Saturday, September 30, 2017

Closer To Where We Began - Lisa Richter (Tightrope Books)

Today's book of poetry:
Closer To Where We Began.  Lisa Richter.  Tightrope Books.  Toronto, Ontario.  2017.

Closer To Where We Began by Lisa Richter

Lisa Richter's dreamy Closer To Where We Began starts off with a quote from Sharon Olds, a poet Today's book of poetry has nothing but admiration for.  Who a poet reads, is influenced by, quotes often, tells us much about where a poet wants to go, where their head is at.  Richter's would seem to be firmly in the right place.

sometimes I can feel it, the way we are
pouring slowly toward a curve and around it
through something dark and soft, and we are bound
to each other.
- Sharon Olds

These poems feel as though you are inside of Richter's dreamscape and looking out onto a horizon of her making where "pomegranate juice light" illuminates the darker corners.

Today's book of poetry doesn't want to dance into dangerous territory when he says that only a woman would have written these poems.  Perhaps women see the world through a different coloured prism?  I know my almost perfect wife and I often disagree on the colour of a particular object.  We are looking at the same thing but not seeing the same thing.  Richter's Closer To Where We Begin looks at our world through lucid dreams and then she writes it all down.


The year I was born, my great-grandmother
died. Skimming sides and glances, we conducted
love through our bones, memory
and foreshadowing encoded in the rings

of skipped stones across drumskin-smooth
water. She wore cat's-eye glasses and a daffodil
grin, paisley polyester and wind-puffed
canvas smocks.

Her face gleamed a heavy moon white, pock-
marked with the scars of long-dried seas--
lips of calcified salt, teeth of fossilized
spine, jaw-bone, femur. They say the marbles

rolled in her head, that there, the mind lounged
and lolled. Deep in the quarry of her body
the sun-stroked fields of Belarus sang, drowning
out the traffic of Outremont life.

Once, as she danced around the Passover
table, voluminous breasts swinging, hips bumping
the backs of chairs, her feet pushed the sweet
air and she soared around the room. I too felt

the pull of Bubbe's circular laps, slipped
from my mother's arms, floated
up to join her (it took three men
over an hour to get us down).

This is how we were meant to be
acquainted: her life at the tip
of the snake's tail, mine at the apex
of its open mouth.


Richter doesn't just see light through different prisms, she drinks it, absorbs it.  She carries light around in a secret satchel, lets it seep into these poems like a "hash-fogged" thought.

Richter's dream state includes nightmares, the horrors of systemic hatred, war, religious conflict and so on.  Sometimes the ghosts of dead children infect the light.  These poems cover a lot of geography from Gaza to a rockabilly Chuck Berry, Lisa Richter lights it all up.

Gaza under Siege

You are house-sitting--a two-bedroom, air-
conditioned townhouse in Liberty Village, watering
aloe and spider monkey, serving two cups
of dry food a day to a fat white cat named Luca.
Stackable washer and dryer in the hall closet.
You slide open the cool, mirrored doors while
your clothes are kept from shrinking. No laundromat
trips, duffle bag of clothes over your shoulder,
just the nearby shudder of brushed steel machines
doing the labour, while you sit with your laptop
and a glass of cheap Malbec on a couch that's not
yours. King-sized bed in the master too hard, you sleep
on the queen in the guest room: not as firm, just
right. Goldilocks with a key fob, helping yourself
to steel-cut oats and memory foam sleep.
Meanwhile, the death toll of children in Gaza
reaches five hundred. You brush the long-haired cat, sip
your wine, swirling it until it reads as diluted
blood. Read the horror. Remember the sound
of the fireworks in Tel Aviv, on Yom Ha'atzmaut,
you were told could just easily have been
rockets. Long ago, at Hebrew day school, you celebrated
that day in May with blue-and-white-frosted cake,
how proud you were that  Eretz Yisrael was the same
age as your parents. Meanwhile, in Gaza, bodies
and the city's wood and metal bones amass
in baroque jumble, Biblical disarray. On Facebook
you scroll through feeds of loathing, fear culled
from recipes that you once followed -- they brought
this onto themselves, they hate us more than they love
their own -- morsels you can no longer keep down,
no longer digestible nor kosher, which never mattered
before, but for some reason, matters now.


Our morning reading here at the Today's book of poetry offices was a bit overshadowed and subdued by my own sad, slow state.  Today's book of poetry has been away for a few days to attend the funeral of my Uncle Sparky.  Don't think Don "Sparky" Brault ever read much poetry and I know he was a deeply flawed man but he showed great kindness to my mother and I when I was very young.  And he always treated me like he was happy to see me.

Today's book of poetry's big family is shrinking.  In the last five or six months I've had two Aunts, Alice and Dora, and two Uncles, Dan and Sparky - leave this mortal coil.  The rest of my Aunts and Uncles must be checking each other out to see who's next.

Lisa Richter's Closer To Where We Began world was enough to lift me and my minions out of our shadowy morning, these poems lit the place up.

How to Write a Hanukkah Poem

Choose your preferred spelling of Hanukkah,
from the seven or eight available. Assemble
your arsenal: dreidls your father would show off
by spinning upside down. Latkes. Paper towels
to soak up the grease from latkes, paper bags
to soak up the grease from the paper towels, candles
that will melt and harden in the menorah, scraped

out next year with the tip of a steak knife, hard flakes
of coloured wax. Whatever you do, don't call
the menorah the hanukkiah, the proper word
you learned long ago in Hebrew school:
it will sound too specific, too accurate, above-
board. You will alienate most people, or worse,
charm them with your exoticness.

Subvert. Make dreidl games dirty. Strip off clothing
if the dreidl lands on the letter gimmel. Truth
is daring. Make "space latkes" that will get you
higher than the most mystical of cabbalists,
taste the colours of candles bursting with sweet

liquid. Snort lines off pages of the Talmud. Forget
about inviting distant relatives who always tell
you what they prefer to do. None of this will give
you joy, only stories to display like dark ribbons
on your chest, a catalogue of scars for the shocked listener.

Write. Invoke the light. Invoke the hand that holds
the shamash, moving from light to light. Invoke
small haloes around each candle, pancake moons
around the heads of gaunt-faced Russian icons.

Invoke more light, the light that ushers you through
December's dark, the light that leaves nothing
in its wake that is cold or unkind.


Richter has a sharp, laser type tongue, even if it often resides in her cheek.  Or at least that's what Closer To Where We Began leads Today's book of poetry to believe.

