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