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Mailbox Monday #621

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:

Ghost Hour by Laura Cronk for review.

Sometimes compact, sometimes expansive, the poems in Ghost Hour emanate from adolescence and other liminal spaces, considering girlhood and contemporary womanhood―the ways both are fraught with the pleasures and limits of embodiment. As in her previous poetry, Laura Cronk writes personally, intimately, yet never without profound consideration of onslaught of contemporary violence, which we must love in spite of and rage against.

Why I Never Finished My Dissertation by Laura Foley for review with TLC Book Tours.

Foley’s writing may appear sparse and reserved but it harbors a subtle power. The poet’s greatest strength is her acute sense of observation. She possesses the ability to thread sensuousness into the fabric of everyday life. . .This is a dazzling volume of poetry that delights in crisp imagery and tender recollections. —Kirkus Reviews

The quest to discover why this poet does not complete a dissertation, leads to an astonishing read. This collection reveals a wide range of life-changing experiences beginning with a marriage to a hunchback Moroccan, almost twice the writer’s age. Other poems express revelations and observations that arise out of travels, such as a trip to Tehran, where the poet stands on a bullet-riddled balcony watching a hurried crowd “spill Khomeini from his coffin.” The signature poem unveils a suddenly busy domestic life in a second marriage with three young children and puppies. Toward the end readers experience love which results in marriage with a same-sex partner. No matter one’s personal story, what makes a story great is how it is told. —The US Review of Books

Woman Drinking Absinthe by Katherine E. Young, which I purchased.

From the naïve girl who willfully ignores evidence of Bluebeard’s crimes, to Manet’s dispirited barmaid at the Folies-Bergère, to the narrator of the book’s opening sequence, who sacrifices domestic security for a passionate lover who will eventually abuse her, the women of these poems brush abandon convention at their peril, even though convention also imperils their bodies, their spirits, and their art. In this second collection, Young—whose earlier Day of the Border Guards explored Russian history and literature—continues to employ what she’s learned from the great Russian writers she often translates. Like Marina Tsvetaeva, who makes a cameo appearance here, Young finds literary touchstones among sources as varied as German folk tales, Greek drama, and the Old Testament. Whether tracing the elements of Euclidean geometry or the terrain of a Civil War battlefield in Tennessee, these poems ask the hard questions: Why does love fail? How can art come from pain? What heals the soul?

wife|daughter|self: a memoir in essays by Beth Kephart, which I purchased.

Curiously, inventively, Beth Kephart reflects on the iterative, composite self in her new memoir―traveling to lakes and rivers, New Mexico and Mexico, the icy waters of Alaska and a hot-air balloon launch in search of understanding. She is accompanied, often, by her Salvadoran-artist husband. She spends time, a lot of time, with her widowed father. As she looks at them she ponders herself and comes to terms with the person she is still becoming. At once sweeping and intimate, Wife | Daughter | Self is a memoir built of interlocking essays by an acclaimed author, teacher, and critic.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #620

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:

frank:sonnets by Diane Seuss from the publisher.

“The sonnet, like poverty, teaches you what you can do / without,” Diane Seuss writes in this brilliant, candid work, her most personal collection to date. These poems tell the story of a life at risk of spilling over the edge of the page, from Seuss’s working-class childhood in rural Michigan to the dangerous allures of New York City and back again. With sheer virtuosity, Seuss moves nimbly across thought and time, poetry and punk, AIDS and addiction, Christ and motherhood, showing us what we can do, what we can do without, and what we offer to one another when we have nothing left to spare. Like a series of cels on a filmstrip, frank: sonnets captures the magnitude of a life lived honestly, a restless search for some kind of “beauty or relief.” Seuss is at the height of her powers, devastatingly astute, austere, and―in a word―frank.

Woman Drinking Absinthe by Katherine E. Young, which I purchased.

The poems in Katherine E. Young’s Woman Drinking Absinthe concern themselves with transgressions. Lust, betrayal, guilt, redemption: Young employs fairy tales, opera, Impressionism, Japonisme, Euclidean geometry, Greek tragedy, wine, figs, and a little black magic to weave a tapestry that’s as old as the hills and as fresh as today’s headlines.

What books did you receive?

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.