Category: Book Reviews

Book Reviews

A review of Sonnets by Theresa Rodriguez

As both a poet and a trained classical singer, Rodriguez is more consciously aware of the musicality of poetry than most, and it is not surprising that other poems in this collection such as ‘The Piano,’ and ‘Oh, When I Hear,’ also take music as a subject. Most are of course not directly about music, per se, though all display the melodious qualities of regular meter and perfect rhyme.

A review of Theatrix: Poetry Plays by Terese Svoboda

Svoboda’s verse is playful, a true delight. As Alan Michael Parker writes in his Introduction in the style of an Introduction, “…give us voices, and their own inner voices, the ways we have made gender our playmates, and how we make our bodies the play. Then stand close, and watch the players play.

A review of My Father’s Face by Chandra Gurung

My Father’s Face is a very welcome collection from a neighbouring country, Nepal, and its contemporariness is what makes it both relevant and moving. At some places the editing and the translation could have been a bit tighter, and minor irritants like phrases/ structures like ‘an ocean of deep gashes’ or ’I am delightful’ could be worked on for future editions. Also an Introduction to the volume by the poet himself would help in grounding the poetry in more specific locales and circumstances.

A review of Alcestis in the Underworld by Nina Murray

Murray does not try to establish a perfect correspondence between these poems and the myth’s incidents and details; instead, the poems move freely back and forth between two planes of existence, the personal and the mythological, as they recall Murray’s youth in Ukraine and her subsequent career in the U.S. diplomatic service, particularly her time in Russia. The myth itself functions in the poems more like a reticulated canopy, casting an occasional net of shadows over the scenes taking place below.

A review of Snowdog by Kim Chinquee

This is a quietly impressive collection for lovers of the flash form, the traditional short story, and of poetic form. It is for dog-lovers, for mothers and lovers, and those for whom the routines, landscape, and concept of domesticity implies a multitude of contradictions and simultaneous truths. In her poised expressions and riddle-like compositions, we come to know the many dimensions of this Kim Chinquee/Elle character and her relationships.

A review of Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese’s by Tiffany Midge

The fifty-odd pieces that make up this collection are divided thematically into eleven different sections and take aim at national holidays, movies, language, literature and a host of other themes, from a Native American perspective, and culminate in a merciless assessment of the Donald Trump administration, the coup de grâce a poem entitled ”Ars Poetica by Donald Trump.”

A review of Beowulf, a New Translation by Maria Dahvana Headley

What the book shows clearly is that human nature and its relationship to the world is timeless, and Beowulf is also a story about modern life. We may not have literal dragons, but we have plenty of bar-room bombast, metaphorical monsters, and enough inequality to make Beowulf as relevant a tale as it ever was.  This is a version that is highly recommended, not so much to ensure you’re up with your classic education, but rather, for the sheer pleasure of the story and its execution.

A review of Love After Love by Ingruid Persaud

Persaud tightly packs an abundance of emotions into this novel where laughter, anger, and tears were freely expressed throughout. Evenly impressive is Persaud’s use of food throughout the novel as a love language between friends and family. Detailed descriptions of how to create some of the Caribbean’s most famous dishes litter the story, and always during a time when a character needs comfort the most.

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A review of Square Haunting by Francesca Wade

In Square Haunting: Five Writers in London Between the Wars, Wade profiles the imagist poet, Hilda Doolittle (H.D.); the mystery novelist Dorothy L. Sayers; two scholars/academics, Jane Ellen Harrison and Eileen Powers, and the modernist novelist Virginia Woolf.  All five, writes Wade, “pushed the boundaries of scholarship, literary form [and] societal norms in order to have lives of the mind in which their creative work took priority.