A reading from the forthcoming book, The Epic of Hell Freeze (What Stays the News) by Richard K. Ostrander
Poetry reading of newly published work, "The Epic of Hell Freeze" at the Coffee Scene in Fayetteville, NC
The Epic of Hell Freeze (What Stays the News) Richard K. Ostrander BlazeVOX [books]
The Epic of Hell Freeze is a lush crosscurrent of peculiarly fine poetry. Here poems are as playful as they are crucial, whimsical and heartbreaking in a wide drifting landscape. Moving with a purpose, language circles and embodies in a ceaseless spirit in a work of great beauty and force, of intelligence and stark humility. These poems make rites of passage actual through poems that speak a primary language. Ostrander speaks a primary language. He is inventing a world—and this beautiful book enacts a patient intelligence and exemplifies physical grace. In these lines you will hear fullness of representation, and a luminous consciousness. This is a book of desire and transcendence, obsessed by, and never afraid of, its mysteries that turns toward those mysteries with language both base and grand. Ostrander is the best kind of poet: one in love with language and life. This is a wonderful, relevant book of poetry.
The poems in Richard K. Ostrander's The Epic of Hell Freeze (What Stays the News) shift from allusion (Andromeda, Abraham, Sisyphus) to illusion: "He walks through walls/ On the other side of silver." Ostrander's attention to "language's legerdemain" ties seemingly unrelated poems to each other like knotted scarves pulled from a magician's sleeve, using alliteration—"And a single sentence,/ Tautness of telephone lines"—as well as slant rhyme—"Flies, happy in their bottles/ Freer than fish/ that fly/ Melody or malady/ I don't know which"—and clichés twisted into new configurations—"There's a sty in the sky,/ Here's a shoulder to fry on." The poems take the reader into Bosnia and Afghanistan where "Tomorrow is the tail fin/ Of a rocket reaching down" and back to the U.S. where "Everyone turned to the sports page, feeling/ As if somehow something had been accomplished." What a journey into the world of words and war!
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Richard K. Ostrander currently resides within the Carolinas and the interstitial spaces of thought and desire. On most Sunday evenings, he can be found co-hosting Java Expressions, the local open mic at the Coffee Scene in Fayetteville, NC. No more data is required other than the work herein which is more than mere biography. Though some say it is about death, it is life. It is what stays the news
Human-Carrying Flight Technology
Reviewed by: Cindy Hochman
My mother groaned, my father wept,
Into the dangerous world I leapt;
Helpless, naked, piping loud,
Like a fiend hid in a cloud.
Struggling in my father's hands,
Striving against my swaddling bands,
Bound and weary, I thought best
To sulk upon my mother's breast.
—William Blake, “Infant Sorrow”
Like that of the brooding Blakean baby, birth in Christopher Shipman’s impressive collection of poetry is not heralded with balloons and cigars; the newborn protagonist, both hunted and haunted, has already learned to embrace the dark side. The opening poem, “At birth,” foreshadows a desperate attempt to recapture whatever vestige of idyllic childhood can be found strewn amid the ashes, but these fragments of blood-tinged memory are steeped in violence as much as nostalgia. From the outset, normalcy is turned on its head as the poet tussles with a host of opposing forces: cold versus warmth, bright yellow sun versus dark black clouds; reality versus dream-state, and, ultimately, the living versus the undead.
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Mind Over Matter by Gloria Frym reviewed in the Summer 2012 online edition of Rain Taxi Review of Books.
MIND OVER MATTER
Picture a line of poetry like a knife blade, cutting through the logosphere, laying waste to drivel and mendacity. Picture a line of poetry as a feather, coyly fanning the romantic flames. Gloria Frym wields both lines in Mind Over Matter, a book that is angry, meditative and affectionate by turns. A paean to poetry in its foundational role as a vehicle of social, political, and artistic knowledge, Mind Over Matter owes a debt to Homer and to The New York Times, with a special assist from Jack Spicer and a host of tutelary spirits, from Percy Bysshe Shelly to Joanne Kyger.
In this, her twelfth collection of poetry, Frym opts for eighty centered poems of three to seventeen lines, with the sonnet a frequent form of choice. The centered poem, long in abeyance, has made a comeback in American poetry, and Frym’s use of the form here mirrors the poet’s quest for balance in a world where the poem ostensibly doesn’t “matter.” How does a poet keep writing when language has been coopted by politics, when meaning has been evacuated by theory, and when poetry is often relegated to an academic specialty vulnerable to accusations of elitism?
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