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NewPages Book Reviews

Posted March 3, 2011

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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Kirsten Kaschock
  • Date Published 2011
  • ISBN-13 1-934103-17-9-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 97pp
  • Price $17.50
  • Review by Sima Rabinowitz
“Girl-ness” matters a lot to Kaschock. Her bio begins: “Kirsten Kaschock was the second, and then the third of five children.” And the book opens with a character who might be a girl or a woman or a woman/girl: “This is the house that Jane built. // Jane begins by standing. Once this was / Jane finding Jane.” Or Kirsten Kaschock finding Jane. Or finding Kaschock. And the relationship between girl-ness and the pain of that essential self matters a lot to Kaschock, too, and is the foundation (think house) for the book:
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Brian Clements
  • Date Published December 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-935835-00-4
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 132pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Sima Rabinowitz
The etymology of the word jargon is unclear—historians of language aren’t sure of its derivation—which is ironic, considering what it means, and marvelously appropriate. In a pure sense, it simply connotes a specialized vocabulary related to a specific discipline or profession, though it’s common to hear the term used to refer, in a negative sense, to language that is considered impenetrable or deliberately opaque. I love the word and the idea of jargon as the title of a book of poems and prose poems. At the same time, I would say that Jargon is, happily, not impenetrable (as in incomprehensible), and while it reflects a unique and quirky personality and intelligence, it is not so much deliberately opaque, as deliberately and persistently original, and sometimes wonderfully confusing (a confusion I ended up not minding in the least).
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Farid Matuk
  • Date Published November 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9815-2275-3
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 138pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by C.J. Opperthauser
Farid Matuk's long book of poems from Letter Machine Editions is memorable and unique. Many of the poems deal with Matuk's status as an immigrant from Peru, and the life that accompanies it. But it is not done with any agenda. It's a beautiful, oddly paced look at this world which non-immigrants may not understand. One clear look at this is in a poem aptly titled “Immigrants”:
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by Eric G. Wilson
  • Date Published May 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1-58739-990-9
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 112pp
  • Price $19.95
  • Review by Sima Rabinowitz
If you don’t know much about the work of William Blake, Wilson will make you want to read him. If you know a lot about Blake, this book will make you want to read Wilson. He writes beautifully. He does an exceptionally fine job of summarizing Blake’s bio, elucidating Blake’s ideas on inspiration and the creative process, and he surprises his own readers by telling a personal story of struggles with the creative process, without actually focusing on himself or his personal story. The book is informative, inspiring, and intensely pleasurable. It’s also under, rather than over written, yet manages to be exuberant and full-bodied (in other words not deliberately cryptic).
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  • Book Type Nonfiction
  • by George Bowering
  • Date Published November 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1-897388-71-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 93pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by Alec Moran
There are few writers today who can get away with the kind of book that Horizontal Surfaces is. However, when you are the prolific George Bowering, Canadian poet laureate of over 90 books, you might know a thing or two about a book that deserves publishing. Horizontal Surfaces is a curious little thing coming in at just under 100 pages, a collection of page-long essays that open more doors than they conclusively shut.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Joseph P. Wood
  • Date Published September 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-1936370115
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 80pp
  • Price $18.00
  • Review by Renee Emerson
I & We is Joseph P. Wood’s first full-length collection of poetry, having authored five chapbooks before. The poems in I & We are aggressive, violent at times, surprising, and unusual. The poem “In What I Have Done & What I Have Failed To Do,” which opens the book, concludes with the lines “I never thought God / would snap my spine,” after the speaker having described him or herself as “the photographer / snapping The Cross submerged in my urine.”
