Tag Archives: Poet

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/

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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.

Revision and Creation: 1 – Close Attention pt. 1

The initial post introducing the ideas here occurred over on Poetry Thesis Musings, a blog about it being self-defining. Go ahead and take a minute to read that; it’s short, I promise.

Now that you’ve read the initial post, walk along this exploration with me. The beginning of this journey is about the act of close attention. As just about any poet will tell you, close attention is one of the primary aspects of writing poetry. Another way to say this is that poems do not unveil themselves without your hard work of paying attention to the world around you.

But what does this have to do with revision?

Good question, you! Where ecstatic creation in the face of the results of close attention (a good example is found among the Beat Poets) may result in much earnest poetry–and even very good poetry–the act of revision asks for close attention to the poem, the poet, and the subject of the poem. Revision forces the poet to decide, to act, to reflect, to unveil, and to question.

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Reflection on Oliver de la Paz’s Requiem for the Orchard

An Important Announcement on Plagiarism

Oliver de la Paz’s collection, Requiem for the Orchard, relies on two organizing threads throughout. Those are the “Requiem” poems, which originally appeared as one extended poem in Guernica Magazine, and the “Self-Portrait” poems which appeared in various places. De la Paz confronts the construction and obfuscation of identity and self through these two threads of interrogation, and it is important that the collection resolves with the two threads together. Continue reading

Reflection on Into These Knots

An Important Announcement

            How does one write poetry about grief, or heartache? Allen Ginsburg’s “Howl” and “Kaddish” might be one approach, but it is a rare poet who can operate in the verse-libre and still convey the absolute misery without devolving into melodrama. Many poets resort to form, which forces a constraint upon poems. In the case of Ashley Anna McHugh, the constraint of form has allowed her to explore loss in great detail. Continue reading

Reading the Writing of Love

Kim Addonizio’s What is this Thing Called Love reaches through the looking glass.

If that is not clear enough, where a confessional poet’s version of these poems might harp on the “woe is me” shtick, Addonizio manages to allow the reader to experience these poems as though they come from inside, and not from the page.  So, not that we are reading a memoir, but experiencing all the love offered to us.  Even reminding the reader in a subtle way of other personal experiences.  Sometimes, I can almost imagine being the speaker.  Whether that is a fault of Addonizio’s writing, or my own empathy, I do not know; but I have an understanding, a connaissance, that is drawn out by the poems in this collection.

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