Category: Book Reviews

Review: Admit One: An American Scrapbook by Martha Collins

By Rebecca Hart Olander   

Last spring’s release of Martha Collins’s Admit One: An American Scrapbook, is the third in a series that includes the volumes Blue Front and White Papers. The trilogy as a whole wrestles with race and racism in America from the perspective of a white woman and the history of family and country that precedes and includes her. In her work overall, Collins goes past the paralyzing silence of white guilt and into the active language of implication.


Review: I Carry My Mother by Lesléa Newman

Review: I Carry My Mother by Lesléa Newman

By Rebecca Hart Olander   

I Carry My Mother by Lesléa Newman, Headmistress Press, 2015, 108 pp/, $10.00   Lesléa Newman’s latest book, I Carry My Mother takes as its subject the death of the author’s mother and the process of grieving this loss. In this unflinching, layered account, Newman opens a window on a human experience deeply her own… Read more »


Review: City of Eternal Spring by Afaa Michael Weaver

Review: City of Eternal Spring by Afaa Michael Weaver

By Pablo Medina   

City of Eternal Spring by Afaa Michael Weaver, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2014, 96pp/, $15.95   City of Eternal Spring confirms what I felt when I first started reading Afaa Michael Weaver’s poems about ten years ago. He is a master poet who is comfortable in his craft at the same time that he takes… Read more »


Review: Otherwise Unseeable by Betsy Sholl

Review: Otherwise Unseeable by Betsy Sholl

By Alison Stone   

Otherwise Unseeable by Betsy Sholl, The University of Wisconsin Press, 2014, 78pp/, $16.95   Betsy Sholl’s seventh book offers a world of contradictions, the friction of disparate and contradictory objects and experiences struggling to coexist. The first poem, “Genealogy,” begins, “One of her parents was a flame, the other a rope.” Odd juxtapositions continue with… Read more »


Review: A Woman in Pieces Crossed a Sea by Denise Bergman

Review: A Woman in Pieces Crossed a Sea by Denise Bergman

By Barbara Blatner   

A Woman in Pieces Crossed a Sea by Denise Bergman, winner of the West End Press 2013 Patricia Clark Smith Poetry Prize, West End Press, 2014, 72pp/, $14.95   The subtle, fierce poems in Denise Bergman’s new collection, A Woman in Pieces Crossed a Sea, offer a biography of the Statue of Liberty, beginning with… Read more »


Review: Dear Gravity by Gregory Djanikian

Review: Dear Gravity by Gregory Djanikian

By Kathleen Aguero   

Dear Gravity by Gregory Djanikian, Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2014, 99 pp/, $16.95. Dear Gravity, the title of Gregory Djanikian’s latest collection of poetry, captures the volume’s intimate and affectionate tone, its ability to treat serious matters without taking itself too seriously, its concern with what anchors us to this world and to one another.… Read more »


Review: Leaving the Pink House by Ladette Randolph

Review: Leaving the Pink House by Ladette Randolph

By DeWitt Henry   

LEAVING THE PINK HOUSE: A MEMOIR by Ladette Randolph (University of Iowa Press, 2014, paperback, 228pp) Admiring Ladette Randolph for her Ploughshares editing and her earlier novels, I was fascinated and moved by her new memoir LEAVING THE PINK HOUSE, which is about her investment in her mid-life marriage and centered on renovating a Nebraska… Read more »


Review: Pretenders by Jeff Friedman

Review: Pretenders by Jeff Friedman

By Kathleen Aguero   

Pretenders by Jeff Friedman, Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2014, 127 pp., $16.95, paperback Each poem in Jeff Friedman’s sixth collection, Pretenders, delights with its linguistic and imaginative invention. The opening poem, “Mud,” sets the tone for the work that follows. From the mysterious first lines—“Out of the river, mud climbed/broken embankments, crooked staircases/gleaming hulls, the… Read more »


Night Garden by Judith Harris

Review: Night Garden by Judith Harris

By Nancy Mitchell   

Judith Harris’s recent book, Night Garden (Tiger Bark Press, 2013), intrigues us with the poignant chronicle of a gifted child’s burgeoning awareness of the natural world as her primary source of spiritual and artistic nourishment.  This awareness, which redeems her from the crushing sensual and imaginative deprivation of her home environment, grows, as she grows,… Read more »


Mary Bonina’s memoir, My Father’s Eyes

Mary Bonina’s memoir, My Father’s Eyes

By Caitlin McGill   

As I read Mary Bonina’s debut memoir, My Father’s Eyes, I found myself forgetting, over and over, that Bonina was a child during most of its recounted scenes. I would read a passage of Bonina guiding her father, whose vision was slowly escaping him, down familiar neighborhood streets, and suddenly stop. Wait, I’d think, she’s… Read more »


Kathy Aguero and The Irrevocables

Kathy Aguero and The Irrevocables

By Nancy Mitchell   

In after that, Kathy Aguero’s most recent book of poems (Tiger Bark Press, 2013), the speakers—and they are varied—come up against hard irrevocables and the subsequent aftermath of “after that” in which the door to all future possibilities shuts as unequivocally as the door to Dickinson’s soul choosing its own society, and as hard the final mute in the book’s title.

The book opens with Aubade and introduces us to the landscape of Section I: “Pearl gray, blue gray/the mauve tinged gray east,” seems, at first, a traditional song, praising dawn as a blank page of sky onto which the day’s scenarios have yet to be written, plucked from “The air, rich and heavy with holding,” infinite with possibilities. Yet, unlike pop psychologies, which attempt, by a thin string of logic, to tether themselves to quantum physics and posit that the trajectory of one’s fate is launched by free choice, the poem soon informs us Aguero’s speakers will have no such authorial autonomy.


Silvertone by Dzvinia Orlowsky.

Review: Silvertone by Dzvinia Orlowsky

By Kathleen Aguero   

 Dzvinia Orlowsky’s latest collection of poetry, Silvertone, chronicles a family’s history with both tenderness and irony.  These remarkable poems create a paradoxical sense of intimacy and distance, employing the perspective of the spying child who longs to be part of her parents’ intimacy with the knowledge of love that the adult speaker brings to the… Read more »


Poemviews by Kurt Brown:
In The Kingdom of the Sea Monkeys, Campbell McGrath, Ecco Press

By Kurt Brown   

In the Kingdom of the Sea Monkeys, Campbell McGrath’s new book, rare linguistic fauna rear up, line by line, re-constructed from the DNA of 19th century verbiage, hefty sentences of pith and moment dwarfing much contemporary verse. Complexity of clause, words thought extinct, sinuous syntax that wraps itself around ideas about poetry and poetry’s place

The Reading Dead

By Eugenio Volpe   

George Saunders newest short story collection The Tenth of December has been released just in time for the third season continuation of The Walking Dead which airs February 10th on AMC. The show is a morality tale set during a zombie apocalypse. Currently it’s the most literary drama on American television (and that ain’t the… Read more »


Dennis Nurkse’s new collection reviewed by Richard Hoffman

Dennis Nurkse’s new collection reviewed by Richard Hoffman

By Richard Hoffman   

Book Review A Night in Brooklyn, D. Nurkse. New York, Alfred A. Knopf. 2012 D. Nurkse’s tenth collection of poems, A Night in Brooklyn, is the spiritual chronicle of a marriage. The couple, making every effort at a true mutuality, even a revolutionary parity, contend with themselves and one another in a skein of lyrics… Read more »