Alexis Ivy is a poet and worker in a homeless shelter in Cambridge, Mass. She recently completed her B.A. in English from Harvard University. Her most recent poems have appeared in Main Street Rag, Off The Coast, Spare Change News, Tar River Poetry, The Santa Fe Literary Review, Eclipse, Yellow Medicine Review, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, J Journal and upcoming in The Worcester Review. Her first poetry collection, Romance with Small-Time Crooks was published in 2013 by BlazeVOX [books]. She is finding a home for her next collection, Taking the Homeless Census which has been a runner-up for University of Wisconsin's Brittingham & Felix Pollack Prize. Holder interviewed her on his award-winning Somerville Community Access TV show Poet to Poet Writer to Writer.
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Hurray and congrats to Susan Lewis Her fine book was reviewed in The Daily Art Source!! Hurray!!
When I first opened this book I saw one line, it jumped out to me. It's from the poem, This Visit, "the grenade of your despair." Later in the poem Ms Lewis writes, "Impassive as viscera exhumed." This speaks volumes to the human condition, the way in which we suffer and the way we dwell in regret and shame. But this is my opinion you must understand, not the views of Ms Lewis.
Hardly ever do you pick up a book of poetry that quickly satisfies your curiosity the way that a book by Susan Lewis will. By writing in brief poetic surges its easy to take them and let each one soak in individually. These lines are very satisfying. Take for instance the poem, "Like Leaves." You will find these two lines,
in a dry wind
You might hear these words in a passing conversation, a story being told. But no, these words are in a very fine poem. Any way you dissect, read or take in the work from This Visit by Susan Lewis you're going to fine something for you and to share.
Chris ManselRead more »
131 Euclid Avenue, Kenmore, NY 14217
9781609642013, $18.00, 309pp, www.amazon.com
Poet/novelist Larissa Shmailo's latest offering, Patient Women, is a raw, unfaltering, fictional story (heavily peppered, no doubt, with the author's own personal anecdotes) that follows the tumultuous life of one highly likeable Nora Nader - a self-deprecating heroine with an indelible edge.
Nora, the daughter of an overbearing mother and an emotionally detached father; both Nazi prison camp survivors, is determined to assert herself and make her way through the world according to her own rules and regulations. Her whirlwind journey begins in 1970's Queens, NY, where Nora, at the tender age of 12, leaves home and takes to the inhospitable streets of NYC.
While battling a plethora of personal demons, including; sex, drug, and alcohol addiction, as well as severe depression ("I'm never happy. I always feel like Auschwitz inside"), we watch in horror as our protagonist devolves from Ivy League student, to waitress, to prostitute ("The best blow job in NY").
Both physical and emotional abuse is prevalent throughout the course of Nora's life, and slowly but surely long-buried secrets are unearthed.
With unrelenting determination, and a little help from her friends (specifically, a drop dead gorgeous drag queen turned AA sponsor named Chrisis, who assures Nora, in regards to sobriety/recovery, "If I can do this, anybody can.") Nora finds herself capable of both physical and spiritual ascent.
At moments painstakingly heart-wrenching, at others, hopefully poetic, Patient Women is ultimately an in-your-face tale about the resilience of the human spirit, in the midst of familial and societal discord, and the ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds.
Read the whole December issue of Midwest Review hereRead more »