May 13, 2021

New Poetry Book Review: "Reverberations of the Genome" by James Grabill

“Reverberations of the Genome”
By James Grabill
99 pages
ISBN: 978-93-90601-42-4
Cyberwit
www.cyberwit.net
Copyright 2021

Review by LB Sedlacek

There’s a constant comfort to the poems in this new book from James Grabill.  He examines life, essentially presenting his poems almost as a research experiment or paper but in a far more interesting way.  Immediately with the first poem, “Reverberation of the Genome,” you will be drawn in.  This particular poem, is divided into four parts: “The Symbiosis in Diego Rivera,” “As the Sun Soars Over,” “In Schoenberg Mind,” and “Blue Fin in the Seas of Hemingway.”  The titles are such hooks, you could just stop with them but after reading them, of course, you will want to read more and deeper into the text and see what’s behind them, or what else may be going on in the poem.  After this zinger of an opening, he continues forth with yet more poems seeking to figure out existence, or perhaps something else that you as the reader can decide.  

Grabill peppers his manuscript with famous quotes.  They set the mood and his words rise up to the occasion.

The poems in this collection almost seem cosmic – they reach for the stars, so to speak, and actually get there.  The poems are mostly written in free verse or prose with some lyrical qualities to them.  

Grabill is well-published with several past publications of poems as well as many poetry books published by a variety of publishers.  His craft is evident here.  


From the poem “Seated at the Table”:

“Around the lion-clawed table of day and night sit the first humans

and their legendary offspring. Given the number of sensibilities and

ways they encoded the world, not many can agree about what’s to be

eaten and how it must be served. Erstwhile, enclaves attempt to enslave

escutcheony legions that qualify as the other to do the dirty work.”


This poem illustrates the scope of Grabill’s poetry.  He manages to show you what makes his poems tick and then take it in an unexpected direction almost as if he’s collaborating with himself.  Reading this book of poems is a creative experience.  His poems seem to define humanity, flawed though it may be.  

The poems are compelling and completely in the moment.  They toil away at showing the reader a way to understanding.

Grabill almost seems like an invincible knight, a hero poet writing verse as if his life depended on it.  There’s a certain cool and wow factor to his writing.  Nature, too, has its footprint all throughout this book of poems.

Poems often cover every day things, happenings, etc., but once you keep reading you will get that jolt, that reason to keep on reading to see what else is there.  Each section ties together well and that helps give the book an overall cohesiveness and one that suits it well.  

Grabill’s poems confront dilemmas of life.  Your life, though, will burgeon rewardingly after reading his new book.  It’s a must read destination, a book you should have on your nightstand for daily consumption.  


~LB Sedlacek is the author of the poetry collections “I’m No ROBOT,” “Words and Bones,” “Simultaneous Submissions,” “The Adventures of Stick People on Cars,” and “The Poet Next Door.”  Her first short story collection came out last year entitled “Four Thieves of Vinegar & Other Short Stories.”  Her mystery novel “The Glass River” was nominated for the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award.  She writes poetry reviews for “The Poetry Market Ezine” www.thepoetrymarket.com  You can find out more about her at www.lbsedlacek.com


New Poetry Book Review: "After Goya" New & Selected Poems by Roger Aplon

 “After Goya”
New & Selected Poems
By Roger Aplon
77 pages
ISBN: 978-93-90601-10-3
Cyberwit
www.cyberwit.net
Copyright 2021

Review by LB Sedlacek


Roger Aplon has put together a collection of poems with a wide variety of sections.  In each one, there’s a contrast in style, theme, and so on.  The poems are intense, each one simply enough to stand on its own.


From the poem “Just-Like-That”:

“The valley floor heaves & rumbles as rain cascades & lightning

chases them to their king-size bed where he slips

into her & panthers race the sky & coyotes scream with their

ghosts swimming through mesquite & cactus &”


His visuals are outstanding.  It’s the poet’s gift to be able to use imagery to say what you mean in only a few words, lines, or verses.

