How to capture Amy Wright's Paper Concert: A Conversation in the Round, a one-of-a-kind book-length essay containing a multitude of individual voices? Wright, conductor extraordinaire, has managed to piece apart, then fold together conversations from a bevy of thinkers like Dorothy Allison, Rae Armantrout, Gerald Stern, Lia Purpura, Raven Jackson, Wendy Walters, Kimiko Hahn, Philanese Slaughter, and others, blended into one harmonious whole. Wright opens the book: "This essay anchors a central thread of dialogue over a dizzying divide. It weaves a decades worth of questions and answers from a range of discussions I've had with artists, activists, scientists, philosophers, physicians, priests, musicians, and other representatives of the human population. Some of them are famous, some will be, some should be-but all of them refract the light of the unknowable mystery of the self." The subjects range from the interconnected (inspiration and craft) to the seemingly disparate (colonialism and entomophagy), all with the hope of finding what truly matters to us. If this book is a paper concert, it is a symphony. Just pull up a chair and listen.
In her groundbreaking and most politicized collection, Kathleen Ossip takes a hard look at the U.S.A. as it now stands. She meditates on our various responses to our country-whether ironic, infantile, righteous, or defeated. Her diction is both high and low, her tone both elegant and straightforward. The book's crowning achievement, its anchor, and its centerpiece is the poem "July." In a generous fifty pages, Ossip recounts a road trip from Bemidji, MN, to Key West, FL, with her daughter riding shotgun. Inspired by images that flick across their car windows and nurtured by intimate conversation and plenty of time to think, the poem has an entertaining cinematic sweep. There are poems based on bumper stickers, the names of churches, little shops. Traveling tests her beliefs, and Ossip fully discloses her doubts and confusions. Ossip is an unconventional, mighty magician with words.
Even Shorn takes its title from the Song of Solomon and that Book's equation of pastoral feminine beauty with the plenty of harvest. Isabel Duarte-Gray argues that material bounty no longer exists in the rural spaces where she was raised. Duarte-Gray's poetry mines local orature, family history, and folklore for the music of Western Kentucky, creating the sparse line breaks and the harsh syntax of the present. The poems describe quilt patterns with sinister shapes: "a snake's tongue is a trigger finger/Man's tongue pleases no one." Animals proliferate: "One cat became five/five became nine. /Then a flood and ebb/as each moon brought its tide/below the trailer floor..." A grandfather plays drunk, solitary Russian Roulette. A cousin lives in a closet. Duarte's poetry is shocking, whip smart, and truly unique.
This amazingly wise and nimble collection investigates the horrors inflicted on so-called "witches" of the past and considers parallels to present-day questions of social justice.
Definitive, broadly representative anthology of poets born after 1960