We never get tired of smart here at Today's book of poetry.  We never get tired of new modes of illumination.  Lisa Richter lit up the room.

Photo by Matthew Burpee
Lisa Richter
Photo: Matthew Burpee

Lisa Richter‘s poetry has appeared in The Malahat Review, The Puritan, Literary Review of Canada, The Toronto Quarterly, Crab Creek Review, among other journals and anthologies. She was longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2015, and won first place in CV2 Magazine’s 2-Day Poem Contest in 2017. Closer to Where We Began is her first collection of poetry. She lives, writes, and teaches English as a Second Language in Toronto.

“Lisa Richter weaves time and place with grace and expertise throughout the poems in this her first collection, Closer to Where We Began. Sensual, delicate yet biting, these poems sweep forward and back with energy and insight proving ‘the heart is a finite muscle of blood and music.’ By following the rhythm of each poem’s unfolding we are led to a ‘deeper quiet.’ A rich and resonant book.”—    -      - Catherine Graham, author of Her Red Hair Rises with the Wings of Insects
‘”Invoke the light…” writes Lisa Richter, ‘the light that leaves nothing / in its wake that is cold or unkind.’ With a richness in metaphor and a clarity of vision, Richter deftly travels the reader through seasonal tapestries of nature, across many identities, into many cities, and inside the bounds of family. Yet losses, and the world’s coldness and cruelty are not ignored, but rather, their pains and truths explored poetically: ‘the tongue finds its muse in the most sour of ripenings.’ The confidence and tenderness of Richter’s voice, and her mastery of form, makes Closer to Where We Began a rich and compelling read.”
     - Maureen Hynes, author of The Poison Colour

“Richter excavates memory as a geography forged by the complexities of human relationships. To read her work is to be transported into an alternate landscape wherein each encounter has been dissected and reassembled with a simultaneously commanding and vulnerable acuity.”
     - Robin Richardson, author of Knife Throwing Through Self-Hypnosis



Poems cited here are assumed to be under copyright by the poet and/or publisher.  They are shown here for publicity and review purposes.  For any other kind of re-use of these poems, please contact the listed publishers for permission.

We here at TBOP are technically deficient and rely on our bashful Milo to fix everything.  We received notice from Google that we were using "cookies"
and that for our readers in Europe there had to be notification of the use of those "cookies.  Please be aware that TBOP may employ the use of some "cookies" (whatever they are) and you should take that into consideration.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Stay - Kathleen McGookey (Press 53)

Today's book of poetry:
Stay.  Kathleen McGookey.  Press 53.  Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  2015.


"The worst thing you can imagine
is not the worst that that can happen to you."
                                                                                                          - Gary Young

It was only a few short months ago that Today's book of poetry wrote about Kathleen McGookey's excellent Heart In A Jar (White Pine Press, 2017), and you can read about that blog/book here:

Stay is an earlier selection of McGookey's fine work and we are excited to re-enter McGookey world.

McGookey writes picture perfect short little prose poems, they never tease but they are frequently testy.  Stay is all over the big issues, love and death, but her sting on these framework motifs has a much bigger bite than we expect.

Two Kinds of Anger

A possum on the dirt road, pink mouth open, insides bare to sky.
Alive with flies. Their mechanical buzz rises into the day, into the
promise of heat shimmering over the swamp. A swallowtail, its
yellow wings bright with sun, dips and swoops through the swarm.
It lands at the wound to feed.


Today's book of poetry is going a little wider of our mark than usual, we're including four poems today by McGookey simple because we like them that much.  McGookey isn't afraid to haunt your future dreams or to dissect a circumspect past, these poems are subtle darts.

Notes on 'The Accident'

I knew you had dogs--I didn't know their names--and they were jealous
of your baby. I never met your husband or saw your house in Arizona. I
knew you hated to lose things, but had to buy another plane ticket to Chicago,
another college algebra book. I keep dreaming I've misplaced my baby--
did you?

Years ago, at Wendy's wedding, you wanted to be married; your eyes filled
but the tears didn't spill over. I didn't touch you because I thought a touch
would make you cry more. Then you said, I believe Jesus died for me.

I know you remember this: the summer after we graduated, we met in Detroit,
in front of the Renaissance Center's fountain. You arrived first: tall, lanky,
short brown hair, and smiling broadly. The fountain's rainbows glistened
behind you. The last time I saw you, I told you I always thought of you in
this moment, walking towards me and smiling.


Kathleen McGookey has much to say about family, the intersection of generations, the illness and inevitable death of parents, childbirth, children: all common enough ground for the average reader.  But there is nothing common about McGookey's grief and anger, she owns it.  What she shares is the emotional space around the tragedy and small misfortunes of daily life.  And then there is hope.  

Like the very best of us do, McGookey is willing to spill her eloquent sorrow, render it until it becomes hope.

Birth Poem

Mention mother and I think of birth--my son's, five months ago--and
blood and cramps and more people putting their hands inside me than I can
stand. Someone drew four vials of blood and left quarter-sized bruises on
my arm. Dizzy, I watched the blood, thick and dark. Urine, feces, amniotic
fluid--they tested it all. The vomit they disposed of. They carefully measured
what went in and what came out. No matter--everything forced itself out.
I feel so strange, I said. But it felt good to hold handfuls of ice and sleep on
wet sheets thought I couldn't swallow the glass of ice water I'd dreamed
about. My room had no lock, but my favorite nurses knocked. People said
later, You poor thing! Nine weeks flat on your back. No one said, If you get up, your
baby will die. The nurses all said, This will give you something to write about.

Writing's more private than birth. No poem's lifted out whole, like my son.
But some, like him, in need. And--with luck--a moment of grace. . . A
stranger, a doctor, held my hand while another stitched me up.


Today's book of poetry has never had children but Kathleen McGookey surrounds the reader with such convincing evidence you might feel you've shared her experience.  You certainly get a little closer to the intense drama of your body being a vessel beyond your authority.

McGookey is a poet of intimacy and the precise fluctuations of the heart between joy, anguish, exhaustion and fear, all those real human moments that push us through the day and into the night.

This morning's read at the Today's book of poetry offices was a rapid fire cavalcade of McGookey as Kathryn, our Jr. Editor, insisted we include Heart In A Jar for another kick at the can.  The two books are seamless, it is clear that McGookey has found her voice.  

Today's book of poetry loved the "anger" poems in Stay.  McGookey allows her "anger" a personality and character all its own.  She may also be absconding all responsibility for her "anger's" actions, we just like watching her play.  "Anger" follows McGookey around like a spoiled younger sister.