His poems are stunning and draw from all sorts of things.  The poems are set apart by some of the underlying philosophies in them.  Aplon delivers a literary feel that touches hearts, souls and minds.  His poems are relevant.


From the poem “There’s a Hole That Cannot Be Filled”:

“There’s a hole in the hall & another in the door that leads to the bedroom &

another in the kitchen &

in fact, there are holes throughout this house & the garden is filled

with holes &

there are holes in the visions of those who live here & thrive on

empty spaces &”


What his poems tackle at times seem ambitious.  Yet, he constantly achieves what he is after.  Each poem seems to unveil something else or something more than what it seems each one ending in a good conclusion.  The end of a poem is just as important as the beginning and the middle.  

“After Goya” is the stuff that good poems are made of.  Aplon has had several other books as well as chapbooks published.

He writes to shine a light, to make change.  Each word seems carefully chosen and fraught with meaning.  He places each line in just the right spot to move the flow of the poem, to get the message across.  What is poetry without conveying something or motivating the reader?


From the poem “Desert Lullaby”:

“Remembering (Among So Many) the Hass Refugee Camp – Idlib, Syria – 8/16/2019

Yes Tonight A camp Initiated for the Safety & Health of

the Disoriented Displaced & Dislodged Lies silent only

Fragments of Bodies that Once Filled its Squalid Tents Remain

& Yes as Reported a Bomb From a Lone Russian Jet Dissolved

All Hope of Life With a Whimper & a Bang & So Yes

We Announce & Plead We’re So Sick of War & The Thugs”


Alpon dedicates this book of poems to “all those who continue the fight for Enlightenment & Freedom, Wherever & Whenever.”  He does good work with this in his collection.  

The book is divided into sections titled “Encounters,” “To Witness,” “Six New Improvisations,” “Celebrating the Free Musical Improvisations of Anthony Tan,” and “Goya’s.”  Each one compliments the other almost like experiencing a movie or play in so many acts.


From the poem “After:  Anthony Tan’s Un/Divided”:

“Humm – Humm – Humm & gatt & got & gaunt & got gaunt &

She breathes & He gasps & dit & dit & dot-dot & catch & wire on fire

& eery & envy & tink & tingle & mum & mum & mum & boc & book

& botch & up & down & here’s the weather & the Giant whispers &”


Reading his poems are like listening to a serious song, a chant, a ceremony of sorts.  These poems can be loud or quiet, but either way they blast you into thinking about what’s being said.


~LB Sedlacek is the author of the poetry collections “I’m No ROBOT,” “Words and Bones,” “Simultaneous Submissions,” “The Adventures of Stick People on Cars,” and “The Poet Next Door.”  Her first short story collection came out last year entitled “Four Thieves of Vinegar & Other Short Stories.”  Her mystery novel “The Glass River” was nominated for the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award.  She writes poetry reviews for “The Poetry Market Ezine” www.thepoetrymarket.com  You can find out more about her at www.lbsedlacek.com


New Poetry Book Review: "Simona: A Celebration of the SPCA" by Chad Norman

 “Simona:  A Celebration of the SPCA”
By Chad Norman
99 pages
ISBN: 978-93-88319-52-2
Cyberwit
www.cyberwit.net
Copyright 2021

Review by LB Sedlacek

This book of poems is a themed one dedicated to the rescuing of a cat named, Simona.  While living in Truro, Norman and his family chose to add a pet to their lives.  As many rescued pets are apt to do, the cat chose them as her new mates.  The cat in turn became Norman’s muse.

Muses?  Remember those?  Ah, I bet you have a muse of sorts in your own writing life.

Norman infuses the poems in this collection with storytelling type poems about how Simona came to live with them.  Simona is a Calico cat.

Each poem tells a bit about the cat’s life, or the poem is inspired by the cat.  Pets have been inspiring humans (while serving as their companions) it seems forever and this is an enjoyable take on that.

