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NewPages Book Reviews

Posted October 1, 2014

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Joseph P. Wood
  • Date Published August 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1-936767-29-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 78pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Elizabeth O'Brien
Joseph P. Wood's most recent poetry collection, Broken Cage, is a short book that takes ideas of symmetry and formal constraint to the extreme. Broken into three sections, the poems grow longer as the book progresses, and then shorter again in the third section. Wood focuses most of his energy on the triolet, an eight-line French form that includes rhyming as well as repeated lines.

  • Subtitle Personal Essays + Stories
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  • Book Type Cross-genre
  • by Lucha Corpi
  • Date Published March 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1-55885-785-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 242pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Girija Sankar
Confessions of a Book Burner is award-winning poet and children's book writer Lucha Corpi’s latest collection of personal essays and stories of growing up in a large family in Mexico and pursuing her passion for the written word. These twelve essays delve into childhood memories, cultural heritage, family, love, and the craft of writing. The essays explore Corpi’s Chicana heritage and offer a nuanced look at the intimate histories of Mexican Americans and their struggles straddling two cultures.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Saskia Hamilton
  • Date Published May 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1555976750
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 72pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Katie Rensch
One gets the feeling that she is always stuck in a hallway, or a “corridor.” But a corridor is not only a way of connecting rooms or railway cars; it also serves as link between two lands, and as a migratory path for birds.
  • Subtitle (Soma)tics for the Future Wilderness
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by CAConrad
  • Date Published September 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1940696010
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 106pp
  • Price $22.00
  • Review by H. V. Cramond
I usually start a book review with some information on the author, including past publications, academic affiliations and other markers of importance that might help the reader slot the work into whatever framework he or she has for deciding what books are worth reading. While CAConrad definitely has the required pedigree, detailing it seems counter to the ethos of the book’s rejection of received knowledge in favor of lived experience.

  • Subtitle Poems and Fragments
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  • Book Type Edited
  • by Tony Trigilio
  • Date Published April 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1-934103-49-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 208pp
  • Price $28.00
  • Review by Patrick James Dunagan
Elise Cowen is a name unlikely to ring a bell for any readers unfamiliar with the now rather legendary American literary phenomenon of the Beat Generation. Yet her writing will likely intrigue and warrant interest to a readership well beyond that demographic. Cowen's brief life (1933-1962) proves rather remarkable for a young, unmarried woman of the era: she freely and openly explored her sexuality with multiple lovers of both sexes, including Allen Ginsberg, with whom she appears to have formed a deeper attachment, likely unreturned in kind; spent time living in both New York City and San Francisco, establishing relationships and friendships with artist communities in both cities; experimented habitually with drugs and alcohol; and dedicated herself to the pursuit of a poetic, intellectual life as much as possible all the while.
  • Subtitle Baseball Poems
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  • Book Type Anthology Edited
  • by Gabriel Fried
  • Date Published April 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-0892554355
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 160pp
  • Price $17.95
  • Review by Patricia Contino
For fans, baseball is poetry in motion. One team that continues to demonstrate grace is the Los Angeles Dodgers. Love or hate them, the team of Jackie Robinson and Sandy Koufax who has Magic Johnson among its co-ownership are still captivating, starting with manager Don Mattingly. As a Yankee in the 1980’s, “Donnie Baseball” and Keith Hernandez, his equal, opposite number on the New York Mets, gave daily clinics on the art of playing first base. No line drive or off-balance throw was too impossible for either of them.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Arleen Paré
  • Date Published April 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1-926829-87-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 83pp
  • Price $20.00
  • Review by Andrea Dulberger
What is this life all about? That type of philosophical query may seem an unlikely undercurrent to a book of poems ostensibly focused on a writer’s experience of a specific place. Yet, when read as a whole, the direct, lyrical poems in Arleen Paré’s Lake of Two Mountains, weave a wide web of overlapping stories and impressions that casts a deep sense of wonder on the nature of particularity.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Joanne Diaz
  • Date Published March 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-0-299-29784-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 80pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Katie Rensch
Smart, funny, tender, and always sharp with language, Joanne Diaz’s new book of poems My Favorite Tyrants is both elegy and celebration of those tyrants—cultural, historical, mythical, and personal—that shape our understanding of our current selves and the world we’ve produced. Divided into three sections, “The Perimeter of Pleasure,” “Elegy,” and “Metastasis,” the occasion for these poems is centered around the sudden and tragic loss of the speaker’s mother, a mother while dearly loved and respected, was perhaps, in her own way, a bit of a (shall I say it?) tyrant.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Shane McCrae
  • Date Published April 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1-937854-98-0
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 29pp
  • Price $8.95
  • Review by Katie Rensch
Shane McCrae in Nonfiction, a collection of poems, urgently requires readers to face both the visible and invisible truths of our American culture and society, present and past. Throughout these poems, the lyric voice of our culture and its various speakers emit a language that insistently stammers and stutters, resulting in poems that stun readers with pure lyrical beauty. The rhythm of the line, the stutter and repetition, so closely mimics the messy, rarely perfect, inner dialogues of the soul.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Divya Victor
  • Date Published April 2014
  • ISBN-13 ISBN-13: 978-193425452-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 128pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Trena Machado
The reader has a lot of work to do after entering Divya Victor’s piece of expression, Things To Do With Your Mouth. The writing is a hybrid of text, speech, and performance. The body, the vocal cords, the mouth. This is about who can speak and be heard and who cannot, about who has power in the system and who does not, and we experience this from the side of those who are not heard and who do not have power in the system.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Pamela Erens
  • Date Published April 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-1-935639-85-5
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 200pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Matt Weinkam
“Let me explain. I hunt for twins,” says Jack Gorse, narrator of Pamela Erens’s The Understory. “Not your run-of-the-mill fraternals, your IVF side effects, but identicals only, life’s natural aberrations. Nothing so far but Nature can make those mirror images, her rare gift of likeness in the world of infinite variety.” Originally published in 2007 by Ironweed Press and reissued this past April by Tin House Books, The Understory is a book about doubles, a search for second selves and other halves. It is about what it feels like to be alone and the lengths we will go to in order to find completion.
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