Tag Archives: poetry book

Sum and Substance by K Pankajam

sumAuthorspress, New Delhi, 2014

ISBN 978-81-7273-962-1

Review by Shernaz Wadia 

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This is a collection of poems written in forthright, simple language. The poems have an undercurrent of morality but Pankajam does not write like a preacher or someone who believes her destiny is to change the world. It remains for the reader to glean the pearls from between her words and lines. She writes quietly, reflectively, spraying quotidian subjects – Bus Journey, A Surprise Visit, Signboards, My City Seldom Sleeps, Rain Skills, Before The Ink Dries – with freshness and vibrancy.
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Resolutions will immediately resonate with the habitual resolution makers. Many will ‘rewind’ with the poet and ‘think of the debt I could not pay, the promises I could not fulfill’  She takes us relentlessly through each month of the year to finally wind up where we started, with “a fresh list for yet another year”.
She finds Faith everywhere from a plain sheet of paper to everything in nature. It is ‘in our expectation of a daybreak after pitch-dark nights, while our existence next moment/seems beyond prediction.’  
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She writes lucidly about the Indian customs, rituals and ethos she is a part of. (The Pipal Tree, Vishukkani, Hopefully…, Gruhapravesham) Nor does she shy away from what might be termed ‘superstition’. In Stains (Pg. 33) she visits childhood memories of her grandfather’s quirks.  Language of Childhood bemoans the loss of innocence and voices the universal desire for a return to it while Second Childhood compassionately revives the memory of an uncle who had slipped into dementia.
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 When the world is tooting gender equality and women of substance are feted, her women-centric poems stop us in our tracks and compel us to take a look at a different reality. ‘Morning Blues, Yielding… ‘You Are (Not) a Working Woman’, is the dismal tale of every homemaker, whose relentless toil is taken for granted even though she works herself to the bones. 
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Inching slowly, she saunters towards the bed
And slithers into the waiting arms. He murmurs:
“Thank God you are not a working woman!”
Her day continues…
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‘Solitude’s Whimper’ is one poem that shatters our complacency. It shames us out of our apathy as we stare with a dumb ache and with “the walls bleed silently”
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If a philosophical vein peeps through poems like The Journey, A Little Secret, The Ultimatum…, the poet’s humour drips from poems like ‘A Surprise Visit to a Bachelor’s House’.  I couldn’t help but smile at ‘A Momentary Impulse’ a poem most will be able to relate to
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No sindhoor on the parting line/a milky path to the kingdom of love/that kindles his passion to leap a bit.
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In ‘An Orchestra’ she becomes ‘a song in the concert’. In Muse-Inspired she says,
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Salty breeze from Bay of Bengal….give rebirth to my sunken moods/ raises my spirit to its meridian splendour/and soaks my soul in the pavilion of passions.
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Some subjects have been written about endlessly, but they don’t lose their poignancy. Life Is a Circle is a heart-wrenching letter from a parent in an old age home which concludes with the lines
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I taught you all about life
maybe not about relationships
and I write to say:
Don’t tell your son I am here.
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Another evergreen subject for poets is Mother. Pankajam’s ode to her’s is ‘You Visit Me in My Sleep’.
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In my sugared memories of the past,
your face blooms like a lotus that meditates
unfolds at sunrise, upright,
with flawless beauty and virgin purity.
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In Sum and Substance Pankajam serves us a varied fare which is appetising, appealing and satiating. There is a sprinkling of nature poems, love poems, poems that throw a search light not only on society but on her inner realm. We are carried along on her words as she questions, wonders, dreams, empathises, hopes and muses.

 

 

Shernaz-Wadia3– Shernaz Wadia, a retired teacher, lives in Pune, India. A free-lance writer, her articles, short stories and poems have been published in many online journals and literary magazines like Muse India, Boloji, Kritya and The Enchanting Verses etc. Her poems have been anthologised in Poets International, Roots and Wings and Caring Moments. Shernaz is in the process of publishing her poems in a book titled Whispers of the Soul.. She has also co-authored a book of poems titled “Tapestry”, with Israeli poetess Avril Meallem. It is an innovative form of collaborative poetry writing developed by the two of them.