My Anger Takes a Road Trip

Right now My Anger's stuck on a two-lane highway under construction,
slowly driving past heaps of concrete and bent rebar, a pile of burning tires
sending up tarry smoke. She likes how the long grass in the median bows
down as she goes by. Near the overpass, a bunny the size of her hand
crouches in the weeds. My Anger sets it on the concrete, stirs the flames,
and reaches for a sandhill crane made of steel, each outstretched feather a
razor. She wants to flatten the lindens shading the riverwalk, their delicate
perfumed bells opening over her head. She wants to uproot the tin sunflowers
that line County Road 81. Next to the highway, cattle lie in dirt stockyards
that stretch for miles. My Anger likes to imagine she is one of the last to see
those animals alive.


Today's book of poetry is grateful that we got a chance to see Stay by Kathleen McGookey.  We were certain of how we felt about McGookey's poetry after reading Heart In A Jar, Stay only confirmed what we already knew, our best feelings.

When you can cook like this you're always going to be welcome in our kitchen.

Kathleen McGookey


Kathleen McGookey’s prose poems and translations have appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Crazyhorse, Denver Quarterly, Epoch, Field, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Quarterly West, The Best of The Prose Poem: An International Journal, The Party Train: A Collection of North American Prose Poetry, and The House of Your Dream: An International Collection of Prose Poetry. The forthcoming anthology Nothing to Declare: A Guide to the Flash Sequence includes her work, and her poetry collection, At the Zoo, will be published by White Pine Press in spring 2017. She has received grants from the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, the Arts Fund of Kalamazoo County, the Sustainable Arts Foundation, and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She has taught creative writing at Hope College, Interlochen Arts Academy, and Western Michigan University. She lives in Middleville, Michigan, with her family.

There is such pain and such beauty in Stay, and there are so many astonishing moments of what I can only call distilled reverie, I feel nothing short of awe after reading this collection. McGookey's poems shimmer with a profound sense of love and loss and wonder. Each one is like a section of stained glass window. Together they are an illumination.
     —Nin Andrews, author of Why God Is a Woman
The small spaces of Kathleen McGookey’s intimate prose poems are uncannily expansive. As they move through experiences of caretaking and motherhood, birth and death, grief and anger, wishes and prayers, they challenge ordinary conceptions of what domestic life is and what it can be. Stay casts a spell that slows time down, allowing us to enter the vibrant and variegated texture of real alertness.
     —Mary Szybist, author of Incarnadine

I love Kathleen McGookey’s poems — their tenderness and their strangeness, how the spareness of their language points to both absence and presence, how the poems go, unflinchingly, straight through grief to beauty, and the heart.
Each of the prose poems that make up Stay is a small window into a life lived with almost excruciating awareness, filled with the details of “ordinary” life, made extraordinary by the poet’s luminous attention to what goes on around and within her and those she loves. Family life, especially, is rendered with such exquisite precision and compassion — the loss of beloved parents; the birth of children — that we’re reminded what it’s like to be fully human, under “a sky that keeps right on vanishing,” haunted as much by “the kiss on the shoulder” as by “the fledgling death working its wet wings.”
McGookey infuses her poems with sensuality and mystery — the mystery of being alive, and of death, and of love — and yet the poems are open, accessible, quietly startling in their unfolding, each playing out like a fable or a fairytale, each with a kind of aching magic inside it.
     —Cecilia Woloch, author of Carpathia

Kathleen McGookey is poetry’s Joseph Cornell. In her daring new collection, Stay, she re-assembles what we, without a nod, pass by every day. In doing so McGookey reveals that—no matter what the arrangement—the world is seamless. Her stunningly uncommon intelligence shows us that if there is order, it can be created from most anything, and yet her fresh and penetrating perceptions are never arbitrary. Like Cornell’s deceptively welcoming boxes, these poems leave us refreshingly off-kilter and deeply grateful that we have been invited to stay.
     —Jack Ridl, author of Losing Season and Practicing to Walk Like a Heron 


Poems cited here are assumed to be under copyright by the poet and/or publisher.  They are shown here for publicity and review purposes.  For any other kind of re-use of these poems, please contact the listed publishers for permission.

We here at TBOP are technically deficient and rely on our bashful Milo to fix everything.  We received notice from Google that we were using "cookies"
and that for our readers in Europe there had to be notification of the use of those "cookies.  Please be aware that TBOP may employ the use of some "cookies" (whatever they are) and you should take that into consideration.

Friday, September 22, 2017

In Case of Sudden Free Fall - Deborah Bogen (Jacar Press)

Today's book of poetry:
In Case of Sudden Free Fall.  Deborah Bogen.  Jacar Press.  Durham, North Carolina.  2017.

"the sun rises like a guillotine"
                                                                                                 - Deborah Bogen

Deborah Bogen's poems have a distinct hum to them and Today's book of poetry fears we will never get the description of it quite right.  It's like these perfectly modern little prose poems are clever disguises for the epic movies underneath.  You can hear the poetry machine hum golden as though a soundtrack were about to burst through.  And Bogen's movies are a gas.

Today's book of poetry has all the time in the world for Bogen's type of clever. In Case of Sudden Free Fall has a cast of guest stars that runs from Vincent Van Gogh to Charles Dickens, Jean-Paul Sartre to Baudelaire and so on.  Bogen works these cultural iconic celebrities right into her narrative as though they were there all along.

Bogen has one of those technicolour pens and as a result these little movies appear in vivid colour.  Bogen's subtle twists on/of language had me working my way backwards to track her careful steps. In Case of Sudden Free Fall bursts with unassuming intelligence and confident logic.  Today's book of poetry likes how Bogen navigates.

Looking at Guernica

I'm thinking in terms of stage props, rubber knives and
plausible explanations. You say I should relax, take an as-
pirin, make some coffee, but where-oh-where, old friend,
are the shield-walls for our hearts? These days, these ter-
rible days, you tell me are only warnings, but we've both
seen Guernica. Chaos is a wild-eyed bull standing over a
dead child and Christians or no-Christians the messiah
isn't coming.

So we walk to the cemetery, to look at all the old-timey
names on the monuments. Did you know, I say, that in-
scribed is just another word for cut?


Today's book of poetry would be out of line with my own cosmic forces and make-up if we didn't mention that In Case of Sudden Free Fall has a poem where "Sonny Rollins and Sonny Stitt make things right."  If you don't know the two Sonnys stop reading this and look them up.  Respect.

