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Mailbox Monday #580

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 it’s 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.

Leslie, 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 we received:

Day of the Border Guards by Katherine E. Young, which I purchased.

Finalist: 2014 Miller Williams Poetry Prize

Day of the Border Guards, the debut collection from Katherine E. Young, is set entirely in Russia and the countries of the former Soviet Union. The ghosts of Russian writers Pushkin, Mandelstam, Tsvetayeva, and many others wander through these poems, making tea, fighting with their relatives, cursing faithless lovers. Bulgakov’s heroine Margarita describes meeting the Master; Lermontov’s grandmother worries that the young poet is wasting his life. Lady Macbeth is alive and well and living in post-Soviet Georgia. Enemies stalk the margins: hostile warlords, informants, the secret police. A man falls through the ice into a ruptured hot-water pipe, nuclear reactors melt down, an airplane lands on Red Square. Perestroika arrives and departs, like other fashions. A marriage falters. The phone rings in the middle of the night in a Siberian hotel. The corpse of a gypsy king boards a plane for Moscow.

Young, who also translates Russian poetry and prose, has lived and worked in Russia and the Soviet Union off and on since 1981: not surprisingly, then, these poems—originally published in The Carolina Quarterly, The Iowa Review, and The Massachusetts Review, among others—willfully skip across borders of language, culture, and literary tradition, exploring Russian and North American poetic traditions and celebrating both.

In Search of Warm Breathing Things by Katherine Gekker, which I purchased.

“Is anything common? “ Katherine Gekker asks in her debut collection, In Search of Warm Breathing Things. The answer, in these richly detailed poems, is no. Gekker is a keen observer, able to “unlock the beauty hidden” in the ordinary. An iridescent grackle becomes a symbol of hope, “collarbones shimmer like wings.” Weaving images of the natural world with glimpses of a struggling marriage, Gekker portrays life in all its emotional complexity. “Two bees are fighting or courting — I can’t tell which,” she writes in “…to Cast a Shadow Again.”  Yet there are moments of joy, the promise of transformation.  “My shift billows, diaphanous…. I can seduce anyone tonight beneath fronds slicing like blades.”

— Ellen Bass

In these pages, Katherine Gekker tackles the emotional truths with “passion, a rutting need to run” line by line, poem by poem. With formal dexterity, an eye for language, and a rueful shake of the head at the human capacity for hope in the face of heartache, the poems of In Search of Warm Breathing Things mark a promising debut.

— Gerry LaFemina, author of The Story of Ash

Katherine Gekker has such a deft and musical touch with language that the most profound and aching moments in this book may catch you by surprise. Then you realize you are in the hands of a master of balance. No matter how dark the material here, the author’s wise and lyrical voice is a kind of assurance, a precious reminder that the beauty all around us is worth celebrating, even as it falls away.

— Rose Solari, author of The Last Girl and A Secret Woman

Beautiful & Full of Monsters by Courtney LeBlanc, which I purchased.

Love isn’t always pretty, yet most of us choose to remain constant in its pursuit. These poems unwrap the mythos of romance with the clairvoyance of a writer who knows the best and worst of relationships inside and out. LeBlanc dares to honestly show us how even when the best of intentions fail, we can always find beauty if we stay true to the monsters in ourselves.

The Sting of It by AJ Odasso, which I purchased.

Poetry. LGBTQIA Studies. THE STING OF IT is cradled in classical form and bubbles with luscious language from a bygone era. Fans of Spenser and Donne will find comfort here. But this formal order only just restrains the chaos from Odasso’s own body and past. Their explosive and candid revelations make us aware of our beautiful, mortal grit. Odasso’s ferocious imagery within measured verse reminds us that life is mysterious, painful, and fantastic.

What did you receive?

Poetry Reading in Gaithersburg, Md., Sunday, June 11, 3-5 p.m.

I am honored to be a part of the group at this inaugural poetry reading at The Gallery at Chesapeake Framing.

When Lucinda Marshall asked I was floored, as I am often behind the scenes promoting the poetry of others (a labor of love).

Even after sending her some sample work, I still did not expect to be asked given that I still have not finished a manuscript of poetry and I am in area with a ton of poetic talent — powerhouses, really.

At the same time that I am thrilled to be included, I’m also terrified.  I am not a great public speaker, and yet, I continue to put myself in front of audiences either introducing people or reading poetry — mostly not my own which means this will bring a different level of anxiety.

BUT, enough of that!  Despite all my whining, if you are in the area and would love to hear some great, local poets, I encourage you to come.  I’ll be reading with these lovely people:

The Where:

123 Crown Park Ave.
N. Potomac, MD 20878

The Date and Time:

Sunday, June 11, 2017
3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Refreshments will be served.