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Archive for September 2014

Oxidane by Nicole Matos Now Available!

 Giving voice to these invisible girls, Matos’ narrator tells a story of fierce, maternal love forging a familial bond, as beautiful and loyal as it is corrosive. This eulogy is an intimate, unapologetic conversation “like chess by mail” that sneaks up and stuns us. We are told, “You will need an axe for what is coming next.” Tenacious, neglected, tender, these girls redefine family and make us consider what we’re willing to do for the people we love.

—Liz Whiteacre, author of Hit the Ground

“Coming alive is terrible,” the speaker of Oxidane warns. She is terribly loyal, a tiny teen bodyguard driven by “compulsive solidarity” to protect her “empyrean and unnameable” friend. Packed with hard truths and witty observations of adolescent friendship, these narrative poems are heavy as a garden hose in winter and yet still “looped in sparking arcs” of language. You will want to know these girls, tame them, drink them back in.

—Sara Tracey, author of Some Kind of Shelter

Refracting through webs of fractured ice, Matos’ vignettes illuminate the shades of what it means to feel too much. Longing, cruelty, and transcendence intertwine as our narrator, her dark partner, and You, their Muse, drift just below the surface of failed institutions and absent authority, pushing against the thin but unbreakable skin that separates our need for release from our need to belong.

—Matt Mullins, author of Three Ways of the Saw

Oxidane has the reach of taut flash fiction fiction and the punch of expertly crafted poetry. It is a truly hybrid animal you’ll think about running from—but you'll find yourself running towards it.

—J. Bradley, author of The Bones of Us

Nicole Matos is a Chicago-based writer, professor, roller derby girl, and proud special needs mom. Her work has appeared in Salon, The Classical, The Rumpus, theNewerYork, The Atticus Review, THE2NDHAND txt, berfrois, Chicago Literati, Aperion Review, neutrons protons, Vine Leaves, Requited, Burningword, Monkeybicycle, Oblong, and others.

She has written about higher education for Inside Higher Ed and Pedagogy Unbound, and about special needs parenting for Full Grown People, Brain Mother, and Monday Coffee. You can catch her blogging on Medium and publishing tappable stories on Tapestry, too.

She is Associate Professor of English at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, IL, and she competes as Nicomatose #D0A with The Chicago Outfit Roller Derby. Follow her on Twitter at @nicole_matos2.

Book Information:

· Paperback: 44 pages

· Binding: Perfect-Bound

· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 

· ISBN: 978-1-60964-179-5


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Dear Darwish by Morani Kornberg-Weiss reviewed +972



'Dear Darwish': A poetically and politically brave book

Israeli-American poet Morani Kornberg-Weiss breaks with conventional poetics and mainstream politics. But who, exactly, is Dear Darwish for? 

Dear Darwish, Morani Kornberg-Weiss’s first collection of poetry, opens with a prose poem that that doubles as an indictment of Israeli society. Cleverly disguised as a letter, it is addressed to the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. Like the poems that follow it, “Dear Mahmoud” does many things at once. It captures the violence inherent in establishing and maintaining the Jewish state. It accurately depicts Israelis’ objectifying and dehumanizing view of Palestinians. It shows how the state’s violence against Palestinians has seeped into Israeli society, permeating all aspects of life.

It’s no short order to do all this without losing the poetry to polemics. But Kornberg-Weiss manages to stay true to the horrible, tragic content of this book—including the nakba, the occupation, torture, death, and dispossession—while rendering a beautiful collection. That doesn’t mean that she dresses things up or distorts reality to make it palatable. Rather, she uses the lyrical to strip things down and offer them up to the reader, who is unable to tear their eyes away from Kornberg-Weiss’s searing, heartbreaking images.

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Dear Darwish by Morani Kornberg-Weiss reviewed in The Colorado Review

In an interview with Ammiel Alcalay in the excellent anthology Keys to the Garden: New Israeli Writing, the Israeli poet Tikva Levi describes how she was railroaded out of Hebrew University on account of her interest in Arabic literature. In her view, Mizrahi (Israeli Jews who claim Arabic origin) suffer from the political and cultural hegemony of Ashkenazi Jews, the marginalization of the Arabic language and its literature being an expression of this. Levi’s situation is not exceptional; following his publication of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006), Ilan Pappé, in an interview with The Guardian, faced calls for the end of his job and threats to his life. For an Israeli to seek contact and solidarity with Palestinians, to question the state as it drifts to the right, poses the risk of exile from the cultural center and possibly from one’s family, friends, and/or faith.

Morani Kornberg-Weiss, an Israeli writing now from America, takes this risk in her collection Dear Darwish via a series of plaintive, lyric letters in the spirit of Spicer to the Palestinian cultural hero Mahmoud Darwish. These letters to Darwish begin with prosey lines that crackle in their directness: “Mahmoud, if I am an Israeli woman living in Buffalo and / you reside in IsraelPalestine on my bookshelf and I read and transform your poems, are we still telling the same story? Mahmoud, do I have the right to use your words? Mahmoud, would you grant me permission to do this? Can we work together to define it and its possibilities?” The frank enthusiasm of the prose is counterpointed with a more meditative examination of the finer difficulties of addressing “the Other”:

What if I stand above you
(in this poem):


Would you think it strange?

What if you
stand above me?




I don’t know how to share

this poem with you.

These lines, sorting out the micropolitics of syntax, dramatize the difficulty of Kornberg-Weiss’s project of simply addressing one man, which stands in for the larger difficulties of working out the relations between people whose mutual history is marked most visibly by traumatic violence, displacement, and dispossession. The minute scale of this struggle nearly grinds the lines to a halt. Yet their near exhaustion can also be read as wit or play. In fact, it’s the wonder of this collection that Kornberg-Weiss moves from heavy material, which would become leaden in some writers’ hands , to a series of provisional speculations and envois, seeking dialogue over sententious proclamation.


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