Friday, April 24, 2015

Featured Book: Bird Watching at the End of the World, by Lisa Mangini

Bird Watching at the End of the World. Lisa Mangini. Cherry Grove, 2014.
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Lisa Mangini holds an MFA from Southern Connecticut State University. She is the author of the poetry collection, Bird Watching at the End of the World, as well as the poetry chapbooks Slouching Towards Entropy (Finishing Line Press) and Immanuel Kant vs God (Red Bird Chapbooks), and a fiction chapbook, Perfect Objects in Motion (Red Bird Chapbooks), all released in 2014. She has been nominated for Best of the Net and Best New Poets, and won the 2011 Connecticut Poetry Prize. Her work has been featured in McSweeney's, Weave, Words Dance, Silver Birch Press, and elsewhere. She is the founding editor of Paper Nautilus, and teaches English composition and creative writing at handful of colleges in southern New England.

Bird Watching at the End of the World explores the consequences of living in a body, the psyches of philosophers, and the tenuous nature of human connection. Using a range of poetic styles from formal verse to sprawling prose, this collection returns again and again to the persistence of doubt—even toward those we love the most.

Fabulous in their diction, the poems of Lisa Mangini present a world of sadness and grace, particle and wave. Victims of the body, shadowed by the eighth Deadly Sin—not to be loved—these lovely vessels stuffed with philosophical gleanings and lyrical meditations make possible a future for poetry, and thus, for us.”(Alan Michael Parker)

Every Time We Go to Ikea

it’s raining.  It starts as a light spray
across the windshield, so slight the wipers squeal
against the glass. But there’s no fighting

against the allure of clean lines, the illusion
of better organization, despite that no
number of cubed shelves can tidy up a life.

And every time, there is a young woman
assessing the sturdiness of a crib, sometimes alone,
sometimes with a man or her mother beside her,

and I do my best not to meet your eyes.  Every time
we weave through the model kitchens, I make a bee line
to the sink — farm apron, stainless steel, undermount —

and press my palms against its cool basin; if it’s not
crowded, you’ll lean your hips along my back, rest
your chin on my shoulder, trying to see what it is

I’m seeing.  We’ll look for a chest of drawers
for your apartment, debating Malm versus Hopen,
birch finish or espresso, and I’ll scribble

their dimensions in inches with a tiny golf pencil.
We’ll emerge with a cardboard box on a dolly
to a downpour, and against your wishes, I’ll insist

on moving the car to the loading area myself. Every time,
I will lose a sandal while running in the slick lot
and have to turn back to retrieve it.  We’ll maneuver

the box in some impossible diagonal in the back seat
of the sedan, wipe the rain from our faces, prepare
ourselves to go home and build something.

Other Poems: 

Found Poetry Review

Lunch Ticket

Click Here to Purchase

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Featured Book: This Visit, by Susan Lewis

This Visit. Susan Lewis. BlazeVOX, 2015.
Susan Lewis lives in New York City and edits Posit. She is the author of eight books and chapbooks, most recently This Visit, How to be Another (Červená Barva Press, 2014), and State of the Union (Spuyten Duyvil Press, 2014). Her work is forthcoming or has recently appeared in The Awl, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, and Connotation Press.

An elegy to "this visit" of the living to our own existence, This Visit is a pastiche of lyrical and probing dissonances assembled from intimate voices yearning for a connection as deep and ephemeral as “your desire and your embedded thorn.” Like our mortal trajectories, the world of these poems is captured in its struggle to take shape, like Michelangelo’s slaves emerging from the half-hewn stone, or Duchamp’s nude descending a multitude of unsettling but resonant linguistic staircases.

In the fissures and gaps of a malleable lexicon, Susan Lewis’s playful, punning, musical lyrics create spaces for a reader to explore. In her “mythic stickiness” edges are blurred in service to an “everlasting loop.” Her poems are oddly intimate, full of a wise skepticism and a quirky grace—perhaps more of a place to live in than to visit. (Joanna Fuhrman)

This Visit


This time
which is “yours,”

that face you covet,
the hurt it bleeds,

blows landing
puff with satisfaction

shamefaced as childhood,
as roundly accidental.

What is to be done
with cliff-edged blunders

howling & hollowing
your unfathomed deeps?