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Julia Cohen
  • Date Published July 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9826364-2-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 63pp
  • Price $14.00
  • Review by Sima Rabinowitz
The opening lines of Triggermoon Triggermoon establish immediately Cohen’s primary preoccupations. This is a poetry that concerns itself above all else with the relationship between self (as body, as moral agent in the world, as emotional intelligence, as individual in relationship to others) and the objects and physical constructs of daily life. The first poem, “There Was a Bridge of Tattered Rugs,” begins:
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Qurratulain Hyder
  • Date Published November 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8112-1865-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 325pp
  • Price $15.95
  • Review by Olive Mullet
Qurratulain Hyder received India’s equivalent of the Pulitzer for Fireflies in the Mist, an epic, set mostly in Dacca, Bangladesh. The time period of its three parts, besides some earlier historical references, extends from 1939 to 1979, through India’s Partition and finally into partition from Pakistan to form an independent Bangladesh. As Aamer Hussein (who knew Hyder) said in the introduction, “history was an obsession with her; she saw time as a continuum.”
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Jane Roper
  • Date Published May 2011
  • ISBN-13 978098270841
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 371pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Patricia Contino
One of the more “cherished” childhood myths is the camp experience. Whether scout, day or sleep-away, kids are told camp is good for them. In other words, conformity is good. Yet the memory is polarizing. As with Star Wars vs. Star Trek or Super Mario over Donkey Kong, there is no in-between. Adults either loved or loathed every minute of it. And this former camper never saw one that looked like Matt Dillon did in Little Darlings.
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  • Book Type Fiction
  • by Robert Lopez
  • Date Published November 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0982631812
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 165pp
  • Price $16.95
  • Review by Alex Myers
A dense collection, Asunder is half short stories, most of them very short, and half a novella-in-shorts. In the first section of unconnected shorts, Robert Lopez moves through scenes and characters that are mostly blank, anonymous—they could be anywhere and anyone. For this reason, the stories have a haunting quality, a creepy sort of universality.
Nikky Finney’s Head Off & Split is a collection of 27 poems arranged in 3 sections titled, “The Hard • Headed,” “The Head • over • Heels,” and “The Head • Waters.” The first and last poems stand outside these sections and bookend the collection on a thematic level. The theme of this stunning collection of poems is emotional evisceration which is symbolized by the central image suggested by the title: a beheaded and gutted fish.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Donna de la Perrière
  • Date Published December 2010
  • ISBN-13 1584980761
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 63pp
  • Price $13.95
  • Review by Kristin Abraham
Just one year after the publication of her first full-length book of poems (True Crime, Talisman House, 2009), Donna de la Perrière has presented us with another equally-stunning volume, precisely crafted and devastatingly haunting.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Michael Klein
  • Date Published October 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-9823594-1-9
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 63pp
  • Price $15.00
  • Review by Kimberly Steele
When Ben Franklin famously wrote “Nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes,” he was not only ripping off Daniel Defoe, but he was also failing to anticipate Michael Klein’s second poetry book in 17 years, then, we were still living. Klein doesn’t actually have much to say about taxes, but he might take issue with “death” being “certain,” at least in the fatalistic way we tend to perceive it.
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Anna Moschovakis
  • Date Published January 2011
  • ISBN-13 978-1-56689-250-6
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 119pp
  • Price $16.00
  • Review by Sima Rabinowitz
Moschovakis explains in her acknowledgments that the (rare and odd) books that served as sources for many of the “major poems” in the collection were discovered and purchased at the Bibliobarn, “a miraculous used bookstore in South Kortright, NY.” As it happens, I have been in the most-assuredly-miraculous Bibliobarn in the Hudson Valley, and it would be difficult for any poet to leave this store without an armful of finds that will inform one’s writing for years. The book’s opening from its “[prologue]” makes the best argument for the wonder of the Bibliobarn’s inventory: “The problem is I don’t care whether I convince you or not / In a perfect world I would be able to convince you of this.”
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  • Book Type Poetry
  • by Crystal Curry
  • Date Published October 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-97776-985-8
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 94pp
  • Price $14.95
  • Review by Caleb Tankersley
In her first full-length poetry collection, Our Chrome Arms of Gymnasium, Crystal Curry takes a daring and fresh stylistic approach. Chrome Arms displays less of a focus on the cryptic imagery that is popular today, filling that vacuum with a long-lost poetic art: fun. This book was a sheer pleasure to read. While images still exist in the poems, Curry places more emphasis on wordplay and syllables; bouncy and melodic, some of her lines just sound damn cool when read aloud, such as this excerpt from “Cherries”:
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