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Recommended Reading for National Poetry Month 2

This is the second in a series of recommended books to read for National Poetry Month by the editors of The Fox Chase Review and hosts of The Fox Chase Reading Series

g emil reutter 2

From g emil reutter

 do-not-rise

Do Not Rise by Beth Bachmann

http://www.amazon.com/Not-Rise-Pitt-Poetry-Series/dp/0822963280

 pom

Pomegranate, Sister of the Heart by Carlos Reyes

http://www.amazon.com/Pomegranate-Sister-Heart-Carlos-Reyes/dp/0983997527

 i-ate1

I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast by Melissa Studdard

http://www.amazon.com/Ate-Cosmos-Breakfast-Melissa-Studdard/dp/0988944758/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1411651757&sr=1-1&keywords=i+ate+the+cosmos+for+breakfast+by+Melissa+Studdard

 city

City of Eternal Spring by Afaa Michael Weaver

http://www.amazon.com/City-Eternal-Spring-Pitt-Poetry/dp/0822963256/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1411581449&sr=1-1&keywords=city+of+eternal+spring+by+afaa+michael+weaver

 church-of-the-adagio

Church of the Adagio by Philip Dacey

http://www.amazon.com/Church-Adagio-Philip-Dacey/dp/0989705145

-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. He can be found at https://gereutter.wordpress.com/about/

Asking My Liver for Forgiveness by Rob Cook

liverPaperback: 70 pages

Publisher: Rain Mountain Press; First edition (September 1, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 098970517X

ISBN-13: 978-0989705172

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Review by Dennis Daly 

 One part obsession, one part surreal, one part experimental, Rob cook’s new collection of poems, Asking My Liver For Forgiveness, delivers a consummate parable of medical terror. According to the book’s Afterword Cook contracted an obscure liver disease back in 2010 which in turn triggered the ravages of cirrhosis. Until an official diagnosis surfaced in early 2014 the poet and his world spiraled into a maelstrom of unpredictable physical pain, emotional ennui, and psychological denial. Through it all he kept writing.
 
Cook’s poems themselves leak pus, blood, and sweat off the page and into a syringe-fired dreamscape of alternating hopelessness and healing. At the same time the patient’s offending liver becomes independent, animal-like, and even sentient. Poetic order imposes itself on the havoc and illogic in a calming, almost climatic, way.
 
