Robert's Reviews > Lost Horse Press New Poets Series: New Poets, Short Books, Volume II

Lost Horse Press New Poets Series by Tim Krcmarik
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Sep 19, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: recommended, first-books
Recommended for: poets

The opening poem to "The Heights" by Tim Krcmarik tells us, "I like my Shakespeare mixed up with my Dante / the same way I like hot sauce dumped over my fried / ham steaks and scrambled eggs." God and fire recur throughout this collection, sometimes colliding as in the poem "Beloved," a street-tough retelling of Adam and Eve with the surrealism of a Hieronymus Bosch painting. These are poems that play with sincerity even as they play with language, mistrusting the apparent even as they long for something transcendent amid the mundane. In this Krcmarik has given us something truly fresh and original, a collection of big band recklessness with a cappella hymnals poking through; a series of poems undeniably his own.

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In "The Woman Who Cries Speaks," Patricia Staton's long, irregular lines snake down the page. These are poems composed, like a scrapbook, of memory fragments. But they are also punctuated by a direct and declamatory voice, as in the end of "We Have Our Rats", where the speaker exclaims, after a by turns disgusting and whimsical meditation on rats, "Hey! Listen up! Nobody here’s mourning rats. / I’m shivering, frowzy, awake, but no." At once image-rich and idiomatic, gossamer and gutsy, Staton’s poems jostle and sway through a panoply of sense and no-sense, making up their own kind of rhyme and reason as they go.

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Many of the poems in "Death Song for Africa" by Victor Camillo are haunted by the past. Others are haunted by the present. In the final poem, "Today is Easter," the language of religion and news interweaves. Referring to "the bible of the newspaper" and "the mosque that is the radio," the speaker tells us, "I know about a death that cannot be held in a communion wafer," contrasting the tragedy that "Indians in Guatemala are being ripped inside out" with the banal annoyance that "the weather here has become unkind." The poems in this collection are poems of conscience, set in the comfort of the modern first world, looking guiltily but unflinchingly at the terrors of the third world, and of the past. Through striking imagery, and carefully-controlled religious and political references, Camillo embraces love, marriage, and fatherhood against the backdrop of an at-once beautiful and terrible world.

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Reading Progress

September 19, 2010 – Started Reading
September 19, 2010 – Shelved
January 30, 2011 – Shelved as: recommended
January 30, 2011 – Finished Reading
February 13, 2011 – Shelved as: first-books

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