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Mailbox Monday #678

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has its own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Velvet, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what I received:

Stepmotherland by Darrel Alejandro Holnes for review.

Winner of the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize, Stepmotherland, Darrel Alejandro Holnes’s first full-length collection, is filled with poems that chronicle and question identity, family, and allegiance. This Central American love song is in constant motion as it takes us on a lyrical and sometimes narrative journey from Panamá to the USA and beyond. The driving force behind Holnes’s work is a pursuit for a new home, and as he searches, he takes the reader on a wild ride through the most pressing political issues of our time and the most intimate and transformative personal experiences of his life. Exploring a complex range of emotions, this collection is a celebration of the discovery of America, the discovery of self, and the ways they may be one and the same.

Holnes’s poems experiment with macaronic language, literary forms, and prosody. In their inventiveness, they create a new tradition that blurs the borders between poetry, visual art, and dramatic text. The new legacy he creates is one with significant reverence for the past, which informs a central desire of immigrants and native-born citizens alike: the desire for a better life. Stepmotherland documents an artist’s evolution into manhood and heralds the arrival of a stunning new poetic voice.

Winter at a Summer House by Mary Beth Hines, which I purchased and toured with Poetic Book Tours in March.

The poems in Mary Beth Hines’s first collection, Winter at a Summer House, strike a wonderful balance between narratives of everyday experience and a pristine, pure poetic imagination. Always rhythmically diverse, most of the time mellifluous, and often intense, Hines’s poetry vividly paints the life of a modern self-made woman, with her worries and obligations, her family, and her dreams. In response to the heroine’s world, this poetry, never static, vibrates with all sorts of emotions: love, friendship, youthful infatuations, amorousness, jealousy, altruism. As a result, the book gives its reader all the pleasures of a novel—and of lyric novelty. -Katia Kapovich, author of Gogol in Rome and Cossacks and Bandits

Mary Beth Hines sings to us out of the staircases, back yards, and swimming pools of a life sumptuously lived, a world rife with joys and enticements, with girlhood wish and adulthood tryst. Each song lifts on the updrafts of a language passionately breathed. The poems are arrayed with such stunning craft that the art dissolves into the narrative. One forgets that one is reading and imagines that one is reliving this life. Winter at a Summer House is, in the words of one of the poems, a “gift to spark remembrance,” as if the memories had become our own. -Tom Daley, author of House You Cannot Reach

From birth/death and first/last words–– the poems in Mary Beth Hines’s collection, Winter at a Summer House, entice us into the arc of a woman’s life, and tip us into her fall from innocence into experience. The poems are dares, flirting with risk, and holding bliss and danger in a tactile bond of “teeth and ice, breath and coyotes.” They give us what we want from poetry: to be bundled up and awakened; to be reminded before the storm that the storm is coming. We must hold hands and walk under the shape-shifting sky of “old faces––familiar, before they split/and spill, erase us.” -Kelly DuMar, author of girl in tree bark, Tree of the Apple, andAll These Cures

What did you receive?