Tag Archives: poetry review

Two Poetry Collections

Carla McGill posted an advance review of Kin Types at the Finishing Line Press website. In her post she writes about Kin Types and Doll God–and introduces the work of poet Cindy Rinne whose book Quiet Lantern I just received yesterday!


So much of my work emerges from an interior place, an inner knowing, a sense that yes, now I should write this story, or yes, right now this poem is forming in my thoughts. No matter how many lists or outlines I make of what I want to write, I find that I cannot keep to them because something else is rumbling within.

I am learning to pay attention to the interior world first. As the new year approached, I somehow knew that this would be the year that I would search for a publisher for my first collection of poetry. I am only now, as spring begins, delving in to the list to see which one might be a good fit for my work (or more importantly which one would accept my work).

On a side note, I have a poem called “The Northern Lights” in the most recent…

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Doll God, Family history, Kin Types, poems about dolls, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Writing

Find Poems Here!

Two copies of the new issue of CopperNickel arrived in my mailbox. This beautiful journal is housed at the University of Colorado, Denver.

I have a prose poem in it about a woman getting a divorce in 1895. It is based on, among other information, two newspaper articles. The woman was my great-great-grandfather’s sister.


A feature of this journal that is particularly special is that they ask all contributors to recommend other books of poetry. I recommended Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello’s book Hour of the Ox. Her collection won the prestigious Donald Hall Prize for Poetry in 2015–a well-deserved honor. Her book seems to me to be an excavation into what was, what would have been, what could be and could have been, and what isn’t. Marci, who in the past has published a poem called “Origin / Adoption,”  is a Korean-American poet who might be inventing a family in her first book. I find that all interesting because of my sympathies for adoptees and for anybody searching for their origins.

Here is a little taste of her lines:

Counting the breaths in the dark, my fingers crept lightly

across the floor and against my father’s calloused palm,

willing his lifeline to grow long as a stream

of tea poured green and steaming and smelling of herbs.

(from “The Last Supper”)

I’ve also recently read other books of poetry I want to recommend.

Nandini Dhar’s Lullabies Are Barbed Wire Nations is packed with lively and vivid prose poems. I found their form to be a great choice because of the narrative energy of the book. Lots of stories in here!

The Well Speaks of its Own Poison, by Maggie Smith, follows in the path of poets like Anne Sexton who explore the dark shadows of the fairy tale world to create magical poems.

I fell in love with Wendy Barker’s One Blackbird at a Time because every poem is about teaching literature. They re-created a world for me that I once knew so well. Anybody who has ever taught English or anybody who majored in English will probably feel the same way. You have to have a little familiarity with some of the more well-known texts read in the classroom: Whitman, Thoreau, Dickinson, Williams, Stevens, and Elizabeth Bishop, are a few of those mentioned. These are the opening lines of a poem that is a tribute to Bishop and her poem “One Art” (the formatting is completely off here; I can’t get WordPress to do it properly!!!):

It’s a perfect poem, I say, and though no one

In the class is over twenty-five, everybody

nods. They ‘ve all lost: the Madame

Alexander doll fallen into the toilet, silky

hair never the same, the friend who

moved away to Dallas, a brother once again

in juvie. So many schools—thirteen in

a dozen years—I lost each friend I made

till grad school.

 Notice the doll, too. That leads me back to–wait for it–Doll God ;).


Filed under Book Award, Book Review, Books, Doll God, Literary Journals, poems about dolls, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Poetry reading, Reading, Writing

What is That Beat from Inside the Earth?

In December, I posted a two-part essay by Abenaki poet Carol Bachofner here and here. In this piece, she redefines her artistic identity. Today I am sharing my review of her 4th poetry collection, Native Moons, Native Days.

These lovely poems explore and illuminate the life stories of the Abenaki, both past and present. They begin as lyric poems, but the singular first-person perspective doesn’t insist on itself as a lone entity. Rather, the view merges with a larger “we.” In this way, the poetry collection gives voice to a people.

The first poem, “Origin,” tells a story of how “[e]verything started over water” when a woman looked down through a hole in the clouds, “dreaming and falling.” By “Epilogue,” “We look to the sky to see who is falling, who is rising.” I read this as a creation story that informs a system of symbols that give meaning for the woman telling these poetic stories as well as for the Abenaki. As the moons come and go, so do the generations.

Bachofner’s poems bring the reader closer to the rich earth and its fruit (“Plunging hands into warm earth / where worms have shed casts”)–the dirt, the squash, the ocean, its fish. They have a way of slowing down the contemporary world and connecting the reader through place and naming. The names are important: they punctuate the poems. Medawihla, Mezatanos, Pashipakokee: loon, moon, river. My first time through the book I read the poems aloud, relying on instinct for pronunciations, and they felt good in my mouth.

Just under the musicality of Bachofner’s lines, I hear a heart beat that seems to come from the center of the earth. No one could expect poetry to do more.

Here’s a sample from the book:

We Speak the White Man’s Language

except when dreaming, except when our fingers

braid hair, weave blankets, knot bait bags,

when we are praying in Indian. Work brings words

from the belly, the soles of the feet.

Words walk the woods where our relatives

burned the way forward from camp to camp,

trading stories with people along the way.

We speak in our own tongues, syllables full

of consonants, echoing from the back

of the throat to the nose, to the wind.

Our words are a clearing, a place for fire.

Where did the language go when the black robes

threw holy water on it? Did it disappear

when the switch was on our backs? Into the trees,

into the streams, into our combs to wait.

Carol has also published three other poetry collections. Go forth and check them out!


Filed under Book Review, Books, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Writing

Review of Luanne Castle’s First Poetry Book “Doll God”

Jennifer very kindly read Doll God and reviewed it. Thanks so much for your support, Jennifer!

Also, a reminder that I am doing a Goodreads Book Giveaway through the weekend.

Good luck to you!




Doll God by Luanne Castle

Doll God

by Luanne Castle

Giveaway ends January 26, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Poetry for Wonder

I have had the absolute privilege to read Luanne Castle’s first book of poems with the wonderful title “Doll God”. Her poems have been published in great journals such as the Wisconsin Review, Prairie Wolf Press, and TAB: The Journal of Poetry & Poetics and several other publications as well. This is her first book of poems printed by Aldrich Press. She studied creative writing at several schools two of which have been the University of California and Stanford.

My reviews of books are not lengthy. I try to pull the essence of the overall book and I am here to promote the positive. I may miss the mark all together, but I hope that I honor the pieces in some way. I hopefully somehow inspire the reader to add each author’s books to their collection of favorites.

“Doll God” by Luanne Castle has an underlying theme of feminine that…

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Filed under Book Review, Doll God, Dolls, poems about dolls, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Publishing, Writing