Category Archives: book reviews

Trying To Be Cool – Growing Up In The 1950’s by Leo Braudy

tryingPaperback: 272 pages

Publisher: Asahina & Wallace (October 21, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1940412048

ISBN-13: 978-1940412047

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A Poetic Review by: Rodger Lowenthal 
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A response
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A story of one of hundreds of corner “hangouts” (or to be more genteel,gathering places), that could be transposed to any large Eastern city.
The author grows, the corner decreases in importance.
The ultimate focus is on the mysteries and struggles of teenagehood.
   about what comes easy and what does not
   of finding comfort zones and fitting in
   about the sociological importance of the 1950’s cultural changes
Braudy casts a wide net
   consider survival and growth, neatly tied together
   the musical conventions changed by rock and roll
   his early interest in film
   the clearly yoked dependency of memory and imagination
   recall and reframing
   as his “true story” unfolds  the reader is treated to
   a strong sensitive intelligence
There are Sunday afternoons of coffee shop folk music
   the father son relationship
   more rock and roll history
   styles of “cool” friends   masturbation
   the growing importance of girls
   unexpected sidetracks
Braudy has an agreeable expansive style
   and a keen ear, comfortable with
   both patois and poetry
What about cool? then and now? Then reticent
and understated   now thriving ostentation
For me easy to compare and contrast my 1950’s years
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A note:
One gripe: Why do small presses lack proofreaders? Sadly this book had at least a dozen unnecessary words repeated or vowels omitted.
Leo, my friend, the publisher owes you an apology.
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rodger-lowenthal-4-Rodger Lowenthal is a poet from Eastern Montgomery County Pennsylvania who is known to frequent Ryerss Museum and Library  in Fox Chase. He is a regular contributor of book reviews to FCR and an occasional host at the reading series. He also hosts “Under the Stars”, a poetry and musical quarterly event. His poetic reviews of books have appeared on line in various literary blogs. He is known to pick up pieces of cigars and Hollywood whenever he can.
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A Visit with Lincoln by Carl Sandburg

Abraham-Lincoln-The-War-Years-and-the-Prairie-Years-by-Carl-Sandburg-6-Volumes

We normally concentrate on poetry and fiction here at The Fox Chase Review, but over the last week or so I had a visit with Sandburg’s Lincoln. While Lincoln is the core of this six volume set, Sandburg wraps not only national events but world events and progress around Lincoln. As you read through the volumes, the change in our manner of communication abounds, cruelty of war, intrigue of politics and society, slaves in the south, wage slaves in the north, the ever expanding movement west and the inventive minds at work across the United States. These events and the people involved come to life as the pages of this work unfold. Each volume contains poetry by not only poets of the day but by Lincoln himself, an extra bonus I believe.

These volumes reveal a country in transformation socially, economically, and scientifically. Throughout the volumes I was struck by not only the violence of the civil war in the United States but the daily violence of society in general in the developing democracy.  Lincoln by Carl Sandburg is not only worth a visit by people in the United States in order to gain a knowledge of our past but for those in developing nations who strive toward freedom and democracy. There are lessons for all to learn from this masterpiece by Sandburg.

For those in the Philadelphia area who desire to read the six volumes of Lincoln by Carl Sandburg, you can find the set at Ryerss Musuem and Library, http://www.ryerssmuseum.org/ , simply fill out a library card and check them out. Others can check local libraries or surf the web for a copy.

g emil reutter

g emil reutter

-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA). You can visit him at http://gereutter.wordpress.com/

Child World by Thaddeus Rutkowski

Child World24 pages

Red Glass Books – December 2013

Review by: Marcelle Thiébaux

Here is a riveting collection of Thaddeus Rutkowski’s brief, emotional pieces touching on childhood and parenthood. The focus appears to be on the author’s own present-day family, where a young, lively, teen-age daughter is at the heart.