—As this time,
your time,

whittles you,


They too must age, decay
& slowly quieten.

& can only live,
more or less.

& choose,
more or less.

& search furtively or not
for the nonexistent exit.

(Mother, what you could have told me)
(Stranger, what you might have known)

On the wall with no writing
through the dark glass

(floor littered with doll heads)
the grenade of your despair

plus sleep, that sweet rehearsal
(fingertips in love)

wistful bones withering,
winding down—


these mountains seeping
sighs on loan,

lording over
our boundless lack,

impassive as viscera exhumed,
impulsive as firmament festooned

with friction &
aimless fury

while the debt of the body
on loan

(this stray ferocity)
(that frayed caress)

or other ephemera
sauced & musical

hurtles, to be contemplated
for signs of betrayal

which should be banished—
the word, I mean, reeking

its sly promise of rectitude
as if we know what should be done

(should we glisten
or should we judge?)

the brittle shell of disappointment
lying in wait

too early or too late
while mountains right themselves

in the purple distance,
blind men send me to offer 

this mast,
this hour,

hanging on the weakening light,
bluing in the deepening night

like a hoarded memory from our
secret past—


& you who are leaner
& more intricate:

float with me in this
brittle bowl,

drink the cruel juice
jagged as sunlight

untying us,
shedding notes like jewels

    (against the grain)
    (beneath this petaled canopy)

never glance at what I am
unless to offer

    (or boldly go)

    (this fear,
    or other jagged edge)

cold mountain
waking to our shame

 & smitten

More Poems: 

Word For/Word 

BlazeVOX Journal  

Click Here to Purchase

Monday, April 20, 2015

Featured Book: Upon the Blue Couch, by Laurie Kolp

Upon the Blue Couch. Laurie Kolp. Winter Goose Publishing, 2014.
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Laurie Kolp, author of Upon the Blue Couch and Hello, It’s Your Mother (Finishing Line Press, forthcoming) serves as president of the Texas Gulf Coast Writers and belongs to the Poetry Society of Texas. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications including the 2015 Poet’s Market, The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop, Scissors & Spackle, and Blue Fifth Review. An avid runner and lover of nature, she lives in Southeast Texas with her husband, three children and two dogs.

Upon the Blue Couch is a compelling collection of diverse poems certain to intrigue the reader with its courageous look into one woman’s turbulent journey through adulthood. With a comfortable blue couch as the common thread throughout the years, we are shown all the highs and lows of life while some things remain a constant source of peace. This blue couch, if only it could talk, might just reveal the secrets to happiness based on the experiences it has unwittingly been a part of.
Laurie Kolp's poetry jumps from playful to gritty, from tender to dangerous. In other words, Laurie is a poet who takes chances and dares to surprise her readers with each poem. (Robert Lee Brewer)


They say it's snowing somewhere
off in the distance, past the ocean's
line of separation,

up north where leaves of yellow, red and orange
fill the black and white page with passion,
and lined coats are more than closet fillers
soaking in the acrid smell of stale mothballs.

Yes, it's snowing where you are
while I sit alone on the cusp of indecision,
the warm breeze drifting through my car
like the whisper of your voice.

More Poems:

City Lit Rag

Poppy Road Review

Click Here to Purchase Upon the Blue Couch

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Featured Book: A Lightness, A Thirst, or Nothing At All, by Adele Kenny

A Lightness, A Thirst, or Nothing At All. Adele Kenny. Welcome Rain, 2015.
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Adele Kenny is the author of several poetry collections, most recently A Lightness, A Thirst, or Nothing At All and What Matters (2011), both from Welcome Rain Publishers. She is the recipient of two poetry fellowships from the NJ State Council on the Arts, first place Merit Book and Henderson Awards, a Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award, a Writer’s Digest Poetry Award, the International Book Award for Poetry, and Kean University’s Distinguished Alumni Award. A former creative writing professor, she is founding director of the Carriage House Poetry Series and poetry editor of Tiferet Journal. She has read in the US, England, Ireland, and France, and has twice been a featured reader at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival.

