December 1, 2022

Give the Gift of Poetry this Holiday Season

by joeyphoenix

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Something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read! 

There’s nothing more cozy than cuddling up under a fuzzy blanket on a cold day with a big old pile of delicious words. This holiday season, you can give the gift of poetry written by local poets…even if that gift is to yourself.

World Happiness Index by Kathleen Aguero

This compelling collection speaks with firm tenderness to the inner-struggle of human agency that we all feel, caught between our resoluteness and our limitations, especially during these trying times Through Aguero’s arresting metaphors and intimate yet oracular voice, these poems feel like lucid dreams that we don’t merely read, we experience as if they were our very own. –Richard Blanco, 2013 Inaugural Poet

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Set in Stone by Kevin Carey

Carey’s poems tell stories—as dreams, as memories, as rituals or ceremonies. He embraces the mystery of nostalgia, worn and cemented by time, the haunted remembrances that string a life together. These are poems of place and of people (real and imagined); poems about summer ponds and barroom nights, basketball, religion, and superheroes; poems that remind us of our humanness; poems set in stone to be chipped away at carefully.

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VOZ By Jennifer Jean

What happens when our foundational sorrows are allowed to sing? VOZ’s cinematic poems tunnel across time and place, to an era when parents failed to parent and the speaker “became the state of / California—like a planked pier leaning over the Pacific….” Exploring a range of forms, including haibun and the charismatic “saturation,” Jean channels potent musical references while holding space for her own idiosyncratic voice, which ultimately turns its attentions from past to future. This is an astonishing collection, one that I read over and over in gratitude. —Sandra Beasley, author of Made to Explode

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Pelted By Flowers: Poems by Kali Lightfoot

Kali Lightfoot’s kindergarten teacher told her parents that Kali had “a well-developed sense of beauty and can skip with both feet.” This proved prophetic for a life that has included a number of careers and passions—Lightfoot has earned a master’s degree in physical education, worked as an executive and a teacher, served as a wilderness ranger, managed educational travel, and provided body-oriented psychotherapy. After gaining her sobriety and coming out as queer, Lightfoot returned to poetry at the age of sixty-five, earning her MFA at age seventy. In a debut collection of poems that favor a narrative style but also experiment successfully with poetic forms, Lightfoot writes in a voice that is by turns wistful, comedic, and grave. After a long career, she has come late and happily to a life in poetry.

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The Queen of Queens by Jenn Martelli

In this tenacious collection of poems, the drugs, pop music, rocket crash, and Martelli’s “queens”—from Geraldine Ferraro to Madonna, Nancy Pelosi to Molly Ringwald–embody the struggle with and resistance against gender oppression, political sexism, and ongoing threats to reproductive rights, while reminding us of the power of one strong woman.

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Rewilding by January Gill O’Neil

Rewilding, a relatively new ecological term, means to return an area of land to its original state. Reveling in letting go of the damaged and broken parts of ourselves while celebrating renewal and new beginnings, O’Neil’s poetry examines the external worlds of race and culture and the internal, personal worlds of family and desire. Ultimately, these poems tap into what is wild and good in all of us.

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What We Still Don’t Know by Dawn Paul

“Dawn Paul indulges in the poet’s art of classification through her illumination of the life of Carl Linnaeus, known in his time as ‘The Second Adam.’ What We Still Don’t Know is an unflinching look at this early scientist and his ‘first rough cut, that separates Eve from the apple’ more than 100 years before Darwin. Paul does not shy away from Linnaeus’s prejudices, instead gives us insights into the West’s racist history while, at the same time, highlighting the scientist’s revealing work on a nature that ‘does not bend itself to systems’ and the sexuality of  flowers ‘who would queer his tidy marriages.’ In this necessary collection, Paul reexamines a significant piece of history with fresh eyes and meticulous detail.” –Susan Edwards RichmondBefore We Were Birds

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Banana Bread: Mandarin Pandemic Diary by J.D. Scrimgeour

“Among the important ingredients for studying Mandarin, there is the practice of play, as language study across as many chasms as exist between English and Mandarin requires many leaps of faith. What better theme than baking banana bread. The poems here are as much a display of the process of language acquisition as the generous sharing of what helped bring one poet through the havoc wreaked by COVID-19. The world survives, and so does the propensity of Scrimgeour to not only play, but to give.” – Afaa Michael Weaver

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9×5 By J.D Scrimgeour, Patricia Callan, M.P. Carver, Catherine Fahey, JD Debris, and Gregory Glenn

These five poets have conspired to form a dizzying pentagram. Patricia Callan ricochets from over-exposed Playgirls to Sappho’s pockets, with sexy anesthesiologists reciting a boob pantoum, while M.P. Carver considers Ke$ha’s box under a depreciating sun and puts the end quotes in coyotes. JD Debris fixates on Hercules’ steroids and secondhand crucifixes with Samuel Beckett on the basketball court. Gregory Glenn speculates about action freckles, rues a kitten named after Nixon, and is jostled in a heaven of elbows and apologies. Finally, Catherine Fahey is nearly lost in the murmuration of a Magic 8-Ball amidst a field of prosaic sheep in a field planted with hair. You are cordially invited to get lost in this pointed polygon. —Simeon Berry

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Her Kind by Cindy Veach

Set against the historical backdrop of the Salem Witch Trials, Her Kind is a book about women who are innocent and are used and/or disregarded by the culture: women viewed as witches, women making their own choices, women fighting for freedom. The lyrical poems in this collection chronicle and skillfully braid together narratives of the female victims of the Salem Witch Trials with personal history/events and contemporary political circumstances. Ultimately, the book celebrates women refusing the victim role and reclaiming their magic.

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The Caretaker’s Lament by Elisabeth Weiss

“Elisabeth Weiss has written a marvelous sequence of poems. The Caretaker’s Lament shows us survival in the face of grief: the beginnings of renewal and the circularity of memory, dreams, and discoveries. Written with great delicacy, these poems speak of family life and carefully observed loss. Honesty, humor, empathy and intelligence inform the work. Lis Weiss brings a distinctive voice and perspective to this lyrical and moving collection. “ Kathleen Spivack

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Save the Date for Prize Wheel by Colleen Michaels, coming in January 2023.

And lastly, mark your calendars for the debut book launch from Poet Colleen Michaels Prize Wheel coming in January 2023.

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