There are forays into the past and toward other nearby families–even to a couple of vulnerable young birds watching tv from their nest (“Family of Birds”) contributing to the capriciousness often present.  The parental mood is protective, responsible and loving–with a frequent whimsical quality, as in “Father Figures?” and “The Truth about the Tooth Fairy.” Not to mention the fantasy of “Sitting on the Ceiling,” where daughter suggests “I know how we could have more space…. We could use the ceiling as the floor.” The eeriness and paranormal genre of “Lost in Space” doesn’t lose any of the psychological reality of how this family interacts; in fact, the story deepens this relationship. The personalities of father, daughter and mother emerge with vividness in their individual voices and attitudes; the parents’ conscientiousness and anxieties, the daughter’s inquiring, venturesome, playful and serious moods.

There’s often a bitter-sweet flavor–as with warning fears of other scary, untrustworthy fathers who may like children the wrong way (“My Absent Father” and “Riding Alone”). Intensely moving meditations on mortality are in “Scary Dream,” and “Dear Daughter.” Overall, “Child World” is both wide-ranging and specific, a pleasure to savor in small, delicious bites.

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Check out the book here: http://janetkaplan-litworks.com/red_glass_books_store

mich th-Marcelle Thiébaux is the author of books and articles on medieval literature, among them, The Stag of Love: The Chase in Medieval Literature; The Writings of Medieval Women; and Dhuoda: Handbook for her Warrior Son. She has written about women of all centuries, including British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and American Pulitzer Prize winner Ellen Glasgow. http://www.marcellethiebaux.com/

Words Not Spoken by Vinita Agrawal

words not spoken

121 Pages

Publisher: Brown Critique- Sampark Books

Language: English

ISBN: 978-81-926842-2-2

Review by: g emil reutter.

Poet Vinita Agrawal is a realist who writes with passion about her life and those around her. Agrawal is excellent in her use of metaphor and writing poetic narratives such as the opening stanza of the title poem Words not Spoken:
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After mother passed away, the house shrunk,
silence expanded. Father and I heard pins of
emptiness drop. We discussed the sooty sun
behind the clouds, the salty rain. We mumbled
about what to have for lunch and dinner but
did not parley on what to do with mother’s saris.
We did not talk about the aroma that was missing
from the kitchen, or the flock of indigent mynahs
twittering hungrily in the balcony, their  beaks
agape with personal loss.
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In this one stanza Agrawal communicates the loss of a loved one with metaphors: the house shrunk, silence expanded, pins of emptiness drop, aroma that was missing from the kitchen, mynahs with beaks agape with personal loss. It is simply a beautiful stanza.
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From the fourth stanza of Draconian:
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It is a very bright moon tonight
that presses heavily on our parting
turns tears to silver, silence to gold.
It does the right thing always.
Let us prepare for the distance.
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The contrast of the bright moon pressing heavily on parting is a wonderful image. Tears to silver, silence to gold reveals the value Agrawal places on emotion but even a higher value on silence and endurance not only in this relationship but for life. This collection of poetry covers a period of 1997 to present. These poems of life and faith unfold before the reader revealing a life well lived in all the lows and highs we suffer and enjoy. Words Not Spoken is a valuable collection of poetry by Vinita Agrawal

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At present the book can be ordered by contacting

Gayatri Majumdar at browncritique@gmail.com

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g emil reutter-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA)

Writing Poems By Robert Wallace and Michelle Boisseau

writing poemsPublisher: Longman; 8 edition (July 16, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0205176054
ISBN-13: 978-0205176052
 
Review by: Stephen Page
 
The first three chapters of Writing Poems are review for any writer who has taken a writing workshop at university and/or published anything other than a blog entry or a vanity book, yet the review is sweeet.  I believe it is imperative for all writers to reread the basics every decade or so, especially if that decade comes after years away from academia and teaching.  It’s not clear which parts of the book are Wallace and which parts are Boisseau, but the colaboration results well.  I like their ideas and theories, and their explanations are clear and concise.   I recommend this book to all writers and teachers alike.
 
