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Succinctly Intricate


What is poetry but complicated conciseness? The length of a poem does not matter—it is the meaning behind it that holds it’s true weight. One line may equal a chapter of prose. Explore the substance of poetry in these six books.

Seven Stories about the Moon

And 101 Other Science Poems

Book Cover
Pendred Noyce, editor
Katie Coppens, editor
Tumblehome Learning
Softcover $11.95 (176pp)
978-1-943431-33-5
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

The gods of poetry surely must experience severe bouts of eye-rolling boredom—a result of all too many weightless, inconsequential poems. But this anthology for young adults demonstrates poetry’s superpowers by offering more than one-hundred inspiring works exploring engineering, technology, biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and other science subjects all sheathed in the velvet glove of beautiful verse.

Somebody Ought to Write a Poem for Ptolemy

Somebody ought to write a poem for Ptolemy,
So ingenious in being wrong, he was almost a poet.
Can anyone follow his configurations?
How he cut a tortured path for every planet
Until his numbers matched what he could see,
Every one spectacularly wrong.
You would think, in all those years of calculations,
He would, at least, have suspected a simpler way.
Maybe he even knew it all along—
The stationary sun, ellipses, everything
But kept it to himself as too unseemly
Or to save his pregnant wife from all the spinning
And wait beside her in a quiet place
That he, himself, had rendered motionless.

—Jacqueline Osherow

MATT SUTHERLAND (April 27, 2018)

Fable of the Pack-Saddle Child

Book Cover
Mia Leonin
Nereida Garcia Ferraz, illustrator
BkMk Press
Softcover $19.95 (100pp)
978-1-943491-14-8
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

Like angels and unicorns, fables have made themselves scarce of late, but leave it to the land and language of magic realism to bring forth a bona fide specimen. A gorgeously illustrated, book-length poem of masterful prose, there’s not much in way of comps to describe this breathtaker, but take our word for it. Mia Leonin is the author of three previous collections. Her poetry has appeared numerous top journals, and Miami-based Nereida Garcia Ferraz’s art has been exhibited in several US and Mexico museums.

Three weeks after the birth, Micaela’s mother’s body deflated to its previous shape, never again to grow round or to reveal even the slightest stretch or sag. Three weeks after that, Micaela was a sturdy package. Her mother changed from her black clothes to a borrowed violet dress. She washed the incense and litanies from her hair, wrapped Micaela in a blanket like a tamale, and dropped her into the deep cotton hammock of her shawl. With Micaela in the crook of one arm and a suitcase beneath the other, she marched off to the nearest distant city, never to return. Her enormous family was too hungry and too disgraced to be anything but relieved.

MATT SUTHERLAND (April 27, 2018)

Priest Turned Therapist Treats Fear of God

Book Cover
Tony Hoagland
Graywolf Press
Softcover $16.00 (88pp)
978-1-55597-807-5
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

Good poets seem to recognize that what makes them good is what annoys them most about themselves. Damn the constant chatter—enough already!—but yes, admittedly, there’s some workable stuff in there. A masterful sifter, Tony Hoagland has authored five previous collections. A finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, he lives in New Mexico.

An Ordinary Night In Athens, Ohio

Those children in pajamas
in the big suburban houses

are not dreaming
of fireflies in jars,

nor model cars,
but of fist-fighting

on Mars
in bodies not their own;

they are not feeding the hamster
small bits of lettuce

and changing its name
from Joe to Josephine, and back,

but sprinting over the rooftops
of burning Dairy Queens

and aiming shoulder-launched rockets
into shopping malls.

They are not dreaming
of taking the quiz

and getting deeply hung up
on the answer to question four,

but of yellow school buses
wrapped in ruptures of flame,

and of playmates they knew
in second grade

floating facedown
over the dimes and tarnished pennies

in the wishing fountain.

MATT SUTHERLAND (April 27, 2018)

Rail

Book Cover
Kai Carlson-Wee
BOA Editions
Softcover $16.00 (104pp)
978-1-942683-58-2
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

Long stretches of hunger, sleep deprivation, filth, fear-filled nights under bridges, and the accompanying existential questions will leave a mark on a man, and his poetry. Kai Carlson-Wee lays it out there in this shy, wistful, forthright collection, and the mark is now winningly shared with the reader. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow with an MFA from Wisconsin-Madison, his work has appeared in Ploughshares, Gulf Coast, Best New Poets, TriQuarterly, and elsewhere.

