Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Book review: Body, In Good Light by Erin Rodoni

In keeping with April's theme as National Poetry Month, I'm happy to review a lovely book of poetry by a former colleague of mine at Literary Mama, Erin Rodoni.

Erin was the assistant editor in poetry at LM until she had the double good fortune of giving birth to her second child and seeing her first poetry collection in print. Busy woman! Working with her for about a year, I appreciated her careful eye and wide range of poetic appreciation.

Both of these skills are on display in Body, In Good Light. Erin's poetry demonstrates deftness with a variety of styles while offering a clear, consistent voice. Body, in Good Light explores the tension between body and spirit, light and shadow in sensual, clear-eyed poems.

As the book's title suggests, the visceral aspects of the body undergird the poems ("sometimes meat, we dream"), particularly as the body loves, ages, battles disease, and gives birth to and nurtures new life. At the same time, poems revel in qualities of light, especially when imbuing the physical with an internal, spiritual glow, like "tomorrow's sun in her hair."

Erin's startling descriptions, such as "pureed carrots like lamb's blood on the door," made me imagine her as an impressionistic painter who can evoke external as well as internal landscapes by combining visuals, scent, texture, and sound. Check out these lines from "The Woman Who Is Your Mother":
I still love the unapologetic suck of a struck match
and the horse that joyfully bucks its rider no matter
how much shugar it lips from a palm. I know the woman
who is your mother will never forgive herself
for all the ways she has to break you
before the world can.
In the book's third section, motherhood sharpens questions of identity, physicality, and wonder as "the woman / who is your mother still marvels that roaming minerals / in her blood settled to form your bones." I also loved the lines: "Now that I'm never alone, / I suddenly am so // lonesome." Yeah, it's like that. At the same time:
the perfume of another sphere still rises from your body
while you sleep, sweet as the Technicolor sugar at the bottom
of a box of Trix.
Rich imagery, nuanced wordplay, and shifting layers of meaning reward multiple readings of this elegant collection.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Speculative YA fiction and poetry? Yes please!

I'm happy to announce my first poems for kids are available in the new issue of Stinkwaves Magazine!

I was really excited to find a YA magazine devoted to speculative fiction, poetry, and art. They're also engaged in building a community of writers and artists, including young and up-and-coming creators, through the magazine and their parent publisher Handersen Publishing's books for kids. Exciting to be part of this new endeavor!

My two poems in this issue, "The Threshold Machine" and "American Inferno," were once described as "Dr. Seuss meets Kafka." Check out the latest issue for some fun, strange, creative work--and don't forget to subscribe!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Happy National Poetry Month!

Poetry books are popping up like Easter eggs! Since I reviewed Poetry for Kids: Emily Dickinson, Quarto for Kids/MoonDance Press has published three more titles in their Poetry for Kids series. They've chosen some wonderful American writers; crossing fingers that the publisher branches out into poets of color, too.

I haven't read these yet, but I was really impressed by the Emily Dickinson book: the thoughtful selection of poems, the gorgeous art, and the helpful backmatter. If these books are anything like the first, I'd bet any of them will be winners.

Check them out:

Poetry for Kids: Carl Sandburg
Poetry for Kids: Robert Frost