On other reading this month, I read chapters three through six of Writing Poems.  I found the authors’ opinion of prose poems poignant:  “Prose poems, as one might infer, aren’t verse at all, but short compositions in prose that ask for (and reward) the concentrated attention usually given to poetry.”  By definition of verse (turning, to turn, turn over) I guess that qualifies. Also relevant is the discussion on free verse: 
 
“’T.S. Eliot said, ‘No vers is libre for the poet who wants to do a good job.’ And the great American innovator in free verse, William Carlos Williams, was always quite certain: ’…to my mind, there is not such thing as free verse.  It’s contradiction in terms, the verse is measured.  No measured can be free.’  Since the nature of verse itself means that we pay attention to the way lines cut across and so measure the flowing phrase and sentence of speech, Williams is correct;  free verse measures,  lines are measured, and though not metered.”  
 
When I taught high school, to interest the teenagers in poetry, I mingled poems with pop rock lyrics.  I explained that rock-and-rollers of the last forty or fifty years lived similar lives to poets in Shakespearian times, traveling around in bands, playing on street corners, playing to paying customers in theatres. I also showed how lyrics, when seen visually on the page, look like poems, and have many of the same qualities of poems, especially meter, assonance, alliteration, internal rhyme; moreover, end rhyme to help the listener memorize the verse and know where the line ended.  The author talked similarly about this in the first paragraph of chapter five. 
 
          Chapter six is especially interesting, as it parallels what John Haines talked about in his essays,
 
“Equally blinding for the beginning poet is the assumption that poetry is mainly direct self-expression:  What happened to me, what I feel.  Poets risk psychobabble—endlessly reporting their own feeling, their own experience (only because it’s their experience), unaware that they are boring a reader.  Looking only inward can keep poets from looking outward.”
 
“Subjects and Objects” is a good section of chapter six as it covers what most great writers already know: take the usual and make it extraordinary.  Make every day occurrences interesting for the reader.  In the chapter there is another topic that Haines talked about, poetry and place.  Go out where you live and get into the feel of the place.  Connect.  That is where the poetry comes from.  The “Presenting,” section talks about your advice on some of my poems: whittle your poem down to their essence.  Take out, or leave out, unnecessary details.
 
Chapters seven through nine of Writing Poems are informatively interesting.   Chapter seven begins like this:
 
Every poem begins with a voice, a speaker, the person who tells us whatever we hear or read.  Usually the poet speaks, but often someone else does.  Just as anything can serve as the subject of a poem, so too can anyone, indeed anything, serves as the speaker.  In this poem Amy Gerstler (b 1956) speaks through the voice of a mermaid . . .
 
That’s good advice for poets trying to find new avenues of expression.  Write from the other person’s point of view.  Take on a role.  Speak for the mute.  Speak for the verbally inarticulate.  Speak for the ones who can no longer speak, as Rita Dove does for the slave girl in chapter eight.  It is also good advice for narrow minded critics who believe every poem with an “I” in it is an autobiographical sketch, or a confession, or some hidden facet of the poet’s subconscious.  Writing from another’s point of view is also a way to solidify the main character in the poem.  And, as the “Persona” section explains, speaking in the first person reveals character motive and clarifies reader understanding, especially when the “unreliable  narrator” in employed.
 
The “Narrative” section is good also.  Here is an example: 
 
Paying attention to the fundamentals of good narrative allows a poet to choose what to include and what to leave out., when to summarize details and when to depict the action moment by moment; that is to control the poem’s pacing.
 
That’s good advice for writers who get to far into language poetry and lose narrative thread, for writers who get sloppy and forget which details need focus and which need not be in the poem., for writers who forget how to use the line.
 
