Disclaimer: I received this book as part of the Goodreads First Reads program. Hoagland is one of my favorite authors, and I am thrilled to have receiDisclaimer: I received this book as part of the Goodreads First Reads program. Hoagland is one of my favorite authors, and I am thrilled to have received this book.
“While my poems have plenty of personal elements, of course, over time I’ve gotten quite obsessed with how personal life and our cultural life—21st century first world consumer culture—connect.” The Rumpus interview with Tony Hoagland by Eric Farwell, August 7th, 2015
Hoagland’s obsession is thoroughly explored in his new collection, Application for Release from the Dream. His cynicism and wry humor comes through in the long lines. Hoagland isn’t afraid to take on difficult topics; many of the poems openly address or touch on issues of race in America. He asks questions, and leaves it to the reader to find answers. I read biographies because I want to know how people suffered in the past; how they endured, and is it different, now, for us? (The Edge of the Frame)
He masters the ironic turn. The title poem starts with a lovely, peaceful image and quickly moves into something altogether different. This is my favorite kind of weather, this cloudy autumn-ness- when long wool coats make shoplifting easy, (Application for Release from the Dream)
Hoagland’s tongue-in-cheek humor is evident throughout these poems. His comparisons read like a Saturday Night Live routine. They took the old heart out of your chest, all blue and spoiled like a sick grapefruit,
the way you removed your first wife from your life, and put a strong young blond one in her place. (Dreamheart)
The poems in this collection are fairly long, running 1-2 pages. They are conversational and personal, leaving the reader with the sensation of having spent an afternoon in a friendly debate. Many of them slip in an unexpected twist. One of my favorites, a poem I keep returning to, is But the Men
Want back in: All the Dougs and the Michaels, the Darnells, the Erics and Joses, They’re standing by the off-ramp of the interstate Holding up cardboard signs that say WILL WORK FOR RELATIONSHIP. ...more
The best parts are Furay's descriptions of the creative process. He writes longingly of many attempts to found a band that is a family, but doesn't seThe best parts are Furay's descriptions of the creative process. He writes longingly of many attempts to found a band that is a family, but doesn't seem to realize that's exactly what he did-families are not always idyllic....more
A well-researched look at how Katrina overwhelmed every system there was, including personal ones. What happens when the only choices left appear to aA well-researched look at how Katrina overwhelmed every system there was, including personal ones. What happens when the only choices left appear to all be bad ones? A beautifully written look at the intersection of bioethics, legality and government systems, and personal beliefs and dedication....more
Gloeggler actually gives a spot-on description of this collection in the following quote, found in an interview on Pavement Saw Press, the publisher oGloeggler actually gives a spot-on description of this collection in the following quote, found in an interview on Pavement Saw Press, the publisher of One Wish Left. "A good basketball poet can go both right and left and can break down his man. He plays tough, tight-to-the-skin D, boxes out well, rebounds in a crowd. He can see the whole court, find the open man and hit an open jumper." http://www.pavementsaw.org/books/onew... Gloeggler ducks left, feints right, finds the open man and hits with poems about daily life. There is a bit of each of us in this collection. Many of the poems are long, with short lines and no stanza breaks. Reading them feels like listening to a good friend tell a story. They are full of rich, precise detail and unique similes. You can still walk upstairs to your old room during family barbeques, shuffle through shoe boxes of baseball cards, drag your finger across albums stacked in milk crates, lie back on the mattress and listen to basketballs drumming blacktop courts
like hearts beating. (Still)
The book isn’t divided into sections, and the poems are not presented in chronological order. Gloeggler transitions smoothly back and forth between poems from the point of view of an adult, single man, to those of a young boy. Don’t mistake these poems as lightweight because they use readily understandable language. Gloeggler addresses real-life situations with lines that engage the reader, sparking recognition and connection, even when it’s uncomfortable, such as the opening lines of “Ronald McDonald House.” From the title, one might expect a poem full of pathos and angst. Gloeggler, however, balances the knowledge of critically ill children with lines reminiscent of Nick Hornby’s premise behind “About A Boy.” My friend Dave said it’s a great place to meet women The turns in these poems are well-done. Even his seemingly simple titles are perfect. “Scraping,” a harsh, jarring word, starts I wake to the sound of a shovel scraping the ground below my window and segues past images of snow-covered sidewalks to accompanying a girlfriend to a clinic “while the doctor sucked/ and scraped her insides clean.”
