In a world of water shortages (a timely issue!), a young protagonist fights to save her home and her pond. Starkly beautiful, this novel is missing maIn a world of water shortages (a timely issue!), a young protagonist fights to save her home and her pond. Starkly beautiful, this novel is missing many of the things that have been found in recent young adult dystopian works, including a love triangle (thank goodness!). An interesting addition to the growing number of young adult books on the market today. ...more
Place rules the poems found in Good Sumacs, as the book meanders between the poet's home state of Pennsylvania and his current home in Florida.
Many oPlace rules the poems found in Good Sumacs, as the book meanders between the poet's home state of Pennsylvania and his current home in Florida.
Many of the poems found in the first part of the collection tell stories of family, such as seen in "My Grandmother" where the narrator pictures a woman "widowed young" walking through the streets of Brockway (where incidentally is only 30 minutes away from my hometown), "to the glass factory/where she machined gobs of soda ash/into smooth, cool jars." In other poems, the narrator himself becomes a character as found in "Like a Butterfly" where he and his sister "rubbed powder off delicate/transparent wings" of butterflies so they could pretend they were pixies, or in the quieter, more meditative poem, "Transforming" where he shakes apples trees so the fruit falls to the ground, fruit that will later be a meal for the local wildlife: "At dusk, three doe carefully munch apples/snuff breath into the air/with black, glossy noses."
In other poems, place becomes the main character. In "At the William Penn Museum," the narrator tells about his first adventure on an escalator while in "Echoes" he narrates his descent into the caverns of the Susquehannocks. My favorite poem, however, is "Centralia" where the poet looks at a Pennsylvania coal town deserted because of a raging mine fire underneath the ground. With careful attention to detail, Grieneisen pictures the town today: "Smoke still creeps/from the dusty cracked ground/buckling highways, swallowing homes/and melting the rubber soles of sneakers/on Ashland teenagers who sneak/into Centralia woods with stolen beer kegs."
The tone of this collection shifts a bit when Grieneisen's poems move towards Florida. Indeed, the poem, "Writing Nothing about Florida" can only be described as a work about homesickness: "Here the dirt is sand/and lakes teem with Anhingas/that do not sing/like chickadees or cardinals/but cry like feathered beasts/breaking the darkness/that hides nothing." Other poems find the narrator slowly maneuvering around what he would deem as a foreign landscape. For instance, in "Tropicana" he describes a city that smells like "the burning carcasses of oranges." In another poem, "Dance of the Anoles," he chronicles the "invisible love" of creatures who "spin, face to face/tails a compass needle never finding home."
Jeff and I went to graduate school together many years ago (more years than I care to admit!) and have since lost touch, which is why I'm so happy to discover his debut collection of poetry. I'm especially thrilled to see his navigation of place, and the connections between characters and setting, connections I strive so hard to make in my own work.
A wonderful exploration of rain, from its natural existence to its historical importance to its cultural impact. Never boring and always insightful! AA wonderful exploration of rain, from its natural existence to its historical importance to its cultural impact. Never boring and always insightful! A great read!...more
Maggie Smith's latest poetry collection is an anthology of fairy tales: sometimes, she retells traditional fairy tales (in all their violent glory) anMaggie Smith's latest poetry collection is an anthology of fairy tales: sometimes, she retells traditional fairy tales (in all their violent glory) and sometimes she uses elements of fairy tales to capture contemporary stories, especially narratives of childhood. A beautiful and haunting read!...more
Wow -- and I really thought I knew all about the infamous Donner Party from my college American history classes. I was wrong. While focusing on a younWow -- and I really thought I knew all about the infamous Donner Party from my college American history classes. I was wrong. While focusing on a young bride and her family, author Daniel James Brown recreates the story of the Donner party while presenting a history of women and the pioneer experience in America. A fantastic and engaging read!...more
There are five reasons why I love Raising Lilly Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workspace, a book that I finished just yesterday.
First, (and I willThere are five reasons why I love Raising Lilly Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workspace, a book that I finished just yesterday.
First, (and I will get the disclaimer out of the way), my poem, "Beauty Tips From the Girls on 3rd Shift" appears in this anthology. Originally published in Anti-, this poem is also in Stealing Dust, my first chapbook. It seems to be a favorite with my readers.
Second, I'm honored (and thrilled) that my poem is published in an anthology with some of my favorite women poets including, Mary Alexandra Agner, Shaindel Beers, Sandra Beasley, Jan Beatty, Denise Duhamel, Daisy Fried, and Dorianne Laux.
Third, although I pride myself on keeping up with poetry about work, this anthology introduced me to work by many poets I did not know. Who are some of these poets? Wendy Barker, Darcy Cummings, Jennifer Dotson, Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Sarah Freligh, Erin Fristad, and Mary Ellen Talley, just to name a few. I especially love Talley's poem "Ghazal: Unbuckled Shoes" written in honor of the poet's older sister who is in her mid 70's and still works part time.