The “Metaphor” chapter is detailed enough in explaining the subtleties between the labels we have for figures of speech, so it’s either good review or a good introduction to tropes.  I agree with Aristotle, to a certain point: Metaphor usage is something that cannot be (easily) taught.  “Easily” is my word.   Metaphor usage is something that should be natural to writers, something innate.  But, that doesn’t mean a writer is going to be rattling off  metaphors as he first begins to speak—“Hey Mom, you’re the womb of my heart.  Hey Dad, you’re the hand of my limits.”  It takes time to know how to use metaphors well.  It is often the writer’s influences in life that bring these inner characteristics out.  Some of those influences might be parents, but often they are also teachers, mentors, books. Additionally, bettering metaphor usage can be taught.  It can be sharpened through practice and coaching.  Most specifically I am speaking about learning the difference between extended metaphor and mixed metaphor, a mistake all beginning writers make and all bad writers continue to do throughout their careers.
 
          I laughed with the first paragraphs of the “Beyond the Rational” chapter, the part about the muses.  I often try to picture my muse, and even did once while writing a long verse poem.  She became a character in the play, but I still don’t know if I created her or if she just was.  On the other hand, as the chapter points out, to scientifically explain the creative process, psychologists and researchers have noted differences in how the brain functions in creative people.  So, maybe there are different realities for creative people, different perceptions of the world while creating.  That’s where the chapter expands into the opening of our world view, the shaking off of our prejudices, the repatterning of our rigid views on what makes sense and what does not. 
 
 
 
 
- Stephen out Reading on ranchStephen Page holds two AA’s from Palomar College, a BA from Columbia University, and an MFA from Bennington College.  He is the author of The Timbre of Sand and Still Dandelions.  His Book Reviews have appeared regularly in the Buenos Aires Herald, Gently Read Literature, Classic Book Club, and the Fox Chase Review.  He is the recipient of The Jess Cloud Memorial Prize, a Writer-in-Residence with stipend from the Montana Artists Refuge, a Writer Fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center, an Imagination Grant from Cleveland State University, and an Arvon Foundation Ltd. Grant. He lived in the Congo for one year.

Principles of Belonging by Joshua Gray

POB CoverPaperback: 116 pages

Publisher: Red Dashboard LLC (November 9, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1492993506

ISBN-13: 978-1492993506

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Review by Dennis Daly

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Audacity and ambition fused to a poetic temperament can get you a long way. Joshua Gray in his second book of poetry, Principles of Belonging, pushes the envelope in his artistic efforts to create a masterpiece of poetic unity. He nears a crescendo, but doesn’t quite get there. Yet he does give us a compelling narrative encompassing national tragedy, dysfunctional families, young love, and an overview of life’s ironies. That ain’t bad. Along the way Gray melds Sanskrit meter, Anglo Saxon verse, Welsh measures, blank verse, free verse (sometimes  rhymed), not to mention sonnets, other rhymed poems and a sympoe ( a strange poetic form invented by Gray).
 
