“I search Craiglist for sadness: a white couch the only result.” begins “Weeks After My Brother Overdoses,” the final poem in Kerrin McCadden’s chapbook, Keep This to Yourself (Button Poetry 2020). McCadden’s latest collection is a strikingly blunt yet beautifully lyrical meditation on what it means to lose a loved one to America’s current opioid crisis.
Turn It Up! Music in Poetry from Jazz to Hip-Hop, edited by Stephen Cramer, is a vibrant and hip anthology of 400 pages, including poems by everyone from Langston Hughes, Allen Ginsberg, and Rita Dove to Yusef Komunyakaa, Kim Addonizio, Kevin Young, and Danez Smith. The book contains 88 poets in all (the number of keys on a piano), and is split up into three sections: poems about jazz, poems about blues and rock, and poems about hip-hop.
To read Bodega by Su Hwang is to immerse oneself in a world, but to read this debut poetry collection in tandem with Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong is to deepen one’s understanding of what it means to be raised in the United States as a Korean daughter of immigrants. Both offer prismatic sides of living in a racialized nation where “Asian American” is a box to check off on official census documents, and another way to categorize human experience.
My mother was a beautiful bird who fluttered around people in a state of constant agitation. Terrified of being trapped, she was always opening windows, even in the middle of January, and rushing out of doors “to catch a breath of fresh air.” Once outside, she would disappear in an instant, only to return hours later, the wind and leaves and twigs in her hair.
The clergy raise / their gooseneck / arms to the God / wouldn’t soften / the steel of bayonets / while the dust clouds
The table we ate at is bare. Hours ago our fast broken / sunset & cannon-strike with apricot paste & Kingdom dates.
Body broken into. All the sweetness / out. Brightly dyed paper flakes / linger in the grass as if someone has / down the sun. The husk of
The night before Elsa left, she and her husband, Landon, discussed the difference between azure and powder blue. Decisions had to be finalized before she left to do archaeological field work in Italy: shaker style or beadboard cabinets, solid surface or subway tile countertop.
So many of my adult friends / have filed complaints against their fathers, / thick dossiers residing inside heavy metal cabinets / marked D for disappointment—
A girl walks into a diner but she wishes it was a bar. A girl walks into a diner for breakfast. A blinking red light in the window says “Eat Good Food.”
This is a tough book to review, because it takes a disparaging tone from the get-go towards the traditional ways people try to identify with narratives and interpret them. After quoting an agent who wrote to Elizabeth Ellen that they couldn’t determine the collection’s stakes, the dust jacket adds, “Saul Stories, in the spirit of films such as Gummo and Trash Humpers, has no obvious stakes.”
Some mornings at my office in Midtown, / post-9/11, shopping bags appeared / on my desk. In them, four-inch Louboutins, / a vintage bomber, Japanese stationary,