Tag Archives: University of Pittsburgh Press

Triple Time by Anne Sanow

tripleSeries: Pitt Drue Heinz Lit Prize

Hardcover: 168 pages

Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (August 28, 2009)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0822943808

ISBN-13: 978-0822943808

Review by g emil reutter

Through the winds and heat Saudi Arabia comes alive in the words of Anne Sanow. Triple Time is a collection of stories about expats and Saudi’s interacting cultures. It is in fact the clash of cultures that provides the tension and drives the movement of the book. The author who lived for two years in Saudi Arabia, brings forth an honest set of stories. There are the Americans, Mexicans and Yemenis. The lonesome desert farms, dreams to make a big buck and the rip off. Sanow gives us a view of Saudi Arabia only and insider could provide. In great detail she writes of those thrown together on weekends for sex and parties for there is nowhere else to go. The parties of the expats fueled by alcohol and drugs and the loneliness of existing in rules, just not for the rich.

There is no feeling sorry for the characters in these stories, no empathy either. They exist in this land by choice and willingly call Saudi Arabia home. Yet Sanow communicates the hope and desires of these people who live in a land and for people who have no respect for them.

There is the story of the two wives of a Saudi, one native the other American. The conflicts for the grandmother of the children, the divided heart of the American wife who desires to return home, to a home she never actually had.

Sanow meets the cultural conflict head on using the exotic landscapes, high rises and market places of this strange and mystical nation. Her characters pulse with the heartbeat of reality, a reality she has converted into fiction as only a person who has been there can do.

You can check the book out here: http://www.amazon.com/Triple-Time-Pitt-Heinz-Prize/dp/0822943808/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1417357615&sr=1-1&keywords=triple+time+by+anne+sanow

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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/about/

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Lucky Bones by Peter Meinke

lucky bonesSeries: Pitt Poetry Series Paperback: 96 pages

Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (August 6, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0822963108

ISBN-13: 978-0822963103

Review by Dennis Daly

Passion trumps this frivolous world of detail—Belgian chocolates, Coppertone lotion, dry martinis, bright ribbons, doubles tennis, and, heaven help us, sonnets. Peter Meinke in his new collection of poems, Lucky Bones, quantifies the passionate nature of interior intensity and hell-bent fervor by poking fun at himself and humorously (or not) eviscerating a chosen set of targets inhabiting this vale of tears that we call life. Many of his poetic commentaries Meinke delivers in formalist verse with a cunning dry wit that both elucidates and cautions.
 
The poet begins ominously with his first sectional poem entitled Drive-By Shootings. Here he sets up his backdrop and shades it with bitters. Meinke says,
 
        …People pedal on bikes drop
  Some money in the hole stick in their arms get a shot and wobble away
     Sometimes getting hit by cars the same needle all afternoon
             That’s the kind of world we live in
 
Civilization masks bloody-mindedness and boiling lust. Meinke’s piece Cassandra in the Library alludes to ancient Troy while the poet simultaneously conjures up modern academia and contemporary office life. Here’s the unpleasant heart of the poem,
 
            Poetry no wisdom withstands the test
               of blood: when mind and body clash
         the mind’s the one whose opposition’s rash
 
                        Killing liquid work’s dust
         Our craving for passion quenched by a crimson lust
 
           What can an office offer but a cursed
                 routine an inane trivial bore?
           A water cooler doesn’t slake the thirst
              of blood that rages for a taste of war
       a horde of disappointed men have dreams
    fired by bursting flares and female screams
 
The rhymes lighten the content thereby creating an odd but interesting counterpoint. I very much like this poem.
 
Skewing the Roman Catholic papacy can get old quickly and is not my cup of tea. However when a bit of compressed wit like the poem Habemus Papum nudges me I can’t resist. Habemus Papum, as announced by a cardinal from St. Peter’s Basilica after a papal election concludes, means “we have a pope.” Meinke appears to have tired of Vatican officialdom and its moribund language. He celebrates/laments in this part of the piece,
 
                        O goodum! Habemus papum
                             who’ll soon intone
                               the usual crapum
 
                        and the poor poor will weepum
 
Athletes and poets have a lot in common up to and including their need to be loved and appreciated in their own time. Unfortunately, the gods of sport and art operate on a different timeframe. In Meinke’s title poem, Lucky Bones, a tennis player of 78 years makes a great shot during a doubles game. He looks to his wife for approval as he had done as a younger man. But time has passed. Meinke concludes with pathos,
 
…his wife
 
who used to toss car keys
that flashed through light
 
like lucky bones crying Hey
         big fella think fast!
 
