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Although I am eschewing New Year’s resolutions on principle, I have been making an effort to be a more engaged member of the contemporary literary community. So, to that end, I have been trying to make it a point to read more poets and authors that are publishing today. So, here is a short list of some of the collections, blogs, and magazines that have really moved me this month. As a disclaimer, the blurbs are really my uninformed opinions. As I generally work with novels, I experience a poverty of language around poetry, so I can really only tell you what I feel.
American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin (2018) by Terrance Hayes, Penguin Poets, $12
You know when you grab hold of a book or collection of poetry and you just have to carry it everywhere? That’s how I feel about Terrance Hayes’s American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin. It has literally been in my backpack since I received it in the mail and won’t be going anywhere soon. Hayes’s poetry grabs you with its obvious music and attention to both classical and contemporary ways of knowing. It is gripping, visceral, and important in ways that are elusive at first. I love Hayes’s urgency and authenticity and think you definitely will too.
As If (2018) by Amanda MeisterGlass Poetry Press, $8.50
Chapbooks! Everyone should be buying chapbooks. Especially from fabulous presses like Glass Poetry. Amanda Meister’s collection was my most recent acquisition and I read it all in one sitting. Meister’s work is simultaneously intimate and profoundly measured, balanced between precise couplets and devastatingly raw language like:
Best case scenario I wake to find no one tried// to hold my hand and no one died.
Meister’s work is the kind of polished that most poets (like me) aspire to be.
Barren Magazine, Issue 5, “Weight of Days,” January 2019
In the spirit of full disclosure, Barren is one of my favorite new literary magazines. It is also one that has recently accepted some of my work (Hooray!). The editors tend to favor raw, devastating reflections on life, its traumas, and its triumphs. In particular, I recommend taking a look at Aaron Householder’s creative non-fiction entitled “Mud Crusted,” which is a heart-wrenching reflection on the loss of a child. I also suggest taking a look at Anindita Sengupta’s “Coriolis” and Christopher Nielsen’s photography. These are just a few suggestions from an issue that is rife with literature worth diving into.
Split Lip Magazine, January 2019
I love Split Lip Magazine in general. The editors take on a lot of experimental forms of writing that I generally love. This shout out goes to one piece from their January issue in particular, though. I am so taken with Kat Moore’s “When god is a man inside my mouth.” Moore’s use of the unusual form of a list perfectly mixes poetic convention with prose that truly expands the perimeters for what Creative Non-Fiction can be.
I have been really enthused and impressed by the breadth of coverage on Olivia Epley’s Blog, Millenial Girl, Interrupted. Epley examines the many armed monster that is dealing with mental illness and the institutions associated with mental health care and its many forms. The posts are derived both from Epley’s personal experience and external research and really delve into both the visceral and intellectual experience of mental illness and neurodivergence. For anyone interested in contributing to a public dialogue around mental illness, this blog is a must-read and must-follow.
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