An interview with Paolina Milana

The author of Committed talks about she was has been able to write about such heartbreaking and often frightening moments from her past in her two memoirs, on writing about mental illness, on the epistolary memoir, differences in the writing of her two books, on writing in different genres, advice for aspiring writers, and lots more.

A review of The Truth about Our American Births 
by Judith Skillman 

Skillman employs many references to transportation – trains, mostly, but other kinds too. In the introductory poem we get our first train reference, when the grandmother is counting beats for her own personal waltz: “Always the counting beneath the whistles of trains/ running westward from the town of no money.” (from My Grandmother’s Waltz, p. 18). The train here is ghost-like. It brings a nagging fear of having to escape poverty.

A review of One Hundred Letters Home by Adam Aitken

Between the images, the recollections, the references, the correspondences and the longing, a new kind of story emerges – one that allows the the gaps in the narrative to remain unknown. Aitken doesn’t find the “key to a past the will grant…a thousand and one narratives” (“Stolen Valour”). Instead he finds questions that become Koans, a pathway to a greater truth.

A review of Woman Drinking Absinthe by Katherine E. Young

Throughout the collection, Young depicts the demimonde of women in the midst of affairs of the heart, neither fish nor fowl, but mostly foul; at least, fraught with emotional turmoil. This is captured so succinctly in “Postcards from the Floating World,” a series of four haiku that all begin similarly: “I cry out. His words”; “I cry out. His eyes”; “I cry out. His lips”; “I cry out. His hands / claw fierce, wild, deeper than pain / cradling my face.” The balance between pleasure and pain is a constant seesaw.

A review of Letters in Language by Harold Legaspi

Letters in Language is a powerful collection: vibrant, sexy, sad, and very smart. The poems are dense, but also full of play, open space for reader interpretation, and steeped in cultural and literary references. As with all memoir, it is the exploration of a life, but is also an exploration of poetry, the way in which language itself creates reality and history, and very nature of the literary form.

A review of The Eggplant Curse and the Warp Zone by Shawn Rubenfeld

Despite being a novel that deals with serious issues plaguing American society, it gives the impression that one is reading a lighter text because the author uses humor so well. That’s partly because the humor embedded within the title The Eggplant Curse and the Warp Zone anchors the text. The characters the narrator seems to make fun of are never turned into buffoons, dehumanized but respected for their humanity. This allows the reader to have unwavering empathy with the central character. 

A review of Flares by Christopher Merrill

In many of these poems, what begins as a hyper-local calamity–in an alley, a travel lodge, a club–transmogrifies in Mr. Merrill’s hands into sentences where what comes next is determined to flush the subject straight out of its just-tamped-down bed in the tall grass. The reader is shocked into vigilance, which gradually becomes a kind of acute reciprocity, an attention that is not easily achieved in our daily lives.

A review of Love’s Garden by Nandini Bhattacharya

The author’s style is simple and straightforward, and her use of highly descriptive prose generates excellent dialog and tantalizingly paints her characters as well as the tumultuous events in which they participate. I particularly enjoyed the alliterative flourishes: (“tawny tangy dancing woman”; “she senses sin and shame standing sentry”; “maggoty men”); the challenging vocabulary: (“termagants”; “tumescently proud”);  and plastic descriptions: (“fish belly pale inner forearm”; “moon whipped water”; “soda bottle eye glasses”; “ the barbed wires of consolation”).

A review of The Part That Burns by Jeannine Ouellette

While this memoir chronicles what the author refers to as her “brokenness” as a result of what she endured, it really is a story of healing. Writing this book was a very big part of that process for Ouellette. “Maybe healing, when it happens, is the result of a quantum entanglement, the swirling of a thousand winds. Maybe it comes when you give your daughter your own heart like another stuffed toy she will drag with her everywhere…”

An Interview with Seth Mullins

Seth Mullins talks about his new book The Authors of this Dream and the series it fits into, his characters, Shamanism and the metaphysical elements of his book, on writing music (and his own experiences as a musician), the relationship between violence and powerlessness, and lots more.