 And he thinks That’s
just past in my head
 
     like a re-eyed crow 
and he’s thinking Christ he
 
could still catch them if she
   were still there to throw
 
Armed with talent enough to cause the doubling up in laughter of bards and bad reviewers everywhere, Meinke takes on the sonnet in his piece Front-Rhymed Easter Anti-Sonnet. His faux attack doesn’t miss a beat. Bucking revered tradition he even removes the end rhyme scheme and transplants it at the line beginnings. The untraditional cur! Consider these pretty funny lines,
 
    … Bad enough you have to use
  words without sinking the buggers in fourteen
  lines O Shakespeare Milton what made you
  choose the? O Formalist can’t you read the
signs? O Meinke why are you writing another?
            Who’s sick of sonnets?  Iamb  Iamb 
 
For Emily Dickinson it’s all about repressed sex and mannered poetry in Meinke’s excellent parody of that poet entitled Emily Dickinson Thinks about Buying a Ribbon. There’s something about Dickinson that invites quality parody. I’m thinking of X.J. Kennedy’s Emily Dickinson in Southern California. In Meinke’s poem Dickinson debates the color of her prospective ribbon almost to the point of indecency which, of course, is the point in this astonishingly deep piece,
 
I would like to get red—
Vermillion
       But father would disapprove
 
  A serious Blue—then—worn loose
  Like a Lover’s knot
        A decent one could strangle
 
  With it—I’d have wine
       Not the barrell’d rum of Father’s
  Then—let him come—
 
Meinke takes great pleasure in self-deprecation. He gets away with it because he is that good. His poem On Completing My PHD reads like an ongoing gag, but carries with in some quite serious undertones and unasked questions. The poet concludes by rattling off his educational symptoms,
 
And I who’ve developed
  a twitch a tic a cough
 can’t tell if I am finished
    or only finished off
 
    I learned Byron had a clubfoot
      Nietzsche’s health was drastic
         Poe was a dipsomaniac
        And I’m already spastic
 
 I learned that Shakespeare really lived
        so scholars have decided
   Though quite a few have studied me
       they’re not as sure that I did
 
The poet again summons up academia in a villanelle entitled The Old Professor. Keeping their eyes on Professor Warren’s nicotine-stained teeth as he enlightens his students on New England’s luminaries can prove a didactically sound methodology. Meinke explains,
 
                                                            … Transfixed we
                        watched you grind your nubby teeth to stumps
 
                         waiting for you to spur us through our jumps
                               from Cotton Mather up through Emily
                                    Is every pilgrim happy on the bus?
 
                            We never were sure when you were serious
                                chaining your Camels unpuritanically
                        grinding your browning teeth to nubby stumps
 
                           and tossing questions far from the syllabus:
                            Would you rather live on Broad or Beacon Street?
                                    Are Smith and Bradford riding the same bus?
 
Peter Menke has been writing good, sometimes great poems for a long time. Whatever he has for breakfast I want to try. This poet’s in top form.
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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/

City of Eternal Spring by Afaa Michael Weaver

citySeries: Pitt Poetry Series

Paperback: 96 pages

Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (September 17, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0822963256