Intensely focused, compressed, and sharp-edged, these prose poems by Adele Kenny take the spiritual journey into heightened awareness of experience, place, and identity. Deliberate fragments, the language of dreams, and an occasional nod to the surreal combine with Kenny’s signature elements of striking imagery and compelling immediacy to inform an enhanced vision of the ways in which the interior life intersects with the outside world. These poems startle, surprise, and tell us things about ourselves that we didn’t know.

In language so subtly pitched, paced and modulated it captures our attention without drawing attention to itself, Kenny draws us into discovering that what never changes is all around us in the ever-changing world, that one is only approachable, knowable, bearable through the other. We trust her to be our guide because her vision is so unwavering.” (Martin J. Farawell)

Sample Poem:

More Poems by Adele Kenny:

The Poetry Storehouse

Shot Glass Journal


Click Here to Purchase Lightness, A Thirst, or Nothing At All

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Featured Book: Untying the Knot, by Karen Paul Holmes

Untying the Knot. Karen Paul Holmes. Aldrich Press, 2014.
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Karen Paul Holmes is the author of Untying the Knot. She founded and hosts the Side Door Poets in Atlanta and Writers’ Night Out in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She received an Elizabeth George Foundation emerging writer grant in 2012, and her publishing credits include Poetry East, Atlanta Review, and Flycatcher. Formerly the VP of Communications at a global financial services company, she is now a freelance business writer, poet, and “roving” writing teacher whose venues include the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina.

Untying the Knot tells the story of the sudden loss of a long-term marriage and the eventual healing that takes place. The poems are written with “grace, humor, self-awareness, and without a dollop of self-pity,” according to Poet Thomas Lux.

On its surface, Untying the Knot is about severance—about leaving the beloved behind and, likewise, getting left—but it is also a meditation on the sources of love and language. … Holmes’s voice pushes readers forward into the unknown with confidence, precision, and empathy.  (Dorianne Laux)

Has He Landed Safely?

     I worry that the outstretched legs on the hart are bent the wrong way
     as he throws himself off.
          —from "Stag’s Leap," Sharon Olds

Not at all a graceful takeoff
his leap threw him into the wild blue
ambiguity of an affair.
I now know he had to do it:
had to explore, sail off the edge
of the world.

I now know he had one limb out
of our marriage for years.
Kept trying to balance
his accounts—in his mind            
he and I did not equal happiness
even though I was the wife he wanted
to show. Smart,
pretty enough, a good mother.
He loved me as much as he could
but I did not fill his coffers.

For two years he resisted the lure
of her but it persisted,
a bee in his palm,
until he couldn’t hold it any longer.
He was barely more than fawn
in the ways of betrayal, antlers
uncalcified. Yet he craved
the danger, needed it
like heroin to addle his pain.

He had to leap, to deny the gravity
of his action. To land, gashed
in another galaxy.
Does he speak the language?
Can he breathe?

More Poems by Karen Paul Holmes:

As It Ought to Be

Sound Cloud

Click Here to Purchase Untying the Knot

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Featured Book: Paper Doll Fetus, by Cynthia Marie Hoffman

Paper Doll Fetus. Cynthia Marie Hoffman. Persea Books, 2014.
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Cynthia Marie Hoffman is the author of Sightseer (winner of the Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize in Poetry) and Paper Doll Fetus, as well as the chapbook Her Human Costume. Hoffman is a former Diane Middlebrook Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, Director’s Guest at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, and recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Wisconsin Arts Board. Her poems have appeared in Pleiades, Fence, diode, Mid-American Review, and elsewhere. She also curates, along with poet Nick Lantz, the project book interview site "The Cloudy House."

The visceral, mystical poems in Paper Doll Fetus give voice to the phantom and the embryonic (homunculi, ectopic twins, fleeced lambskin) and to those who create them, biologically or otherwise. Here, the unusual reigns: a fetus is flattened to pulp by its twin in utero, a doctor cracks open a stone child, a stork delivers a baby through the chimney to its mother’s waiting hands. At once tender and dark, these tales transcend shock and reaffirm the tenuousness of our earliest stirrings into life.