The poems are often written from Simona’s point of view.  They are clever and fun to read!


From the poem “The Rapport”:

“She causes this.

An ease in knowing

the language in the placement,

how the human hand

comes against her,

her head ,tail, ears, and paws.”


How easy it is to imagine such a relationship with one’s pet.  Don’t have a pet?  You may want one after you read these sweet poems.

Norman adopted the cat from an SPCA shelter.  He found the cat after she had been traumatized by violent kicks from a human.  


From the poem “Something about a Visit to the SPCA”:

“a Being who cares

enough to agree on a choice, to choose

to be a family ready to rescue a cat, a pet,

a reason to be a family hoping to enlarge,

hoping to be a family ready to say a pet

can enlarge us, can be the reason to rescue,

can be what the family requires to hope”


It is very involving to detail real life events into a poem.  Each one of these is riveting.  The emotion behind Norman’s cat’s adoption is so real.  He achieves a victory with not only sharing his story and the cat’s story but also on the basis of turning the story into poetry.  He wields his words in just the exact right way.  

At times the poems are unsettling, but they are also intelligent and involving.  How could you not empathize with this cat?  How could you not be dreaming of a muse of your own to inspire your poetry writing after reading this book of poems?

This might be a book of love poetry between cat and humans, but it is utterly compelling.  These are most definitely poems for fans of pets!


~LB Sedlacek is the author of the poetry collections “I’m No ROBOT,” “Words and Bones,” “Simultaneous Submissions,” “The Adventures of Stick People on Cars,” and “The Poet Next Door.”  Her first short story collection came out last year entitled “Four Thieves of Vinegar & Other Short Stories.”  Her mystery novel “The Glass River” was nominated for the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award.  She writes poetry reviews for “The Poetry Market Ezine” www.thepoetrymarket.com  You can find out more about her at www.lbsedlacek.com


New Poetry Book Review: "Dream Tree" Haiku by David Watts

 “Dream Tree”
Haiku
By David Watts
50 pages
ISBN: 978-81-8253-714-9
Cyberwit
www.cyberwit.net
Copyright 2021

Review by LB Sedlacek


Short poems or haikus are not for everyone, but there’s a lot to be said to be able to contain your poems in such a brief form.  First of all, it takes skill to write poems short in length (but not in what they say).  Plus, this is also formal poetry because it’s written in a form.  

From Page 23:

“morning fog

the shape

of fog”


There are so many possibilities to each poems and with no pun intended a bit like being surprised by what you might find in a fortune cookie or in a fortune telling novelty machine or even a greeting card.  Remember when postcards used to have brief descriptions on the back as to what was on the front of the card?  Those made for some visual messages.

David Watts’ haikus are indeed image filled, pictures unnecessary.  He has the gift of turning his words in a direction you might not be expecting or even if you are the language accents any pre-conceived notions from the reader.


From Page 24:

“sun slips under a cloud

think I’ll borrow an apple

off my neighbor’s tree”


Watts has earned many accolades for his haiku poems and is well-published.  With these carefully crafted lines, it’s easy to see why.  

He isn’t afraid to touch on any subject admirably succeeding in capturing life with a crisp creative style.  These poems will maintain your attention as his voice as seen in the haikus never falters.  

You may develop a deeper understanding of this fine type of poetry or at least have a satisfying read possibly looking forward to more haiku from Watts.  His skills with using such a few words is delightful.  


From Page 43:

“warm snickerdoodles

another kid comes down

from the tree”


Now what a refreshing way to write about cookies.  Watts’ writing is simply like that, like tasting the first or second cookie from a fresh batch right out of the oven.  His words bring seriousness, joy, all types of emotion.  

Once you read this book of haiku, you’ll very likely want to read more.  Well done!