The so-called title poem is actually titled 2B. It begins with lines about being the single tenant of apartment 2B, and closes with this stanza Tonight, I will open white cartons, eat beef and broccoli with chopsticks, watch the Knicks beat the Pistons on cable, sit ay my desk, try to write one perfect line. I’ll shut all the lights, lie down in bed, rub my cock as though I were Aladdin with one wish left.
I really enjoyed all of the poems, especially the several with references to rock and roll. I keep coming back to this one, to its light, breezy tone, its sass and glimpse of a boy’s mother as a real person. “Don’t Be Cruel” came on the clock radio and mom knocked on my door, walked in, dropped an arm full of laundry and grabbed my hand. She rolled shoulders, shook hips, whirled around me and fell back on my bed out of breath and laughing like a girl in the front seat of a cadillac with hot winds rippling back long black hair. (Rock N Roll)
The 22 essays in this book give several different perspectives on end-of-life issues, yet the common thread sewing them together is that there must beThe 22 essays in this book give several different perspectives on end-of-life issues, yet the common thread sewing them together is that there must be a better way. There are essays by family members and by medical professionals, which highlight how ill-prepared healthcare providers are to address the end-of-life with patients and family. I devoured this book, going back to re-read many sections. The one essay that grabbed me and refused to let go is by Eleanor Vincent. She talks about the agonizing decision to give permission for her 19-year-old daughter to be an organ donor. Vincent shares the questioning and doubt that occurs after the fact, which would be useful for organ donor programs and counselors to know. I was so moved by the essay that I immediately ordered her book....more
A raw, honest portrayal of a family coming apart. I wanted to smack all of the characters by about 2/3 of the way through. Very realistic novel aboutA raw, honest portrayal of a family coming apart. I wanted to smack all of the characters by about 2/3 of the way through. Very realistic novel about family secrets and the urge to hold one's head up....more
Veneta Masson is a nurse and writer living in Washington, D.C. She spent many years as a nurse practitioner in an inner-city clinic, and this collectiVeneta Masson is a nurse and writer living in Washington, D.C. She spent many years as a nurse practitioner in an inner-city clinic, and this collection reflects those experiences. Masson refers to “when a patient turns into a poem,” and that is precisely what she’s done-witnessed and honored the lives of her patients. Masson goes beyond the clinical details and reveals, through well-chosen words, a context for the people she obviously loves. These are poems about drug addicts, immigrants, women both young and old, their children and grandchildren. I’ve been studying the language of hearts. Old ones have the most to tell and tell the most of how they came
to ache, break, leap, sink, melt, turn to stone. When the old folks ask me what I’ve heard I always tell the truth. It’s regular
as a clock, I say, or working hard though it skips a beat or two. But never have I told the half of all their hearts contain. (The Language of Hearts)
Masson uses delightful phrases and images with subtle double entendres, such as “On account of no resistance/she came down with a string/ of chronic boyfriends” and “She still suffers degenerate joints/whenever she can get out to one.” (A Sixty-Year-Old Black Female With a History) “Old Arthur” caught me by surprise, as I hadn’t heard this expression for arthritis. Old Arthur sweeps in just ahead of the rain tweaks elbows and knees carelessly squeezes fingers and toes leaves them bent like stalks in a field then plants himself at the base of a spine yawns his way down a leg uninvited, a poor relation who comes on a whim and might settle in for the winter.
In the back cover info, Masson states that these poems are gifts from her patients. Masson pays it forward by sharing the gifts with her readers, enabling us to see the person, not the patient.
In an interview published in Pine Hills Review, Michael Meyerhofer states: “I tend to be pretty obsessed with the human condition, I guess, but I also
In an interview published in Pine Hills Review, Michael Meyerhofer states: “I tend to be pretty obsessed with the human condition, I guess, but I also like to keep a sense of humor about the things that irritate me.” (http://pinehillsreview.strose.edu/mic...) His newest collection reflects that obsession, as well as his humor. Meyerhofer scrutinizes the human condition, and attempts to find a universal context for the situations he explores. The first section of the book is titled “Scars,” and the poems reflect emotional as well as physical scars. His writing is acerbic and irreverent, readily understood, a welcome relief from the tedium of much current poetry. Many of the poems in this section revolve around childhood scenes and memories. It was like coming home then realizing you’ve been locked out. Those beanpole girls we’d tackled in back yards, now blooming beneath their checkered uniforms until our palms dampened each Square Dance, fretting whenever one asked to borrow a #2 pencil, the room so quiet we could hear our sternums jumping over the slide of perforated test forms, (Twelve)
Meyerhofer’s associations are wildly imaginative. “Sex Education in the Summer of My Ninth Year” begins with a seemingly ordinary experience: I learned female anatomy from a sex toy catalog in my brother’s room
followed by 7 couplets describing what the speaker saw, and ends with this surprise turn: Imagine Hubble right after he looked through
that gigantic telescope leaning dumbly phallic off a California cliff, that night his universe grew
exponentially. Doesn’t everything lead to this? Too much to take in, too hard to look away.
