Tag Archives: poetry collection

When Home Isn’t Quite Home: ‘What It Done to Us’ by Essy Stone

In her first collection of poetry, What It Done to Us (66 pages; Lost Horse Press), Essy Stone writes about an early life spent immersed in a Southern culture she deems toxic, where oppression and tradition are rooted in the collective mentality, often at the expense of women and minorities. She describes a landscape that is as suffocating as it is unsettling, where mountains have “heavy hands” and the valleys lie “cursed by generations of sunburned famers.” Her poems address the unstated yet generally understood rule that if you are born in the South you are somehow fated to stay …Continue reading

Posted in Book Reviews | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Elegy and a Testament to a Culture: Joan Naviyuk Kane’s ‘Hyperboreal’

“I could make passage / A thousand obscure, / Contradictory ways,” claims Joan Naviyuk Kane in “Mother Tongues,” a poem from the collection, Hyperboreal (University of Pittsburgh Press, 65 pages), winner of AWP’s Donald Hall Prize in Poetry. In five precise, prosodic quatrains, the poem navigates vast and difficult territory, memorializing both the poet’s mother and her mother’s native tongue, the King Island dialect of Inupiaq. An Inupiaq/Inuit, and among the last living speakers of the King Island dialect, Kane contends with biological, cultural, and political threats to her ancestral community, including climate change, language death, and the diaspora prompted …Continue reading

Posted in Book Reviews | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Claiming Her Origin and Her Life Apart From It: Gillian Conoley’s ‘Peace’

The poems in Gillian Conoley’s Peace (Omnidawn, 112 pages) are characteristically spacious, speculative, full of breath and light. Drawing on a range of registers—the geographic and technologic, emotional and workaday—Conoley explores several categories of peace, broadly construed: the peace of armistice, of reflection, of liberation, of death. In her sparse, inventive lyric mode, Conoley weaves personal and political threads into an incantatory not-quite-narrative whose power lies in the gravid spaces between juxtaposed images and thoughts. It is in the emergent rhythms of “each euphoriant ephemery” that Peace finds its logic—and, perhaps, its peace.

Posted in Book Reviews | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Finding the Answer, in Nature or Elsewhere, Isn’t Easy: Farnoosh Fathi’s ‘Great Guns’

Great Guns (Canarium Books, 73 pages), the first poetry collection from California native Farnoosh Fathi, is a bold example of the sonic power of verse, and its simultaneous capacity for creating images with philosophical questions at their core. Nature is the basis for many of the poems in Fathi’s collection. She amplifies the natural world, populating her poems with snails, butterflies, and birds, animals so small that they have different color registries, different views of the world. By changing the perspective with which the world is viewed, she’s instructing the reader to examine how large and beautiful the world is, …Continue reading

Posted in Book Reviews | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Self-Doubt, Rage, Compassion in Measured, Perfected Poems: Jason Bayani’s ‘Amulet’

Amulet (Write Bloody Books, 89 pages), the first poetry collection from East Bay Area native Jason Bayani, is a blistering examination of American life, as seen through the lens of a poet struggling to define himself. The poems are lyrical yet direct, with a clear voice that evokes humor while scuffling with questions of racism and artistic identity. Bayani, who’s Filipino American, doesn’t shy from the blunt racism he’s experienced. In “Playgrounds and Other Things,” he writes: “And the old lady leaning into the wood / at the corner of Sutter and Stockton: / I heard her tell it like …Continue reading

Posted in Book Reviews | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment