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How to Love the Empty Air by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

Source: Wunderkind PR
Paperback, 100 pgs.
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How to Love the Empty Air by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz is emotionally arresting and a love letter to the past and the passing of a mother. How many times have we said, “I’ll get back to that in a few days” or “It’s only for a year.” Many of us have said these things and others when speaking with friends, parents, and others. In this busy world, we often forget to go back to those events or people. This leaves an emptiness. How do you deal with that emptiness or learn to love that emptiness?

In “My Mother Wants to Know If I’m Dead,” Aptowicz’s narrator finds an email from her mother asking if she’s died because she has not let her know that she’s arrived safely. These are real life situations that come to life in poems throughout the collection. She points out the inanity of these emails if the receiver is in fact deceased, but she also acknowledges the sentiment and the anxiety and the worry behind the contact. These are moments we all can relate to, understand, and lament.

“Rabbit Hole” is the poem in this collection that brings the whole together. It hammers home the connections between the poems and the struggle with emptiness.

Holding your mother's hand
while she is dying is like trying to love
the very thing that will kill you.

Similarly, “Text From My Sister, June 2015” expresses how this loss that seems so singular is broader and encloses everyone who was connected with her mother.

Definitely have had lots of
sadness lately. The passenger
seatbelt in Dads car smells like
her. But the house is starting to
forget.

There are days when there is a hole in our lives that doesn’t seem like it will ever be full again. How to Love the Empty Air by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz is not as tough to read as you’d expect. It’s funny, it’s witty, it’s sad, but it’s also content in the empty moments of life.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Poet:

Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz is a New York Times bestselling nonfiction writer and poet. She is the author of six books of poetry (including Dear Future Boyfriend, Hot Teen Slut, Working Class Represent, Oh, Terrible Youth andEverything is Everything) as well as the nonfiction books, the >Dr. Mutter’s Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine, which made 7 National “Best Books of 2014″ lists (including Amazon, The Onion’s AV Club, NPR’s Science Fridays and the UK newspaper The Guardian, among others) and Words In Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam, which Billy Collins wrote “leaves no doubt that the slam poetry scene has achieved legitimacy and taken its rightful place on the map of contemporary literature.” On the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) podcast Art Works, host Josephine Reed introduced Cristin as being “something of a legend in NYC’s slam poetry scene. She is lively, thoughtful, and approachable looking to engage the audience with her work and deeply committed to the community that art (in general) and slam poetry (in particular) can create.” Cristin’s most recent awards include the ArtsEdge Writer-In-Residency at the University of Pennsylvania (2010-2011), a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry (2011) and the Amy Clampitt Residency (2013). Her sixth book of poetry, The Year of No Mistakes, was released by Write Bloody Publishing in Fall 2013, and would go on to win the Writers’ League of Texas Book of the Year Award for Poetry (2013-2014). Her second book of nonfiction, Dr. Mutter’s Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine, was released by Gotham Books (Penguin) in Fall 2014, debuted at #7 on the New York Times Bestseller List for Books about Health.

Mailbox Monday #468

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog. To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links. Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Martha, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what we received:

Accidentally Yours by Robin Helm, a Kindle freebie.

Two worlds . . .
Two centuries . . .
Two men who love the same woman . . .
Two prayers fervent enough to shift time . . .
Endless questions and possibilities . . .
What would a man give for a second chance at love?
What would he sacrifice to keep it?

What if the proud, arrogant Fitzwilliam Darcy of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice never changed after his disastrous proposal to Elizabeth Bennet at Hunsford? What if the humbled man who successfully courted her was not the same Mr. Darcy?

In Accidentally Yours, Book 1 of the Yours by Design Christian fantasy romance series, worlds collide and time shifts when two men fall in love with the same woman.

Reader Diana Oaks said, “Reading this is a bit like eating something that mixes sweet and bitter – like French Vanilla Ice Cream with a bitter Dark Chocolate topping. I’m enjoying both, but the intermingling of the two does interesting things in the palette of my mind.”

A Bag of Hands by Mather Schneider, which won the 2017 Rattle Chapbook Prize winner.

When Mather Schneider met Josie she was an illegal immigrant from Mexico working at McDonald’s in Tucson and he was a cab driver who went to McDonald’s to buy coffee each day. One day she poured his coffee, then placed a small piece of paper over his money and slid it back to him on the counter. With that gesture she gave him a reason to get up in the morning. She also gave him more trouble than he wanted, more bliss than he could have imagined, and a coupon for a free Egg McMuffin.

How to Love the Empty Air by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz for review in March from Wunderkind PR.

Vulnerable, beautiful and ultimately life-affirming, Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz’s work reaches new heights in her revelatory seventh collection of poetry. Continuing in her tradition of engaging autobiographical work, How to Love the Empty Air explores what happens when the impossible becomes real―for better and for worse. Aptowicz’s journey to find happiness and home in her ever-shifting world sees her struggling in cities throughout America. When her luck changes―in love and in life―she can’t help but “tell the sun / tell the fields / tell the huge Texas sky…. / tell myself again and again until I believe it.” However, the upward trajectory of this new life is rocked by the sudden death of the poet’s mother. In the year that follows, Aptowicz battles the silencing power of grief with intimate poems burnished by loss and a hard-won humor, capturing the dance that all newly grieving must do between everyday living and the desire “to elope with this grief, / who is not your enemy, / this grief who maybe now is your best friend. / This grief, who is your husband, / the thing you curl into every night, / falling asleep in its arms…” As in her award-winning The Year of No Mistakes, Aptowicz counts her losses and her blessings, knowing how despite it all, life “ripples boundless, like electricity, like joy / like… laughter, irresistible and bright, / an impossible thing to contain.”

What did you receive?