Using couplets imbues this poem with even more metaphorical meaning.
Meyerhofer intersperses vignettes of Midwest farms and factories with poems aching with loss. The first section closes with a perfect double entendre, “Quitting Time.” All over the factory floor, machines stop at once. Thermoses capped, radios unplugged, everyone with someplace better to be. Like the boy who is still twelve years away from writing this poem
The second section, “Tattoos,” carries the tattoo theme throughout, literally and figuratively. These poems tend to be more in the present, or looking ahead, than those in the first section.
This is Muncie-home to a closed jar factory, tattooed libertarians, and a university of failed writers trying to inspire the next crop of millennial farm boys moonlighting as slam poets on weekends. (The Indiana Blues)
One of my favorite poems comes close to the end of the book. “When The World Will End” consists of four quintains, the first two telling the reader when it will not happen, the last two informing us when it will. It will not happen in winter, it will not happen after some hard-won breakthrough with your therapist, your parents, your publisher. Nor will it end when the moon cocks its eyebrows and cherry blossoms carpet-bomb D.C.
No, it will happen during your colonoscopy. It will happen while you’re waiting in line for a roller coaster, for the restrooms at Wrigley Field. It will happen just as you catch yourself eyeing someone way too young, too old, too blood-related.
Meyerhofer is definitely a people’s poet, capturing everyday sights and events with well-considered metaphors and word choices. ...more
In Fried’s confessional, narrative poetry, the poet and the speaker are frequently, openly one. She tackles issues of gender as seen through the eyesIn Fried’s confessional, narrative poetry, the poet and the speaker are frequently, openly one. She tackles issues of gender as seen through the eyes of her generation, stating in a Boston Review interview by B.K. Fischer, “I was a kid in the 70s and 80s. I and all the girls I knew assumed we would grow up and be president, just like the boys did. So our experience of being female in the world may be different from that of previous generations.” (http://www.bostonreview.net/poetry/po...)
The book has 4 untitled sections; the first section contains one seven-page poem. The second section opens with the title poem, in which Fried co-opts Marianne Moore’s famous line “I, too, dislike it.” There are many references throughout the collection to gender in writing, i.e. “Women’s Poetry.” Many of the poems in this collection are long, somewhat rambling, conversational in tone. The repetition of sibilant “s” sounds heightens the sense of racing along on the interstate. “Can’t talk,” I say, doing 85. “Can’t hear or talk.” I snap shut the phone, cut him off, hold the dead phone to my ear like a hankie-wrapped ice pack to a contusion. I slow to 70; the fat lady I cut off at the onramp shouts through both our closed windows so wide her mouth’s all teeth and tongue and dark and her Jesus-fish and troop loop ride away, I-95 rushing up too surreal like a movie-promo before digital got finesse. (Il Penseroso: The Fat Lady)
Fried masters simile, as well as irony. Consider the opening lines of “His Failed Band, 1973.” Stands in a silly jacket at a lakeshore, half dense pine woods, narrow-chested Bob in horizontal stripes, the only one with his head above a horizon of slight hills across water misty as a memory of bad feelings evaporating.
To stay with the theme of women’s poetry, there is also a poem titled “Her Failed Band, 1982.” If he can do it, so can she; not only be in a band, but in a band that didn’t make it. Black lace mantilla yes but she calls it her Guyville Headbanger Act.
The third section, consisting of a connected series of 10 poems about time spent in Rome, is my favorite. Padlocks multiply on the footbridge Ponte Milvio. They look like a swarm of bees that shine, Clipped to chains, clipped to one another. A novel began it: Lovers wrote their initials on a lock, attached it to a lamppost, threw the key in the Tiber. (2. Padlocks, Suicidal) Other poems in the series reference the bridge and the padlocks.
The final section, poems written in the form of an advice column, just didn’t resonate with me. I really like Fried’s work but just couldn’t seem to find any enthusiasm for this part. If you are new to Fried, I suggest reading one of her other collections before taking on this book. ...more
Burgan’s lush writing perfectly captures the cultural shift from early to mid-60s. His use of language is poetic; rich similes, and word choices thatBurgan’s lush writing perfectly captures the cultural shift from early to mid-60s. His use of language is poetic; rich similes, and word choices that nail an emotion. He shares the joys and frustrations of teenagers who long to be musicians. He invites readers into the creative process of We Five, and openly allows us to see the angst as the group tried and failed to recapture the magic of “You Were on My Mind.” Through the lens of We Five, Burgan captures the changing culture in a way that resonates with those of us who came of age then. The struggle to remain relevant, to stay true to ideals and beliefs, and to follow a dream, is universal. The need for compromise to achieve all of that can be painful, as Burgan writes of changes and the final decision to break up the group.
