The Cruelties of Brooklyn by Paul Schaeffer Mudfish Individual Poet Series #17 Box Turtle Press, June 2023
In The Cruelties of Brooklyn by Paul Schaeffer, each poem builds upon the next to create an unsparing vision of all the characters in the poet’s childhood and adulthood that is nevertheless suffused with a love of humanity. With almost as few words as possible, Schaeffer conveys a world of meaning and abundance of detail, telling his outrageous stories that are colorful, earthy, perceptive, empathic, and brilliant. His intense realism lifts into the visionary: “The coffin lid flew open / Her body so light / She lifted into the air / A white sheet escaping a clothesline.” He mourns Aunt Helen, “the last of the gang,” but not before he immortalizes each and every one of them.
In Jill Hoffman’s long-awaited second novel, STONED, forty-year-old mother of two Maud Diamond is getting a divorce. Having experienced the colossal disappointment of being jilted by a famous artist, she falls in love with a poor unknown artist who assuages the disappointment but leads to other ills. Maud’s son leaves home to live with his father; the daughter does phone sex from their new home, proclaiming, “I’m the only one in this house earning any money.” As Maud starts a literary journal called Wild Leek with her new boyfriend and moves downtown, their relationship spirals downward from her pot-smoking and his alcoholism. STONED is for anyone who has been in love or lost love, been married, divorced, or lonely. It is about the satisfactions and deprivations of sex and drugs.
Mudfish has released the 14th installment in their Individual Poet Series. Are You Somebody I Should Know? by Dell Lemmon. Art critic and poet John Yau says that Lemmon’s “memoir poems, as she calls them, are strong rivers pulling you into their currents. Her poems are pared down and direct and move at a rapid clip without ever tripping over themselves.” Jason Koo, Founder and Executive Director of Brooklyn Poets, says Lemmon’s book will convince you that you have missed so “much of your life, haven’t truly seen it, haven’t treasured nearly enough of all your friends, your loves, your family, let alone all the people you thought were not important enough to know.”
Are You Somebody I Should Know is available via SPD, Amazon, and Mudfish‘s website.