Arising from the history of obstetrics, midwifery, and the many possible experiences of childbirth, these lush and harrowing poems astonished me the moment I encountered them. Here, a lamb’s-wool strap on a gurney describes the woman it restrains. Elsewhere, a phantom pregnancy speaks from within the body of a nun, or a stork, having plucked us from the marshes, spreads its wings with the sound of "umbrellas snapping open upon the wind." In Paper Doll Fetus, Cynthia Marie Hoffman creates one beautiful inhabitation after another, each a feat of dizzying perspective and musical dexterity. I have not encountered such a moving and terrifying collection of poems in years.” (Kevin Prufer)

The Flower from which Forgetfulness

Lie down beneath this tree this is the lying-in
velvety sweet this is the green sky dripping with
trumpets do you hear anything if you hear something
you will not remember it the insect that pricks your
arm flick it away you have much to do here do you
smell something lemony twilight the scent is narcotic
wipe the melody from your mind wipe the lemony
you may feel something but you will forget it don’t
bother to scream just push do what the doctor
who is not here tells you to allow the invisible
nurses have you forgotten them already to touch you
these are the plants of the gods the hell’s bells
the devil’s weed push the baby comes in the grass
someone wraps her in a towel and hands
her to you now ah the trumpets swinging the angels
struggling to keep their lips to the stems, sleepy baby.

More Poems:

The Missouri Review Online

The Journal with audio

Click Here to Purchase Paper Doll Fetus

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Featured Book: Frozen Latitudes, by Therese Halscheid

Frozen Latitudes. Therese Halscheid. Press 53, 2014.
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Therése Halscheid’s poetry collections include Frozen Latitudes (Press 53), Uncommon Geography, Without Home and Greatest Hits, a chapbook award from Pudding House Publications. Her poetry and essays have appeared in such journals as The Gettysburg Review, Tampa Review, and Crab Orchard Review. Through cultural exchange programs she has traveled widely and taught in England and Russia. Through the Alaskan Arts Council, she had the privilege of working with an Inupiaq Eskimo tribe on White Mountain, and enjoyed a teaching artist residency in Homer. For the past two decades, she has been house-sitting—caring for others’ homes and animals—while writing. This mobility, along with simple living, has helped her to sustain her writing life. Her photography chronicles her journey and has won awards in juried shows.

Frozen Latitudes melds two journeys where lives are at the very edge of survival. One is the literal location of Alaska, where the writer lived among clans of the Inupiaq tribe. The second location is the time and place where her father’s life was frozen during heart surgery, when he suffered brain damage. In this new body of work, landscapes are linked to the rugged terrain of home, while the poet cares for a father with dementia.

In Frozen Latitudes, Therése Halscheid welcomes the lucky reader into a world of deep love, familial illness, and the dual human urges to speak and be heard. The narrator takes a look at “how it really looked long ago” and how “lips, bright as scars, are parting open with words so the great air can take them.” The settings of these exquisite poems range from a childhood home colored by a father’s dementia to the northern interior of Alaska with its stories from The Real People in which each word is "a language of light." These are moving, masterful poems in a brilliantly cohesive collection. (Donna Baier Stein)

After Alaska
         for Lisa

She lives in me now, in the north of my chest, where it is all dark, all winter—
to my ears will come her voice, then to my eyes, this white woman,
then pathways to the tribe she roamed with, to places inside me
where they are hunting and she is gathering and there, a certain arrow,
and there, a stab of certain pain

then to moments other than these, to nights when my heart is a drum
for her dancing and her movements tell stories, and I feel in her feet
all that was told to me, all that was shared.

When I breathe and the wind blows in a mighty power, my mouth forms
a small opening and she scales the dark throat to leap where
my lip catches the light, that she might sit
and be warmed for awhile—

I felt her once, during an inner storm, as a certain chill ran through,
after my muscles tightened into big cold mountains
that she was arranging my ribs, arching them, same as the shelters
she spoke of, in the icy north of Alaska, where they shape
whalebone over driftwood and pack it with sod.

There is a veined landscape she traverses in the spring
where my blood runs as thawed rivers

and she waits on the sands of myself for the return of the whale,
propped against a white embankment of bones, knees drawn to her chest
as in the way of the Eskimo, at times looking up, reading
the starry pores, the sky of my cloudless skin.

More Poems by Therese Halscheid:

We Wanted To Be Writers

Sliver of Stone Magazine

Click Here to Purchase Frozen Latitudes

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