Early in the collection the poet objectifies his body parts in an effort to understand the disease darkening his consciousness. In the poem entitled Your Body That Led This Far Cook asks some pertinent questions,
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Is your sugar flu at least one moment’s
true loneliness? Is your liver a frightened
animal huddled near your tummy
that reads the notes inside the harsh breads
and chilis you send it? Does your heart
already know the direction of your grave?
How do you know which kidney
Can be trusted? Which arm?
Which leg? Which eye?
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Courting sleep at the Marion Hotel in his poem entitled Blackness Over Motel Country, the poet concocts a nightmare conversation with the dreamed up visage of a hospital nurse who once tended him. The coordinates of terror reduce “the best possible sleep” to a blend of anxious confession and jaundiced lunacy. Cook explains,
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“I got sick without once leaving my childhood,” I tell her.
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“The pine needles will not hurt you from there,”
the woman says through her conduit of ash tray static.
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It is not my own voice, the despair of the television
that doesn’t end. “I am always watching from
the livers that came before you,” she says
when the sleep creatures pass like a blur of doctors
and their searchlights of mist. Maybe she discusses
my elevated comet count with the man selling
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the letters left in the vacancy sign …
War metaphors monopolize commiserations on diseases. Cook’s immune system turned on its own vital organ, the liver, considering it an alien force bent on mischief. Brigades of soldiers were sent to destroy the offending party. The poet employs this battlefield metaphor in order to comprehend his internal chaos. He uses his title poem, Asking My Liver For Forgiveness, to reconcile with his former ally. Cook explains,
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… it’s taken
how many years  to remember you
slogging without faces
through my liver’s venereal swamps?
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To walk with precision
through my liver that cannot be
comforted from the snake-hard cold,
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its dark churches where monsters pray,
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the ones I let in who will never stop
stalking us, my friend, my liver,
my friend.
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I will always be sorry—for both of us—
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The poem Cryptogenic Cirrhosis chronicles a very bad diagnosis. Cook’s persona spelunks his way through gothic caves of anxiety and medical unease. Facing the unknown of one’s mortality forces the artistic mind to focus and refocus its imaginative powers on the minutia of whatever is at hand, presumable scientific certitude (or not). The wording evokes a strange and soaring elegance. Cook opens his poem with dissolution,
not one doctor could diagnose
each day i wanted  
a different angel to die,
so they pillaged
all the terrors in my body,
which was a virus now,
though not yet pain.
“you have cryptogenic cirrhosis” –
meaning the hypothetical afterlife
will become, in the days of
the impending panic transplant,
more than just a child who nourishes a distant cancer.
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Still, one can feel dollars
Of damnation denominations
Pasted to the kidneys’ Egyptian ceilings
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End of days bring panic, religious fervor, and great expectations. Cook’s poem entitled 11:59 chronicles all three using a mixed combination of Christian and medical imagery. The result both impresses and scares the hell out of you. Here’s the heart of the piece,
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It is time to track god, digging
with his enormous cross in the wrong
direction, toward the thousand basements
of the last crucifix company between
jerusalem and the day after.
It is time for everyone to stay silent.
It is time to hear where the trees and the water
have stopped praying for us.
It is time for a hospital
without the cruel voices that arrive
from the center of the evening pills.
It is time for a breakfast without scalpels,
a nurse without tourniquets that monitor the liver’s fear,
a doctor without the elimination of names.
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Notice the repetition of the phrase “It is time.” Cook seems to work himself up to a crescendo of control and hope that greatly tones down the panic and pessimism created by earlier pieces.
 
Exceptional artistry originates from diverse experiences, many of them disconcerting and even degrading. One’s flesh follows its own genetic and environmental script in spite of our better, often antiseptic, angels. Wherever Cook may be on mortality’s time span, his poetic work inexorably advances before him with its surgical candor and its strange, unblinking imagery. If you harbor even a modicum of belief in the curative power of words, read this marvelous poet.

 

You can buy the book here: http://www.amazon.com/asking-liver-forgiveness-Rob-Cook/dp/098970517X

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Dennis Daly

Dennis Daly

-Dennis 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 was recently released by Dos Madres Press. A fourth book is nearing completion. http://dennisfdaly.blogspot.com/

 

New Release- I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast by Melissa Studdard

I ATE

“Melissa Studdard’s high-flying, bold poetic language expresses an erotic appetite for the world: ‘this desire to butter and eat the stars,’ as she says, in words characteristically large yet domestic, ambitious yet chuckling at their own nerve. This poet’s ardent, winning ebullience echoes that of God, a recurring character here, who finds us Her children, splotchy, bawling and imperfect though we are, “flawless in her omniscient eyes.”–Robert Pinsky

“In so many ways the poems in this book read like paintings, touching and absorbing the light of the known world while fingering the soul until it lifts, trembling. Gates splayed, bodies read as books, and hearts born of mouths, Studdard’s study, which is a creation unto itself, would have no doubt pleased Neruda’s taste for the alchemic impurity of poetry, which is, as we know, poetry that is not only most pure of heart, but beautifully generous in vision and feeling.” –Cate Marvin

You can check out the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Ate-Cosmos-Breakfast-Melissa-Studdard/dp/0988944758

You can read the poetry of Melissa Studdard in The Fox Chase Review at this link: http://www.foxchasereview.org/12AW/MelissaStuddard.html

 