Deborah Bogen drops jazz musicians and painters into her landscapes and soundtracks to great affect.  She uses these characters as a cultural shorthand, she knows the emotion generated by the charged names of the famous.  How when we hear the name of William Turner we cannot help but think of the sea, the sea-scape and the unknowable chorus of clouds.  Bogen knows that we readers are pre-conditioned and sends us through to her clever manipulations like Ivan Pavlov and his dogs.  It is no cause for alarm, our appetite whetted, we gulp it down like smiling pups on a juicy bone.

How-to For the Daughters of Suicides

First of all. Be Fine. They want you to. Fix your face,
brush your hair, say I'm fine, thanks, fine. And in a way,
it's true. Because now you don't care what you eat, when
you eat, if you eat. You don't care how you look. Or what
you think. You don't think. And that's weirdly swell. Like
lidocaine. Or being made of chrome.

Tomorrow a long dark car will take you to the cemetery.
Wear a plain black dress, or dark blue if you only have
that. Later, you must contend with the women who bring
casseroles, but otherwise you can relax. Remember, the
body must inhabit this space, but there's nowhere your
mind has to be.


Today's book of poetry's morning read was interrupted by the delivery of a parcel from our St. Louis correspondent David Clewell.  The entire staff danced around the box in anticipation and the Twangster did not let us down.  Once again, Mr. Clewell has brought holiday cheer to a new season. This particular reading assignment included Lynn Emanuel, David Kirby, Campbell McGrath and Albert Goldbarth.  We still don't believe in God or heaven here at Today's book of poetry but we're pretty sure the Twangster is a poetry monster angel.  Today's book of poetry is very thankful that he is out there monitoring the poetry ether.

To get back to the matter at hand, Deborah Bogen's poetry has pace, In Case of Sudden Free Fall rolls steady as a train.  Today's book of poetry was completely in Bogen world for this most pleasant journey, dark corners and all, because she allows the reader such easy access, decorates the path she wants followed.  Even with the occasional sad destination these poems make you open your happy eyes just a little wider.

In Case of Sudden Free Fall

You can put it in your pocket, in your tire well, in your
armpit. You can stash it under your baseball cap, or wrap
it up in a handkerchief. You can stuff it in your under-
wear or hide it in your brand new pigskin wallet. You
can slip it under your armband, or bury it in the desert
or whisper it into your cell phone. You can smooth it out
and cut it up with little scissors. Or you can fold it. Care-
fully. Like money.


In Case of Sudden Free Fall is Deborah Bogen's fourth book of poetry and it shows.  This is polished, old hand in the kitchen, stuff.  Bogen teems with charming wisdom.  Bogen's hum will convince.

Image result for deborah bogen photo
Deborah Bogen

Deborah Bogen is a poet and novelist. In Case of Sudden Free Fall is her fourth collection. Her three previous collections of poetry are Living By the Children's Cemetery, Landscape with Silos (National Poetry Series Finalist and winner of the X.J. Kennedy Poetry Prize) and Let Me Open You a Swan (Antivenom Press, Elixir Press). She was the winner of the 2016 New Letters Prize for Poetry for "My Stint as a Librarian & Other Poems." She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“Grown-up poems for grown-ups.”
     — Stuart Friebert

“I loved reading In Case of Sudden Free Fall, Deborah Bogen’s beautiful and remarkable oneiric prose poem collection. A delicious gem, it takes the reader on a soulful and transformative journey. Under Bogen’s expert guidance, we travel from enchantment to melancholy, to surprising encounters with literary and artistic figures, to loss and death, and back to wonder. I’ll keep revisiting this collection time and again.”
     — Hélène Cardona



Poems cited here are assumed to be under copyright by the poet and/or publisher.  They are shown here for publicity and review purposes.  For any other kind of re-use of these poems, please contact the listed publishers for permission.

We here at TBOP are technically deficient and rely on our bashful Milo to fix everything.  We received notice from Google that we were using "cookies"
and that for our readers in Europe there had to be notification of the use of those "cookies.  Please be aware that TBOP may employ the use of some "cookies" (whatever they are) and you should take that into consideration.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Brighter House - Kim Garcia (White Pine Press)

Today's book of poetry:
The Brighter House.  Kim Garcia.  White Pine Press.  Buffalo, New York.  2016.

Winner of the White Pine Press Poetry Prize

Today's book of poetry is a bit weak when it comes to his mythology, its history, characters and so on.  Kim Garcia's whippersnapper The Brighter House invests fairly heavily in legend, the deep mysteries of our collective past.  So how does Garcia manage to make The Brighter House feel so current, urgent, how does Kim Garcia make us care?

We care because we can identify with Garcia's demons, we understand that the monster dying in the hospital bed is still a father.  We know what that Blackdog anger does to perception.  Garcia has the anger but these poems are too smart to resort to simple revenge, vengeance.  Kim Garcia finds beauty even on the starkest panorama.  She also knows that sometimes beauty has a price.

For my father and the cancer that killed him

in a drainage ditch I saw a duck and hawk
rolling, like wrestlers--old Greeks--to the death,
and the duck was taking his dying hard. It took

a long, silent time for the sugar to run out

in its muscles, for the hawk to find the place
between its neck and back, to pierce the artery,
open the blood gate, let out the fight and begin
                                                                 to feed.


Our morning read at the Today's book of poetry offices was slightly overshadowed by the splendid weather.  Ottawa is having the nicest September anyone can remember and getting my staff in off the lawn and out of the sun has only been achieved by threat.  Today's book of poetry won't share the particular threats uttered but we had a different killer for each of our minions.  So then, under threat, and under a roof, in the shade of our offices and with a slight hint of protest...

Kathryn, our Jr. Editor, got the ball rolling.  Once in gear Kim Garcia's The Brighter House did all the hard work.  Whether Garcia is imagining/wishing into place her sister, appearing as a vengeful matador or imagining her father as God: Garcia invites the reader into her somewhat magical world with language.

Garcia peoples these poems with characters who scrape up against the smooth edges of your soul.  They know where you are tender.


The man with the grass truck, for instance,
looking in on me through the car window.
I sat in my robe passenger side, engine humming
while my mother went for my prescription.

I was pale, very still. I was always
sick in those days. His eye moved
over my shoulders, into the folds of my robe,
a ticklish insect-footed sensation on my skin.

I stared back. Probably I flirted.
I don't remember, but I did things like that,
swallowed whatever came in the capsules.
I was pale, and my eyes were almost black.

