Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Featured Book: I Carry My Mother, by Leslea Newman

I Carry My Mother. Leslie Newman. Headmistress Press, 2015.

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Lesléa Newman is the author of several poetry collections, including Nobody’s Mother, Signs of Love, and October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard (novel-in-verse) which received a Stonewall Honor from the American Library Association. Her literary awards include poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Artists Foundation; the Burning Bush Poetry Prize; and second place runner-up in the Solstice Literary Journal poetry competition. Her poetry has been published in Spoon River Poetry Review, Cimarron Review, Evergreen Chronicles, and others. From 2008-2010 she served as the poet laureate of Northampton, Massachusetts.

. . . a book-length series of poems that explores a daughter’s journey through her mother’s illness and death and how she carries on without her. The book starts with diagnosis and ends with first yarzheit (death anniversary). The poems are written in accessible form that will resonate with all those who have lost a parent or dearly loved one.

After the introductory poem I thought, "Oh dear, I’m going to cry my way through the whole thing." And then, the exquisite first-rate poetry—using forms like triolet and rondeau—took me to a much deeper place than tears can possibly reveal. This is a very beautiful book.” (Judy Grahn)

Lost Art

The art of losing my mother is hard to master;
Like a little girl lost in the woods who can’t find her way,
I’m afraid I will never survive this disaster.

Of course, somewhere deep inside I knew I would outlast her,
Though I did all I could to keep that notion at bay.
The art of losing my mother is hard to master.

She might return. Who knows? I wouldn’t put it past her.
Denial is not a river in Egypt, they say,
But it is one way to get me through this disaster.

As days slip by, the distance between us grows vaster,
my fading memories add to my growing dismay.
The art of losing my mother is hard to master.

Surely God made a great mistake when he miscast her
as Dead Mother, a role she was never meant to play
in the movie of my life, now called “The Disaster.”

If time heals all wounds, can’t it do so any faster?
Though I never did believe in that tired cliché.
The art of losing my mother is too hard to master,
I cannot get a grip on this crippling disaster.

More Poems:

At Length Magazine

Lavender Review

Watch the Trailer

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Featured Book: Landscape with Plywood Silhouettes, by Kerrin McCadden

Landscape with Plywood Silhouettes. Kerrin McCadden. New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2014.

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Kerrin McCadden is the author of Landscape with Plywood Silhouettes, winner of the 2013 New Issues Poetry Prize, judged by David St. John. The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and The Vermont Studio Center, she also received a Sustainable Arts Foundation Writing Award and support from The Vermont Arts Endowment Fund. Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, The Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series, and Verse Daily, and in such journals as American Poetry Review, Green Mountains Review, and Poet Lore. She holds an MFA from The Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. She lives in Plainfield, Vermont and teaches English and Creative Writing at Montpelier High School.

Lyrical, honest, descriptive, Landscape with Plywood Silhouettes by Kerrin McCadden is a thoughtful meditation on wandering through a human landscape, one full of loss and desire. Often elegiac, this collection of poetry accepts the world before it, acknowledging the quotidian value of our lives while also seeing the beauty in it.  (Katie Rensch, NewPages review)

. . . one of the most compelling and powerful debut collections in recent American poetry. These exquisite meditations on the lived life are often nothing less than stunning, and are at times truly devastating. This gorgeous collection is both mature and tender in its reckonings of our shifting relationships with family and loved ones. Kerrin McCadden is especially accomplished in considering those who've engaged in constructions of daily happiness only to discover that what they'd begun in dream has ended in quiet wreckage. Poem by poem, we are consoled by the poet's remarkable reflective ease and her profound intimacy. The beauty of these poems is matched only by their sense of triumph in resilience, and its resulting peace. (David St. John)


