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review 2018-07-16 22:30
HYSTERIA by Stephanie M. Wytovich, narrated by Teagan Gardner
Hysteria: A Collection of Madness - Stephanie M. Wytovich,Steven Archer,Michael A. Arnzen,Teagan Gardner

The entire time I was listening to this poetry collection, THE YELLOW WALLPAPER by Charlotte Perkins Gilman was in the back of my mind. HYSTERIA is about women and their likelihood of falling victim to men, to the world, to their children...and back again to the men. Unlike Gilman's story though, in HYSTERIA, the women often rise up and take what's due. I loved it!

 

I've admitted it before, but I will again here so we're clear, poetry is generally not my thing. But women are-especially strong women, women who have been through things in their life, women for whom life has not been easy. Most of this volume focuses on them, which is why, (I think), it speaks to me so intimately.

 

There are a lot of poems within and I can't get into all of them here, but I especially loved GREED, PLAYMATE OF THE NIGHT and GUARDIAN ANGEL:

 

"...lock me up somewhere else/you say the wrong thing around here, people start to think you're crazy, like madness is some contagion you breathe in through the air/I just told them that sweet Jezebel didn't like it when the men talk to her like that/when they visited her in her cell and touched her pretty face/ran their fingers through her silky hair/they beat me to get out my crazy..."

 

I found Stephanie Wytovich's prose to be killer: in bringing to mind vivid renderings of women-abused, crazy, strong, wild, beautiful, ugly, willful, sexy and with TEETH. Don't turn your back on these women, especially if you've done them wrong in the past. At the same time, some of these ladies are kind and nurturing, or at least they were... before they were diagnosed with HYSTERIA.

 

Highly recommended for fans of poetry and dark fiction!

 

*Thank you to Stephanie M. Wytovich for the free Audible copy of this book, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2018-07-04 23:05
Something Bright, Then Holes
Something Bright, Then Holes - Maggie Nelson

Nelson's collection is divided into three distinct sections, but almost all of the poems included have a sense of vulnerability and melancholy. There is a focus on loss - lost love, lost mobility, lost time - the wreckage of broken relationships, hearts, and bodies. The first section, field journals written about the canal, captures this essence and distills it. She uses minutia to highlight entropy. The tension between beauty and decay, treasure and refuse. A time capsule of a single summer that simultaneously has a timelessness that extends to every summer. The stretch of endless afternoons, summer heat, and isolation. Written mostly in couplets this collection is sparse, raw, observant, and pensive.

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review 2018-06-21 16:13
Wade in the Water, by Tracy K. Smith
Wade in the Water - Tracy K. Smith

U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith's Wade in the Water is her most recent collection and the first I've read. I think it makes an excellent introduction to her work and wouldn't be a bad place to start if you're new to contemporary poetry. She does not intimidate, nor does her language obfuscate.

 

The two middle sections engaged me most. The first mines the Civil War era past and makes use of erasure and historical and primary sources in a way that both gives the suffering of African Americans at the time specificity and voice while absolutely illuminating continued injustices in the present. The second also makes poetry out of found materials to focus on contemporary issues such as the environment and racist violence. However, the poems don't attack; they feel like they come from a place of hope.

 

A book I'm sure I'll come back to soon, after I read her other collections, of course. :)

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review 2018-06-14 16:51
Map: Collected and Last Poems by Wislawa Szymborska
Map: Collected and Last Poems - Wisława Szymborska,Clare Cavanagh,Stanisław Barańczak

Map spans Polish Nobel laureate Szymborska's work from the 1940s up until 2011. Her poetry is immediately engaging, often funny, and down-to-earth. She writes about the smallest subjects (a cat alone in its owner's home) and the largest (mortality, time). She'd be an excellent poet to read if one is new to or intimidated by poetry.

 

The translation by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak is impressive given that many of Szymborska's poems play with words and language, though, not knowing Polish myself, I can only give my impressions. I only know that a personable, curious voice comes through.

 

Here's a late poem (about this painting) whose beauty brought tears to my eyes:

 

Vermeer

 

So long as that woman from the Rijksmuseum

in painted quiet and concentration

keeps pouring milk day after day

from the pitcher to the bowl

the World hasn't earned

the world's end.

 

I can't remember what prompted me to finally read Szymborska's body of work beyond the occasional anthologized poem, but I'm glad I did. I asked for it last Christmas (I read poetry only in print and often ask for books of poems then; they can be expensive!), and I happened to flip to "Possibilities," written as a list of preferences, which contains the following lines: "I prefer the absurdity of writing poems / to the absurdity of not writing poems." Me too.

 

 

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review 2018-06-06 22:30
AN EXORCISM OF ANGELS by Stephanie M. Wytovich, narrated by Corinne Gahan
An Exorcism of Angels - Stephanie M. Wytovich,Corinne Gahan

AN EXORCISM OF ANGELS is a volume of dark, disturbing, down and dirty poetry.

 

Usually poetry is not my thing, but I won an Audible copy so I had nothing to lose. I soon discovered that I like this type of poetry quite a bit! At the same time, I learned that I could not listen to it all at once, like a novel. I listened to a handful of poems at a time and then I would need to take a break. There are a lot of poems contained within-at first I started to rate each one, but like I said there are a lot of poems here and that became too time consuming. Also, since this was on audio through Audible, (and not Overdrive), there was no way to bookmark the ones I especially enjoyed.

 

To address the poetry itself: here can be found bad boyfriends, murderous girlfriends, ghosts in the attic, drugs in all their different forms-be they delivered by stinging needles, burning lines up the nose, or popping pills-they're all present within these pages. There is self hate, self love, even both at the same time. There is also an affection for words and storytelling that comes through these mostly short but powerful verses.

 

Regarding the narrator, Corinne Gahan, she was excellent. It took a little while to get used to her voicing, but I loved the little extras she added to the words.

 

Dark and devilish, this volume of powerful poetry isn't messing around. It's blunt and in your face. Do you think you can handle it? If so, you should. You should handle it right now. Highly recommended!

 

*I won this audio-book via Twitter, but this is my honest opinion, regardless.*

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