Van Landingham, fortunately, is in no danger of taking herself too seriously. The first page greets us with the dismembered hand of a statue thrusting its lone, attached finger to the heavens. The poems that serve as prologue and epilogue are separated from the first section of the book not by numerals or titles but with that image, which does its job and detaches us from any mood set by the lyrics. This image appears five times.
Spiers’ poems are haiku-like. In addition to what we may have learned about haiku in grade school—the tight syllable count, the reference to a season—haikus also juxtapose images and create a sudden sense of enlightenment. Instead of three lines, Spiers consistently makes these poems all four with syllables ranging from 7-10 a line, but they still retain a haiku’s compression, focus on imagery, and juxtaposition.
Patrick Connors’ poems are unpretentious and refreshingly authentic. The Other Life is a flowing read. There were times I stopped to savor and ponder his words. We readers are invested and interested in learning the nuances of specific character’s lives. Connors speaks clearly.
A gorgeous collection full of sky and light, these poems tell stories that remember, long for, miss and sustain love. Importantly, there is nothing saccharin here. Indeed, the last poem ends ominously, “Making coffee, breaking camp—/we do this well together,/but whitecaps, winds and lowered skies; promise heavy weather.” And that’s the point. Higher ground is not a panacea; it isn’t even a place. It is a way of being in the world that Moomey gently urges in this compelling collection.
Emily Franklin’s debut poetry collection Tell Me How You Got Here is an emotional exploration of the ways family and possessions become embedded in our consciousness, perhaps even lodged in our DNA. Our attempts to soothe the pain of inherited memories by “forgetting, mottling as salve/for the soul” are often fruitless because the “potholes of memory” make erasure impossible.
Within the spare and taut words, the compact lines that the author fashions in her poetry are found grief, love, intimacy, spirituality, death, yet an emotional distance and mystery (lots of it). In fact, it is mystery that has kept this reviewer off-balance throughout the book, as in the lines: “Wind from nowhere / It did not get up / from its snoring carriage / or offer me a bottled / sense of the near future.” Her lines are simple, their meaning complex.
Savett’s incantations are strident and introduce recurrent images (clay, sparrow, dirt, twin). They function stylistically like the choral strophe and antistrophe of Ancient Greek tragedies, repeating phrases in a histrionic voice. As such, they deepen the tone of devastation and misfortune.
In “seclusiveness” he treats his bones of mundane aches and fills them “with the calm of calcium.” It is this myriad understanding of human hesitancies with all its aftermaths that are grappled by Sethi in a highly intellectual manner in this magnificent collection of poems that makes this book a treasure for the connoisseurs of poetry. A reader of this volume, if he or she makes the effort to go into the interstices of Sethi’s poetry, will experience time-capsules of life and do so in a more profound way that he or she has ever imagined.
This collection is a plethora of mixed emotions….Those of love, loss, living, and dying. Mladinic is a brilliant composer of the written word, of describing a feeling, an incident, a thought, and with the finesse of a fine master who cares deeply for his subjects. Add a bit of sensuality and desire, the frailty of the human mind and of human behavior, and the cruelty of death, and one has a window into the world of Mladinic’s psyche and his free verse poetry.
No matter where you live, Lost, Hurt or In Transit Beautiful will stir your senses and grip your imagination. It will invoke in your mind’s eye, unseen images of the land simmering at the foothills of the eastern Himalayas. It will strike a chord of compassion for what human beings endure and for what they pass on to posterity. Chhetri’s poems are an act of courage, a baring of the soul, written from the depth of his experiences, some as enigmatic as the title of the book itself.