Gently Read Literature, Spring 2014


The new issue of Gently Read Literature is now available. If you’d like to order a copy, send $4.00 via PayPal (https://www.paypal.com/webapps/mpp/make-online-payments) to the email address gentlyreadlit@ymail.com or mail a check payable to “Daniel Casey” with “Gently Read Literature” in the memo line to

Daniel Casey
816 Indiana St.
Lawrence, KS 66044

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GENTLY READ LITERATURE

Spring 2014 Issue

3—The Hidden Ordinary: Glenda Burgess on Two Poets

7—True Stories from a Mexican Prison: Deborah Clearman on Blackbirds in the Pomegranate Tree by Mary Ellen Sanger

10—Gazing Upon Broken Mirrors: Wes Bishop on Lee Upton’s The Tao of Humiliation

14—Notions of Beauty and Materiality: Sally Deskins on Yona Harvey’s Hemming the Water

17—Tragic Histories: Ed Davis on Michael Harris’s Romantic History

22—Terse Lyricism: Daniela Gioseffi on Alfredo de Palchi’s Paradigm: New and Selected Poems 1947-2009

25—A Transcaucasian Mind: Mike Walker on Arslan Khasavov’s Sense

34—The Anti-Mayberry: Rebecca Stoebe on Earplugs by Bram Riddlebarger

37—The Delicate and Precarious: Catherine Bailey Kyle on Glenn Shaheen’s Unchecked Savagery

40—Dogs Don’t Fall in Love: Eileen Austen on Jane Vandenburgh’s The Wrong Dog Dream

44—Tangibly Intangible: Kelly Lydick on Brian Mihok’s The Quantum Manual of Style

49—Loss of Distinction: Jordan Wheatley on Sandy Florian’s Boxing the Compass

55—Ambiences: Bonnie ZoBell on Doug Holder’s Eating Grief at 3 AM

59—Thomas Pynchon’s Escape to the Bleeding Edge by Jesse Lambertson

66—The Culmination of a Life’s Close Attention: Karen Craigo on Sydney Lea’s I Was Thinking of Beauty

69—Burnette Saxifrage: Bonnie ZoBell on Jen Michalski’s The Tide King

74—Assembling a Diverse Literary Society: Kayla Rodney on the Anthology Dismantle

79—Nature’s Lens: Karen Craigo on Paula Bohince’s The Children

82—Intimacy and Exposure: C.P. DeSimone on Sean Thomas Dougherty’s All You Ask For Is Longing

Gently Read Literature, Winter 2014


Gently Read Literature’s first issue of 2014 is out now.

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The Winter 2014 issue includes fiction reviews of authors such as Peter Cherches, Kirby Gann, Pamela Erens, Bonnie ZoBell, George Guida, Valerie Fioravanti, Adam Berlin, Luanne Rice, Bruce Holbert, Linda Lappin, and Juliet Marillier.

As well as poetry reviews of collections by Caryl Pagel, Emma Bolden, Elizabeth Robinson, Joshua Marie Wilkinson, Bill Yarrow, Frances Hatfield, John Gosslee, Marjorie Maddox, Gerald Fleming, Kristina Marie Darling, Mary Biddinger, Terry Blackhawk, francine j. harris, Jamie Sharpe, Alex Dimitrov, Petrosino, Carrie Olivia Adams, Jeffery Pethybridge, Julie Marie Wade, and Olivia Stiffler.

We’d love for you’ to subscribe to GRL to receive this as well as the Spring issue (released in May) and the Fall issue (released in September). A year subscription is only $10 and will be delivered to your email as a PDF.

You can subscribe via PayPal ( https://www.paypal.com/webapps/mpp/make-online-payments ) by sending to the email address gentlyreadlit@ymail.com

or mail a check payable to Daniel Casey at

Daniel Casey

816 Indiana St.

Lawrence, KS 66044

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Gently Read Literature
Reviews of Contemporary Poetry & Literary Fiction
Winter 2014

Contents

4—Colleen Abel on Caryl Pagel’s Experiments I Should Like Tried At My Own Death

6—Christina M. Rau on Emma Bolden’s poetry collection Maleficae

10—Amy Pence on reading On Ghosts by Elizabeth Robinson

12—Michael Kasper reviews the novel Lift Your Right Arm by Peter Cherches

15—Making Music from the Badlands of Horror Vacui: Virginia Konchan reviews Joshua Marie Wilkinson’s Swamp Isthmus