Posers

Outside the bookstore in downtown Seattle
we huddle away from the rain. Two days
out of the mountains and looking to hitchhike
a ride down to Plain. Scrape a few dollars together
for food. Cars move quietly over the road.
Rain beats down on the blue plastic awning
we’ve jimmy-rigged over our heads. There are
three of us asking for spare change and handouts.
Night falling slowly away from the stores.
The girl named Saturday plays the guitar.
My brother and I sing softly along, working
to keep us in key. We look bedraggled and crazy.
We stagger and weave in the limited range
of the tarp. I think to myself I am not this
hungry. I am not this desperate for any
clean thing. I am only a few more weeks
on the west coast. Living off food stamps,
volunteer work at the Bellingham food shelf.
Squandering yogurt and leftover bread from
the Trader Joe’s dumpster on First. I say I am
working to make myself better. Learning
the rhythm and speed of my heart. The same
three chords and the harmony failing. Nodding
along to the sound of my brother’s voice.
Trying out the words in my own mouth until
I am finally able to sing.

MATT SUTHERLAND (April 27, 2018)

Romer

Book Cover
Robert Eastwood
Etruscan Press
Softcover $15.00 (124pp)
978-0-9977455-8-0
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

Inspiration. Elusive stuff. Find it where you can—ideally, not from a bottle. Robert Eastwood found it Dante’s Purgatorio, and went so far as to use the Italian master’s three-line stanzas. Consider us impressed. Twice a Pushcart Prize nominee, his first collection, Snare, was published in 2016 by Broadstone Press.

Canto XXIII - Old Poets

While I peered up through that green foliage…

Romer met a poet who was soon to die.
Her fourteen-line poems, like leaves in autumn,
settled on musty shelves & forgotten.

Though her root’s been cut, her children
still hear her count feet, thump lines
on the kitchen table’s oilcloth.

She learned to write sonnets one rainy day
after she’d spanked her daughter
for teasing. Her son had wet his bed.

She took a blunt pencil & sought relief from
yowl & din in rhyming & iambic rhythm.
Her mind loved the order of sonnets.

The volta with the shock of winter sun.
The painterly accuracy of rhyme.
The gut-satisfaction of an ending couplet.

Her friends, the old poets, know the body
follows a willful arc, reverses its reach
one day to a slow curl from the sun.

But they believe as well
that poems breathe as live offspring,
they have an iron-sluice of blood.

Some poets die young, some live to see
their beloveds go before them.
Some watch their dogs take the circle

to death with cavernous eyes, a dun silence—
the quiet way God answers us—embodying
the unsayable each poet would want to write.

Her friends gave tribute at her dying—
garments cinched, soft genitals snugged,
toes growing cold—a hum, ice-like,

constant in their ears.
A true company,
which cherished holy meld, its unlikely
weld of petals & dough.

MATT SUTHERLAND (April 27, 2018)

The Light of What Comes After

Book Cover
Jen Town
Bauhan Publishing
Softcover $16.00 (70pp)
978-0-87233-256-0
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

Curiosity skilled the poet. Seemingly unwilling to rein in her interests, Jen Town’s sense of wonder and delight with what catches her attention is infectious. Her work has lit up the pages of Epoch, Crab Orchard Review, Third Coast, Bellingham Review, and many other prestigious journals. With an MFA in Creative Writing earned at The Ohio State University, she continues to live the Buckeye dream in Columbus.

Modes of Travel

From Paris to Madrid is a winding coil of train tracks and engines, the much machineried world etched into hillside and valley. Subway clatter and airplane contrails. You can get from here to there in a few hours. And you do—and when you step off the train, holding your hat onto your head, you’ve become an anachronism. You’re looking for the old world, to be swept up in it all, the turning of the centuries. You fan yourself with your hand, pick up your suit- case, and step off the station onto cobblestone. Who do you think you’ve come
here to be? The echo of your shoes on the road is the racket of gunshots fired off
in celebration of your arrival.

MATT SUTHERLAND (April 27, 2018)

Matt Sutherland

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