First off, some people will say you shouldn’t do it. But, if you are around the writing world enough and aren’t a complete jerk, don’t you end up with a lot of writing friends? Why shouldn’t I want to talk about their books? It can be an icky think if, perhaps, you don’t go ahead and say – Hey, I know this person really, really well. Or, if you give praise for a book you don’t actually like just because they are your friend. It is a slippery slope. With that being said today I am going to talk about books from several of my friends.
- First up is Collin Kelley’s poetry collection Render from Sibling Rivalry Press. You know I love a book that looks gorgeous inside and out, and Collin’s newest poetry collection does not disappoint on that front. It’s a book you want to read just from how gorgeous the design is, and the poems do not disappoint. I often say that a chapbook should have an overarching theme it if wants to be successful. I’m less focused on that with a full-length collection, but Collin does a great job playing off the word render throughout the book. These poems are raw, raunchy at times (in the best of ways), and very real. Hard for me to pick a favorite, but one I found myself circling is towards the end of the book “Broken Things” starts with: My mother hovers now, whipping this world / with damaged blades, her selective amnesia // is rudderless, requires a stabilizing hand / from my father, the elephant who never forgets.
- Next on this list is Maureen Sherbondy’s collection Eulogy for an Imperfect Man. I’ve read most (if not all) of Maureen’s poetry books, and this is (of course – look at the title) a book that is working its way through grief, but it is also a very distinctive book on Maureen’s path as a poet. Not only is she tackling a major life change with the death of her father, but many of the poems in this collection have a more lyric turn to them than what I considered Maureen’s regular narrative voice which is also still present in this book. The title poem is particularly poignant. I’m on this journey right now, and Maureen captures it so well when it comes time to write a eulogy or an obituary for the imperfect person (after all, aren’t we all imperfect?): My brother stands up, / reads from the carefully worded speech, / struggle visible on his face. / He sticks to the facts like dots / on a map. We travel with him.
- And finally I want to mention a non-poetry book from a long-time friend who is a dedicated scholar and poet. Dr. Tara Powell’s PhD thesis turned academic book The Intellectual in Twentieth Century Southern Literature isn’t a light-weight read, but I loved how Tara’s voice still came through as she chronicled the books she loved. The premise of the book comes to a question I have had at times as well: what does it mean to have an academic/creative life? Is this a valid life pursuit? Tara examines that issue through her field of study, Southern Literature, and I find myself continuing to do the same through my poems as well as my new attempts at academic writing myself. I read this as an ebook, and I particular enjoyed clicking over to funny and informative footnotes.
So this cleans off my to review list – for now – but I have several books in progress, and who knows what I will take with me on a short family trip to Ohio