Stonelight Sarah McCartt-Jackson(Louisville, KY) Publication date: October 2018
Stonelight offers the striking vocabulary of mineral, stone, earth, and the tunnels we dig into such material, literally and metaphorically. It creates a compelling story in glimpses: letters, voices, people and landscapes surface and resurface through a richness of language that recollects the complexity of all places and lives and how they form each other through both damage and nurture.
Photo by Karin Partin Wells
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Revoke Joy Manesiotis (Redlands, CA)
In Revoke, Joy Manesiotis digs deeply into the world, subjecting it to intense ontological scrutiny. “How can we know which word, which spoken thought will trigger which actions,” she asks. And on every page, she provides a different answer, a new formula. A compelling, insightful investigation built from small fragments and longer poems alike, Revoke leaves plenty of interpretive room for an imaginative reader. I can’t wait to see this book in print.
Solastalgia JM Miller (Vashon, WA)
Solastalgia’s formal inventiveness reflects the urgency of its subject matter: the alarming rate of species extinctions coupled with the rising oceans and the melting of the polar ice caps. Referring to the “homesickness one experiences when one is still at home,” the manuscript has an impressive variety of forms. I was particularly fond of the short interludes between the longer poems which consist of poetic riffs on temporal terms like “meantime” and “phantom time,” poems that allude to our own shrinking moment, as we wait for the catastrophe of Earth’s collapse.
The Cupped Field Deidre O’Connor (Mifflinburg. PA)
The Cupped Field arrests the reader with a desire to grasp sites, incidents, weathers, to rush to look up new words not known before and now unforgettable. Like “nulliparae.” The poet dances with us between her actuality and the thing imagined: An overnight snowstorm and a solitary car as autobiography. “The Darkest Place,” a geo-cache ramble through the delving brain. A reverie on aspen trees becomes an exploration of incarnation, sacrifice and transubstantiation. “Memory as sheep/chewing to nub/a cupped field.”
Rare, Wondrous Things Alyse Bensel (Lawrence, KS)
Rare, Wondrous Things is not only an homage to one of the world’s first entomologists Maria Sibylla Merian, but a collection of poetry that engages the reader in an experience of fierce witness. These poems of metamorphosis break open, “praising / # / what shapes / all creatures,” through the precision of language—“the self dissolving” making possible an emergence of mystery: “she never relied on pinned thoraxes that brittle / when stored in glass cases. Only what moves, / what can escape.”
Sticky Nellie Bridge (Sequim, WA)
Each poem in Sticky unfolds into an entire miniature world that offers a wry, even mildly surreal perspective on something ordinary, like a building or an ice cube, and which you then realize has been an essential part of it all along.
Not Elegy But Eros Nausheen Eusuf (Newton, MA)
Not Elegy But Eros is a book that resonates with haunting, a book whose poems teach us to appreciate the complexity of the world all the more for those who have left it.
Vestiges Mercedes Lawry(Seattle, WA)
In Vestiges we feel our way across a landscape of quirks, missed expectations, and the impositions of aging all handled with deftness by an ironic companion who refuses to be taken with the flow. Mercedes Lawry writes, “I’ve added a pill. / My heart beats ever harder, /short term, the doctor says. /Will the dark swallow me less frequently? Smother/with a gentler hand?” Brilliance and nervy language pierce any armor. “Lighting Out From The Failed Homestead” is a wry, probing prize of a poem.
Mortal Miriam Levine (Arlington, MA)
Mortal is a collection that knows and exercises the reflex of looking-back, the stock-taking we do later in our lives—reflecting on favorite flowers, perfumes, plays—and expresses how these things enter our lives, both reminding and relieving us of our mortality. Through the author’s generosity, we glimpse a full life, and the lives lost within a life: relatives, loves, “dead friends who came like sparrows.” But through all the loss, the prevailing attitude in Mortal can be found in a single poem title: “I Love To See.”
Fever Fever Fever Nate Maxson (Albuquerque, NM)
In Fever Fever Fever, time and histories are compressed and delivered by an animated voice, one who is at once a critical tour-guide, historian, scientist (though this is denied) and teacher of poetics who tells us that “footsteps can rhyme” in a way that conveys ages of backstory in a voice that is totally modern. Nate Maxson has the awareness to remind us that “our eyes are made of plasma” and the audacity to convince us of the “myth of gravity.”
The Myth of the Grim Reaper Amy Meckler (Brooklyn NY)
The poems in The Myth of the Grim Reaper are deft and moving explorations of strange things that become less so through the writer’s imagination, things like a chicken that plays tic-tac-toe and an astronaut dog circling the stratosphere. A masterful use of several poetic forms and a large dose of empathy add to the power of this manuscript.
The Long Fall Sherry Rind(Kirkland, WA)
Sherry Rind's The Long Fall is a powerful magnifying glass, through which we are invited to observe the human condition and the natural world amidst which our existence unfolds. “The crow missing a foot still hops and flies,/ doesn’t think about the meaning of wings,/ glides in and out of the trees until he downs./ I don’t know more than this,” the poet confesses. Through careful, beautifully rendered observations, the reader is given a new purchase on existence. I look forward to having “The Long Fall” on my bookshelf in the near future.
Skin Memory John Sibley Williams(Milwaukie, OR)
Skin Memory is rich in image and metaphor—the kind you find in the best of old riddles, when you think you’re in one reality and then realize you’re actually naming another. These poems are full of sensory pleasure, their verbs animate things in wonderfully unexpected ways, and they take us on many surprising journeys. As the first poem suggests, this book “carries words like anchors though an open field of oars:” it is full of puzzle, beauty, and serious intent.
This Wet Landscape of Me, Cathy Cain (Lake Oswego, OR)
Six Degrees of Polypeptide, Yu-Han Chao (Merced, CA)
The Long Blue Sensations, Jacquelyn Malone (Lowell, MA)
To the Drone All Objects Are Beautiful, Amy Miller (Ashland, OR)
Body Map, D.O. Moore (Hyattsville, MD)
Haunch-High Snow, Anastasia Stelse (Hattiesburg, MS)