18—Parth Vasa reviews Kirby Gann’s novel Ghosting

21—David Appelbaum on Bill Yarrow’s Pointed Sentences

24—Ed Davis reviews the novel The Virgins by Pamela Erens

27—Robin Martin reviews Bonnie ZoBell’s short stories in The Whack Job Girls

30—Fred Misurella reviews George Guida’s short fictions in The Pope Stories

32—Bonnie ZoBell reviews Valerie Fioravanti’s short story collection Garbage Night at the Opera

35—Grace Curtis reviews Frances Hatfield’s poetry collection Rudiments of Flight

37—Robin Martin reviews Adam Berlin’s novel The Number of Missing

40—Christina M. Rau reviews John Gosslee’s Blitzkrieg

43—David Berridge reviews the anthology Homage to Etal Adnan

51—Brief Alphabet of Grief: Carolyn Perry Reviews Local News from Someplace Else by Marjorie Maddox

56—Deborah Bogen reviews Gerald Fleming’s prose poetry collection The Choreographer

59—Sally Deskins on Kristina Marie Darling’s VOW

61—An Insurgency of Language: Stacia M. Fleegal’s review of Mary Biddinger’s poetry collection O Holy Insurgency

63—Suzanne Hard on Luanne Rice’s novel The Lemon Orchard

65—Margaret Rozga reviews Terry Blackhawk’s poetry collection The Light Between

68—Jonterri Gadson reviews allegiance by francine j. harris

71—Emilie Esther-Ann Schnabel reviews Animal Husbandry Today by Jamie Sharpe

73—Samantha Duncan reviews Alex Dimitrov’s poetry collection Begging for It

75—Sing a Song of Darkness: Katherine Yets on Hymn for the Black Terrific by Kiki Petrosino

78—Help Me Solve a Mystery, Who is Who and Where are We?: Katherine Yets on Carrie Olivia Adams’ Forty-One Jane Doe’s

82—The Poem is a Ritual that Conceals: C. Kubasta reviews Jeffrey Pethybridge’s Striven, the Bright Treatise

85—Acceptance Inside an Envelope: Katherine Yets reviews of Julie Marie Wade’s poetry collection Postage Due

88—Olivia Stiffler’s poetry collection Otherwise, We Are Safe reviewed by Margaret Rozga

92—Twenty Poets Talking: Robert Archambeau reviews the anthology Password Primeval

95—Channeling the Prose Poem’s Ancestry: Steven Wingate reviews the anthology Family Portrait: American Prose Poetry

98—James Wharton reviews Bruce Holbert’s novel Lonesome Animals

101—Shaina Mugan reviews Linda Lappin’s Signatures in Stone

103—Things Redefined: Ayesha Ali Reviews Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

Gently Read Literature, Fall 2013


GENTLY READ LITERATURE, Fall 2013

GENTLY READ LITERATURE, Fall 2013

The Fall 2013 issue of Gently Read Literature is available now. Take a look at the contents listed below and if this sounds like a good line up to you, you should probably subscribe.

A year-long subscription to Gently Read Literature (3 issues) is $10 & will be delivered to you as a PDF.

You can subscribe via PayPal ( https://www.paypal.com/webapps/mpp/make-online-payments ) to the email address gentlyreadlit@ymail.com

or mail a check payable to Daniel Casey to

Daniel Casey

816 Indiana St.

Lawrence, KS 66044

Contents

(Critic, Author, Work)

4—Caroline Crew: On Male Privilege, The Exorcist, & Women Writers Who Won’t Step Down

7—Sophfronia Scott: The Making of a Classic, Review of Pamela Erens The Virgins

14—Alyssa Jocson: Forever Quirky and Fantastically Flawed and Ridiculous, Review of Madeline McDonnell Penny, n.

