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The Speed of our Lives by Grace C. Ocasio Reviewed on GALATEA RESURRECTS #23

THE SPEED OF OUR LIVES by GRACE C. OCASIO

EILEEN TABIOS Engages
The Speed of our Lives by Grace C. Ocasio
(BlazeVOX Books, Kenmore, N.Y., 2014)
There’s a freshness to Grace C. Ocasio’s The Speed of our Lives—a freshness I see in other first books, and that I sometimes don’t see in the umpteenth collections by well-published poets.  (I did confirm: while Ocasio previously released a chapbook, The Speed of our Lives is her first poetry book.) By "freshness," I mean a presentation of poems whose presence, I sense, were not determined by applied strictures, e.g. a project-based perspective, or a focus on a particular form.  
The poems in The Speed of our Lives range over a wide variety of subjects and concerns, a range not hidden by its organization in four sections (entitled “Sheroes,” “She Revolutionary,” “Princes and Privates,” and “Patriots”).  While the sections are certainly apt, I ended up not focusing on their categories so much as being moved to engage each individual poem on an individual basis.  I believe this  results from the strong story-telling impetus to each poem so that I reacted to each one based on its story instead of how it relates to other poems.  
Nor does story need to unfold as narrative—for example, this list poem I found redolent, thus, enjoyed:
FATHER’S FAVORITE THINGS AND PEOPLE
Charlie Mingus’ albums
social tea biscuits
brown wool coat
The Yankees
Valencia oranges
books by Chester Himes
Brut After Shave Lotion
Cadillac Coupe de Ville
striped shirts
Harlem’s Better Crust Pie Bakery
New York Giants
Duke Ellington
muenster cheese
James Van Der Zee’s photographs
books by John Hope Franklin
carrot cake
Louis Armstrong
English Leather Cologne
cow tongue
Brooks Brothers gray and blue suits
sweet potato pie
cowboy jeans
Billie Holiday
collard greens
Jackie Robinson
black-eyed peas
New York Jets green cap
hog’s head cheese

When I look, thus, at The Speed of our Lives as not just a poetry collection but a collection of stories, I see the range of subjects.  To quote one of the blurbers, Ann Deagon, there are “poems embracing myth, history ancient and modern, happenings worldwide and close to home, characters from many cultures. The first section alone focuses on Ruth and Naomi, Esther, Pocahontas, Anne Frank, Audrey Hepburn, Angela Davis,  Michelle Obama, Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, and Alondra de la Parra.”  These poems are about something(s) or someone(s).






 

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This Visit by Susan Lewis reviewed by Lisa M. Cole

 

I see many parallels between Susan Lewis’s This Visit and State of the Union, another book by Lewis that I read a few weeks ago. There is plenty of sharp and clever word play and rhyme. I also see a lot of influence coming from the school of Language Poetry and its poets. There is a distinct commentary on language itself, as the first poem in the collection, “My Life In Dogs”, has “language languishing.” For this and other reasons, This Visit reminded me of Charles Alexander’s book Pushing Water, which I reviewed in March of last year. 
Many of the same themes are addressed in This Visit, as were addressed in State of the Union: there seemed to be a slight political bent, as well as a focus on the human condition, and even God and morality, in lines like, 
They too must age, decay
& slowly quieten. 
& can only live
more or less. & choose,
more or less. 
& search furtively or not
for the nonexistent exit. 
Later, “the grenade of your despair” is paired with doll heads littered on the floor, which is certainly an image that sticks with the reader.  










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The Sun & the Moon by Kristina Marie Darling Reviewed on Poet Hound

 

Kristina Marie Darling's The Sun & The Moon

The Suns & The Moon, by Kristina Marie Darling, is a haunting and romantic collection centered around a couple who are surrounded by the supernatural. Darling creates a world that struggles with fire and ice, romance and heartbreak, and ultimately envelopes the reader in an enchanting world of her own making. Below I am happy to share some of her work:

(I)
You began as a small mark on the horizon. Then night & its endless train of ghosts. You led them in, one after the other. They took off their shoes, hung their coats & started looking through the drawers. By then I could hardly speak. I realized the lock on the door must not be working. The floor was covered in ash. There was nothing I could do, so I kept trying to tell you goodnight. You just stood there, your hands in your pockets, that small army behind you. That was when they started polishing the knives.

In this collection these ghosts come to stay and ultimately cause trouble for the couple in their home. The idea of ghosts hanging their coats and then hunting through the drawers is an unusual sight to imagine, as most ghosts have no need to do such things. The polishing of the knives sends the ominous signal that these ghosts may mean more harm than good and are here to stay.
Read The Whole Review Here 
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Such Conjunctions in this weeks Times Literary Supplement!

Such Conjunctions in this weeks Times Literary Supplement!

 

 

Such Conjunctions: Robert Duncan, Jess, and Alberto de Lacerda mentioned in this week’s TLS, Times Literary Supplement!

 

 

Buy the book here

 

 

After meeting in November 1969 at the International Festival of Poetry in Austin, Texas, the Portuguese poet Alberto de Lacerda (1928-2007) developed a trans-Atlantic friendship with the San Francisco poet Robert Duncan (1919-1988) and his partner, the artist Jess (1923-2004). This book celebrates that friendship by bringing together from the Duncan and de Lacerda archives reproductions and transcriptions of all their extant correspondence in addition to the many inscribed publications, books, magazines, photographs, poems, drawings, and artwork that they shared with each other. Together, these items document not only the story of the relationship between these three men, including their subsequent visits together in San Francisco, Boston, and London, but also many of the significant events in each figure’s life during the years 1969 to 1989. Edited by Mary Porter de Sousa and Luís Amorim de Sousa, de Lacerda’s longtime friend and literary executor, and James Maynard, Associate Curator of the University at Buffalo’s Poetry Collection, which houses Duncan’s papers, this collection features essays by de Sousa, Maynard, and Scott Laughlin, a former student of de Lacerda’s.

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The Electric Affinities one of 9 Book Forum Highlights From Independent Publishers.

 

In the December-January issue of Book Forum The Electric Affinities one of 9 Book Forum Highlights From Independent Publishers section, page 51. Hurray and congratulations to Wade Stevenson!

  

Buy The Electric Affinities here

 

 

 
 Book Information:
 
· Paperback: 340 pages

· Binding: Perfect-Bound

· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 

· ISBN: 978-1-60964-148-1
·  $18
 

  

  

The Electric Affinities by Wade Stevenson Book Preview

 

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Photos on flickr