Category Archives: Review & Reflection

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/

Back Again, Like Old School

Lots of news to write about!

Two biggest things:

1 – No Bullshit Review is live with its first issue! It’s only in print, but you can find out more by going to the site: http://nobullshitreview.tumblr.com. I’m really proud of the first issue and all the great writing I was able to accept for it. There are instructions for getting a copy on the blog. Really easy: send an email to thenobsreview+subscribe@gmail.com with your mailing address (like I said, in print only).

2 – I got a manuscript accepted! It is titled How to Lose Faith, here’s the announcement link: Blast Furnace Press. Take a look at the most recent issue of the magazine! This will be my first chapbook publication, and includes a couple of poems from my thesis, a couple published elsewhere, and some new stuff. I am really excited about it, it means I get to call myself a full-fledged Published Poet!

There’s been a lot of radio silence lately, I went and got myself an adult job, so there’s not as much room for activities. But I have done a lot in the last few months, including getting a magazine up and running, reading submissions and putting together enough content for a whole issue. Not to mention revising that manuscript over and over and submitting it over and over.

It is a strange beast, to finally come into fruition this way. It is a strange beast, to winnow a ~70 page manuscript down to several poems. It is a howling clawing process, in fact. And it is even harder to describe, but I may take a stab at it over on the other WordPress blog.

In the meantime, check out No Bullshit Review, send me a poem or three, or a nonfiction piece. Everyone hurts for good nonfiction submissions, and NoBS Review is not an exception.

What I have Missed

Right now, I am missing my books. They are all boxed up, you see. So all of the listings under “Upcoming Reviews and Reflections” are on hold. At least most of them are. I do have a couple of those with me. Strike that, I have none of those with me. But I do have the following books, which I’ll be adding to the list: Continue reading

Cross-Post with Wallace Stevens Encounters

As I previously wrote here, I intend to follow up on the ideas I wrote about in the Introduction to Wallace Stevens Encounters. This is that post.

In that post, I mentioned that Pattiann Rogers expands Stevens’ ideas in her essay “Cosmology and the Soul’s Habitation”; however, although her ideas line up and extend Stevens’, she does not specifically mention his name. Perhaps Stevens’ theory has become so ingrained as to be an accepted part of the modern condition of humanity; in Rogers’ words, a piece of our contemporary cosmology.

To Continue, Read Here

Poetic Idealism and the Search, pt. 1

Many of the readers who end up at this blog do so by searching Google with the phrase “idealism in poetry” or something similar. While I think the overall contents of the blog offer my thoughts on the topic, I am sure that many of these searchers are looking for research for their undergraduate or high school papers. This post will offer some reflection on the concept in general, but I would like to also point them toward the recently updated “plagiarism note” in the right column. Your teacher/professor will recognize a voice other than yours, and drop text into Google to figure out where it came from. Then you will fail the paper, if not the course. Be forewarned.

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“I Didn’t Know How Good the Poem Would Be” – Hugo and Finding Out

Richard Hugo continues the sentence in one of the most powerful essays of The Triggering Town by writing, “but it would be honest and I would like it because it wouldn’t be any tougher than the human heart needs to be” (96). “Ci Vediamo” barely resembles other essays in the collection, with very little direct advice, but instead reflects on Hugo’s return to the little Italian town where he was stationed in WWII. Despite not directly conveying advice to writers, Hugo imbues the essay with a well-modulated experience which brings the reader to tears with the author at the end. This control of modulation offers enough to study in itself, though this response is not the appropriate place. Instead, this essay will examine the way “Ci Vediamo” and other essays in Hugo’s collection urge the reader toward an honesty and openness which leads to better poems.

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