Heather Treseler’s new chapbook Parturition, named after the technical term for childbirth, is punctuated with medical vocabulary. Anhedonia, the inability to feel pleasure. Caul, a baby born with a piece of amniotic sac on its head. Nullipara, a woman who has never given birth.
“What’s the start of summer for you, the signal that it’s here?” Nina MacLaughlin asks in her book-length essay Summer Solstice, published by Black Sparrow Press. And with that invitation the reader’s imagination is kindled, fueled by the flush of inquiries that follow: “Is it the last day of school? The lilacs or the day lilies? First sleep with the windows open?”
The wounded deer
died in the impossible
garden. Did it become
the orchid that shouldn’t
be there, the cactus dying
in a rain puddle? The trestle
bridge carries more weight
than my body, but the heft
of a memory changes
Horizontal pock-marked rocks lie
in the shallow swamp like tombstones
to fallen alligators—as if to say Cassius
lived here, Orion slept there, and Sirius
ate turtles just beyond this path.
Spring brings wind and water to the ruined gardens
of Pannonia, fruit tree boughs toss across
gravel orchard paths as if wildly
“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.
To read a Bridget Lowe poem is to observe a gradual transformation, a transmutation of the ordinary into progressively more extraordinary metaphysical states. Anyone who read Lowe’s first book At the Autopsy of Vaslav Nijinsky will be excited to see, in her new collection My Second Work, a return of the same immense imagination, which she utilizes with surgical precision to prod at what makes us human.