It is 2020 and it seems that we all feel immersed in destruction. Destruction surrounds us and we struggle to understand our own complicity in it. This was true when John Sibley Willams’ book, As One Fire Consumes Another was released in April 2019, and seems to have become an even more pressing reality in the year since.
To be tethered to something can be a good thing, can feel safe and secure, can feel necessary. Right now, we are tethered to a situation, to our homes, to our work, to our families, to uncertainty. Even before this time of pandemic that we find ourselves in, we have each been tethered to something or someone, physically, emotionally, or metaphorically, at least once in life if not for an entire life. The first of life’s tethers is the one that connects us to a mother.
In “Body of Render,” Felicia Zamora cleverly employs mini-prose poems and collage-like fragmentation, similar to previous collections, but what makes this book stand out is her attention to the current American political landscape as well as race in the era of Trump.
Seeking out sugar but settling for deer shit / my mother leans against the side / an old Babylonian cigarette machine
Back when I taught English in Japan, the worst thing that happened to me was being denied entrance to a few restaurants. Kelly Luce, author of Pull Me Under (Farrar, Strauss & Giroux), wasn’t so lucky.
In the chemical light of afternoon, / bodies curl over phones, / slightly toward windows, / empty forms, / if it’s test day.
The great English critic Matthew Arnold once said that he had no respect for the Romantic poets–you know, Shelley, Wordsworth, Byron–because they didn’t know enough. He would not level such a charge against Rosemary Badcoe, who in her remarkable first collection, Drawing a Diagram, so amply and skillfully demonstrates that she knows a great deal – about science, about history, about art, and most importantly for a poet, about writing poetry.
I went over to James’s house unannounced. He opened his bedroom door, his hair all bent and flat from sleeping.
I don’t wear my mother’s body. / There’s no use sneaking around / the house, a gingerbread prefab, / forest-scented with frosting snow.
I met Ed Milk when I was working as a reporter for a chain of community newspapers in
Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn in the late seventies. A week after he came on staff I was fired for having signed a petition for a writers’ union, so we never had the chance to get to know each other all that well, but after he was fired three months later for having signed the same petition, he called to ask me to help him find a job. I was working as the director of publicity for a country music station by then.