My mother came out of the drugstore.
Who called who? He came down
from a load of sod he was pitchforking
to two black men below. They spoke.

Our lawn was dead.
The car was dying.
She wanted grass.
I was useless to her.

A few days later he came with a load.
After he laid the sod, he drank
a glass of lemonade at the kitchen table
with my mother. Then he took me to the drive-in.

We saw a trucker picture. Convoy, I think,
and he didn't handle me much
or force his mouth over my mouth
or speak in any way about the sod he'd unloaded
all day in Texas heat--for what?

To buy me popcorn,
to run his arm along the back
of the vinyl single seat of his pick-up
and stare in silence at a girl
stiff and scared in the seat beside him,
not knowing what she was beginning or ending.

When the movie ended
he took me home
and walked me to the door
like a real date would have done.

And the only thing he got for what he'd paid
my mother was one brief run of his warm palm
from my hip to my bra strap
along my thick, fifteen year old waist.

Which couldn't have been much a thrill
for a full grown man.

My mother was in bed. No.
She was up. Watching television,
sitting in the chair she'd rocked me in
as a child. Outside the sprinkler's steady tick
broke suddenly into a run and return.
The peepers spoke under the damp leaves,
to a steady tap of beetles against the yellow light.
Moths folded flat against the dark siding.

There'd be new grass in my mother's voice
as she looked up from her lap
where she'd have some work,
some bill to worry or dress to mend,
and ask, "What did you do?"

Just beyond the window lay the lawn, her lawn,
which would be lovely today, tomorrow
and years from now. Children changed.
You fed them and put a roof over their heads,
and one night your daughter might walk in
and look at you like a stranger.


Dreamland.  There is an ethereal sense to these poems, they sometimes feel too light, almost too perfect to hold together but they do.  Gossamer usually refers to something delicate or insubstantial yet Garcia's gossamer poems pack power.

In The Brighter House Kim Garcia's power comes from her "felted hammer on razored strings."  These dignified and almost quiet poems carry the big knockout punch.  When Garcia ties up the loose ends these poems are wicked sharp.  Garcia is the proverbial iron fist in the velvet glove.


Finally I am ready for heaven. Go ahead,
let it in now. I stare at winter branches
and try to imagine summer--all that green,
early urgency to late summer flapping
a crowd, a host.

                            I never had the time
before, never saw the point. I was getting
ready for the next ting, saving up.
Death might, I know, come quickly,
but that's not the main thing.

Something is leaking in, and I
can clear the way, make it easier
for it to enter. Yes, I'm saying yes.
Not to death, which isn't really my
business, but to heaven.

It may be that I'll be a scattering
of matter. It may be that I don the robe,
whatever that is. This morning
I wrap the gray wool light around me
and say to everybody morning sounds,
you can tell me everything now. All of it.


The Brighter House took Today's book of poetry in with the first poem and jerked me around like a fish on a hook until Garcia was finished with me and threw me back in the water.  I'm back blowing bubbles in the weeds, but for a few moments, I was out of my element, I had a clear vision of another universe. 

Garcia did that.

Image result for kim garcia photo
Kim Garcia
Photo: Frank J. Garcia

Kim Garcia is the author of The Brighter House, winner of the 2015 White Pine Press Poetry Prize, DRONE, winner of the 2015 Backwaters Prize, and Madonna Magdalene, released by Turning Point Books in 2006. Her chapbook Tales of the Sisters won the 2015 Sow’s Ear Poetry Review Chapbook Contest. Her poems have appeared in such journals as Crab Orchard Review, Crazyhorse, Mississippi Review, Nimrod and Subtropics, and her work has been featured on The Writer’s Almanac. Recipient of the 2014 Lynda Hull Memorial Prize, an AWP Intro Writing Award, a Hambidge Fellowship and an Oregon Individual Artist Grant, Garcia teaches creative writing at Boston College.

How does she do it! In The Brighter House, Kim Garcia speaks in the language of delicate and mesmerizing touch with phrases like "feather-brush antennae" and "ticklish insect-footed sensation" and "wished-for snow" without ever falling into precious sentimentality. Over and again, these poems mount to harsh and cold violences that speak to the intricacies of the soul in a gorgeous way that leaves the reader feeling bruised--as in pressed upon--but not bloody. This is a brilliant book of first-rate artistry.
     - Jericho Brown

Rainer Maria Rilke said that there are two inexhaustible sources for poetry, childhood and dreams, and Kim Garcia drinks deeply from both wells in these magical, spooky, riveting, and mysterious poems.
     - Edward Hirsch

This collection is a powerful exploration of the mythological roots of a home, a father, and sisters. The author cleans away that which obscures with the miracle of lyricism. We are lost in the stark beauty of the journey. Then, we are found.
     - Jay Harjo

Interview with
Kim Garcia
Video: Arkansas International



Poems cited here are assumed to be under copyright by the poet and/or publisher.  They are shown here for publicity and review purposes.  For any other kind of re-use of these poems, please contact the listed publishers for permission.

We here at TBOP are technically deficient and rely on our bashful Milo to fix everything.  We received notice from Google that we were using "cookies"
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Monday, September 18, 2017

So Late to the Party - Kate Angus (Negative Caqpability Press)

Today's book of poetry:
So Late to the Party.  Kate Angus.  Negative Capability Press.  Mobile, Alabama.  2016.

So Late to the Party

Ben Folds Five
Video: Cheeseford

Yes, I want to be Kate.  If Today's book of poetry knew I could write poems like Kate Angus seems to do on demand I would happily be Kate.  Today's book of poetry is hoping Kate Angus will forgive today's playful Ben Folds Five intro, in truth we know absolutely nothing about Kate Angus except what we learn from So Late to the Party.

And what do we learn?  There is a fresh taste in the mouth after reading So Late to the Party.  The poems in this collection are so consistently at exactly the right temperature for consumption, you could almost be suspicious about how Kate cooks.

So Late to the Party opens with an epigraph from Jack Spicer.  Spicer is sometimes considered a precursor to the "language poets" but Angus isn't a disciple, just an admirer.  And then we are in Angus world, a world not much different than your own, but inhabited by hyper-sentient Angus

Is The World a Terrible Place?

The world is a terrible place.
Look at the sea.
All those little waves swallowed by others.

And, beneath the surface, the tiny fish that flicker
like colored ribbons?

