Newspaper Taxis is an anthology of poetry commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Beatles first album release. The title comes from a line in “LucyNewspaper Taxis is an anthology of poetry commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Beatles first album release. The title comes from a line in “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “newspaper taxis appear on the shore, waiting to take you away.” And how could anybody forget the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics, where newspaper taxis circled round and round. The poems in this collection reflect the enduring impact of the Beatles. The poets are a diverse group, not restricted to British poets, including those who “were there,” coming of age during the 60s, and those who know of the Beatles primarily by reputation. The infamous Philip Larkin poem, “Annus Mirabilis,” is included, as well as Ginsberg’s “First Party at Ken Kesey’s with Hell’s Angels.”
I enjoy themed anthologies, and I almost always discover poets whose work I’d like to explore further. It’s difficult for me to highlight only a few of these poems. As I page through the book, I want to quote parts of every poem.
The very first poem grabbed me on a personal level. I am a middle-aged woman travelling on business and I’m going to Liverpool,
where I’ll take time out to visit Albert Dock and the museum
where my youth is preserved. (Going to Liverpool, Sheenagh Pugh)
I am instantly swept back, instantly deposited in the 60s, where I feel a chill London or East Coast U.S. rain on my face, see album covers and liner notes spread across the lime green sheets of my bed, hip-hugger bell bottoms strewn across chairs, paisley everywhere. This book certainly takes me away, and with each reading I discover a new thrill of recognition, a sense of “oh yes, I remember that.”
Royalties from the sale of this book are donated to Claire House Children's Hospice, which serves children and young people of Merseyside with complex medical needs. ...more
The title of Fleda Brown’s newest collection of narrative poetry comes from Robert Creeley’s statement (included in the book as an epigraph) that “poeThe title of Fleda Brown’s newest collection of narrative poetry comes from Robert Creeley’s statement (included in the book as an epigraph) that “poetry stands in no need of any sympathy, or even goodwill.” Brown’s poems certainly live that credo. She masters the poetic turn in a quiet, understated manner that leaves the reader intrigued.
There seem to be more poems in this book written in form than previously. My miles-above-the-rest favorite section is a series of ten sonnets, one for each grandchild. Brown manages to incorporate information from her life and her children’s lives into the poems for and about her grandchildren. She does this so subtly that the reader is barely aware of it. For me, this is a compelling trait of a master poet, the ability to show and share without it seeming like a lecture. The voice in these poems is that of observer, “the grandmother.” No way to revise the past, to travel back through to your father, how she stroked his hair, small child kneeling on her bed, sobbing for his father, who used to lie on the floor and raise him on his feet, fly him, wild with joy, while she sat knowing what this would come to. (Jake, 11)
Brown is skilled at taking a moment, opening it up and releasing it, then calling it back. Her poem “Sugar, Sugar” starts with specific details. It was the trees, their amazing xylem and phloem. She then throws in some images of sugary drinks and food from her childhood. It was my first Pepsi, its sugar- fizz, and the frozen orange clouds of the Dreamsicle The poem then opens and the proverbial light bulb goes off for the reader; this is about a girl’s adolescence. The Cover Girl Hot Pink lipstick, the henna hair rinse Everything is grounded, even the extended metaphor of sweetness and a young girl’s coming of age. The title of the poem is also the title of a popular teenage song in the late 60s.
My favorite poem is “Dancing at Your Wedding.” I wish I hadn’t danced like that, un- Dignified, wild, but consider your groom’s family, full press of uncles, aunts, parents, generations of sticking together, then your own scattered mess of faithlessness, and there you are, father on one arm, me on your other, two captive animals lured to the same pen.
This collection is tight, cohesive, with images from nature flowing seamlessly into a distilled moment in a person’s life. Brown excels at taking something personal and making it universal. ...more
Stunned is the word that leaps to my mind in reaction to reading Gabriel. Hirsch’s book-length poem about his son’s life and death is an elegy, a eulo Stunned is the word that leaps to my mind in reaction to reading Gabriel. Hirsch’s book-length poem about his son’s life and death is an elegy, a eulogy, a lament, a rant, but most of all, a love song. Written in tercets, without punctuation, the poem captures the roller coaster of grief, the rushing forward and holding back. At the same time, it is a perfect form for the story of a young man diagnosed with Tourette’s, which is also characterized by bursts and abrupt halts. There are ten tercets to each page; Hirsch’s precise line breaks propel the reader forward, sometimes hurtling, and sometimes a bit more contemplative. He is a master at picking up and slowing down the pace of the poem.
In an interview with Tim Adams, published in The Guardian, Hirsch says “Gabriel was not a shrinking violet, he imposed himself on a room. He wanted people to know him.” This book imposes itself on the reader; unable to put it down, I have returned to passage after passage, finding new nuggets each time. The book opens with Hirsch at the funeral home. The funeral director opened the coffin And there he was alone From the waist up
Hirsch then goes back in time and shares his son with readers. Gabriel bounces off the pages, careens through life experiences, and settles firmly in the heart of the reader. Some nights I could not tell If he was the wrecking ball Or the building it crashed into
Hirsch shares the humorous as well as the horrifying. He invites the reader into the raw, open wound of his grief. I did not know the work of mourning Is like carrying a bag of cement Up a mountain at night
This is one of the few books I want to gush over. I am actually carrying it in my briefcase, sneaking a few minutes to re-read pages during the day. As a bereaved grandmother, I feel validated and understood; as a poet, I am in awe.
