Life is an Incurable Virus: Motherhood in the Age of Collected and Collective Fear

What a time to read Megan Merchant’s new poetry collection, Before the Fevered Snow. I’ve been hunkered down in my house for five weeks now, waiting for the vicious COVID-19 pandemic to pass. Sacrificing for others. Doing my part in the face of fear, pain, and an overwhelming sense of responsibility. Merchant’s book […]

War and Aftermath: Bruce Weigl’s Expanding Aesthetic

With his new collection On the Shores of Welcome Home, Bruce Weigl brings his expansive proclivities to a striking culmination, the poet balancing fervor and reserve, trepidation and aplomb, indignation and acceptance. In poem after poem, Weigl reexamines his Vietnam experiences, post-war realities, and the perennial effects of PTSD, offering commentaries on human nature, […]

Muscling Meaning into Days: A Review of Adam Clay’s To Make Room for the Sea

In the poem “Understories,” Adam Clay writes, “Say observation / is the kindest of all actions,” and, in context, these lines are less a command than an experiment—which is good, because I think experience disproves the hypothesis: there are greater kindnesses than observation. At the same time, observation is a […]

John McCarthy’s Flyover Country is All of Us: A Review of Scared Violent Like Horses

When I shared a poem from Scared Violent Like Horses to a friend who has extensively traveled the United States, she immediately placed the setting. There are thirty-six townships named Springfield in the United States, but the imagery in Scared Violent Like Horses is distinctive enough to render the town […]

High Visibility in the Queer Polar Vortex: A Review of Sara Goodman’s Starfish

Sara Goodman’s Starfish begins in a polar vortex. The speaker lives in Chicago where, “The Northern Lights cast orange on a/network of lakes in Northern Finland.//Dip the entire thing/into an ice cold lake.//That new new.” I am reading the book on a park bench in Miami. It’s late July, humid. Green parakeets […]

Personal Narrative in Lynne McEniry’s some other wet landscape and the work of Lucille Clifton and Dorianne Laux

Dylan Thomas defined poetry as “the rhythmic, inevitably narrative, movement from an over-clothed blindness to a naked vision.” In her debut poetry collection, some other wet landscape, Lynne McEniry holds a command of narrative and syntax that moves through time and place from “blindness to vision.” Tension builds and releases […]

“Impermanence and Racial Otherness in Jim Warner’s Actual Miles”

Actual Miles, Jim Warner’s newest collection of poetry, is a moving compilation of diverse pieces reflecting experiences of a hybrid identity, life in transition, addiction, romance, and mortality. The culmination of which reveals an overwhelming familiarity with the ebb and flow of impermanence. Impermanence pervades this collection, whether present in […]