Charles Baxter’s “There’s Something I Want You to Do”

There’s Something I Want You to Do, Charles Baxter Pantheon Books, 2015. 978-1-101-87001-3 HEED THE REQUEST Although familiar characters pop in and out of Charles Baxter’s created world, the stories in his newest collection are foremost linked by thematics—each poses the same question of the protagonists, and in doing so requests the reader participate as… More

Claudia Emerson’s “Impossible Bottle”

Impossible Bottle, Claudia Emerson LSU Press, 2015. 978-0-807-16083-1 WORLD AS BEGINNING In the summer of 2014, Claudia Emerson was on faculty at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. I attended that year, having just received my MFA, ecstatic and honored that I would be taking part in her poetry workshop. Our group met twice weekly, and if… More

Martha Serpas’ “The Diener”

The Diener, Martha Serpas LSU Press, 2015, 978-0-0871-5922-4, $17.95 I was camping at Red Rock Canyon outside of Las Vegas when I read Martha Serpas’ new collection, The Diener. One day, while hiking beneath the sandstone walls at Willow Springs, I noticed through a thicket of desert willow and rabbitbrush a petroglyph staring back from… More

Joe Weil’s “The Great Grandmother Light”

The Great Grandmother Light, Joe Weil NYQ Books, 2013. 978-1935520801 Joe Weil is an assistant professor of poetry and fiction at Binghamton University at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. In 2013, NYQ Books published Weil’s New and Selected Poems, The Great Grandmother Light. Its poems span over 3 decades and contain a breadth of… More

Denton Loving’s “Crimes Against Birds”

Crimes Against Birds, Denton Loving Main Street Rag, 2014, 978-1-59948-499-0, $14.00 The pastoral imagination that illuminates Denton Loving’s Crimes Against Birds combines close observations of the natural landscape, plainspoken meditations, and a tone of simple and reverent sincerity. A poem like “Blessing of the Bees,” in which the speaker addresses his beehive, is characteristic of… More

Mark Wunderlich’s “The Earth Avails”

The Earth Avails, Mark Wunderlich Graywolf Press, 2014, 978-1-55597-666-8, $15 The Earth Avails is Mark Wunderlich’s third book. One approaches a new book by Wunderlich with a bit of heightened attention and expectation given that his first book, The Anchorage, won the Lambda Literary Award of its season and that Wunderlich is the recipient of… More

Jeffrey Harrison’s “Into Daylight”

Scott Hightower Into Daylight, Jeffrey Harrison Tupelo Press, 2014, 978-1-936797-43-1, $16.95 Into Daylight is divided into four sections. Harrison opens with a small pastoral poem and a tribute to John Clare, a poet known for dealing with elementalism, separation anxieties, and deep-seated disturbances. The poems in this opening section are based on casual conversations while… More