Book Review

On Sara Moore Wagner’s Swan Wife

Swan Wife by Sara Moore Wagner. San Diego, CA: Cider Press Review, 2022. 88 pages. $18.95. Paper. A book of poetry that simultaneously frightens and beguiles is a rare treasure; and Swan Wife, by Sara Moore Wagner, does precisely that. These original poems are often startling in their fearlessness and beauty. Each piece resonates with the astounding...

Book Review: Magic for Martians: 49 Short Fictions

Magic for Martians: 49 Short Fictions by A. W. DeAnnuntis. Los Angeles, CA: Giant Claw, an imprint of What Books Press, 2022. 182 pages. $16.95, Paperback.  From the first sentences of Magic for Martians, a particularly satisfying combination of personality traits shine through; this collection is delightfully strange, fresh, and, somehow, each piece of fanciful...

On Renia White’s Casual Conversation

Casual Conversation by Renia White. Rochester, NY: BOA Editions, Ltd. 2022. 80 pages. $17.00. Paperback. Although I usually don’t have much patience for poetic metaphysics, the abstraction common in Casual Conversation didn’t keep me from effortlessly gliding from poem to poem. I can recall very few collections I’ve enjoyed that passed through the same zip code as...

On Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s Friday Black

Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah. New York, NY. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. 2018. 192 pages. $14.99. Paperback. Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s Friday Black contains no shortage of absurd realities, and yet not one of them feels distant from our own. The stories in this collection are ultra-violent. Their characters are either on the brink, in the commission,...

On Dustin Pearson’s A Season in Hell with Rimbaud

A Season in Hell with Rimbaud by Dustin Pearson. Rochester, NY. BOA Editions, Ltd. 2022. 96 pages. $17.00. Paperback. Dustin Pearson’s collection A Season in Hell with Rimbaud finds itself in conversation with Rimbaud and influenced by Dante as the speaker goes on a Dantean journey through Hell in search of his brother. Despite the influence of tradition...

Book Review: Our Wives Under The Sea

Our Wives Under The Sea by Julia Armfield. Flatiron Books, 2022. 240 pages. $16.73, paperback. Our Wives Under The Sea is the lesbian ocean horror book I didn’t know I needed. Julia Armfield’s brilliant debut novel centers around the relationship between Miri and her wife Leah, after Leah returns from a six month deep sea...

Review: Poetry Unbound: 50 Poems to Open Your World by Pádraig Ó’Tuama

Poetry Unbound: 50 Poem to Open Your World by Pádraig Ó’Tuama. W.W. Norton & Company. 384 pages. $22.99, hardcover. On Being Studio’s podcast Poetry Unbound, hosted by Pádraig Ó’Tuama and first broadcast early in 2020, sets a high bar for all poetry media. It is gently-voiced, ceaselessly generous in its readings, and effortlessly vulnerable. Ó’Tuama’s...

Poetry Review: The Pact by Jennifer Militello

The Pact by Jennifer Militello. North Adams, Massachusetts: Tupelo Press, 021. 80 pages. $19.95, print.  The Pact by Jennifer Militello is a fantastic collection of poems tackling provocative themes: complex relationships, places of vulnerability, love, and danger. The cliché of never judging a book by its cover does not apply here—a Venus flytrap on a black backdrop furthers this essence of hunger or longing in this collection but...

Poetry Review: Chopping Wood in the Moonlight by Ken Letko

Chopping Wood in the Moonlight by Ken Letko. Flowstone Press. 2021. 33 Pages. Paperback.  Chopping Wood in the Moonlight is Ken Letko’s tribute to nature and simple living. In these tightly crafted poems, the author utilizes his years of traveling and collected wisdom to celebrate a life lived authentically. In the title poem, Letko invokes the ancient Chinese...

Poetry Review: The Track the Whales Make by Marjorie Saiser

The Track the Whales Make: New and Selected Poems by Marjorie Saiser. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 2021. 181 pages. $19.95, print. The Track the Whales Make begins with a section of new work and then features poems from Saiser’s seven previous books, starting with the most recent and then moving backwards in time. Like Saiser’s poems themselves, the book’s construction creates a sense of what is fleeting. As the...

Poetry Review: Unholy Heart by Grace Bauer

Unholy Heart: New and Selected Poems by Grace Bauer. The Backwaters Press: An Imprint of the University of Nebraska Press. 2021. 169 pages. $19.95. Paperback. New and selected poetry collections can sometimes be cumbersome when approaching any poet to experience their work. I always find that’s because we must figure out where to begin. With Unholy Heart: New and Selected Poems by Grace Bauer, it’s...

Fiction Review: Hoaxes and Other Stories

Hoaxes and Other Stories by Brian Dinuzzo. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2022. 161 pages. $17.95, paperback. ​Right away, this book pulled me in. The titular Hoax, the leading story of the collection by Dinuzzo, is about a budding actor who keeps dying, found the victim of a number of terrible accidents, though each one reported...