The Sanskrit lines, the rules of which were developed well before the Homeric Age, soothe you with their subject appropriateness. The lines or padas are four feet of four syllables each, making sixteen syllables on a line. Excessive syllables are sometimes okay, but are not counted. The syllables are considered light or heavy depending on the juxtaposition of consonants and vowels. The rules are really simple and elegant and, in narrative forms, almost prosy. Gray avoids numerical intricacies and high art sophistications, keeping the original rule-based simplicity in his English adaptations.  Keep in mind that virtually all Sanskrit, including law, science, and mathematics, was composed in verse. For those interested in further pursuits of this form I found a book by Charles Philip Brown written in 1869 entitled Sanskrit Prosody and Numerical Symbols Explained (London 1869). It appears to be part of an academic collection and is easily located on the internet.
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Here are two padyas (stanzas) from Gray’s poem Village detailing Hindu cultural differences between the sexes,
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So honey was kept hidden away. Gan thought of when the man,
the honeywala, left last year: Gan and his brother Jay had wanted
honey; they snuck about the kitchen, but their mother had seen them, grabbed
a log from the fire, then chased the boys around the house as they ran out.
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She knew full well the boys would not be back home until late; the law
states that women must not eat before the men (and boys); thus,
she and Devi, her teen daughter, must wait until the three men ate
before either of them could. The boys stayed out past the rise of the moon.
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In the poem West Bengal Gray outdoes himself with a haunting political and personal narrative. The poet, using his Sanskrit meter, begins his piece this way,
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The next morning the train stopped in some town and everybody got off.
Hindus who rode the train roofs now descended; further off a crowd
of Muslims waited to board the train traveling the other way.
A sole chai-wala called out as he walked, clay cups in hand, hot chai balanced.
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The Table of Contents in The Gathering Principle begins in 1947 and ends with an Epilogue in 1994. The poems order themselves around human relationships tracked over the years. Oddly, Gray also orders them by poetic forms. For instance, in a section identified both with a date (1961) and the title Cynghanedd, Gray gives us three poetic adaptations of medieval Welsh verse. Cynghanedd literally means harmony and is a system of assonance and alliterations. The poet ends his piece Wildflowers harmoniously,
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On school days she’d wait, anticipating
The weekend, go to the creek and quietly
Harvest the richest hues; sometimes Bluettes
Would even mindlessly find a new future.
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With her brothers or alone, her brothers fighting or stoning
Trunks, she plucked not meanly but fondly, green and gold
And white as Fern Hill. The air could be chilling
Or warmed by the sun, the wonderful flora could take her in winter.
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Elaborate and elegant both! Gerard Manley Hopkins used this form to great effect and Dylan Thomas was clearly influenced by it.
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The sonnets and rhymed poems in this collection are a mixed bag. Some work very well. Others less well. An untitled sonnet example on page 89 that works extremely well deals with childhood’s faulty memories and compensating emotions.  Rhymes fall naturally in place infusing the story with complexity. The poet asks,
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How does one tell when another’s truth is wrong
As well? If Devi’s lost her memory
Perhaps it’s mine where truth can truly be.
I will not dance to illusion’s crippling song.
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My parents stayed behind, or so I’m told,
And didn’t travel with us on the train.
So where did all that I recall take place?
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When Jay took off and left us in the cold,
To prevent myself
From being a child insane,
I must have placed my parents in that space.
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But even the poems that clank with obvious and sometimes forced rhymes need only a minor change or two. The last end rhyme of the poem entitled Rick sounds a little off, but the first thirteen lines are perfect. The poem ends this way,
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So I went and told her why myself, but she beat
Me to the story’s end and laughed out loud:
This lady of light refused to keep me proud.
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May I suggest that Gray needs to edit a few of the rhymed poems in this collection, perhaps with a second set of eyes; and what is clearly a very, very good and interesting collection of poems may turn into a game-changer of a book. Speaking of editorial work, my favorite poem in this terrific collection, Doris/Deb, is placed on the wrong page in the Table of Contents (I’m reviewing from an electronic version). It relates the story of two struggling mothers and it reads wonderfully. Consider these lines, the first half of the poem,
Determined mothers make their children’s clothes.
I find that poverty will likely breed
Necessity. When we could barely feed
Ourselves—our kids—I quickly learned to sew,
And walked a ways for fabric, rain or snow.
I sewed a costume once for Halloween;
The ‘S’ was crooked, the cape a little green.
And later, after Rick and I had split,
The thread and needle helped me quite a bit.
A single mother is often the one who knows;
Determined mothers make their children’s clothes.
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Just for its poetic nerve and intrinsic formalist interest this book gets an “A” as in audacious. With a nod to what this book may ultimately become, I celebrate its already significant accomplishments.
 

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You can check out the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Principles-Belonging-Joshua-Gray/dp/1492993506/ref=sr_1_fkmr2_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391856155&sr=1-1-fkmr2&keywords=Principles+of+Being+by+Joshua+Gray

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ddDennis Daly has been published in numerous poetry journals and magazines and recently nominated for a Pushcart prize.  Ibbetson Street Press published The Custom House, his first full length book of poetry in June, 2012. His second book, a verse translation of Sophocles’ Ajax, was published by Wilderness House Press in August, 2012. His third book of poems entitles Night Walking with Nathaniel has been accepted for publication by Dos Madres Press. A fourth book is nearing completion.