ISBN-13: 978-0822963257

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Reviewed by g emil reutter 

Afaa Michael Weaver, son of a sharecropper, soldier, factory worker, professor. He has traveled a unique road, a road carved out and built by Weaver himself.  He presents us with poetry that is grounded yet spiritual. City of Eternal Spring is the concluding book of a trilogy that includes The Plum Flower Dance and The Government of Nature.
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The poems in this collection present the reader with a blending of American rearing and Chinese spiritualism.
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From the 2nd stanza of the poem Recognition:
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I am you sitting in chairs, memories coming back
to fill my bones with you, inform the way I get about,
growing old little by little, trying to enlarge the circles
of mother and father and son, the circles my mother made
for me in the pain of bringing me back from breakdowns
so I can see my birth…
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A beautiful stanza reflecting life itself in Weaver’s view. In the chair, memories filling bones, growing old little by little, enlarging circles, freed from breakdowns, born again.
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Weaver’s poem MRT about trains and subways and travel gently brings us to another place, unexpected, our arrival not physical at all.
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From the 2nd stanza of the poem MRT:
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Being is filling the sack of something, knowing
yourself as a space, having mind take over
everything, ignoring the tubes and liquids
that give it something to drive, the mind driving,
stopped only by pain, and the train keeps pain
away from us, as perfect a machine as Chinese
genius can make, no undue slap against the rails
like Boston’s T, or the horror of underground
cities in New York. This is the Swiss ticking
of time in a life where I hide in the language,
bury myself in memorizing a writing that is
the opposite of abc, an American born color
like blackness, a curtain holding itself over me
a talking mirror that lets these staring eyes believe
what American hatred would teach them with
it disciples living here, the white minds who
spread the sickness of the place where I was born.
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City of Eternal Spring is a bold collection from Afaa Michael Weaver. As he embraces spiritualism, Weaver always has two feet firmly planted in the American experience as he has lived it.

 

Check out the book here: 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

 

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g-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA) https://gereutter.wordpress.com/

Best Bones by Sarah Rose Nordgren

best bonesSeries: Pitt Poetry Series

Paperback: 88 pages

Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (September 4, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0822963175

ISBN-13: 978-0822963172

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Reviewed by g emil reutter

There is a strange feeling as you turn the pages of Best Bones by Sarah Rose Nordgren. Something is out of kilter, unorthodox may be the proper term but I do believe original best describes the poetry of Nordgren. She is a narrative poet dwelling equally in the shadows and light of life.
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In the haunting poem, Exhumation, Nordgren contrasts shadows and light throughout the poem. A gray face, greasy windows, railroad ditch, sun rise. “When the lights die you disappear”. In this terrifying poem, Nordgren’s controlled use of images is remarkable. Wrapped by I am the woman lying on her side, to the last, My Face is an aluminum dish.
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Exhumation
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I am the woman lying on her side across the van seat,
wearing a gray face, apparitional through greasy
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windows as you walk past the railroad ditch
early morning on a whim, wanting to watch the sun
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rise like you haven’t in years. My life is under yours: in-
consolable, bathed in drainage, a midden of cracked
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bottles, swollen tampons, rusted metal sheets cast
from the clamor. You flasher of future, your liver and lung
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are fleshier, pinker. When they excavate me they will find
my many napkin writings, twenty rooms I built
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from twine, dictionary of waste in which I define
your failure. Meanwhile: I’ll retire to my atrium, washing
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my perpetually warm body, liquid touching liquid
as it cools. The pipes are beginning to freeze. The all-night
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factory shuts down at five. When the lights die you
disappear into a wooden structure and wonder
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what you’ve done. Even if you’d brought your camera,
you couldn’t click me. My face is an aluminum dish.
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Best Bones is a collection of poetry that is an intimate collection of gently dramatic poems that will alarm and haunt you.

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You can check out the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Best-Bones-Poetry-Sarah-Nordgren/dp/0822963175/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1410785016&sr=1-1&keywords=best+bones+by+Sarah+Rose+Nordgren

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g-emil-reutter-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA)  https://gereutter.wordpress.com/

The Americans by David Roderick

IconAmericans1Series: Pitt Poetry Series

Paperback: 88 pages

Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (August 5, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0822963124

ISBN-13: 978-0822963127

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Reviewed by g emil reutter

There is always a danger in the blandness of a poet, of a poet who writes well-crafted poems, so well-crafted that they are void of passion, of reality. There is also the elitist view of suburbia as a wasteland of culture. And, then there is The Americans by David Roderick, a poet of passion and a craftsman whose series of poems titled, Dear Suburb, appear throughout this outstanding collection of poems.

Roderick tells us in the Dear Suburb (page 3) poem, I’m not interested in sadness/just a yard as elder earth, a library of sunflowers/battered by nights rain. And again in this poem, I see how you exist, O satellite town, your bright possibility/ born again in drywall/ and the diary of the trick lock. In Dear Suburb (page 13) he captures the transformation of rural to suburb, If your billboards peel, if the gaze/ is really dead, then what are those/remaining fields to you…/or the mirror of thought, or just thought’s sleeping sheets?

