Review: Dean Kostos’ “This is Not a Skyscraper”

This is Not a Skyscraper, Dean Kostos Red Hen Press, 2015. 978-1-59709-416-0 Dean Kostos’ latest collection, This is Not a Skyscraper, was selected by Mark Doty for Red Hen Press’s prestigious 2013 Benjamin Saltman Award. The cover, featuring a blurred photo of Midtown Manhattan’s Radiator Building, announces this as a New York book, and while… More

Review: David Tomas Martinez’ “Hustle”

Hustle, David Tomas Martinez Sarabande Books, 978-1-936767-77-1 Recently, while speaking with a close friend (who has very good literary taste) about what she was reading, she spoke enthusiastically about Hustle, a first book by David Tomas Martinez. Hustle deploys from the landscape of the low urban canyons of the West Coast: freeways, fences, “half-sanded cars… More

AFI Film Fest 2015

Each November in Los Angeles, the American Film Institute holds its free annual AFI Fest featuring a wide array of cinema from all over the world, with many entries having special screenings and premier galas. This year, associate editor Michael McDermit attended several choice screenings and craft talks at AFI, his reviews of these can… More

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

TJ Jarrett’s “Zion”

Paul Pickering Zion, TJ Jarrett Southern Illinois University Press, 2014, 978-0-8093-3356-1 TJ Jarrett’s newest collection, Zion, does not forget. Her poems do not turn away from painful realities toward nostalgic dreams. Instead, these poems countenance the hard past (and present) through the lens of the personal and the familial in order to prepare for a… More

Micah Towery’s “Whale of Desire”

Michael T. Young Whale of Desire, Micah Towery Redux Consortium: Cat in the Sun Press, 2013, 978-0991152315 Micah Towery is an adjunct professor at Indiana University South Bend. Whale of Desire is his debut poetry collection. It is also the debut collection of Cat in the Sun Press, and a quite good one at that.… More

Review: Peter Covino’s “The Right Place to Jump”

Scott Hightower The Right Place to Jump, Peter Covino New Issues, 2012, $15 The Right Place to Jump is the second book from Peter Covino. In Cut Off the Ears of Winter, his first, Covino staked out considerable space for themes connected to the anxiety of desire: mortality, class, language, the ineffable, decency, and fair… More

Review: Sam Lipsyte’s “The Fun Parts”

Michael McDermit Sam Lipsyte’s rascally prose is not without a hot-blooded, pumping core. That’s important; probably the most important factor to note of the author’s writing. Too often within today’s fiction (an age where sardonic wit and showbiz irony run unchecked) the idea of a piece is its focal point, while the individuals toiling within… More

Review: Matthew Olzmann’s “Mezzanines”

Scott Hightower Mezzanines, Matthew Olzmann Alice James Books, 2013, 978-1-882295-98-2, $15.95 Mezzanines by Matthew Olzmann is a first book and the winner of the 2011 Kundiman Poetry Prize, a prize dedicated to publishing work by Asian American poets. Part of the prize is the winning collection’s publication by Alice James Books. Olzmann is a product of… More

Review: “Fortino Sámano”

Scott Hightower Fortino Sámano (The Overflowing of the Poem), Virginie Lalucq and Jean-Luc Nancy Translated by Sylvain Gallais and Cynthia Hogue Omnidawn, 2012, 978-1-890650-67-4, $19.95. Half of Fortino Sámano (The Overflowing of the Poem) is a series of thirty-nine untitled poems by French poet Virginie Lalucq. The French original faces the English translation, a collaboration… More

Review: Robert Wrigley’s “Anatomy of Melancholy and Other Poems”

Benjamin Evans Anatomy of Melancholy and Other Poems, Robert Wrigley Penguin Poets, 2013. One asks that a poet’s linguistic command be equal to the task of their vision. Robert Wrigley regards the world with unrelenting wonder and his precision with language surpasses the surgical. One can ask for little else. Anatomy of Melancholy and Other… More

Review: Sally Ball

Scott Hightower reviews Sally Ball’s second collection of poems, “Wreck Me”. More