Category: Writing

0

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...

Insurrections

The award-winning story collection Insurrections is set in imaginary Cross River, Maryland, populated by descendants of a successful slave revolt. Author Rion Amilcar Scott handles the omnipresent shroud of history deftly. Each story — about a former world champion “slapfighter”; about a terrible haircut experience; about a man who undergoes “reverse evolution” — casts oblique light...

The Bong-Ripping Brides of Count Drogado

Don’t let the campy title fool you. The steampunk novel “The Bong-Ripping Bridges of Count Drogado” is a serious work of literature. Author Dave K, like Edgar Allan Poe, hails from Baltimore, and like Poe he exhibits masterly tonal control, carefully choosing vocabulary and syntax to create a thoroughly convincing imaginary world in which sisters...

Alan Catlin’s “Blue Velvet”

The slim chapbook “Blue Velvet,” winner of the 30th annual Slipstream Prize, is the perfect gift for someone who normally hates poetry. Author Alan Catlin, a well-published scribe intimate with the thrilling debasements of our popular culture, has written thirty or so homages(?), with titles like Blade Runner, The Deer Hunter, and Crash. His language is plain, strong,...

Joe Baumann

Joe Baumann, PhD, writes short fiction that feels hyper-realistic, plausible. That he’s able to accomplish as much while telling stories like “For Rent,” about a woman who has allowed an artist — referred to only as The Artist — to take up residence in one of her ribs, is an astonishing literary trick. The Artist...