Sound of the Ax: Aphorisms and Poems by William Stafford

sound of
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Series: Pitt Poetry Series
Paperback: 104 pages
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (February 10, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0822962969
ISBN-13: 978-0822962960
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Review by: g emil reutter
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Editors, Vincent Wixon and Paul Merchant have once again explored the William Stafford Archives at Lewis & Clark College to bring us the Aphorisms of William Stafford from over fifty years of Stafford’s daily writing, four hundred aphorisms are published here from thousands Stafford wrote. Intermingled are twenty-six poems by Stafford.  Stafford passed away in 1993, yet here we are in 2014 once again reading the works of William Stafford.
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These cuts of language that often became poems by Stafford offer insight into the wit, humor, and strengths. These cuts are inspirational as Stafford’s finely sharpened ax has left behind.
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To call some people losers is to reveal your limits in
defining categories into which people can go.
 
It’s a tall order, finding your way. Maybe it’s winter
and you can’t just stand around waiting for help.
 
Poetry is the kind of thing you to see from the
corner of your eye. You can be too well prepared for
poetry. A conscientious interest in it is worse than
no interest at all. If you analyze it away, it’s gone. It
would be like boiling a watch to find out what makes
it tick .
 
A speech is sometin you say so as to distract
Attention from what you do not say.
 
A common sin: Insufficient care in avoiding the
approval of others.
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The bonus in this collection are the poems. Poems such as Consolations.
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 Consolations
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“The broken part heals even stronger than the rest,”
they say. But what takes awhile.
And, “Hurry up,” the whole world says.
They tap their feet. And it still hurts on rainy
afternoons when the same absent sun
gives no sign it will ever come back.
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“What difference in a hundred years?”
the barn where Agnes hanged her child
will fall by then, and the scrawled words
erase themselves on the floor where rats’ feet
run. Boards curl up. Whole new trees
drink what the rivers bring. Things die.
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“No good thing is easy.” They told us that,
while we dug our fingers into the stones
and looked beseechingly into their eyes.
They say hurt is good for you. It makes
what comes later a gift all the more
precious in your bleeding hands.
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Sound of the Ax is a precious collection of Aphorisms and Poems by William Stafford, a master of language we can all learn from.
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g emil reutter at Chop Suey Books-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA)

Bloom in Reverse by Teresa Leo

birSeries: Pitt Poetry Series

Paperback: 104 pages
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (February 5, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0822962977
ISBN-13: 978-0822962977
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Review by: g emil reutter
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Teresa Leo has always been a poet who never hides behind the curtain. Bloom in Reverse is a collection of poems presented in stark realism in both subject matter and words. There are none of the current clichés used by those language folks nor are there any tee hee moments or a need to figure out exactly what the poet said. Leo is one of a growing group of poets who can return poetry to the mainstream by presenting poems people often have experienced in their own lives. As much as it may pain some, truth be told, people want to read poems, if at all that reflect their lives, losses and loves. Leo accomplishes this in this outstanding collection of poems written by a poet with the heart of a story teller.
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From - Elegy, Two Years Later
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I will no longer think
of her last moments on earth-
 
her final thought
or what random thing her fingers
 
may have touched
the  residue of warmth
 
that radiated there, pulsed
an undercurrent that looped
 
back into the body, spun
thourgh the neutral net
 
past organs and bones,
traveled up the spine
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so that the brain
would recognize touch
 
in its form as pen or chair,
an image that might have stayed
 
in her mind, lodged
the last image
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It is in poems such as this that Leo reminds us of the importance of passion and substance. That in fact ideas and the motivations behind them lead to poetry with a heartbeat.
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From – Home is a Four Letter Word
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There are other ways to say it-
trap, cell, rope, hell,
 
the kind of place
where she’ll pull up daylilies
 
on a cold morning
wearing only a thin nightgown,
 
and after that with dirt
still odged beneath the fingernails,
 
she’ll tear down photos
like the pornographic ransom notes
 
they are, trace evidence
of the felon she once loved,
 
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In Bloom in Reverse, Leo, brings us into her world of loss of a friend and at other times a lover. She chooses her words carefully and with great honesty.
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Teresa Leo in The Fox Chase Review http://www.foxchasereview.org/10SU/TeresaLeo.html
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g emil reutter- g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA). http://gereutter.wordpress.com/
 
