While Phoebe Nilsen's chapbook is at first unassuming in its slender arrangement, its warning to the readers who trace their fingers down its white pages is great. Published in 2018 by Finishing Line Press, Without a Kiss explores the deep consequences of a missed romantic opportunity along with the bittersweet nostalgia and tortuousness regret that comes with confronting it. Even the cover (designed by Elizabeth Maines McCleavy) of this well crafted collection, in all its black and white glory, works to push readers back into their own past mistakes whether those took place yesterday or years ago for some.
Readers be warned: To read Mark D. Dunn's 2014 poetic collection Even the Weapons is to feel the headiness of imbibing too much wine. His work is at once grounded in a thick snow fall and yet still, these poems are lifted off into more cerebral, cosmic planes. The poetry within this well crafted collection fluctuates between the realms of daydream and every day without bothering with any of reality's stringent tethers. In all honesty, the second movement is what can be best described as a stream of consciousness; readers will lose themselves in a twirling dream state where the poetic lines become touch points of thought, of connection, of some kind of reality rather than simple pretty words in boxed up stanzas.
Christine E. Ray's first full poetry collection Composition of a Woman, published in 2018 by Sudden Denouement Publishing, is a fine addition to the universe of feminist poetry. It also must be said that Ray's cover, designed by Mitch Green, is seducing with its outlines of supple flesh upon the deep, matte black canvas, the brilliant white of a solid female skeleton, which is topped by a vibrant, genteel flower. This makes the interior work, which reads as if a vivisection has been performed upon the speaker, all the more shocking to the reader beholding it. While the bones of this collection are indeed hardy, they are not all quite as elegant as the body depicted on the cover.
Jayne Marek's 2018 poetry collection, The Tree Surgeon Dreams of Bowling, is a long exhale of breath broken into three specific movements. These movements showcase very distinct emotional territories as well as perform the transformation of a flesh and blood woman into ink. The opening of the book is filled with a cold bitterness. This is a marked change from what follows in later pages. Readers are then met with the serenity and calm which is wafted into the air by the flicking pages found in the middle of the collection. At last, in the final selection, Marek offers up a sense of subdued bereavement to her readers. Together, these factions form a whole work which is a hushed whisper; impressive lines seem to speak a little louder, assuring themselves places in the reader's memories, and an escape from loneliness on the page.
White hot searing pain exploding through every cell, shrieks echoing in each and every molecule throughout a body in utter havoc—that's the intense sensation the cover (artfully designed by Chris Arabadjis) of Willa Carroll's 2018 poetry book,Nerve Chorus, thrusts upon the beholder. Carroll's collection of poems zeros in on the unadulterated pain of simply existing. The pieces within this work each explore and subsequently flush out the wide array of physical agonies which make themselves available to human beings struggling to survive in this realm as well as the emotional traumas humans so often face. She doesn't shirk from tenuous situations. She instead tackles these painful emotional occurrences by chronicling the suicide of an uncle and the decay of a parent. The work as a whole is a deliberate translation of pain, a truly wonderful subject to investigate, even to wallow in. For as Carroll states in "EmergencyRoom," "Pain is perfect. Total. One-pointed. No maybes."
Published by Ravenna Press in 2017, the poet and prose author Jane Rosenberg LaForge's work Daphne And Her Discontents weaves a complicated, personal family history and ancient Greek myth into a complete, original poetry collection. The intertwining of personal stories with a piece of history shared by the world allows these poems to travel into the past, throughout present and well into the future. This strategy elevates LaForge's collection to a new plane. It also effectively destabilizes readers as LaForge has done quite well in creating an atmosphere which feels as though "...we move as though space and sea inverted..."