At the four-way stop I wave you on,
a kindness. You wave no no, you go. I wave, go.
We keep on. You insist. Me: no you,
please. A bird shifts, a sigh. The penned
horse tosses, pacing. I mouth you go.
There is a fleck on your windshield. I notice your hands.
Rain falls. Your hands cup the wheel
at ten o’clock and two, then float
past my knee and only sometimes land.
One hundred times on my back, they tame me.
Cars line up. Birds lift. I nod my head into your chest.
There is a trail of clothing. I walk to the
plank door of your room. This takes hours
and hours. This is a small cottage and there is sand
on the floor and nothing on the walls, crows calling,
dishes in the sink. Days go by. We are still making
our way to the bed. This is an inventory:
black telephone, board games, frayed chairs,
coffee table spotted with the old moons of drinks,
curtains pulled back on tiny hooks, single pane glass
windows like the ones I used to sneak out of at night, lifting
them as slow as this stepping, and when you talk
into my neck the words settle in the hammock
of my collarbone, puddle there and spill,
slide over my breasts and I am slowly covered,
and rinsed. I do not close my eyes. Nothing hurts.
The dust rises in swirls. Dogs bark. You turn
your windshield wipers on intermittent.
Your car rolls into the space I have built between us.
I am up to my belly in a northern lake, cold. I am afraid now.
When I get home, everyone will see.

More Poems:

American Poetry Review

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Featured Book: Bird Watching at the End of the World, by Lisa Mangini

Bird Watching at the End of the World. Lisa Mangini. Cherry Grove, 2014.

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Lisa Mangini holds an MFA from Southern Connecticut State University. She is the author of the poetry collection, Bird Watching at the End of the World, as well as the poetry chapbooks Slouching Towards Entropy (Finishing Line Press) and Immanuel Kant vs God (Red Bird Chapbooks), and a fiction chapbook, Perfect Objects in Motion (Red Bird Chapbooks), all released in 2014. She has been nominated for Best of the Net and Best New Poets, and won the 2011 Connecticut Poetry Prize. Her work has been featured in McSweeney's, Weave, Words Dance, Silver Birch Press, and elsewhere. She is the founding editor of Paper Nautilus, and teaches English composition and creative writing at handful of colleges in southern New England.

Bird Watching at the End of the World explores the consequences of living in a body, the psyches of philosophers, and the tenuous nature of human connection. Using a range of poetic styles from formal verse to sprawling prose, this collection returns again and again to the persistence of doubt—even toward those we love the most.

Fabulous in their diction, the poems of Lisa Mangini present a world of sadness and grace, particle and wave. Victims of the body, shadowed by the eighth Deadly Sin—not to be loved—these lovely vessels stuffed with philosophical gleanings and lyrical meditations make possible a future for poetry, and thus, for us.”(Alan Michael Parker)

Every Time We Go to Ikea

it’s raining.  It starts as a light spray
across the windshield, so slight the wipers squeal
against the glass. But there’s no fighting

against the allure of clean lines, the illusion
of better organization, despite that no
number of cubed shelves can tidy up a life.

And every time, there is a young woman
assessing the sturdiness of a crib, sometimes alone,
sometimes with a man or her mother beside her,

and I do my best not to meet your eyes.  Every time
we weave through the model kitchens, I make a bee line
to the sink — farm apron, stainless steel, undermount —

and press my palms against its cool basin; if it’s not
crowded, you’ll lean your hips along my back, rest
your chin on my shoulder, trying to see what it is

I’m seeing.  We’ll look for a chest of drawers
for your apartment, debating Malm versus Hopen,
birch finish or espresso, and I’ll scribble

their dimensions in inches with a tiny golf pencil.
We’ll emerge with a cardboard box on a dolly
to a downpour, and against your wishes, I’ll insist

on moving the car to the loading area myself. Every time,
I will lose a sandal while running in the slick lot
and have to turn back to retrieve it.  We’ll maneuver

the box in some impossible diagonal in the back seat
of the sedan, wipe the rain from our faces, prepare
ourselves to go home and build something.

Other Poems: 

Found Poetry Review

Lunch Ticket

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Featured Book: This Visit, by Susan Lewis

This Visit. Susan Lewis. BlazeVOX, 2015.

Susan Lewis lives in New York City and edits Posit. She is the author of eight books and chapbooks, most recently This Visit, How to be Another (Červená Barva Press, 2014), and State of the Union (Spuyten Duyvil Press, 2014). Her work is forthcoming or has recently appeared in The Awl, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, and Connotation Press.