 
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On the Street of Divine Love: New and Selected Poems by Barbara Hamby

 DIVINESeries: Pitt Poetry Series
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (January 21, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0822962888
ISBN-13: 978-0822962885
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Review by: g emil reutter
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Her words whirl along the pages encased in a cyclone of metaphor and images, full of passion and reality. Hamby is comfortable eating barbecue in southern Georgia, hanging out at the town hardware store as she is in Paris or flying with angels, dealing with Satan and idols, saints and old cowboys.
 
From - Questions for My Body
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Your brain like 100 million hornets in a Campbell’s Soup can,
                 so where’s the axe to split it open?
Speaking of can openers, what is it about midnight that makes
                 your spine shake like the hand of a holy roller
                 shooting craps against a back alley curb?
                 Click, click, click — snake eyes, and all your pretty dresses
                  lie in tatters, Ave Maria and her butternut squash.
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From - Ode to Barbecue
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We are lost again in the middle of redneck nowhere,
                  Which is a hundred times scarier
than any other nowhere because everyone has guns.
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Hamby sets the stage and takes a twist near the end of the poem
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                … we bear Adam’s stain, and the only way
To heaven is to be washed in the blood of the Lamb,
                 Which is kind of what happen when out of the South
Georgia woods we see a little shack with smoke
                  Pouring from the chimmey through it’s August
And steamier than a mild day in Hell; we sit at a picnic table
                   and a broad-bellellied man sets down plates of ribs,
a small mountain of red meat, so differenct from Paris
                    where for my birthday my husband took me
to an elegant place where we ate tiney ribs washed down
                   with a subline St.-Josephe. Oh, don’t bet me wrong,
they were good, but the whole time I was out of sorts,
                    squirming on my perfect chair, disgruntled,
because I wanted to be at Tiny Register’s, Kojacks
                J.B.’s, I wanted ribs all right but big juicy ribs dripping
With sauce, the secret recipe handed down from grandmother
                to father to son, sauce that could take the paint off a Buick,
a hot, sin lacerating concoction of tomatoes, jalapenos
                and sugar, washed down with iced tea, Coca-Cola, beer,
because there’s no water in Hell, and Hell is hot, oh yeah.
 
Hamby’s unconventional style causes page after page to turn and upon reaching the last page of this selected poetry collection, the reader is left looking for more. She is a poet of energy, breathing life into words with passion. The way a poet should.
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g emil reutter at Chop Suey Books- g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA).

WIthout: Poems by Donald Hall

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Paperback: 96 pages
Publisher: Mariner Books (April 14, 1999)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0395957656
ISBN-13: 978-0395957653
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Poetic Review by: Rodger Lowenthal
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every page the pain
of impending loss battles
the elusive shadow of hope
plan and treat
plan and retreat
until the end of options
love sustains
until the end when
sweet memory is all
that remains
Hall exposes his
honest vulnerability
without self-pity
he is ready to move on:
   I lean forward from emptiness
   eager for more emptiness:
   the next thing! the next thing!
              Letter In Autumn
yet there is a presence
he can never relinquish
his house full “of purposeful quiet”
the book an oldie but GOODY
one long love poem teeming
with grace
and acceptance
.
.
rodger-lowenthal-4-Rodger Lowenthal is a poet from Eastern Montgomery County Pennsylvania who is known to frequent Ryerss Museum and Library  in Fox Chase. He is a regular contributor of book reviews to FCR and an occasional host at the reading series. He also hosts “Under the Stars”, a poetry and musical quarterly event. His poetic reviews of books have appeared on line in various literary blogs. He is known to pick up pieces of cigars and Hollywood whenever he can.