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Archive for December 2014

Dear Darwish by Morani Kornberg-Weiss reviewed at NDR


Dear DarwishAs its epistolary title suggests, Morani Kornberg-Weiss’s Dear Darwish is a book about bridging divides through writing. As an Israeli-American writer addressing Mahmoud Darwish, a renowned Palestinian poet, Kornberg-Weiss seeks to negotiate an “end” to the longstanding conflict between the two authors’ peoples, even if it means raising a white flag of surrender, as the book’s illustrated cover depicts (93). From the very first pages of Dear Darwish, the speaker adopts a respectfully subservient tone to address the late literary figure, formally asking “permission” to use his words and proposing humbly that they “work together” to forge a common “IsraelPalestine” narrative, in which the “share[d]…blood” on their hands teaches both sides finally to live together rather than die divided (18-19).

Despite the speaker’s explicit peace-making intentions and admissions of mutual guilt, she takes great pains to extricate herself from the conflict’s underlying motivations, even positioning herself as a helpless victim through the analogies of a “hostage,” a puppet, and a “kill[ed]…messenger” (21-23). Kornberg-Weiss clarifies that her poems’ proactive diplomacy should not be taken as an avowal of personal responsibility; on the contrary, both she and Darwish inherited their bloody hands at birth, entering the world already “torture”-bound prisoners whose only sin was simply “learn[ing] to live / with the darkness” (26).

Read the whole review here

Preview Dear Darwish here 

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Mary Kasimor interviewed on rob mclennan's blog


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

12 or 20 (second series) questions with Mary Kasimor

Mary Kasimor has most recently been published in Yew JournalBig BridgeMadHatHorse Less ReviewAltered ScaleWord For/Word, Posit, OtolithsEOAGH, and The Missing Slate. She has three previous books and/or chapbook publications: Silk String Arias (BlazeVox Books), & Cruel Red (Otoliths), and The Windows Hallucinate (LRL Textile Series).  She has a new collection of poetry published in 2014, entitled The Landfill Dancers (BlazeVox  Books). She also writes book reviews that have been published in JacketBig BridgeGalatea Resurrects, and Gently Read Literature. She considers her work experimental—both her poetry and ink/water colors.

1 - How did your first book or chapbook change your life? How does your most recent work compare to your previous? How does it feel different?
My first book or chapbook did not really change my life. It was exciting in a way, but each time I begin a poem I feel as though I am writing  for the first time. What I am saying is that it didn’t increase my sense that I had “made it” in anyway.

My work has become more experimental and organic than my earlier poems, even though I was moving in that direction even with my first book.

2 - How did you come to poetry first, as opposed to, say, fiction or non-fiction?
I wanted to be able to write quickly, and that is easier to do with poetry than fiction or non-fiction. I also feel closer to the spirit of poetry, and it is more magical to me. It is also more visual than fiction and non-fiction, and my poetry is visual.

I did not read much fiction for a long time because I wasn’t very interested in fiction. I now enjoy and read novels and non-fiction. I read non-fiction that is philosophical or scientific. 

3 - How long does it take to start any particular writing project? Does your writing initially come quickly, or is it a slow process? Do first drafts appear looking close to their final shape, or does your work come out of copious notes?

I rarely procrastinate when I begin a project. One reason for that is because my writing is usually very spontaneous. It is difficult for me to decide to write about a specific idea or theme, and as a result, my writing is about what is on my mind at the moment. In the chapbook entitled Duplex, I wrote about my children and how I related to them. That book is not as interesting to me as my other books and chapbook because it was somewhat planned and focused. I think that my writing is best when I am not focused on a theme or idea or even style.

My drafts change during the course of my writing. I first write in a notebook and revise in a notebook. Then I transfer it to a computer and revise over and over again. The revision process is important in my writing.
Read the whole interview here
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The Arctic Circle by Kristina Marie Darling highlighted on The Collagist


The Arctic Circle

By Kristina Marie Darling

October 2014



Wind shook the fence around our yard. A shadow appeared beneath the window. But it wasn't the marble statue or a deer. It wasn't the birdbath with its small store of ice. The shadow was cast by your first wife, returning after our wedding. So long after she'd left that you'd stopped watching for signs.


The garden was all thistle and frost. I was surprised she recognized the small iron gate, the iced-over trees. For years I had been living in her house, wearing her clothes, answering to her name.

