Review

Blurred Library: Essays on Artists’ Books by Tate Shaw

Blurred Library: Essays on Artists’ Books by Tate Shaw

Tate Shaw points out that Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore claimed, “the book is an extension of the eye” (50). Shaw’s new book, Blurred Library: Essays on Artists’ Books, extends that claim to encompass the body and the psyche. So, if the medium is the message, then what, Shaw asks and explores, are artists’ books communicating? And how?

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Bearing the Mask: Southwestern Persona Poems edited by Scott Wiggerman and Cindy Huyser

Bearing the Mask: Southwestern Persona Poems edited by Scott Wiggerman and Cindy Huyser

I was drawn to Bearing the Mask, Southwestern Persona Poems for two reasons. The first is that I feel a reverent love for the Southwest. I spend many days each year exploring its canyons, rivers, and wild lands and have had the honor of hearing stories from many of its residents—white, Latina, indigenous. The second is that I feel personally activated by the movement at Standing Rock. It feels both timely and revolutionary to give light to a body of work that illustrates the relationship between people and their homeland with all its beauty and complexity.

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Marys of the Sea by Joanna C. Valente

Marys of the Sea by Joanna C. Valente

If the current state of American politics has caused its public to become obsessed with apocalyptic imagery, then Marys of the Sea perhaps reflects Valente's vision of misogyny and rape culture as a zombie virus infecting the populace. Valente's narrator devours the world as retribution for the ways in which her own flesh has been metaphorically consumed.

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Mysteries in a World That Thinks There Are None by Gary McDowell

Mysteries in a World That Thinks There Are None by Gary McDowell

The first thing I did after reading Mysteries in a World That Thinks There are None was look up works by Eric Fischl. I had not been acquainted with his work before and McDowell refers to him regularly in his poems. After an Internet gallery stroll, I felt like I’d been touring a family photo album, yet embedded in its snapshots were overlays of the human unconscious brought to light, filling it sometimes with violence and sexual innuendo that the eyes don’t often see in pictures reminiscent of a vacation slide show. 

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Franklinstein by Susan Landers

Franklinstein by Susan Landers

How does one write about something that, in a way, resists the fundamental ways we often approach writing? As a glance at any of Franklinstein's blurbs will tell you, Susan Landers has written a book that is somehow history, memoir, and poetry all at once. In a kind of explanation of this refusal to be just one thing, Landers writes early on, “To come closer / to come to see / this writing must meander.” From the beginning, we know that Landers' writing is not only a telling of, but also a searching for, what has happenedto her and to the Philadelphia Germantown of her upbringing. By the end, it is not clear whether she has found what she's searching for; but what her searching has amounted to, you'll want to read and revisit again and again.

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Death of Art by Chris Campanioni

Death of Art by Chris Campanioni

I’m drinking a glass of wine in a gallery and nothing means anything. There is work from 100 different artists up on the walls. The gallery is selling a recently published book of influential artists from North Brooklyn in full color. It’s going for $60 and it’s worth it. I’m in it. I don’t care. I’m getting another glass of wine now and scanning the room just to feel something. Just to make sure there’s nobody I missed saying hello to.

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Notebooks of a Chile Verde Smuggler by Juan Felipe Herrera

Notebooks of a Chile Verde Smuggler by Juan Felipe Herrera

What does it mean to be American? As a writer on the margins? Juan Felipe Herrera’s Notebooks of a Chile Verde Smuggler explores the question of writing in the embodied nation of an ethnic identity. Herrera illuminates the complexities and cargas of growing up Chicano in star-spangled soil and living to write about it in one’s own terms. Juan Felipe Herrera, former California and current U.S. Poet Laureate, has been a prolific writer, whose work spans at least four decades. In many ways, he is one of Chican@ / Latin@ literature’s seminal voices. This book seeks to give the reader and writer (especially the fledgling eagle-writer) a glimpse into the formative and explorative experiences that have shaped and endowed Herrera’s survival, introspection, and prominence in the field.

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The Boss by Victoria Chang

The Boss by Victoria Chang

Victoria Chang’s The Boss serves up poems reminiscent of repetitious schoolyard rhymes. Her collection takes on large concepts: life, capitalism, ancestral memories, death, and examines how our daily interactions become the metaphysical. With most poems only taking up one page, and a few stretching to two, Chang’s writing utilizes each empathetic word. At it’s pinnacle, The Boss throws back the curtain and places us at the epicenter of a conversation stripped of niceties or answers; instead, Chang grants the opportunity to not only survive, but thrive in the unknown.

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The Flowers Won't Die by S. j. Cruz

The Flowers Won't Die by S. j. Cruz

A poet by trade, S. j. Cruz has given us a début novel at once original and familiar: while at first glance its structure and preoccupations seem reminiscent of the hip novelties found in other alternative literature, the author's voice distinguishes The Flowers Won't Die as an earnest literary exploration of contemporary subjects. Cruz's unique hybrid of poetic grace and comedic lunacy shine through a novel that, although it may only be enjoyed by other young writers and artists, nonetheless offers a fresh perspective on youth, art, and life.

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Syria Burning: ISIS and the Death of the Arab Spring by Charles Glass

Syria Burning: ISIS and the Death of the Arab Spring by Charles Glass

While many might be familiar with the uprisings surrounding Arab Spring, it is hard  to say the same about what came before or after. Syria Burning: ISIS and the Death of Arab Spring elaborates on what we think we know and more importantly, reports on what we need to know. In the text’s foreword, Patrick Cockburn, a fellow journalist, introduces the crucial value of Charles Glass' perspective on the series of events following the rise of Arab Spring four years ago. From a realm of bias and othering, former ABC NEWS chief Middle East correspondent Glass offers insight of the war and its aftermath.

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yes i understand and i wish to continue by James Schiller

yes i understand and i wish to continue by James Schiller

Despite the fact that this first line of the book could easily summarize, placate, defend, and define all the poems in this expository of structure-fucking, raw, and refreshingly crude social commentary, I was quite compelled to read on because I certainly understand and I wished to continue. 

yes i understand and i wish to continue takes the reader down the rabbit hole and right back up to topsoil of our gnarled existence.  

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