In this new collection by the accomplished Lillo Way, the reader is transported from earth to sky and beyond by lyrical and visionary poems. This work pulls against the gravity and mortality of life on planet earth. Within each unique tableau we learn secrets for transcendence: the importance of perspective, light and dark as an extended metaphor for wholeness, and the indomitable energy of music and dance.
Like the AIDS Quilt itself to which the title alludes, A Quilt for David is a memorial to victims of the AIDS epidemic that swept up hundreds of thousands of lives in the last forty years, in the same scary way the COVID pandemic has killed so many people in 2020. Only, this memorial for David Acer memorializes more than the victims of the HIV virus. It also revisits the homophobic hysteria that drove so much of the narrative. “All of them emboldened by…a mute president,” as Reigns writes in one of the 79 untitled meditations (both poems and prose pieces) that make up this breathtaking collection.
All of which is to say that this smallish, quiet book is magnificent. But you can’t get away with reading it once, or quickly. It calls you back, draws you in, tricks you into thinking it’s about flying owls, changing peed sheets, watching water wash over the rocks, and taking out the trash, and indeed it is about peed sheets, owls, and taking out the trash just as our lives are about those things, and yet, it is also about everything.
Personification and identification are routes to empathy, to feeling what is felt by another: another person, an animal, an inanimate object. Yvonne Zipter pursues this goal by swapping pieces of herself with pieces of the world.
Chimera says a lot in so few pages, Skelton makes the reader enter moments, fragments of time, the land, life: imagined and real. In this book Skelton once more has demonstrated her skills as a writer.
Just as her previous collaboration with Peter Bruun, Innumerable Moons, deals with love, loss and grief in later life, so too does Clarinda Harriss’ new collection, Ash Wedding, amounts to an extended elegy for Harriss’ friend, Steve Davitt, whom she’d known for more than three decades and with whom she spent the final two years of his life. Davitt suffered a massive heart attack while walking their dog on the streets of Baltimore in April of that already devastating year, 2020. The dominant theme in these poems is grief, raw, unassuageable grief.
Reading through You Don’t Have to Go to Mars for Love, I experienced a litany of emotion that found me racking through memories, hopes, and losses. The work is astoundingly raw and explorative. Harvey dances between forms and visual presentation with the precision and coherency of a professor, the care of a mother, and the creative wield of a comic book artist.
Fog and Light: San Francisco through the Eyes of the Poets Who Live Here is a real smorgasbord of San Franciscan scenery, energy and art. Harvey Milk, Castro Street, the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Giants Stadium and Candlestick Park – Orlando Cepeda and Willie Mays! – all appear in these pages. It’s been almost fifty years since I was in San Francisco, but it all comes back vividly in these poems.
Journey to Tatev is a love poem to the self and to the other, written along the trajectory of a single journey. These airy, deeply rhythmic poems encompass the multi-lingual voice of a migrant, coming-of-age, coming out, coming to terms with the past and future simultaneously. Words and notes dance across the page, engaging all of the senses in this vibrant and deeply moving collection.
Leach manages the visual in particularly powerful ways in Chronicity. The concrete poems in the collection take on many forms, weaving and working through, around, between and besides their subject matter, playing with font, space, shape, and design to stretch out time, slow the reader, twist back on themselves, emphasise and create sound paths in the ear.