~LB Sedlacek is the author of the poetry collections “I’m No ROBOT,” “Words and Bones,” “Simultaneous Submissions,” “The Adventures of Stick People on Cars,” and “The Poet Next Door.”  Her first short story collection came out last year entitled “Four Thieves of Vinegar & Other Short Stories.”  Her mystery novel “The Glass River” was nominated for the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award.  She writes poetry reviews for “The Poetry Market Ezine” www.thepoetrymarket.com  You can find out more about her at www.lbsedlacek.com


New Poetry Book Review: "The Incense(d) Heart" by Maha Zimmo

“The Incense(d) Heart”
not another poetry collection
indeed another poetry collection
By Maha Zimmo 
94 pages
ISBN: 978-81-8253-700-2
Cyberwit
www.cyberwit.net
Copyright 2020


Review by LB Sedlacek

Although the subtitles of this new poetry collection from Maha Zimmo might indicate a very light fluffy book of poems, this is exactly a book of poetry that is not anywhere near greeting card verse sweetness.  The poems herein are untitled, but contain a last line that gives you an idea and feel of what the poem’s meaning was sort of like a hashtag or categorization.  It could detract from the poem, but it does not – it adds to it.  This style of poem classification I’ve noticed is often used on social media.  More and more often, a lot of big poets have become just that from their online presence and posts.

I am unaware of Zimmo’s social media, but she may be one such poet or not.  Her poems are serious and often touch on social, gender and cultural injustices.  

Lines from Page 27: 

“be careful what you look for

in case

you see what isn’t there

just to prove you were right

to look for it in the first place.”


Sample of one of the end lines, Page 29:

“- burn your magazines | us, beautiful ghouls”

These poems are a celebration of Zimmo’s writing strengths.  Her lines are suspenseful catapulting the reader into thoughtful action.  This is high-octane poetry because you can’t simply read it and forget it – the poems are going to seep into your brain.  Each page stands on its own, but yet they all seem to weave together with a clarity of voice.


From Page 49:

“footsteps like rose-petals

you stepped out from shadow

smiled

and i saw moonlight

festival of lights

all lanterns’ glow moisten your hair.”

The tag line for this poem is:  “- the (missing) magician”


The poems in this collection are gripping but sometimes dizzying because you don’t know where the lines will take you until you get to the end of the poem.  And that is the best kind of poetry and poems because you as a reader should not want to know the ending before the poem begins.  Her poems are thrilling, compassionate and insightful. 

Poems like these make you want to meet the author and sit down for a cup of tea to discuss everything that’s inside each poem.  These are poems you will soon not forget.


Lines from Page 54:

“you are choking

raging through salt-water.”

This poem is about being lost at sea, or so the tag line says.  It’s a perfect mix of love and hate, war and peace with poems you will hang onto from page to page.

This is Zimmo’s second collection of poems.  Her first book was entitled “rose-water syrup” and was published in 2019.


~LB Sedlacek is the author of the poetry collections “I’m No ROBOT,” “Words and Bones,” “Simultaneous Submissions,” “The Adventures of Stick People on Cars,” and “The Poet Next Door.”  Her first short story collection came out last year entitled “Four Thieves of Vinegar & Other Short Stories.”  Her mystery novel “The Glass River” was nominated for the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award.  She writes poetry reviews for “The Poetry Market Ezine” www.thepoetrymarket.com  You can find out more about her at www.lbsedlacek.com


April 24, 2021

New poetry review "And Still I Had These Dreams" by Ann Christine Tabaka

“And Still I Had These Dreams”
By Ann Christine Tabaka
80 pages
ISBN: 9798684031267
Clarendon House Publications
Copyright 2020


Review by LB Sedlacek


What I like most about Ann Christine Tabaka’s poetry is that it has a clear meaning and it’s enjoyable to read.  Poetry can be many things, but it isn’t much of anything unless the poet presents a consistent voice.
In this collection, she writes about origins, coffee shops, death, her garden and editors to name a few of the subjects.  Tabaka, an accomplished poet and writer, is gifted with her verses and lines. 