Swallowed by larger fish
and by seals. Seals by sharks. Sharks and orcas fighting

until the ocean around them froths bloody
as the sea birds wheel and shriek overhead.

It is like this with people also.
Your father went into your mother
and so you were made.
You rested inside her
in a long hibernation, a tiny vampire bat
curled upside down
in a cave, feet clinging to the ceiling.
Then you tore her apart.

Think of lovers.

They will not think of you
but they may wake up in the dark
and mutter something to themselves using your inflections
or brush the hair
away from their eyes as if with your hand.

And then there is God
who is always giving us the bread of his body
and his sour wine blood, saying, "Eat this. Drink this."
when, all the while, it is his earth

full of mouths that wait to swallow us.
It is enough to make me sick.
The world is full of such terror and still we cannot stay.


Sometimes the world is a terrible place, to answer Angus' question.  These intelligent poems make the world less terrible, less hostile.  Today's book of poetry cannot rave loudly enough about So Late to the Party.

This morning's office reading was a tasting menu from a very consistent gourmet, each and every course/poem fully satisfying, whetting the appetite for more.

One of the reasons these poems are so successful is that they are genuine.  Real enough to stop your breath.  Today's book of poetry felt like the poet/voice was someone he knew, already familiar with - or someone he wanted to know.  Who wouldn't want to get at the source of this humour and dark wit, the kindness and ready sharp tongue?

Kate Angus' poems read like a story from your best story-telling friend, complete with private confessions, true dreads and unsuitable desires.

The Problem Is Not That God Does Not Exist
So Much As That He Will Not Bargain With You

I have a tree growing entirely
inside me: roots anchored
in the pelvic basin, and its top sprawls out leaves
and tender branches from my skull.
It is a Black Maple. In cold and dark,
we turn sap into sugar. Consequently, these days,

I am thinking about death: mine and others. Death
on the Nile.

Murder on the Orient Express.

Death in the Afternoon.
There were times, years ago,

I was very close
to stepping out in traffic's current
as the great white shark
of a city bus (in size, equivalent,
but you must substitute velocity
for teeth) bore down. Sometimes,

I would lull myself imagining
a pistol in my mouth. To fall asleep
thinking this was comforting. Insert
whatever image you prefer here: cigarette,
pacifier, bottle, cock. I was that tired.
I missed Tom that much. Last night

the bar was brown-paper-bagful packed
with friends like Concord grapes held together

by the supple vine

of Alicia singing about how God turned Miriam white with leprosy.
Because she questioned, her skin peeled off and fell like loose pages

from a broken-binding book. I don't know
what's made me so entirely happy these past few years, buoyant
as an empty Pepsi bottled tossed in the Cuyahoga and through the muck
still bobbing unflappably my way along. World,
I want to ask: how did I manage to find you?
And thank you for letting me come back.


So Late to the Party has at least one ghost and one sonnet, a tiny dragon, wolves and so on.  What Today's book of poetry was most impressed by was the consistency with which Angus knocked her poems out of the park.  Tension, humour, justice, fate, sorrow - it's all in this remarkable first book. Angus must have an old soul because these poems are wise beyond her years.  And I do hope Kate Angus sees that as the compliment it is meant to be.

It is possible to run out of superlatives so please don't take my word for it.  Take Kate Angus' words, find this book and treat yourself.  You'll find poems you want to read to your lover/partner/friend. And they will thank you, I can guarantee you that -  or Today's book of poetry will refund your money.

String Theory

Imagine this: in a parallel
universe Tom gets up from the table for more coffee,

returns. So does my grandfather, from the trenches
without fearing thunder, and my other grandfather,

from the bottle and remembering
Russian soldiers' fists on his mother's door, that splintering.

Instead, no trenches, no soldiers. The gray childhood cat
doesn't slip through the cracked

open window to vanish forever out of frame. I take
my icons down from the shelf. I dust the pictures

and file them away. No one ever dies, ever. We all forget
to forget certain names: bodies we interred

in their little boxes; cities bombed to fragments, desolate
with weeds. The rubble rises up, every structure

rebuilds. No more necropolises. In the multiverse,
one door opens

and I sit with you, paring an apple into slices
thin as crescent moons,

a new night sky. If you take one, that means
you love me. In a different universe, three strangers

are playing cards. We're each someone else now.
In one universe, I am falling

asleep at this very second; in another I stare
at the ocean all day. In a third, we elope

but our friends are all dying. Somewhere else, I steal bread
to stop our daughter from crying,

but you're already gone. How does anyone
ever make this work? In one, you were conscripted

or died of consumption or I married for money
instead of for love. The multiverse is a door.

Any room, any door. I walk through
and keep opening

in this infinite trying to get it right.


Today's book of poetry greatest pleasure in his poetry life is discovering poets like Kate Angus.  This book made me happy like the first time I read Charles Bukowski or Dave Lee.  No similarity in style to either of my heroes but certainly as genuine, certainly as smart.

Today's book of poetry can offer no higher praise.

Image result for kate angus photo
Kate Angus

Kate Angus is a founding editor of Augury Books. Her poetry and nonfiction have appeared in The Atlantic, Tin House, The Washington Post, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, The Academy of American Poets' "Poem-a-Day" newsletter, Best New Poets 2010 and Best New Poets 2014. She has received the A Room of Her Own Foundation’s “Orlando” prize, as well as awards from Southeast Review, American Literary Review, and The New York Times’ “Teacher Who Made a Difference” award. Kate is the Creative Writing Advisory Board Member for the Mayapple Center for Arts and Humanities at Sarah Lawrence College and curates the “Pen and Brush Presents” reading series for the visual and literary arts nonprofit Pen and Brush. She has received residencies from Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan; the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation in Sozopol and Sofia, Bulgaria; the Betsy Hotel’s Writer’s Room in South Beach, Florida; the Wildfjords trail in Westfjords, Iceland; and the BAU Institute in Otranto, Italy. Kate has a BA from Brown University, an MFA from The New School University, and has done additional studies at Yale University, Barnard College, Columbia University and Trinity College, Dublin. Born and raised in Michigan, she currently lives in New York.