16—Jaime Boler: Think Twice Before Opening Boxes, Review of Norah Labiner Let the Dark Flower Blossom

20—Suzanne Hard: Persistent Empathy, Review of Anne Leigh Parrish All the Roads that Lead from Home

22—Suzanne Hard: Ill-equipped, Perhaps, Deserving of Compassion, Laura Kasischke If A Stranger Approaches You

25—Eileen Austen: In Search of Narrative, Review of Alicia Kozameh Ostrich Legs

31—Kelly Lydick: Unconsciously Conscious, Review of Bernadette Mayer Ethics of Sleep

35—Glenda Burgess: Art of the Discarded and Reclaimed, Review of Dana Johnson Elsewhere, California

37—Christine Cody: A Missive from the Deities, Review of Anne Germanacos In the Time of Girls

40—Matthew Mahaney: A Lyrical Choose-Your-Own Adventure, Review of Loren Erdrich & Sierra Nelson I Take Back the Sponge Cake

44—Allan B. Rubin: An Edifying Compendium, Review of Daniela Gioseffi Pioneering Italian American Culture

47—Maria Espinosa: Of Craving, Of Touch, Review of Susan Sherman The Light That Puts an End to Dreams

50—Pamela Klein: Uncomfortably Dangerous Poetry, Review of Rauan Klassnik The Moon’s Jaw

53—Bill Pruitt: Questionable Insight, Review of Hugh Martin The Stick Soldiers

57—Bill Pruitt: Xenotransplantation, Review of Bruce Beasley Theophobia

60—Holly Helscher: The Complexity of Choices, Review of Gila Green King of the Class

63—Glenn Halak: Poetic Persona vs Poetry, Review of Helene Cardona Dreaming My Animal Selves

68—Glenn Halak: The Invisible Man, Review of William Pitt Root’s translation of Pablo Neruda

78—Cory Johnston: Forms of Detachment in Holocaust Literature

Gently Read Literature, 2013 Spring Issue


Now that Spring is finally here, so is a new issue of Gently Read Literature. The Spring Issue has some brilliant poetry and fiction reviews as always as well as some interesting literary essays. This issue’s most interesting feature is a special section devoted to impressions, personal essays, and summaries from attendees to this year’s AWP Conference is Boston.

Take a look at the contents–

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Special Feature Essay on the AWP Conference Boston

Featuring Mary Biddinger, Heather Bowlan, Dianne Turgeon Richardson, Kris Bigalk, Mark Jenkins, & Suzanne Cope

Reviews & Essays

Taste and See: Michelle Ovalle Reviews Tropicalia by Emma Trelles

An Act of Witness: Tawnysha Greene Reviews Pamela Uschuk’s Wild in the Plaza of Memory

An Untroubled Poet: David Appelbaum Reviews Laurie Filipelli’s Elseplace

Unclear Dreams: Stacie Theis Reviews Patricia Goodwin’s When Two Women Die

What Remains: Ben Moeller-Gaa Reviews Kristina Marie Darling’s Melancholia (An Essay)

A Reach For Our Better Angels: Sophfronia Scott Reviews Robert Vivian’s Tall Grass Trilogy

The Mystery of Faith: Zachary Boissonneau Reviews Ira Sadoff’s True Faith

The Sestina and Ardor: An Essay by Marilyn Krysl

An Inner World: Maria Espinosa Reviews Paul Christensen’s Strangers in Paradise

Images of Water: Lisa Cole Reviews Edith Sodergran’s Salt Ballads as translated by Brooklyn Copeland

Finding One Thing in Another: Jeffrey DeLotto Reviews Anne Whitehouse’s The Refrain

Colors of Emotion and Mind: Jesse A. Lambertson Reviews Neil de la Flor’s An Elephant’s Memory of Blizzards

Die Now, Die Then: Jesse A. Lambertson Reviews Robert Day’s Where I am Now

Accordions in the Mind: Lisa Cole Reviews Juliet Cook’s Poisonous Beautyskull Lollipop

In the Midst of Anxiety: Victoria McCoy Reviews Matthew Cooperman’s Still: Of the Earth as the Ark which Does Not Move

Getting Away With It: Lisa Cole Reviews Listen to Her Heart by Amy Berkowitz

o louvre of the world, Poetry and Grammar: Emma Bolden Reviews Emily Carr’s 13 ways of Happily

Life in the Margins: Ben Moeller-Gaa Reviews Kristina Marie Darling’s Petrachan

One-on-One, Writer & Reader: Linda Lappin Interview with Thomas Kennedy

Love at the Speed of Sound: Sophfronia Scott on Elena Passarello’s Let Me Clear My Throat

The Drive to Connect: Stephen Page Ponders Adrienne Rich’s The Dream of a Common Language

Stolen Identity: Alyssa Jocson Reviews Eric Goodman’s Twelfth & Race

Literary Combat for History’s Collective Memory of the South before the American Civil War: An Essay by Forest Balderson

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If this sounds like a good line up to you, you should probably subscribe. A year-long subscription to Gently Read Literature (3 issues) is $10 & will be delivered to you as a PDF.

