Laura DiNovis Berry
Welcome! I provide free book reviews for modern poets! At the end of the year, 10% of all earnings and donations will be given to a non profit organization. This year you will all be helping Lambda Literary! Thank you!
Wake Up, Sleepy Poet
Since I’ve moved to California, I have had the good fortune of meeting Rich, who runs the Cholla Needles literary magazine out in Joshua Tree. He was one of the first people I met here. Kind with twinkling eyes, he sat with me awhile for coffee. We talked at length about the vibrant writing community in these parts.
Color Commentary on the Game of Life
Baseball has long been admonished for being too slow, too boring form of entertainment. Alan Harris proves those critiques to be wrong. He uses this sport has a vehicle to talk about life, death and the moments in between. His writing perfectly depicts those players and spectators who are quite ready to go home by the game's end and those who want to play just one more round of catch, just watch one more game. Harris' collection Fall Ball is chock full of a powerful somberness, a sardonic wit, mournful stanzas and the inevitability of death. In short, it is a beautiful work of poetry.
Kaleidoscope of Poetry
Robert A. Cozzi’s Kaleidoscope of Colors may shock readers when they feel its heft in their hands. It is quite a large assortment of poetry. Published by Beach Umbrella Publishing in 2019, Kaleidoscope of Colors is Cozzi’s fifth poetic work. As a poet, he is certainly loquacious—this collection in particular is three hundred and five pages long.
Sweet, Fledgling Poetry
Growth, acceptance, vulnerability, and confusion are the plumage of this feathered little collection. As the readers flip open the yellow cover and make their way through the pages of Sweet Awakening, they will become most aware of the fledgling nature of Patricia Costanzo’s poetry. They will watch it peek out of its newly-cracked egg and tip it over the nest’s edge, embarking on its own sweet awakening. Costanzo’s poetic voice chirps a bit timidly, but it grows a bit bolder with every fresh attempt to cry out into the artistic universe. Unschooled, with no forms but free verse to guide her, this poet refuses to back down from her attempts at poetic flight.
The Universe On a String
The Luminary wastes no time in creating an appeal to prospective readers. Kimia Madani’s 2017 publication is adorned with an alluring cover; it is saturated with intense blues and blacks, which are interrupted by a blinding light shooting out through the darkness. Its design is uncharacteristically thrilling for a poetry collection. Readers could very well think they are picking up a thin book of suspense, or a fantastical novelette rather than a book of poems. Of course, the argument could be made that The Luminary is all those aspects of the literary world combined.
Awaiting a Facón In the Back
Stephen Page's tall tale inspired poetry is back with more dream like language and tension than ever in The Salty River Bleeds. It is full of descriptions of hard farm life, daydreams and countless moments of human failings. Although this most recent collection, which will be released later this year, is a continuation of Jonathan the rancher's story, the poetry also sows new characters into the readers' imaginations and harvests tantalizing, rich details about old familiar faces.
Maddox Zeroes in on Microcosms
Bittersweet, complex energies wrestle through the verses of Marjorie Maddox's Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation. Published in 2004 through Wipf and Stock Publishers, this set of poetry is markedly different from her work in Local News from Somewhere Else. In the latter collection, Maddox's tone is more distraught and full of sympathy for its subjects, the happenings of the wider world, whereas in the aforementioned work Maddox focuses in a more factual matter on microcosms: the immediate family, personal faith, and the functions of the human body.
Pause for a Poet: Karen Ankers
[This interview was comprised via email correspondence between Laura DiNovis Berry and Karen Ankers in June 2018] Karen Ankers hails from Anglesey, North Wales, and is a poet, playwright, and novelist. Her curiosity about the human conditionprovides her with a wealth of inspiration for her works.
Fantastically Executed Poetic Savagery
Heed the title Secure Your Own Mask and follow its instructions, readers, before cracking the spine of Shaindel Beers' fantastically executed poetic savagery. Her 2018 collection, published through the non-profit literary publisher White Pine Press, is chock full of writing talent and insight into the inseparable swirling atoms of beauty and cruelty that are nasty, necessary components in this thing called life.
Love and Mourning
An endless echo of weary, despondent sighs is what reverberates in this 2011 poetry book, written by Richard Atwood (and what it contains almost exclusively). Atwood's emotional poems throughout Death and Morning are romantic, erotic, and melancholic. The text does not stray very far from that atmosphere of passionate, yet unlucky love. For all intents and purposes, the first lines of the opening stanza in the piece "Love's Goodbye" serves as a rather succinct summary of the collection. Through his softly breathing verse, Atwood will interlock his fingers with those of his readers, and lead them from "...sorrow, to love, to sorrow. / A thousand roads, and each / with a few candles."
Optimism and Happiness Abound
Virginia Martin's collection Love Without Borders (published in 2017) is the third volume in a six part series. Readers will immediately discover that Martin's poetry is full of encouragement, optimism, and sweetness, served with a heavy Christian influence. Though these pieces do toe the line of falling (and actually do cross over a few times) into the realm of mawkish or sentimental work, their unabashed zest for life is undeniably cute.
Menny Offers Poetic Commentary on Social Issues
The cover of Melissa Menny's 2018 debut poetic collection, Mask Shavings, is rather deceptive. Bright neon butterflies seem to flutter invitingly at readers as they float off into a white abyss. The cover image implies that the text within will offer up soothing, light poetry; the kind that would ease the minds of those who read it. But that is not the case. Menny's poetry does not aim to imbue an effervescent sense of calm, but rather focuses its attention on such sobering subjects as mental illness, domestic abuse, and social anxiety. While Menny's poems could benefit from a more creative manipulation of language, she does use her poetic voice to bring awareness to the aforementioned (and very important) issues.