Fourth, I love how this book approaches its subject. As the title of this anthology suggests, this collection is about women and work and general responses to Lilly Ledbetter and her struggle for pay equality and justice. When I think of work, I think of women in the factory (perhaps because factory work is what I saw as work when I was young). Yes, there are plenty of factory poems in this anthology, but more importantly, there are poems that explore all types of women's work including retail jobs, waitressing work, teaching positions, and yes, jobs in the sex industry. Equally intriguing is the section dedicated to poems by and/or about women scientists and artists. I always have to remember that work, especially women's work, is not always defined by blue collar jobs!
Finally, this book has taken me back to my roots. In my first college-level English class, poet Judy Vollmer assigned the poetry anthology, Working Classics: Poems on Industrial Life edited by Peter Oresick and Nicholas Coles. It was within the pages of this book that I discovered that yes, poetry could speak about the kind of life that I knew, the blue collar life of my family and my friends. I explored a bit of this life in Stealing Dust, but as I look back, I realize that my poetry has evolved a bit, and in some ways, my work has become more surreal. Reading this anthology made me miss the gritty realism often found in poetry about work.
A great anthology, and well worth the read, especially for readers of contemporary poetry!
A fun Victorian ghost story featuring all the elements that a Victorian ghost story should: a wayward governess, a spiteful spirit, a series of hauntiA fun Victorian ghost story featuring all the elements that a Victorian ghost story should: a wayward governess, a spiteful spirit, a series of haunting crimes, and two young children, who may or may not, be innocent. A great summer read!...more
The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte is a fictional retelling of the woman who gave literary history, Jane Eyre. I was surprised at how much I enjoyThe Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte is a fictional retelling of the woman who gave literary history, Jane Eyre. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book -- it was a masterful and thoughtful look of Bronte's life and her relationship with her sisters. I read a lot of novels about real life people, and this book was one of my favorite. ...more
Set in Flint, Michigan, Buick City, a book of prose poems by Sarah Carson, explores the landscape and people of a dying Rust Belt City. Certainly, a rSet in Flint, Michigan, Buick City, a book of prose poems by Sarah Carson, explores the landscape and people of a dying Rust Belt City. Certainly, a reader diving into the pages of Carson's newest collection may expect the rust and dust of a city that is fading from the American landscape, yet, physical landscape is not the most important aspect of Buick City. Instead, we get a frank look of the lives navigating a rough, and in some ways, bleak, world around them.
Buick City opens with a poem titled, "The Beginning" with a clear description of how lives are intertwined with setting of this book. We see an Avon lady hanging "Shiny magazines on the "bent steel poles of mailboxes." We see the prostitutes who follow her, stealing the Avon pamphlets, "looking for ideas." We also see Rasta kings who "sell cigarettes, area rugs, handbags out of their camper van." In the background, a train shakes their world, rattling "dogs awake in ditches," shaking "windowsills full of spider plants," and turning on "touch lamps in the faces of sleeping children."
From this poem on, Carson's collection looks at the lives of people who navigate this landscape. The book intertwines a loose coming-of-age story of an unnamed narrator with other people who float in and out of her life. We are introduced to this narrator in the poem, "On TV the Boy Killer Wears My Same Sweater" where she explains that for several years she wanted to be a boy and that her father blamed her mother: "She's the one who let me play with cap guns. She's the one who let me wear the Ninja Turtle sweater to school day after day." As readers, we follow this narrator as she grows to adulthood, chucking rocks at police cars, witnessing her parents divorce, falling in and out of love. Landscape plays an important part in all of these stories. For instance, in "The Half Trailer" the narrator introduces us to her neighbor by what she can hear and smell through the thin walls of her mobile home: "That night I came home from work and stayed awake for hours listening to the movies he was watching, full of explosions and gunfire, underscored by the gentle rumble of his smoker's cough, the flick of his lighter, the sweet smell of his fat girlfriend's Family Dollar perfume."
Around this loose narrative arc, the reader is introduced to a variety of people. In one poem, "The Building" we are introduced to a lonely girl who leaves a note for the mailman that he will never read. In another poem, "Demolition Derby at the Fairgrounds" we learn about a man arrives home from a night out to dogs that are "disappointed to find that he's the first one home." And in a mini-series of poems about a 24 hour grocery store, we are introduced to a cast of characters that are struggling to survive both jobs and home life.
In spite of the grim details, and often times grim outlooks of her characters' lives, Carson also provides humor and hope in her poems. As I was reading through these prose poems, I couldn't help but compare her work to the fictional stories of Raymond Carver. Yet, while the people may be similar to the characters found in Carver's works, Carson often goes beyond the minimalistic techniques made popular by Carver. Indeed, after finishing Buick City, I found myself thinking about the wind on my face as a train rambles by or the strange smells of grocery stories or warehouses. ...more