JoAnn Balingit has been Delaware’s Poet Laureate, a position appointed by the governor, since 2008.She is a staunch advocate for local writers, and deJoAnn Balingit has been Delaware’s Poet Laureate, a position appointed by the governor, since 2008.She is a staunch advocate for local writers, and devotes much of her time and energy to promoting poetry and creative writing in Delaware’s schools. Her writing is tight and well-controlled, with precise word choices.
Balingit explores life itself, its highs and lows, through her poetry. Where so many poetry books focus on either nature or people and relationships, Balingit manages to successfully combine them. An all night conversation with you on the summer dock, bats cart-wheeling our neighbor’s oak, this grainy picture sound-tracked by classical chords of frogs. (Here’s My List)
Balingit’s life contains suffering and loss; when she was 16, her father shot and killed her mother, then himself. She explores the family tragedy in a poem fashioned like a pitch for a documentary. Setting the poem up like this permits Balingit to step back from the story, and it is this distance that makes the poem so powerful. Moving inside to the kitchen, let’s set up the shot. It is brief but difficult to execute-so slowly the moment unfolds. My father drags his bad left foot. His hand upon the stock. Our pallid house burgeons from the inside out like a bud tearing heavily open. The world will finger its petals. Its dark and fragrant heart will be exposed. (The Pitch)
There are several ekphrastic poems in the collection. Balingit makes broad leaps in her connections, injecting humor unexpected in a poem about something viewed in an art museum. Shaped like a kidney, marbled and starry, this wooden bowl reminds me of the dish a nurse once packed into my things. Unable to divine its truth or how to use it with my baby, I stuffed its lobes with cotton balls. (Winged Vessel, Biggs Museum of American Art)
One of my favorites, another fine example of how to weld the personal with nature, captures a mother and son outside at night, viewing a meteor shower. All the wonderful alliteration makes the poem flow forward, the way a meteor shower pours across the sky. Julian caught the first one as we got blankets spread, heads settled back, let the stars burn into focus to leave
the day’s dregs, dishwater down the drain, having cleared the table, scraped the black cast iron to a shine, free
now to lie in wait for untimed particles to ignite, to spread their ancient ash across the upper atmosphere, to leave
a scar like a scratch on a lens, an invisible crack, like the clear line down a shoulder curve a drop of saltwater makes, (Meteor Shower)
Balingit is a superb storyteller, whether they are stories of her cultural background, her children, or the stories learned by close observation of her surroundings. ...more
“Poetry is such a good medium for coming to terms with expectations and disappointments. That is how we connect with other people. We need that. All o
“Poetry is such a good medium for coming to terms with expectations and disappointments. That is how we connect with other people. We need that. All of our suffering is not so different from each other’s. The first poem in Like a Beggar, begins: “Relax. Bad things are going to happen.” And it ends with eating a strawberry.” Ellen Bass, interview with Kendall Poe from Tin House
Ellen Bass’ third collection of poetry is ripe with beginnings and endings, in a large, metaphorical sense as well as specific instances. She takes everyday thoughts and experiences and through her use of imagery and metaphor, makes them universal. Aging, sex, and our connection to nature are repeated themes. “Ordinary Sex” begins If no swan descends in a blinding glare of plumage, drumming the air with deafening wings, if the earth doesn’t tremble and rivers don’t tumble uphill,
and then concludes with these tender lines: And then a few kisses, easy, loose, like the ones we’ve been kissing for a hundred years.
Many of the poems in this collection are long, 1 ½ to 2 pages, without stanza breaks. This format increases the sense of contemplation about life, which is a main theme throughout the book. In a refreshing change from the majority of contemporary poetry collections, there are no sections. Scattered throughout are odes to things most of us would never have thought of as ode material. These are some of my favorite poems. Notice the interesting juxtaposition between the title and the content. I like to take the same walk down the wide expanse of Woodrow to the ocean, and most days I turn left toward the lighthouse. The sea is always different. Some days dreamy, waves hardly waves, just a broad undulation in no hurry to arrive. Other days the surf’s drunk, crashing into the cliffs like a car wreck. (Ode to Repetition)
“Ode to Boredom” describes a family vacation in “The rose-washed light of southern Italy.” Nothing to do. Not a church or museum. Not even A newspaper in English. We’d read all our books and I’d embroidered the linen dishtowels. We walked the empty vineyards and cherry orchards. The fact that this is an ode celebrates the so-called boredom we yearn for when on vacation.
Bass has a playful, whimsical voice. A prime example of this is the poem “When You Return.” Fallen leaves will climb back into trees. Shards of the shattered vase will rise and reassemble on the table. Plastic raincoats will refold into their flat envelopes.
And the oh-my-God-I –wish-I- had-written-that- line, which opens the poem “Prayer.” Once I wore a dress liquid as vodka. ...more
Mockett places her grief over the deaths of her father and grandfather in the context of the aftermath of the 2011 Japanese earthquake, tsunami, and sMockett places her grief over the deaths of her father and grandfather in the context of the aftermath of the 2011 Japanese earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent release of radiation. The radiation levels were so high at her family’s Buddhist temple that her grandfather’s bones could not be buried. Mockett is bi-cultural, raised in America with a Japanese mother and American father. She tries to cope with her grief by exploring the Japanese side of her heritage. She visits many different temples, talks with the Zen priests, and provides a window into the Japanese beliefs, customs, and rituals of death and mourning.
The memoir twists and turns through background and historical explanation, sometimes excruciatingly, eventually coming back to Mockett’s life and family. Although Mockett calls her grief “overwhelming,” descriptions in the book are understated, and tend to become lost in complex scenarios of back story.
I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads givewaway program...more