Review of Caleb Curtiss’ “A Taxonomy of the Space Between Us”

A Taxonomy of the Space Between Us

(Review published in Rain Taxi, spring 2016)

“Even now, I know I could use this moment, / / this dying thing to remember her with, / but I don’t want to.” Thus, triggered by a dead bird, Caleb Curtiss in A Taxonomy of the Space Between Us resists (yet retains) the memory of his sister’s death from a rural car accident. Throughout the chapbook, tension surfaces between presence/memory and absence/forgetting. “Self-Portrait without My Dead Sister,” for instance, ironically remembers his sister’s absence; in several poems, a left parenthesis without a matching right interrupts a strain of thought, which seems soon forgotten with each successive strain becoming a strand of memory both uncontained and unending:

(a presence that will burn

(long after it’s passed

The poems weave details and…

Literary News Update #1

I’ve launched this site and posted my poetry book reviews. I also have listed a selection of published poems and co-translations. I will update accordingly. (The question I have now is whether I will keep up-to-date the update number in these literary news headers!)… See all the menu tabs to check my work out. And enjoy!… In the meantime, I have the following two forthcoming publications:

  • My poem “Here and Gone” is forthcoming in Rockvale Review. It will be in Issue 6 in May 2020.
  • My co-translation of Ortsion Bartana’s poem “Tel Aviv Afternoon” is forthcoming in the Spring/Summer 2020 issue of Poet Lore.

Review of Camille Rankine’s “Incorrect Merciful Impulses”

Book Review: Incorrect Merciful Impulses by Camille Rankine

(Review published in The Los Angeles Review, March 2018)

Camille Rankine’s compelling debut collection, Incorrect Merciful Impulses, enacts the struggles of one trying to connect broadly with society and more intimately with both another person and one’s self. The threat of disconnection is everywhere. In the opening poem, “Tender,” the speaker begins:

Dear patriot

Dear catastrophe

         None of this means what we thought it did

Dear bone fragments

Dear displacement

Dear broken skin

         I am in over my head              

The voice takes on a tone of tender weariness. The spacious lines, lack of punctuation, and the endearing, repetitive address “dear” opens up space for the uncertain and overwhelmed speaker struggling with present and past threats.

These struggles inhabit…

Review of Millicent Borges Accardi’s “Woman on a Shaky Bridge”

WOMAN ON A SHAKY BRIDGE by Millicent Borges Accardi

(Review published in Rattle, 2010)

In “On a Theme by William Stafford,” the first poem from Millicent Borges Accardi’s chapbook, Woman on a Shaky Bridge, the speaker begins,

If I could be like Wallace Stevens,
I’d fold my clothes into the bureau
drawer instead of living
from a suitcase.

Unlike Stevens, a poet who’s imagined here as transient, the speaker wants “really [to] move / in.” She’s also able “to open the window for / the neighbors” to be seen as well as to see for herself; she’s in essence settled yet open to experience outside of the room. She observes and participates in the world of experience (outside of the imagination) while at the same time responds with the imagination “so that even the last bite contained / both cone and cream,” alluding to Stevens, the “emperor” of the imagination.

The poems in this chapbook are both…

Standstill Moments, a review of Piotr Gwiazda’s “Messages”

(Review published in Jacket2, December 2013)

In his first book, Gargarin Street (2005), Piotr Gwiazda, after “meandering slowly from nowhere to nowhere” in a self-deprecating manner, after revealing his motto “Give Chance a chance” (36), and after postulating,

What if the script of human life is full of typos,

missteps, mishaps, false starts, false alarms,
wrong turns, dead ends, distractions, digressions —

(notice the language here playfully falls into that “poetic misstep” of cliché), he tells us how to see the future: “Think of it as an enormous blank, a sort of dream” (60). In his latest book, Messages, Gwiazda enriches his conversation about the future, situating it within the present (and past), as in…