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NewPages Book Reviews

Posted July 1, 2009

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Celia Gilbert
  • Date Published April 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1935402343
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 86pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Vince Corvaia
In these beautifully crafted poems, Celia Gilbert explores love and loss and what it means to be a daughter and a Jew. There’s hardly a poem here that doesn’t ache with feeling.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Joshua Beckman
  • Date Published April 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1-933517-37-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 62pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Jason Tandon
Joshua Beckman's fifth collection of poetry Take It, a title suggesting both offer and imperative, is the product of a big heart and a far-ranging imagination. Published without titles, the poems read like non-sequiturs, each one unfolding with peculiar associations of imagery and thought. The language can move from high-flowing rhetoric to obscenity in a matter of lines, and the personas are a varied cast of characters. This epistolary piece, for example, could be the satirical jottings of Vasco da Gama:
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  • Book Type Edited
  • by Christina Mengert, Joshua Marie Wilkinson
  • Date Published March 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1-58729-7915
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 271pp
  • Price $29.95
  • Review by Jason Hinkley
In this interesting anthology of modern poetry the editors have chosen to emphasize the craft of poetry, as well as its creations. All too often, either out of a desire to demonstrate important developments or to present only the work that will be preserved for posterity on the part of editors, contemporary poetry anthologies are at least a generation behind. These anthologies seem interested only in “poetry [that] was poetry, not a poet writing. Shakespeare was poetry. Blake and Dickinson were poetry.” The regulating of poetry to the past tense has in a way marginalized working writers, whose craft it sometimes seems is only discussed seriously in MFA programs and literary journals. 12 x 12 changes that by bringing the discussion of craft into the foreground. To accomplish this, the editors had emerging poets speak with established ones who had influenced their writing. These conversations are bookended by selections from each of the contributors.
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  • Book Type Edited
  • by Jim Perlman, Deborah Cooper, Mara Hart, Pamela Mittlefehlde
  • Date Published June 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-0977945894
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 265pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Vince Corvaia
Beloved on the Earth is a timeless anthology, a meditation on “our capacity for wonder and for grief” (“Reconsidering the Enlightenment” by Donna J. Long). The Gratitude of the subtitle isn’t really necessary. This is an elegy, a mourning, a wail for the dying and the dead. Some poets are familiar, some aren’t. Some poems take pages, and some, like Larry Schug’s “Bearing,” barely seven lines:
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Stacie Cassarino
  • Date Published May 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1-930974-84-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 91pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Jason Tandon
In The Triggering Town, Richard Hugo's collection of essays on poetry and writing, he has this to say on the subject of sentimentality:
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  • Book Type Novel
  • by George Rabasa
  • Date Published May 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1-932961-69-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 322pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by J.R. Angelella
In George Rabasa’s The Wonder Singer, traditional genre tropes break from convention and expectation, creating a lovely cliché-bending crime novel with the pacing and plot of Elmore Leonard and the heart and scope of Russell Banks. Rabasa opens his novel with the death of the wonder singer, the operatic diva Merce Casals. His simple-seeming characters wear their occupations as their identity in life, all stuck and starving for an unbridled happiness: the opera singer, the writer, the nurse, the wife, the agent – all searching for something greater.
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  • Book Type Edited
  • by Gill Paul
  • Date Published April 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1564785480
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 68pp
  • Price $13.95
  • Review by John Madera
Motoko Rich in “Translation Is Foreign to U.S. Publishers,” in the New York Times last year, claimed that U.S. editors “are generally more likely to bid on other hyped American or British titles than to look for new literature in the international halls.” There are exceptions of course, like Graywolf Press and Archipelago Books, as well as university presses like Open Letter at the University of Rochester. And there’s Dalkey Archive Press, an avatar of publishing works-in-translation, boasting titles from many sorely underrepresented countries. And with their new book Translation in Practice: A Symposium, Dalkey is the trailblazer once again.
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  • Book Type Novel
  • by Nazik Saba Yared
  • Translated From Arabic
  • by Nadine Sinno
  • Date Published April 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-0815609377
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 151pp
  • Price $22.95
  • Review by Laura Di Giovine
Huda Al-Mukhtar lives in a world full of fragile yet vivid memories – of a city before it was torn apart by war and bloodshed; of a loving marriage before it dissolved into two strangers; of a daughter before she was forced to choose between parents.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Rick Reid
  • Date Published April 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1-933354-76-7
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 100pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Cynthia Reeser
Rick Reid’s full-length book of poetry, to be hung from the ceiling by strings of varying length, reads like a flip book in which lines have been inverted and language turned on its head. When read through quickly without too deep an analysis, the language evokes the impression of a fractured scene. Not only the imagery, but also the language is fragmented, the poet’s linguistic ear sometimes approximating that of an ESL speaker.
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