I could no longer step outside without my hands shaking.  Your real wife stood there like a buck, waiting to charge.



After you left for work, my hair lightened. My mouth turned the color of your first wife's favorite lipstick: light pink, with the tiniest hint of shimmer. I placed my old clothes in boxes, started to label them. Then I struck a match, lit them all on fire.


When you got home, dinner was waiting. Forks and knives glittered next to our plates. Before long you saw the heap of ashes in the living room. I had swept them into a little pile beneath the armchair. But you never asked how the fire started.

You stood there with your hair slicked backed, smiling. Then you touched my blonde hair, my pale pink lips, and said, This is why I married you . . . 



Little dishes lined the cabinet above the stove. When we moved into the house, I made you coffee every morning.


The stove was old, but I didn't expect it to turn the bottom of the kettle black. I poured your coffee into a china cup. You drank it slowly because it never tasted right. I always made too much, and you didn't want me to know. So when you left for the office, you took the cup and saucer with you.

The dishes started to disappear. Before long the cabinet was almost empty. Then one morning as I made your coffee, my ring fell in the cup. I knew it was only a matter of time before everything else would be carried away.

Read the whole feature at the Collagist here

Buy The Arctic Circle here

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Requited by Kristina Marie Darling reviewed on Drunken Boat



Drunken Boat’s very own Matthew Hamilton reviews Kristina Marie Darling’s Requited.


Imagine coming home one day and finding out that your wife packed all her belongings, and the only thing left of hers was a note, laying there like a cold memory, that read, “I’m not happy anymore. Take care.” Imagine an empty space where the word Love should have been above her signature. Imagine scratching your head as you struggle to understand why this has happened to you. Imagine your emotions freezing inside of you like an impatient winter storm.


For me, Kristina Marie Darling’s poetry collection, Requited, could not have come at a better time. As someone recently going through a divorce, after reading this collection, I feel confident saying that I understand the frozen space of a damaged heart, of an experience so hurtful it often leaves me reeling in angst with every thought I have of my soon to be ex-wife from the moment I read her letter.


But poetry is good for the soul, and Darling’s words spoke to me like a skilled therapist speaks to a client, or a priest speaking to a parishioner in the mysterious confines of the confessional.


These graceful prose poems, no more than five lines in length, describe a love affair that is like a “rose garden in the dead of winter,” which sets the pace for the rest of this 41 page book with its blizzardy cold conditions. Of course, this is all metaphor to how the narrator is feeling, miserable to say the least. She is a dead flower with “cold blue lips,” “a heroine counting unfaithful stars.” And these simple, yet profound lines will pervade the reader with sympathy and understanding, especially for those readers that have experienced, or are currently experiencing, a failing relationship.


Read the whole review here 

Preview Requited here

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Going with the Flow by Peter Siedlecki reviewed on GALATEA RESURRECTS #23



Going with the Flow by Peter Siedlecki
(BlazeVOX Books, New York, 2014)
Going with the Flow is a book addressed to anyone who has concern over his own “going.” A poet-philosopher studying aging from the inside-out, Peter Siedlecki explores the concept of old age in a vein similar to Plato’s dialectical method. Standout poems such as “Deciding to Retire,” “Child’s Play: A Retirement Poem,” and “On Receiving a Mailing from Forest Lawn” represent various iterations of the theme. There are moments of great humor, along with expressions of frustration and resignation. As in Plato’s Theory of Forms, the poems reveal the temporal in an attempt to understand the immutable archetypes that provide order and structure to the world. In the title poem, which is the first poem in the collection, Siedlecki offers the reader the first of many contradictions: is aging “a sad death of summer” that happens in gorgeous “blazes of color”? Inconsistencies are brought to light by the poet; the aging man wants “to connect to antiquity” yet concedes “I will die, and you will wail / and misremember me as perfect.”
Even as the poet leads the reader through his study with logic, he grants in “More Theology”:
          We have reasoned god out,
          with our “Thees” and “Thous”
          only because reason is what we have 
          to turn into whatever we need,
          the bricks and mortar
          of which we build
          the most absurd structures.
In fact, some poems are structured primarily from questions, in a modern Socratic method—“Untimely Death” is an effective example of this technique:
            When is death timely?
            when it comes like a chemical
            to kill the hideous worm
            devouring the victim from within?
            Or when, in the midst of dark storms
            and hideous worms, it comes to stifle
            the dear memory of lilacs?
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Extra Pages

Photos on flickr