Water Shedding by Beth Konkoski

Source: GBF
Paperback, 26 pgs.
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Water Shedding by Beth Konkoski is a chapbook of stunning images that illustrate the shedding of an old self to make way for the emergence of another. In the opening poem, “Linger,” the narrator recalls how they needed to fit into a mold of another. “Burning any fringe/or edge you don’t like,/I beg to fit in your chosen/mold, to slide like a wedge/of orange between your teeth./” But the poem unravels this past to show readers that even as it hurts to break this mold, the narrator must relearn to use muscles that haven’t done much lifting.

From "Fragile, Do Not Drop" (pg. 2)

On a good day, I sense I'm breathing through glass
not shards cutting deep, just a dome of fine glass

I can almost press my hand to the edges,
but then fall, an insect captured beneath glass.

In each of these poems there is an energy that is contained, and while the narrator laments the lack of freedom to just be who they are, they also are afraid of what’s outside the safety of their carefully crafted world. But in “When I Was Eleven,” we see a brief moment of that freedom as the children head out into the night to catch fireflies or ride off on their bikes in summer. Later in “Sleep-Away Camp,” Konkoski explores the tight grip of fear with the story of Hansel and Gretel. She illustrates how fear is limiting, leaving the children without knowledge of the truffles in the forest or the beauty of the creek because the fear of the witch is ever prominent in their lives. “…we cage them with safety/and wonder when they do not flourish.” (pg. 6)

Water Shedding by Beth Konkoski takes readers on a journey through motherhood, being a daughter and a wife. She discovers the beauty in the cages, while slowly breaking free from the fear that creates those confinements. Her poems evoke nature in a way that calls readers to take a breath in their own lives and really consider the beauty in it. We do not need to completely shed ourselves to be free, but we can bend like the river and flow like the water beneath the obstacles and around them.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Poet:

Beth Konkoski is a writer and high school English teacher who lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and two children. She has published poetry, fiction, and non-fiction in more than fifty literary journals. Her first chapbook of poems, “Noticing the Splash,” was published in 2010 by BoneWorld Press.

Mailbox Monday #657

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.

This is what we received:

What Mothers Withhold by Elizabeth Kropf, which I purchased after it toured with Poetic Book Tours.

The poems of “what mothers withhold” are songs of brokenness and hope in a mother’s voice, poems of the body in its fierceness and failings. Elizabeth Kropf’s poems revel in peeling back silence, and invite us to witness a complicated and traumatic world that is also filled with love.

-Cindy Huyser, poet and editor, author of Burning Number Five: Power Plant Poems

With these visceral poems, poet and mother Elizabeth Kropf has composed a chant of the vocabulary of vulnerability. From fertility to conception to birth-or not-and into motherhood, Kropf’s recounting of her experiences compels the reader to enter and acknowledge the power of what mothers endure and withhold.

-Anne McCrady, author of Letting Myself In and Along Greathouse Road

Water Shedding by Beth Konkoski for GBF.

“Water Shedding” is a chapbook of poems committed to a vision of marriage and family life that is real, sometimes even deeply lost and uncertain. The images do not avoid problems, do not create a façade in the way of our social media personas. Instead the poet journeys through the aging of her children, her marriage, and her sense of self with an awareness of missteps and a sense of joy for the small moments she can claim.

So Much of Everything by Jenn Koiter for GBF.

So Much of Everything is the debut poetry collection by Jenn Koiter, 2021 winner of the DC Poet Project. David Keplinger wrote, “In this utterly gorgeous debut collection, Jennifer Koiter has arrived as a poet whose voice is only matched by her remarkable intelligence.”

The Bennet Women by Eden Appiah-Kubi for review.

In this delightfully modern spin on Pride and Prejudice, love is a goal, marriage is a distant option, and self-discovery is a sure thing.

Welcome to Bennet House, the only all-women’s dorm at prestigious Longbourn University, home to three close friends who are about to have an eventful year. EJ is an ambitious Black engineering student. Her best friend, Jamie, is a newly out trans woman studying French and theatre. Tessa is a Filipina astronomy major with guy trouble. For them, Bennet House is more than a residence—it’s an oasis of feminism, femininity, and enlightenment. But as great as Longbourn is for academics, EJ knows it can be a wretched place to find love.

Yet the fall season is young and brimming with surprising possibilities. Jamie’s prospect is Lee Gregory, son of a Hollywood producer and a gentleman so charming he practically sparkles. That leaves EJ with Lee’s arrogant best friend, Will. For Jamie’s sake, EJ must put up with the disagreeable, distressingly handsome, not quite famous TV actor for as long as she can.

What of it? EJ has her eyes on a bigger prize, anyway: launching a spectacular engineering career in the “real world” she’s been hearing so much about. But what happens when all their lives become entwined in ways no one could have predicted—and EJ finds herself drawn to a man who’s not exactly a perfect fit for the future she has planned?

Woodrow on the Bench: Life Lessons from a Wise Old Dog by Jenna Blum, which I purchased and may end up sobbing while reading.

Since she adopted him as a puppy fifteen years earlier, Jenna Blum and Woodrow have been inseparable. Known to many as “the George Clooney of dogs” for his good looks and charm, Woodrow and his “Mommoo” are fixtures in their Boston neighborhood.

But Woodrow is aging. As he begins to fail, the true nature of his extraordinary relationship with Jenna is revealed. Jenna may be the dog parent, but it is Woodrow, with his amazing personality and trusting nature, who has much to teach her. A divorcée who has experienced her share of sadness and loss, Jenna discovers, over the months she spends caring for her ailing dog, what it is to be present in the moment, and what it truly means to love.

Aided by an amazing group of friends and buoyed by the support of strangers, Jenna and Woodrow navigate these precious final days together with kindness, humor, and grace. Their unforgettable love story will reaffirm your belief in kindness, break your heart, and leave your spirit soaring.

What did you receive?