In “Sinful Indulgences” she compares broken love to a box of chocolate donuts.  In “Straws, and Bottles, and Bags, Oh My!” she makes a case for preserving the environment likening plastic to god.  She writes about such things as time and anxiety with a poetical style that would appeal to most anyone whether they like poetry or not.  


She captures her subjects with such heart.  Her poems are lyrical, seamless, and breathtakingly beautiful.  There’s a good poetical essence here.  Tabaka’s poems leave you with a sense of awe.


~LB Sedlacek is the author of the poetry collections “I’m No ROBOT,” “Words and Bones,” “Simultaneous Submissions,” “The Adventures of Stick People on Cars,” and “The Poet Next Door.”  Her first short story collection came out last year entitled “Four Thieves of Vinegar & Other Short Stories.”  Her mystery novel “The Glass River” was nominated for the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award.  She writes poetry reviews for “The Poetry Market Ezine” www.thepoetrymarket.com  You can find out more about her at www.lbsedlacek.com

New poetry review "The Beasts that Guide Us Home From Memory"

 

“The Beasts that Guide Us Home From  Memory”

By Sean Lause

78 pages

ISBN: 978-93-88319-85-0

Cyberwit

www.cyberwit.net

Copyright 2021

 

Review by LBSedlacek

 

Sean Lause is a professor of English at Rhodes State College with widely published poems and several Pushacart Prize nominations.  With the poems in this collection, it’s easy to see why is work is so well accepted.

 

The first line in the first poem (“January 6th, 2021”) of his book is:  I watch the chaos shimmer / from my television / like Martian cancer.  You know with this start, he has something to say.  And that’s the best kind of poetry where there’s meaning behind the verses.

 

From the poem “The Others”: 

“A cat approached me

with a note on her paw

that read “cat.”

That was sound advice,

made more sense than my “philosophy,”

yet still I craved for more.”

 

Where you think the poem may go in “The Others” it definitely doesn’t!  Two more of the lines further in the poem is:  “I weave death from sunlight, / and I am the silence the grass keeps.”  Poems that take a different turn than you the reader expects are welcome.  This is not greeting card variety poetry. 

 

Lause’s lines are realistic and laced with more than a few unexpected twists.  You will feel like you are right there in the Captain D’s or walking the streets experiencing these images as they come together with a bang in the middle, the end, or somewhere in-between.  Suspenseful, entertaining and real poems are what you will find inside this new poetry book.

 

The poems have beautiful lines with a nonstop momentum which adds dimension to each verse.  If you’re looking for some perfection in poetry, this is it.

 

From the poem “Kindred Spider”:

“Spider

web

net of thinking,

lined

like an old woman’s face.

The spider’s legs move

like silent syllables.”

 

These poems lead readers into a tantalizing and powerful poems.  Fun, and high quality you will connect with these verses. 

 

From the poem “Deer-haunted through the Alice woods”:

Deer-haunted through the Alice woods,

secrets from a magical mirror

tell a fawn’s reprieve from fear,

where a single word spells time’s return,

and the end of Summer’s dreams.

 

Lause proves he’s willing to take on a variety of subjects from nature to stories to cow tipping.  He writes in a wide range of style including haikus contained in this collection.

 

In “Coyote Vision” he follows the path of one of these howling creatures.  In “My final Halloween” he talks of unmasking the monster.  These poems will coax you into a thundering motion. 

 

It’s refreshing to read poems that contain an originality to them.  The way Lause writes adds dimension to each verse. 

 

My favorite poem in his collection is “The secret dinosaurs” where the narrator tries to save them by hiding them in the basement.  If only!  Here are some lines from the poem:  That left the huge, unholy monstrosities / trapped in time like aging poets, / susceptible to blood and meteors / yet determined to endure till the end.”

