Category: Writing

Valerie Fox’s “Insomniatic”

Half way through Valerie Fox’s sensational poetry chapbook “Insomniatic,” it dawned on me that her poems are funny — effortlessly. They’re not jokey or gimmicky, so why all the deep humor? Because they’re remarkably real, and each person’s version of reality is usually the darkest and brightest comedy of all. Fox’s work has an undercurrent of...

The World As It Is

We don’t normally feature in this space books that are more than five years old. But “The World As it Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress” seems to us a most necessary read in these preposterous times. Authored by the brilliant journalist, social justice advocate and cultural critic Chris Hedges, “The World” is...

Tyrese Coleman’s “How to Sit”

Offered as a “memoir in stories and essays,” the debut book from Tyrese Coleman, “How to Sit,” blurs the lines between genres and categories, focusing, instead, on searingly honest recollection of a childhood — and a life — shaped by unreliable women and predatory men. Coleman’s prose is spare, direct, powerful. “I am the product...

When We Were Ghouls

Amy E. Wallen’s childhood was different than most little American girls from Nevada. Thanks to her dad’s job as an oil prospector, the family spent her formative years in Nigeria, Peru and Bolivia, where daily life was kissed by exoticism: parrots for pets, servants calling her “small sister,” and dead bodies. Many of them. Wallen’s...

Henrietta Goodman’s “All That Held Us”

Henrietta Goodman’s new collection of poems, “All That Held Us,” like much modern poetry, is discursive, tangential, elliptical — but hers takes the idea of one-thing-leading-to-another to new formal heights. Each poem begins with a line or phrase from the previous poem, sometimes the last line. The “story” — an ongoing exploration into the relationship...

Xandria Phillips’ “Reasons for Smoking”

“I write to you from the predicament of Blackness,” is the opening line of Xandria Phillips’ new collection of poems, “Reasons for Smoking.” Unwritten, but deeply felt, is the predicament of Femaleness. And Gayness. And Differentness. All these challenges are met (and rhetorically bested) by this fierce poet’s keen sense of self and of the...

Report from the Street: Voices of the Homeless

It began as a a New Year’s resolution: “Do something each day that takes you out of your comfort zone.” Interacting with people living on the streets was at the top of that list. Like many of us who reside in proper homes, I preferred to look away. But for more than a year, I listened to homeless...

Lance Mason’s “A Proficiency in Billiards”

Like legions of other itinerant seekers, Lance Mason has backpacked and motorcyled the world, crossed the oceans on freighter ships, seen how the rest of the planet lives. He’s got tales to tell. All traveler’s do; among the peripatetic horde, Mason is among the most gifted writers we’ve encountered. His collection of travel essays, “A Proficiency...

Grant Clauser, Poet

Many readers dislike poetry because it’s, well, poetic, employing technical maneuvers like alliteration and assonance (and repetition). According to popular wisdom, prose is plainspoken; poetry is fancy. Poems don’t seem to say what they mean; they dance around the simply stated truth, impressed with their sophistication and refinement. The poet Grant Clauser offers a bracing antidote to...