An elegy to "this visit" of the living to our own existence, This Visit is a pastiche of lyrical and probing dissonances assembled from intimate voices yearning for a connection as deep and ephemeral as “your desire and your embedded thorn.” Like our mortal trajectories, the world of these poems is captured in its struggle to take shape, like Michelangelo’s slaves emerging from the half-hewn stone, or Duchamp’s nude descending a multitude of unsettling but resonant linguistic staircases.

In the fissures and gaps of a malleable lexicon, Susan Lewis’s playful, punning, musical lyrics create spaces for a reader to explore. In her “mythic stickiness” edges are blurred in service to an “everlasting loop.” Her poems are oddly intimate, full of a wise skepticism and a quirky grace—perhaps more of a place to live in than to visit. (Joanna Fuhrman)

This Visit


This time
which is “yours,”

that face you covet,
the hurt it bleeds,

blows landing
puff with satisfaction

shamefaced as childhood,
as roundly accidental.

What is to be done
with cliff-edged blunders

howling & hollowing
your unfathomed deeps?

—As this time,
your time,

whittles you,


They too must age, decay
& slowly quieten.

& can only live,
more or less.

& choose,
more or less.

& search furtively or not
for the nonexistent exit.

(Mother, what you could have told me)
(Stranger, what you might have known)

On the wall with no writing
through the dark glass

(floor littered with doll heads)
the grenade of your despair

plus sleep, that sweet rehearsal
(fingertips in love)

wistful bones withering,
winding down—


these mountains seeping
sighs on loan,

lording over
our boundless lack,

impassive as viscera exhumed,
impulsive as firmament festooned

with friction &
aimless fury

while the debt of the body
on loan

(this stray ferocity)
(that frayed caress)

or other ephemera
sauced & musical

hurtles, to be contemplated
for signs of betrayal

which should be banished—
the word, I mean, reeking

its sly promise of rectitude
as if we know what should be done

(should we glisten
or should we judge?)

the brittle shell of disappointment
lying in wait

too early or too late
while mountains right themselves

in the purple distance,
blind men send me to offer 

this mast,
this hour,

hanging on the weakening light,
bluing in the deepening night

like a hoarded memory from our
secret past—


& you who are leaner
& more intricate:

float with me in this
brittle bowl,

drink the cruel juice
jagged as sunlight

untying us,
shedding notes like jewels

    (against the grain)
    (beneath this petaled canopy)

never glance at what I am
unless to offer

    (or boldly go)

    (this fear,
    or other jagged edge)

cold mountain
waking to our shame

 & smitten

More Poems: 

Word For/Word 

BlazeVOX Journal  

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Featured Book: Upon the Blue Couch, by Laurie Kolp

Upon the Blue Couch. Laurie Kolp. Winter Goose Publishing, 2014.

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Laurie Kolp, author of Upon the Blue Couch and Hello, It’s Your Mother (Finishing Line Press, forthcoming) serves as president of the Texas Gulf Coast Writers and belongs to the Poetry Society of Texas. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications including the 2015 Poet’s Market, The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop, Scissors & Spackle, and Blue Fifth Review. An avid runner and lover of nature, she lives in Southeast Texas with her husband, three children and two dogs.

Upon the Blue Couch is a compelling collection of diverse poems certain to intrigue the reader with its courageous look into one woman’s turbulent journey through adulthood. With a comfortable blue couch as the common thread throughout the years, we are shown all the highs and lows of life while some things remain a constant source of peace. This blue couch, if only it could talk, might just reveal the secrets to happiness based on the experiences it has unwittingly been a part of.
Laurie Kolp's poetry jumps from playful to gritty, from tender to dangerous. In other words, Laurie is a poet who takes chances and dares to surprise her readers with each poem. (Robert Lee Brewer)


They say it's snowing somewhere
off in the distance, past the ocean's
line of separation,

up north where leaves of yellow, red and orange
fill the black and white page with passion,
and lined coats are more than closet fillers
soaking in the acrid smell of stale mothballs.