 

The last poem which is the title poem bids you to “watch gently from the nearing stars” (in the poem the word “watched” is used instead of “watch”).  You will open this book expecting gentle poetry and while some of the lines are such these poems are an unveiling of dimensions and ones you’ll have fun reading!

 

 

~LB Sedlacek is the author of the poetry collections “I’m No ROBOT,” “Words and Bones,” “Simultaneous Submissions,” “The Adventures of Stick People on Cars,” and “The Poet Next Door.”  Her first short story collection came out last year entitled “Four Thieves of Vinegar & Other Short Stories.”  Her mystery novel “The Glass River” was nominated for the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award.  She writes poetry reviews for “The Poetry Market Ezine” www.thepoetrymarket.com  You can find out more about her at www.lbsedlacek.com

 

April 10, 2021

New poetry review "Crop Circles" by William Heyen

 

“Crop Circles”

By William Heyen

75 pages

ISBN: 978-81-8253-697-5

Cyberwit

www.cyberwit.com

Copyright 2021

 

Review by LBSedlacek

 

                From the opening line of the very first poem in this new collection by William Heyen you know you’re in for something different.  The whole time I’m reading the poem, I’m thinking (a) this poem sums up my life (and most everyone else’s) at some point and (b) what a jolt!  He doesn’t put you to sleep with the next poem, either.  Nope!  With a title like “Fentanyl” this poem mirrors a few real life tales I’ve heard about at the hospital, but have never ever dared to write about myself.

                The next one, “Dracula,” is a blood boiling poem – you will feel like you are right there in the fanged ones shoes.  More deep, sharp, skin prickling poems follow.

                From the poem “The Banker”:  When the banks opened their doors again, I was there at mine, /

surged in // with all the others to empty my account before whatever happened / to money happened // to mine, but we were all days late & dollars short—no tellers, / no managers, // the cash drawers empty, vault door open to vacant space, deposit boxes / empty, even.” 

 

An experience probably had by more than a few readers.  Except, in these poems you can expect the unexpected.

            His writing style is connected, but yet not.  It will lead you one way then quickly take you another.  With lines like this “A Girl Scout came to my door selling brains in old milk bottles / from my childhood” from the poem “The Promise” come a unique point of view that makes you stop, think, and read some more. 

            These lines are tantalizing.  They say what you might think, but would never say out loud or express to anyone else. 

            Heyen’s voice is exactly original.  There are no similarities here, and that’s a good thing.  I like to read poems that jump out at me, that leave me wondering, that are not like everyone else’s with a completely original point of view.  Heyen’s verses will set your mind on fire and then some! 

            Here’s another great line from the poem “The Poet”:  “I was thinking of scalping a sonnet.”  I won’t tell you what the poem is about, you’ll need to read the book for yourself.

            Iconic ironic lines flip back and forth from the mundane to the surreal to the macabre and back again.  Heyen is a prolific writer and author of many books.  With clever poems like these, it’s no wonder. 

            In my daily poetical work (teaching, critiquing, editing, etc.) I often hear folks taking up issue with how unexciting poetry is.  “Crop Circles” though will stop your heart, bleed your mind and maybe just maybe make a poetry lover out of you if you aren’t one already. 

 

 

~LB Sedlacek is the author of the poetry collections “Words and Bones,” “Simultaneous Submissions,” “The Adventures of Stick People on Cars,” and “The Poet Next Door.”  Her first short story collection came out last year entitled “Four Thieves of Vinegar & Other Short Stories.”  Her mystery novel “The Glass River” was nominated for the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award.  She writes poetry reviews for “The Poetry Market Ezine” www.thepoetrymarket.com  You can find out more about her at www.lbsedlacek.com

 

New Poetry Book Review: "Reverberations of the Genome" by James Grabill

“Reverberations of the Genome” By James Grabill 99 pages ISBN: 978-93-90601-42-4 Cyberwit www.cyberwit.net Copyright 2021 Review by LB Sedla...