You can subscribe via PayPal ( https://www.paypal.com/webapps/mpp/make-online-payments ) to the email address gentlyreadlit@ymail.com

or mail a check payable to Daniel Casey to

Daniel Casey

816 Indiana St

Lawrence, KS 66044

Subscribe to Gently Read Literature: Become a Subscriber & Support Book Reviewing


Greetings from Gently Read Literature,

 

Some of you may have notice that GRL has been absent of late with our most recent issue being released in May. This is because GRL is going through a format change.

 

Instead of publishing every month as we have done for the past few years, Gently Read Literature will now publish three times a year—a Summer (September), Winter (January), and Spring (May) issue.

 

Gently Read Literature has reached a crossroads. On September 1st, GRL will release its Summer 2012 issue which will be comprised of 23 review essays on contemporary poetry and literary fiction and be over 70 pages. GRL’s Summer issue will feature the same in-depth review essays that you’ve come to expect and enjoy; this Summer’s issue will see reviews of recent work by Traci Brimhall, Terese Svoboda, Sarah Falkner, Peter Richards, Maxine Kumin, Ron Padgett, and Jane Lazarre among others.

 

Our Summer 2012 issue will be the last free issue of Gently Read Literature. Although I’ve strived to make GRL as accessible as possible over the last 4 years, it has no longer become feasible to continue on as a free publication.

 

Subscriptions to Gently Read Literature will start with the January 2013 issue, which will be sent to subscribers as a downloadable PDF and made available online.

 

A year-long subscription to Gently Read Literature (three issues) will be $10.

 

 

If you would like to become a subscriber to Gently Read Literature, you can send payment via PayPal to the email address gentlyreadlit@ymail.com

Or

Mail a check to

Daniel Casey

20698 Drake Ct

Rogers, MN 55374

 

After the release of the Summer Issue, only subscribers will receive email updates like this one.

 

I hope you’ll continue our conversation by becoming a subscriber.

Thank You for Your Support

Daniel Casey, Founding Editor

 

 

 

Take a look at our past issues:

May 2012, http://issuu.com/gently_read_literature/docs/grl_may

April 2012, http://issuu.com/gently_read_literature/docs/grl_apr

March 2012, http://issuu.com/gently_read_literature/docs/grl_mar

February 2012, http://issuu.com/gently_read_literature/docs/grl_feb

January 2012, http://issuu.com/gently_read_literature/docs/grl_jan

Gently Read Literature can now be purchased for download to your Nook or Kindle!


 

Gently Read Literature can now be purchased for download to your Nook or Kindle!

Not only will Gently Read Literature be sent free to our list of subscribers every month but also we will offer digital download to you e-reader, tablet, or hand-held device.

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Barnes & Noble Nook

Gently Read Literature, November 2011

Gently Read Literature, October 2011

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Amazon Kindle

Gently Read Literature, October 2011

Gently Read Literature, November 2011

Gently Curved Roads: Aleathia Drehmer on Shaindel Beers’ A Brief History of Time


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A Brief History of Time, Shaindel Beers, Salt Publishing

A Brief History of Time by Shaindel Beers reveals her tensions at the duplicity of her life which finds her sometimes stuck back on the Midwestern farm of her childhood, still struggling to shed the air of baled hay and sweat from her existence, to the cold and calculated marks left by the city she always longed to be in. The temptation and memories of home, no matter how bittersweet, are never fully released by Shaindel.

This is Shaindel Beers’ first full length collection of poetry and Salt Publishing could not have done a better job in its presentation. The high gloss cover depicts the essence of the prairie with fields and a windmill all encased by barbed wire. There is blue sky for miles and the edges of the book are faintly branded with a repeated Art Nouveau design. The title is done in a beautiful script that invokes the feeling that a feather quill was used. All of these visual cues set the tone for the reader before they even open the book that their journey will lead them to distant, but familiar lands with surprises tucked into the periphery.

Shaindel has several recurring themes in A Brief History of Time and they are masterfully intertwined to take you on an adventure through her childhood and her impressionable years living in the Midwest which are laced with quiet longing to be somewhere else, to really see if the grass is greener on the other side.