References to drug use and relationships don’t dominate this book; the music is the predominant theme. The descriptions of recording with the technology available then are fascinating. The feeling of amazement after listening to the playback with over-dubbing is palpable. Listening to those incredible harmonies that ride over and under and around, that dance and soar, takes on a heightened appreciation. ...more
In ancient Greek mythology, Clio is the muse of history. Historians would pray to her for divine inspiration and guidance. A famous quote attributed tIn ancient Greek mythology, Clio is the muse of history. Historians would pray to her for divine inspiration and guidance. A famous quote attributed to the philosopher Santayana is “Those who cannot remember the past are due to repeat it.” This chapbook of poems invoking Clio’s knowledge assures that the past will not be forgotten. Colby does a marvelous job in interweaving history with contemporary culture in her Clio poems. The poems present a series of vignettes, similar to a PBS documentary.
Wigs designed for Cleopatra, the senatorial Togas, shape-shifter how you wore Ambiguity as a bracelet. Cod piece or waist Cincher. The ruffled collar of the good queen, Cloak of the vampire. (Cleo’s Closet)
“Clio in the Audience” brings together historical and cultural events unlikely to be united. Who else but Colby could take a reader from the Globe theatre to Woodstock in one stanza? At the Globe, she Laughs at Falstaff, at La Scala Awash with arias, she weeps Or claps her hands as Lippizans Perform the airs above the ground. Clio at Woodstock bares her Muddy breasts,
One of my favorites starts with these lines: Ah Clio, covered with scars. The proud flesh of demarcations Where borders were carved And the second stanza: Surely, some of these operations Were merely superficial. Facelifts To restore the bones of old cathedrals, Rediscover the hidden tombs Where pharaohs snug as appendixes Lay among the inferior vessels. (Clio Prepares for Surgery) The “bones of old cathedrals”-what a line-doesn’t that immediately bring to mind every tour you’ve ever taken of a cathedral? Colby fans rely on her lush imagery and unique comparisons, and they won’t be disappointed.
Rarely do I read a book that makes me want to gush and fill a review with hyperbole;this happens to be one of those rarities. Meticulously detailed, tRarely do I read a book that makes me want to gush and fill a review with hyperbole;this happens to be one of those rarities. Meticulously detailed, this book captures the essence of a time and place....more
The opening epigraph is a quote from Muriel Rukeyser, “Pay attention to what they tell you to forget.” Miller Laino pays attention, and convinces herThe opening epigraph is a quote from Muriel Rukeyser, “Pay attention to what they tell you to forget.” Miller Laino pays attention, and convinces her reader to also pay attention. Pay attention to the past, to family, to the often disenfranchised voices of blue-collar workers. Her writing is thoughtful. The speaker varies perspective throughout the collection, from a young girl’s point of view to the adult woman’s, from daughter to mother. Her mother’s death, both imagined and real, is an undercurrent that runs through all three sections of this book. The first time my mother died she was actually eating veal parmigiana at Monty’s garden, an Italian restaurant (First Night)
And then, the real death. It’s 4 a.m. The kitchen light is on. I enter her home, touch everything I know she’s touched, these flowers, this card, before I call the relatives to say she is dead. (May 17th)
Miller Laino has mastered the turn, demonstrating in poem after poem how the past influences the present. The title poem, which ends the first section, contains an epigraph from the Boston Globe about an immigrant whose seven-year-old daughter tried to save him as he jumped. I read about Lyvia, daughter of Michael Kataevi; she was there at the window, screaming in a language unintelligible to citizens of New York, Minsk, or any other city where a daughter grabs onto a father who is leaping from a fourth story window. The speaker then tells us “There is no news account/ of my grandfather’s suicide,” and shows the reader how a girl can also be hurt by the family story, even if she didn’t witness the event.
One of my favorite poems is the final one, a universal account of trying to help a child complete a homework assignment when the worksheet has been lost. The closing thoughts blossom out far beyond the homework. Both of us worry about making mistakes. We stand at the window for a long time,
trying perhaps, to understand why some things disappear and stay lost forever, while others
come back to us, this moon, crowning like the head of a baby through a dark slit of a sky. (Lunar Eclipse)