BTW –

If you happen to like either of those poem recordings, feel free to share them.  Thanks 🙂

The Bottoms at the West End of Kentucky

Here it is, “The Bottoms at the West End of Kentucky,” first published in the very good print / online journal Pea River Journal, and nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology. I am very proud of this one. Feel free to leave a comment. **Almost forgot to mention: you can read along over at Pea River: http://peariverjournal.com/2014/06/23/eric-m-r-webb-bottoms-kentucky/**

** Edited

Best of the Net 2014: our nominations

So, my poem “The Bottoms of the West End of Kentucky” is nominated for annual Best of the Net. And that’s exciting! And a big Thank You to Pea River Journal!

pea river journal

We publish a small slice of each issue online, and that small slice tends to come from our favorite-of-favorites list. Of that small slice published between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014, we nominated seven pieces for Best of the Net:
Greg Brown, “Unnatural Disasters
Lauren Camp, “Visit to Iraq
Matthew Kabik, “In the Orchard, In the Field
Corey Mesler, “A Small Simic Afternoon
Jose Padua, “Gin and the River

If you haven’t read them yet, please do. Seek these writers out wherever you can find them.
(Thank you, Sundress.)
and they were unaware_1108260098_l

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Review: Let the Body Beg by Tara Shea Burke

Disclaimer: I know the poet.

On to the important bit:

I’m always hungry. My dreams show blood

– from “Imagined Farms”

These poems, as the title of the collection telegraphs, are about hunger. Real, raw, human hunger felt deep in the chest and body. This is not the hunger of “oh, I’m a little late for lunch,” or “where’s the waiter with that food.” This is the hunger of first heartbreak, of a fist nailing the solar plexus sweet like a perfect tennis swing. This is the hunger of loneliness and desire, hunger that is hard to hear and beautiful to hold.

In the same poem quoted above, Burke writes, “The dreams are open wounds, talking / heads.” This is a protest poem, and though it protests about the self, it protests against ourselves as a nation as well. The factory farms and the endless wars in counterpoint to each other: in profit through blood. And, still, the love and the hunger. This is also, at it’s heart, a love poem. It’s about a lover who is

…a cool

clean cucumber vine…

and I have let her wrap vines around my hungry

heart

and a yearning to both grow and keep safe the lover. You’ll have to read the poem to get more, though.

This is a short volume, 25 pages and 16 poems, but each and every entry pulls it’s weighty hunger into the forefront. It is difficult to select just a few examples.

“The Hungry Girls of America” is dense with metaphor and “starving, then eating, then starving, then eating,” and succeeds by being about more than an individual, more than complaint, by being plain-spoken and forceful and honest. This might be the anthem for every one of us who feels like they can’t get ahead.

“The Harness” has long been one of my favorite poems by Burke. It has evolved in my acquaintance, and here it presents a tenderness and wholeness in a relationship. That ever-present hunger is softened here, attenuated. 

I don’t want to give away too many of these poems. As a whole, you should know that this is a forceful collection that is very clearly feminist and queer in its sensibilities. It connects though. As a reader, you will be satisfied with this collection, but it will leave you feeling a hunger. For more of Burke’s poetry, for human connection, and for awareness to the world around you. Be open to that hunger.

You can get a copy at ELJ Publications: http://eljpublications.com/available-titles/let-the-body-beg/