This theme becomes evident in the poem “Elegy for a Past Life” where Shaindel speaks of the curse of every young person stuck in a small town, let alone rural America where you know more livestock than you do people. This poem is rich in capturing the idea of escapism both figuratively and literally. There is something sad about it that tastes of unrealized hope:

“Back then at sixteen
I thought we’d make it out together,
And become writers, the only job we could imagine
Where we wouldn’t smell like shit or hay or cows

But too many months passed when I didn’t bleed
And when we were safe, the test negative
And burned in the rubbish heap behind the barn,
You left, too afraid of being trapped
In a cornfield town
To wait for me.”

and in the poem “Why Gold-digging Fails” we find young girls wanting above and beyond what they have, desiring fancy, well-to-do boyfriends, because a good and honest man never seems to do when they are in the thick of the moment:

“and there was that odd moment of recognition
and fumbling for words
when quantum theory hit me and I realized
if we’d tried harder instead of merely flirting
in parking lots at the beach and the Dairy Queen
and the drive-in that sold gallons of homemade root beer
either of us could be that chubby blonde woman
with the fat baby”

Along this gently curved road through her life, Shaindel explores very touching episodes of love and loss. She looks acutely at her own misgivings as a wife and girlfriend, and all the while staying true to the fact that she wishes she could erase these blemishes of character. In the poem that captures the book’s title, “A Brief History of Time”, we see prime example of this idea:

“I’m no good at this love thing

nonetheless, I keep trying, like the benchwarmer
who begs to be sent in and is carried out crushed every time.
I wish just once someone would
cry out from the stands, Quit putting her in there.”

In the poem “First Love”, there is a tenderness that is wrapped in aloofness about love. It is as if she cannot allow herself to connect with him personally, to show how vulnerable her love is, so she focuses on things that can be mended, on things that give results:

“I’d fold his hands in mine
Like folding sugar into butter
And lead him past my disapproving parents
To my makeshift triage
Under the fluorescent buzz of bathroom lights.”

Shaindel’s piece “Rebuttal Evidence” shows how distant from love she has to stay in order to maintain emotional survival. It feels like she tries to save the rest of us from her inability to materialize love, to let us off the hook for possibly feeling this way as well:

“Maybe this is my abstract way of loving,
Which I didn’t ask for, but which seems to have always been my way—
That existential struggle between the self and other—
the way I never see where I end and begin in relation to the world,
which somehow always seems to puzzle or offend.”

Perhaps her greatest achievements come in her keen observation of the interaction of people and how the human condition is lost on many. In my favorite poem in this collection, “Triptych….The Light, The End, The Light”, the title suggests that there will be three defined sections to this piece, but the lines of separation are thin and one must read carefully to find them. The poem starts out surreal and gives us the first light:

“I slide into the soil.
The metallic taste of dirt fills me—
nose, mouth, and lungs. Days pass.
A sharp stab of light wakes me
when a shovel breaks ground, just missing
my head. It is little Jimmy Millican,
from next door, attempting again,
to dig to China.”

and “the end” is something quite moving, but no less tragic than if a bomb went off in the center of town. The character’s misery steady and shouldered the best it can be:

“Stop fucking around Jimmy—It’s not
funny! That astounding sound of loneliness
when the first shovelful of dirt
hit your mother’s coffin—“ but he trails off,
train of thought lost in a cloud of numbness.
Jimmy reaches down, pulls me out—
his father’s gone again.”

This poem’s last light is evident. The whole piece is a small journey of losses and discovery that lead to more losses. It pulls on the heart about how hard it is to be a child and lose one parent to death and one to loneliness.

Shaindel has a firm grasp on history and science and a delicate touch to her language. Her poems are by no means simple and many are written without stanzas leaving the reader to climb each mountain of a poem and hope they are prepared for the descent. She digs into hard subjects like cancer, death, and backhanded prostitution. In this collection, some of the longer pieces tended to drag out and I wondered if less might have equaled more for me. There are touches of her academia in this book as well, as Shaindel entertains several sestinas and a grand work based on mythology called “The Calypso Diaries”.

A Brief History of Time touches so many emotional buttons for me as a woman and as a reader, and I could go on quoting tender lines and well-crafted images for hours. Shaindel’s understanding of human relationships, even the dark edges of them, puts one in the moment hoping and wishing for sunny outcomes for the characters in her poems that never really materialize, leaving the reader slightly disheartened, but feeling alive in the craft of the tale she has spun. Many of her poems linger in the heart and the mind allowing for an easy path to return to her work again and again.