There are the other poems where monkey’s howl, Virgin Mary rests in a window, Judas swinging from an aspen, of pastoral settings, big box stores, gardens, Plymouths, the Enola Gay and of being an American.

Roderick reminds us of the dream of America, the American Dream and the loneliness of dreams, the longing for nostalgia and the possibility that delivers us into the future.

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You can check out the book here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Americans-Pitt-Poetry-Series/dp/0822963124/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1408576264&sr=8-1&keywords=the+americans+by+david+roderick

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

Nude Descending an Empire by Sam Taylor

nudeSeries: Pitt Poetry Series

Paperback: 104 pages

Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (August 9, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0822963043

ISBN-13: 978-0822963042

Reviewed by: g emil reutter

   Poet Sam Taylor’s Nude Descending an Empire is a collection driven by the moment with an occasional glance over his shoulder. Taylor writes poems that are created by surroundings and events, more often than not he avoids modern poetry’s preoccupation with self, although he dips his keyboard there every so often.
   He brings us to old Europe into the dust and sand of places we may not want to be, to the heartland and swamps of North America. In the poem, Jataka Tales, he writes
I can’t stop dreaming of maps/ but from my life as a stone/ I have yet to speak.
   And then there is his visit to China, when surrounded by locals he attempts to speak to them in their language, not knowing he was using the wrong tone. Poet and shit use the same structure but with different tones, so when asked what he does in the poem The Book of Poetry, he responds in the wrong tone, I am a shit man. I write shit and repeating it. A shit person, I write books of shit. Understand?
     I am glad to say Taylor doesn’t write books of shit. A great example are a few words from the poem The Book of Winter, which knowingly or not, Taylor gives a nod to Sandburg.
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In the pasture
heaven is falling
into heaven
into the bare willows
and oaks, and cottonwoods,
over the vertical
exhaust pipes
of parked semis,
their white cabs
with painted blue
flames.
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This collection of poems by Sam Taylor is worth the read, you should pick up a copy.

You can check out the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Nude-Descending-Empire-Poetry-Series/dp/0822963043

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April 12, 2014 007-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA).  http://gereutter.wordpress.com/

In the Illuminated Dark- Selected Poems by Tuvia Ruebner

Translated by Rachel Tzvia Back
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illuminatedHardcover: 396 pages
Publisher: Hebrew Union College Press
.                    University of Pittsburgh Press
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0878202552
ISBN-13: 978-0878202553
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Reviewed by g emil reutter
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Rachel Izvia Back sets the tone for this collection in the first sentence of her introduction to this work by Poet Tuvia Ruebner.  Loss defines the crossbeams and chronicles of Tuvia Ruebner’s life. His first collection of poems was published in 1957 and this selected poetry collection published in 2014. Ruebner at age 90, continues to write much as the American poet Stanley Kunitz continued to do late in life.
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Ruebner as a teenager was on the abyss of the holocaust. In 1941 with a ninth grade education, (the Nazi’s prohibited Jews from attending school), Ruebner’s parents arranged and paid for his transport to Palestine thus escaping the death camps. His wave goodbye was the last time he would see them in this life as his entire family was engulfed in the flames of Nazi genocide. He would carry this heavy loss of family throughout his life.
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He began in Palestine as a farmer in a communal setting. Loss again tagged him when his young wife was killed in a bus accident that left Ruebner seriously injured. After a three month recovery he returned home and due to his injuries, became a teacher in the local school. Ruebner focused on poetry and teaching, became a university professor, received early acclaim in Europe yet it wasn’t until the 1980s that Israel began to bestow acknowledgment upon the poet. Loss again hit the poet as his son traveling in South America disappeared never to be heard from again.
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The poet, surrounded by violence and loss for almost a century found comfort in his art of poetry. He has taught us that creating brings comfort, no matter how heartbreaking the subject matter. His words sing from the page rescuing beauty from the horror that has surrounded him. A master of German lyrical poetry in his early years he turned to writing in Hebrew with the same intensity and attention to detail. His poems, his journey, his life are an inspiration. Tzvia Back noted Ruebner’s attention to language, form and sound in her splendid introduction. She has with great success brought this attention to the English translations of Ruebner’s Hebrew poems, no small task.
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g emil reutter 2-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadlephia, Pa. (USA). http://gereutter.wordpress.com/