“‘Lift off the roof / of your skull’ writes Kate Angus in this confident, wonderful debut, and I do indeed feel my mind dangerously opened by the clarity and intimacy of these intelligent, warm, sad, funny, genuine poems. This poet takes us with her as she walks through the world, often alone, often filled with a happy despair, always hopeful, always thinking of distant others, including us, her readers. This book does not merely describe, but enacts a faith in life, and in poetry’s necessity. This is the poetry for those of us who don’t just want but need to ‘always and silently unseal everything,’ to see what we can feel and know.”
     —Matthew Zapruder, author of Sun Dog and Come on All You Ghosts

“In poems such as ‘String Theory,’ ‘Complicity,’ and ‘My Life in Retrospect,’ Kate Angus reveals not only a gift for smart titles but a lyrical, questioning intelligence that makes her work a pleasure to read and re-read. She has the ability to chronicle her consciousness as she navigates between dualities and among certain recurrent images and motifs. The ‘body’s not a chassis / inside which we ride,’ she writes in one poem, though on an-other occasion she may be tempted to ride that metaphor like a train conducting her ‘from a deep forest / to a city closer to the surface layers / where the outside world tugs on my skin.’
Poems, then, are occasions; the day itself is a train and every hour ‘a compartment to sit in and read a book or walk through.’ The poet monitors the relations between the sometimes ‘stupid’ mind and the ‘terrifying’ body vulnerable beneath fancy clothes. God is the missing lover ‘always giving us the bread of his body / and his sour wine-dark blood.’ The world proves itself to be a terrible place, ‘and still we cannot stay.’
Each poem in this diverse group works on its own and as part of a sequence unified by this admirable poet’s sensibility and fluency. I’m delighted to introduce Kate Angus to readers.”
     –David Lehman, author of Yeshiva Boys and Sinatra’s Century: One Hundred Notes on the Man                                    and His World. Series Editor The Best American Poetry.
“Lately I've been reading a Kate Angus poem every morning, so I can start the day falling in love with language. The poems in So Late to the Party look at love and lust, loneliness and longing, and treat us to a better understanding of the nuances of humanity. These poems will break your heart.”
     –Shelly Oria, author of New York 1, Tel Aviv 0
“Oh, this book. Don't miss this beautiful book. Kate Angus's debut, So Late To The Party, is a deep dive into longing. Perhaps the speaker in ‘Is The World A Terrible Place?’ gives the best summary: ‘Think of lovers.//They will not think of you.’ With pitch-perfect rhythm, crackling language, and sly humor (‘please do not ever leave me!’ is a line from an ode to the American Heritage Dictionary), these poems make us contend with loneliness, heartache, and the devastating passage of time. This collection will grab you by the throat.”
     –Diana Spechler, author of Who by Fire and Skinny

Kate Angus
The Side Dish #9
Video: Chelsea Kurnick



Poems cited here are assumed to be under copyright by the poet and/or publisher.  They are shown here for publicity and review purposes.  For any other kind of re-use of these poems, please contact the listed publishers for permission.

We here at TBOP are technically deficient and rely on our bashful Milo to fix everything.  We received notice from Google that we were using "cookies"
and that for our readers in Europe there had to be notification of the use of those "cookies.  Please be aware that TBOP may employ the use of some "cookies" (whatever they are) and you should take that into consideration.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

You're the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened - Arisa White (Augury Books)

Today's book of poetry:
You're the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened.  Arisa White.  Augury Books.  New York, New York.  2016.


"...she speaks and the want is forever need."
                                                                                  from Hold Your Part Of A Deal

Sometimes Today's book of poetry is simply overwhelmed by poetry.  Arisa White just made me hold my breath.  

White comes from a long line of women who define strength and courage.  Today's book of poetry is fairly sure White has read, absorbed and respects Judy Grahn, Eillen Myles and Lenore Kendall.  But we are almost certain she's read Barbara Smith, Audre Lorde and Alice Dunbar Nelson.

Chance Is Based On True Events

Walk down the street, everybody
knows your need to touch her.
Smile a smile in a smile,
and feel that kind of marathon.

Swing on that spine
between your birth days
until sleep wants you.

Have the body
with its flames
and charities
and its rooms to cry

Until the war is out
of its actors and casualties,
be grizzly on the floor.

Look up--
rarely do we look up.
There are kisses and hugs
above us--kisses and hugs.

Swear on old and new
that the wind shakes
the picture admired too long.

Take a chance
be houndish and address
her in stranger shapes.

Lover her to the crunch,
to a barbaric end
with song and spittle,
pinball and bric-a-brac.


Arisa White's poems are about women in a world that is rarely sympathetic to their concerns or needs.  She writes about women loving women and the challenging spirals of racism, sexism and ignorance the spiral around gay love.  She does it with considerable panache.

Today's book of poetry wants to talk about the poetry more than the politic, which we have total respect for.  But Today's book of poetry is a poetry blog and Arisa White writes some killer poetry. She can be sharp as the razor held by a lover who is doing a trim.  White is quick to take us to the most tender ground amid the violence of love and lust.

When They Say

you are pretty, they come with pretty things to match you. believe
them like you are the fourteen year old who's taken into an alley,
gasoline poured in your honor, you are drenched in flames

                                                   Was I black and ugly?

pretty are you to officials who order your dissident pink
extinct of eagles. just and blind in their examination, they flip
the switch to make you forget yourself celestial and rising

                                                             Was I crazy in love?

you are the drug, the pretty to the schizophrenic who snorts
coke off your pubic bone, takes a swig of Cola, and his friends
watch him insert vacuum attachments into your snatch

                                                    Why did he do that to me?

pretty girl you are whose uncle comes for a visit and molests
you at the dinner table. you are the pretty mother loving
you years later who says, We all must go through it

                                                    Why is this what they leave for me?

so your and pretty, so tight you are virgin mythologized.
left broken to cup the spilling of a positive penis, from your
edges comes no cure, your adolescence initiated with AIDS

                                                     Who would touch me like this?

pretty clit clipped and sewn, military shotgun shattered
vaginal walls, your people cannot stand the smell of your shards.
you are bruised pretty to miscarry an undesirable girl

                                                      Why am I here?

you are the gush who never stops bleeding, whose ovaries
scream and eggs drop as they please, your uterus diagnosed
hysterical. you are without the possibility of gardens

                                                       Am I?

Karen, you are holy ova, she-she serenade, potent dap and dynahara,
bornship and portal, worshipped lotus, you are liminal wonder,
helicun, you are vivakiss, kush, fragrant red-deep, a woke-parade--
believe, you are the most beautiful thing that happened.


Sometimes Today's book of poetry just feels sorry he's a damned man.  Arisa White has all the anger she has earned but that's not the oil that cooks these meals.  White is working towards a bigger understanding.  Today's book of poetry sees hope in these poems.

