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

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

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

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

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

Albany Journal – 7/6/12

Record high tempertures still invade Albany, and around the country the weather is much worse.  I heard that Chicago reached record heat yesterday, Texas still has a major drought on its hands, and rainstorms pummeled Washington D.C., Virginia, and West Virginia – not to mention the wildfires in Colorado.  If there’s an apocolypse coming then… More

Review: Richard Hoffman’s “Emblem”

Scott Hightower “Emblem” Richard Hoffman Barrow Street Press, 2011, $16.95 Emblem is Richard Hoffman’s third book. His second, Gold Star Road, won the 2006 Barrow Street Poetry Prize. Emblem departs from Alciati’s 1531 Emblemata, a Latin metrical collection of moral, proverb-like sayings, in which ethical teaching is couched in elegant and forceful diction. That text… More