Yes, it's snowing where you are
while I sit alone on the cusp of indecision,
the warm breeze drifting through my car
like the whisper of your voice.

More Poems:

City Lit Rag

Poppy Road Review

Click Here to Purchase Upon the Blue Couch

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Featured Book: A Lightness, A Thirst, or Nothing At All, by Adele Kenny

A Lightness, A Thirst, or Nothing At All. Adele Kenny. Welcome Rain, 2015.

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Adele Kenny is the author of several poetry collections, most recently A Lightness, A Thirst, or Nothing At All and What Matters (2011), both from Welcome Rain Publishers. She is the recipient of two poetry fellowships from the NJ State Council on the Arts, first place Merit Book and Henderson Awards, a Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award, a Writer’s Digest Poetry Award, the International Book Award for Poetry, and Kean University’s Distinguished Alumni Award. A former creative writing professor, she is founding director of the Carriage House Poetry Series and poetry editor of Tiferet Journal. She has read in the US, England, Ireland, and France, and has twice been a featured reader at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival.

Intensely focused, compressed, and sharp-edged, these prose poems by Adele Kenny take the spiritual journey into heightened awareness of experience, place, and identity. Deliberate fragments, the language of dreams, and an occasional nod to the surreal combine with Kenny’s signature elements of striking imagery and compelling immediacy to inform an enhanced vision of the ways in which the interior life intersects with the outside world. These poems startle, surprise, and tell us things about ourselves that we didn’t know.

In language so subtly pitched, paced and modulated it captures our attention without drawing attention to itself, Kenny draws us into discovering that what never changes is all around us in the ever-changing world, that one is only approachable, knowable, bearable through the other. We trust her to be our guide because her vision is so unwavering.” (Martin J. Farawell)

Sample Poem:

More Poems by Adele Kenny:

The Poetry Storehouse

Shot Glass Journal


Click Here to Purchase Lightness, A Thirst, or Nothing At All

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Featured Book: Untying the Knot, by Karen Paul Holmes

Untying the Knot. Karen Paul Holmes. Aldrich Press, 2014.

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Karen Paul Holmes is the author of Untying the Knot. She founded and hosts the Side Door Poets in Atlanta and Writers’ Night Out in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She received an Elizabeth George Foundation emerging writer grant in 2012, and her publishing credits include Poetry East, Atlanta Review, and Flycatcher. Formerly the VP of Communications at a global financial services company, she is now a freelance business writer, poet, and “roving” writing teacher whose venues include the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina.

Untying the Knot tells the story of the sudden loss of a long-term marriage and the eventual healing that takes place. The poems are written with “grace, humor, self-awareness, and without a dollop of self-pity,” according to Poet Thomas Lux.

On its surface, Untying the Knot is about severance—about leaving the beloved behind and, likewise, getting left—but it is also a meditation on the sources of love and language. … Holmes’s voice pushes readers forward into the unknown with confidence, precision, and empathy.  (Dorianne Laux)

Has He Landed Safely?

     I worry that the outstretched legs on the hart are bent the wrong way
     as he throws himself off.
          —from "Stag’s Leap," Sharon Olds

Not at all a graceful takeoff
his leap threw him into the wild blue
ambiguity of an affair.
I now know he had to do it:
had to explore, sail off the edge
of the world.

I now know he had one limb out
of our marriage for years.
Kept trying to balance
his accounts—in his mind            
he and I did not equal happiness
even though I was the wife he wanted
to show. Smart,
pretty enough, a good mother.
He loved me as much as he could
but I did not fill his coffers.

For two years he resisted the lure
of her but it persisted,
a bee in his palm,
until he couldn’t hold it any longer.
He was barely more than fawn
in the ways of betrayal, antlers
uncalcified. Yet he craved
the danger, needed it
like heroin to addle his pain.

He had to leap, to deny the gravity
of his action. To land, gashed
in another galaxy.
Does he speak the language?
Can he breathe?

More Poems by Karen Paul Holmes:

As It Ought to Be

Sound Cloud

Click Here to Purchase Untying the Knot

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