Our morning read was orchestrated by Kathryn, our Jr. Editor.  The arresting poems in You're the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened bounced around our offices in protest, in celebration and ultimately some laughter.  Arisa White's poems come at you without apology, straight for the central cortex where White is more than happy to play around with your equilibrium.

White addresses how hard it is to give and receive love, how hard it is to sometimes recognize love. She addresses love and loss and death and disease.  But all of it with a voice we can easily recognize as human/humane, hurt/hopeful and smart.

Mary O

Having sex during menses, in a bonded relationship,
is a very powerful way of sharing blood. Why do you
think there has been such a taboo? Why were you steered
away from the blood mysteries for eons? Perhaps because
it would open doors of knowledge that the gods did not wish
you to have. Blood contains the archives of personal, planetary,
and celestial experience. When blood is experienced in a sexual
union, you are flooded with waves of knowledge, much of it
beyond your present ability to understand and integrate.
              Eureka freeze, Marciniak puts "Shebang" before our brains,
and bless you. You've been marked on the neck and soles, too.
I have my same rituals: hot bath and cayenne tea, Legally Blonde
and OG Kush. Randy's warmed, you're strapped on. You set
a spell with your M-i-double s-i-double s-i-double p--I'm ludicrous
mayflies. We go toward streetlights, Shell signs, aim for fireworks, fanatic
for any moon, our lives risked for good intentions--doing it in the middle
of the street. This is your house, Mary O, and your part in these curtains.


Arisa White's poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work - Poetry.

Today's book of poetry isn't female, black or gay.  It doesn't matter a whit, good poetry jumps over every stupid barrier we throw in its' way.

Arisa White burns.
Arisa White
Photo: Nye’ Lyn Tho
Arisa White is a Cave Canem fellow, an MFA graduate from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, the author of the chapbooks Black Pearl and Post Pardon, the second of which was adapted into an opera, as well as the full-length collections Hurrah’s Nest and A Penny Saved. Arisa has received residencies, fellowships, or scholarships from Headlands Center for the Arts, Port Townsend Writers’ Conference, Rose O’Neill Literary House, Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Hedgebrook, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Prague Summer Program, Fine Arts Work Center, and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She is a 2013-2014 recipient of an Investing in Artists grant from the Center for Cultural Innovation and a BFA faculty advisor at Goddard College in Vermont.

Swiss army knives, scuttling crabs, pinball machines, HIV/AIDS, the West Side Highway, daisy breasts, racial slurs, kitchen sink scorch marks, and mustangs running through veins: through all the kaleidescoping nouns of White’s new collection, the starring roles are played by lust and roving hands and lovers and beloveds. These poems are nearly unblurbable: delicate yet tough, visceral and cerebral, innocent yet experienced, loving and longing, grotesque and hopeful: “…I drag our placenta behind us. Together/ can be restored with a blink.” Come for the lyrical mastery, stay for the god-level Eros. The third full-length collection by one of America’s most promising poets, You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened is required reading for anyone who’s ever loved, been loved, or forgotten how.
     —Amy King, The Missing Museum

Arisa White’s You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened is a book whose true engine is love, and whose every poem, in all kinds of ways, reaches toward love. That in itself is astonishing, and to be praised. But add the formal playfulness, the rich music, the storytelling, and, perhaps especially, the sense of justice and humanity, and you’ll realize you’re holding a truly beautiful book in your hands.
     —Ross Gay, Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude

Arisa White sharpens her words against this unpredictable world we live in, with the poems in You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened. In verse that is exhilarating and unexpected, White writes of race, of women loving women, of these all too human bodies we wear, of cities, of landscape. You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened is an assured and memorable book of poetry, one that provokes thought as much as it provokes a depth of feeling.
     —Roxane Gay, Bad Feminist

Arisa White’s You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened makes us sweat, reflect, cry, and discover. With a deft utilization of prose poetry, lyric essay, and verse, White delivers a guide to learning our freedoms. You will probably have to reconfigure your definition of beauty after you read this book.
     —Willie Perdomo, The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon

There are not enough books like or near Arisa White’s new collection, You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened, addressing what it is to be young, Lesbian and Queer and Black and tender and unapologetic and erotic. In these poems, I hear Pat Parker’s wit and challenge, and the insistence of Audre Lorde demanding that we look, listen, celebrate and change.
     —Pamela Sneed, Imagine Being More Afraid of Freedom Than Slavery
Arisa White ups the ante with this bold and visceral collection of striking lyrics, bold and honest. It’s a kind of song, truth be told, and these poems truth indeed be tolled.
     —Kazim Ali, Sky Ward

Whether remembering a neglected friend or experiencing a sensual touch, Arisa White’s poems will take your breath away. They nestle into rich language then burst up and out like birds taking flight; so close you feel their heat and wings inside you. She traverses many landscapes, both physical and emotional, sometimes evoking a melancholy longing, at other times an eager passion. In either case, these are exquisite, finely crafted poems that are irresistible.
     —Jewelle Gomez, The Gilda Stories: Expanded 25th Anniversary Edition
This is what I’m talking about. The fierce truth, the gorgeous loneliness, the late-night bravery and the tender, tender heart. It’s the poetry of Arisa White and it’s divine in every sense. Let’s all talk about it.
     —Daniel Handler, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events
Arisa White’s smart, angular, precocious and sexy third collection is filled with lithe anecdotes and disturbed resonances of how to negotiate a full life in everyday environs. These crafted, knowing poems put us in the middle of the room of living a realized, intelligent life of the senses. White’s attentive word substitutions and range of organized forms refreshes the reader at each page. To live freely, observantly as a politically astute, sensually perceptive Queer Black woman is to be risk taker, at risk, a perceived danger to others and even dangerous to/as oneself. White writes: I shake this heart to get the last coin out, the last folded bill where you wrote “Do Not Spend.” We feel that last coin drop, like the last mic of the MC. Throwing her caution to the wind, you should spend: spend time with the tender exchanges in these poetic jewels.
     —Tracie Morris, handholding: 5 kinds

Arisa White
Video: Velro Readings



Poems cited here are assumed to be under copyright by the poet and/or publisher.  They are shown here for publicity and review purposes.  For any other kind of re-use of these poems, please contact the listed publishers for permission.

We here at TBOP are technically deficient and rely on our bashful Milo to fix everything.  We received notice from Google that we were using "cookies"
and that for our readers in Europe there had to be notification of the use of those "cookies.  Please be aware that TBOP may employ the use of some "cookies" (whatever they are) and you should take that into consideration.