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GHOST / LANDSCAPE is reviewed in The Colorado Review

 

Having thoroughly enjoyed Kristina Marie Darling’s The Sun & the Moon, I was eager to read Ghost / Landscape, a collaborative narrative book of prose poems Darling cowrote with John Gallaher. They did not disappoint. Ghost / Landscape follows in the footsteps of Darling’s previous books and her ongoing attempt to recapture and rebuild fractured lives. The collection revisits themes dear to Darling such as ghosts, locks and keys, ice and fire, dreams and memories, which she shares with John Gallaher. In an interview with Matthew Thorburn in Ploughshares, Gallaher says: “As In a Landscape was something of a reaction to writing the collaborative book, Your Father on the Train of Ghosts, with G.C. Waldrep, so this new book, called Ghost / Landscape, with Kristina Marie Darling, is a reaction to writing the very personal, conversational In a Landscape. Also, Ghost / Landscape is in prose, which is something I’ve also long wanted to do.” Darling and Gallaher are very well suited to each other, their voices perfectly synchronized, in unison, as if they shared one life and story: “It matters who your friends are. This is true for a wide variety of species, because we all think we’re having different lives, when really there’s only one life and we’re sharing it.” One blends into the other, becomes the other. “We knew the house was haunted, but at first, we were unsure which one of us was the ghost. Because you were always talking about role reversals . . . It’s like looking in a mirror.”

Ghost / Landscape reads like a puzzle or mystery to be solved, elucidated. The collection starts with “Chapter Two” and ends with “Chapter One,” and presents several versions of “Chapter Two,” or perhaps the same one examined through different lenses and angles.

The reader walks a labyrinth, searching for clues, each chapter relinquishing a few while simultaneously adding to the mystery. Miscommunication, false starts, and missed encounters abound, often with failed telephone calls and remembered conversations: “No matter what number I dial, you never seem to answer . . . I tried to phone you, but we’d reached the very edge of the meadow.”

Adding to the mystery are the recurring locks and keys. “And there’s a reason the rooms were locked . . . Still, the doors are locked and no one answers when we ring the little bell.” Margaret Atwood recently shared in an interview with Grant Munroe for Lit Hub: “It’s all about locks and keys, and it always has been about locks and keys.” Secrets are fascinating and beg to tell a story; they stimulate the imagination. The speaker is unable to escape. “Are you still in Omaha and is there any way you can come unlock the door?” The locks and keys by turns suppress information—little is ultimately revealed—and guard secrets, for good or evil. They fuel the curious kind of haunting that plagues and enlivens the book—nothing quite fits or opens in the way it should.

Read the whole review here

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Tony Trigilio interviewed on 2paragraphs

 

Author Tony Trigilio On ‘Inside the Walls of My Own House’

Inside the Walls of My Own House Dark Shadows

Tony Trigilio is the author of Inside the Walls of My Own House: The Complete Dark Shadows (of My Childhood), Book 2. A poet and scholar, Trigilio has also written about other poets in his books Allen Ginsberg’s Buddhist Poetics (2007) and “Strange Prophecies Anew”: Rereading Apocalypse in Blake, H.D., and Ginsberg (2000)

2paragraphs: Why do you think Inside the Walls of My Own House: The Complete Dark Shadows (of My Childhood) is connecting with readers?