Tending by Laura Grace Weldon

tending-by-laura-grace-weldon
Paperback: 96 pages
Publisher: Aldrich Press (November 15, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0615913423
ISBN-13: 978-0615913421
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Reviewed by: g emil reutter 
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Laura Grace Weldon has a gentle brutal voice in this exceptional collection of poems. It is reflected in the opening stanza and closing two stanzas of Ruminating, a poem about the family cow.
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Animals are incapable
of higher thought and emotions
or so I was taught
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She moves to the last two stanzas, the gentle Isabelle is observing the farm family as she relaxes in the pasture along the fence line, ruminating….
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Isabelle regards us
from the nearby fence line
her soft lips moving
as she chews, ruminating.
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Our breath hangs in the cold air
smelling of her son
roasted with onion, herbs, wine
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In Santa Clara County V. Southern Pacific Railroad, Weldon reflects wealth traveling through rural poverty with images that pop from the page:
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The day a car uncoupled,
spilling frozen beef,
armed guards arrived to destroy the cargo
but hungry people pushed onto the tracks
They bent gladly all the way home
Bearing suppers heavy promise.
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Torn hillside nearly empty, still
those who know what it is to be broken
stand on crushed grass
staring at tracks
leading away from here.
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The poem, Making it Work, concerning domestic strife, the wife is surrounded…
Where everything is beige and brown framed in flowered wall paper.
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In these poems Weldon creates images that reflect not only the beauty of rural American life but of the brutal reality that it truly is.
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g emil reutter 2-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA) https://gereutter.wordpress.com/

Night Walking with Nathaniel By Dennis Daly

Night-frcov copy

Dos Madres Press is now taking Pre-Publication orders for Night Walking with Nathaniel. The release date is April 30, 2014.  Go here to check out info: http://www.dosmadres.com/shop/night-walking-nathaniel-poems-salem-dennis-daly/

In Night Walking with Nathaniel, Dennis Daly skillfully draws a vivid panorama of  fascinating Salem, a town he knows profoundly well.  Its richly shadowed past contrasts ironically with its present: on Gallows Hill stands the wreckage of a playground, the Puritan Motel is now a scene of revelry.  Nathaniel Hawthorne, poet Jones Very, and innocents accused of witchcraft live and breathe again, alongside our contemporaries.  This is one of the more satisfying collections of American poems in years, a generous array of deftly crafted work, memorable for its storytelling, imagery, and verbal music.  Even readers unfamiliar with Salem will find it captivating. – XJ Kennedy

In a time when other poets have forgotten the power of a metered witnessing of history, Daly brings a rare compassion to a community’s misfortune and celebrates its dignity.  These poems are precise, the lines embellished with a craftsman’s beauty. – Afaa Michael Weaver

Dennis Daly will be reading at Poets @ Pennypack on May 10th

Recommended Reading for National Poetry Month – III

national-poetry-month-4This is the third in a series of books recommended by the FCR staff for reading during National Poetry Month.

rhdavis-1

From Robert Hambling Davis

trigger town

The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing by Richard Hugo

http://www.amazon.com/Triggering-Town-Lectures-Writing-

good poems

Good Poems: Selected and Introduced by Garrison Keillor

http://www.amazon.com/Good-Poems-Garrison-

hard times

Good Poems for Hard Times: Selected and Introduced by Garrison Keillor

http://www.amazon.com/Good-Poems-Hard-Times-Various-

180

Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry (an anthology of contemporary poems selected and with an introduction by Billie Collins)

http://www.amazon.com/Poetry-180-Turning-

ask me

Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems of William Stafford

http://www.amazon.com/Ask-Me-Essential-William-Stafford-

 Robert Hambling Davis has published in The Fox Chase Review, The Sun, Antietam Review, Memoir (and), Philadelphia Stories, Santa Monica Review, and elsewhere. He’s been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes, and received three Delaware Division of the Arts grants, two for fiction and one for creative nonfiction. He was a fiction semifinalist in the William Faulkner Creative Writing Contest in 2002 and 2012, and a creative nonfiction winner in 2013. Robert helps direct the Delaware Literary Connection, a nonprofit serving writers in Delaware and surrounding areas. He is a member of the Delaware Artist Roster, and has given writing workshops and readings in the Mid-Atlantic.