Tony Trigilio: I think the book is connecting with people for a couple different reasons. First, nearly everyone can relate to how pop culture—especially television—shapes intimate experiences with our loved ones. We’re never just passively watching with others. Instead, we’re sharing what we view. In this way, a TV show can be an intimate social occasion rather than just a visual product we consume in isolation. I should say a bit more about the background of the book before I go further. This is the second book of a multivolume poem. I intend to watch all 1,225 episodes of the old soap opera Dark Shadows, composing one sentence for each episode and shaping each sentence into verse form. Why Dark Shadows? In the first months and years of my life, I watched Dark Shadows every day with my mother, a devoted soap fan. I hardly understood what was going on—but I was certain the soap opera’s main character, the vampire Barnabas Collins, lived inside the walls of my own house, waiting for me to go to sleep so that he could bite my neck. This book has given me the space to write about memory in ways that none of my other books have. The reason for this, I think, is that the original experiences of watching the show with my mother were so intimate that they became anchors in my mind that other memories attached themselves to. Readers often tell me that this project reminds them of shows they shared with close family members. In our age of binge-watching, I’ve heard from a number of folks who’ve said my book has triggered in them a desire to write autobiographical material through the episode-by-episode lens of the favorite TV shows of their youth. I’d love to see more poems like this from others (and I’m sure these poems would affect my ongoing project, too).

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Yellow Rabbits Reviews The Demotion of Pluto: Poems and Plays by Deborah Meadows

 

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The Absence Of The Loved by Wade Stevenson Reviewed in Midwest Book Review

 
Absence of the Loved
Wade Stevenson
BlazeVOX Books
9781609642747, $16.00, www.blazevox.org 

Many poems and poetry collections focus on the presence of love, but Absence of the Loved is about that aftermath where love is gone, poetically describing the void left behind, the process of passing into something else, and what happens when transformation and change confront a relationship: "This morning we were born for something else".

Winter mornings, maddened minds, the compulsive drives of love and passion, and possession all coalesce in passionate, emotional pieces that grasp the essence of not a light romantic dream, but the agony and ecstasy of bonding with another both physically and emotionally.

From the throes of breakup and pain ("When I'm not grieving I trumpet destruction") to the inevitable progress towards a turning point where grief turns to renewal, Absence of the Loved is a poetic breakup diary like no other, chronicling the intimate passage of days and pain with the deft precision of a romantic martyr as the writer considers the absence of one with a 'penchant for parting'.

Again and again the times before departure are analyzed and probed, the impetus for change considered, and the faded spark of love from which the inevitability of leaving reviewed: "One day I will go so you will at last understand/This simplest of lessons: everything flows."

How long will loss last when "what we are is made of half of each other's wholeness"? It may not be a lifetime, but these moments are perfectly captured in a poetic gathering of experiences that intricately chronicles just what the process of and pain of letting go involves.

However, "The Absence of The Loved" is not just about loss. Although it starts that way, there is a progression, and fans of poetry will appreciate the various depths and nuances of feeling. In the end the poet transfigures his loss into a vibrant, radiant presence. The young woman that he loved becomes a symbol for "the loved". In the moving final poem "You and You Again", the circle is closed, there is no more absence --- what remains is Amor.

Diane C. Donovan, Senior Reviewer
Donovan's Literary Services

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Die Die Dinosaur by Michael Sikkema

 In Die Die Dinosaur, maggots perhaps foretell the future and a political candidate might get their throat slit with a spam lid. The only named character in these gritty poems is “Nigel” who could be a peeping Tom from outer space. Perhaps it is Nigel who witnesses the shattering relevance of “when (the) bay doors of the pod close...this entire election cycle: poof.”

—Jennifer MacBain-Stephens, author of Your Best Asset is a White Lace Dress and The Messenger is Already Dead

Candy and rust abound in Michael Sikkema's new collection of poems. Die Die Dinosaur is a series of short psychobilly stanzas that run from humorous to poignant and across the growth and decay of both the natural and man-made worlds. This book looks to the future and its possibilities even if that possibility is probably our own extinction.

—Kenyatta JP Garcia, author of What Do the Evergreens Know of Pining, Yawning on the Sands, and Enter the After-Garde 1998-2010


Michael Sikkema is from rural Michigan. 
Say hello at michael.sikkema@gmail.com.


Book Information:

· Paperback: 102 pages

· Binding: Perfect-Bound

· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 

· ISBN: 978-1-60964-275-4

$16

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Die Die Dinosaur by Michael Sikkema Book Preview

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Photos on flickr