Elevate Difference

Reviews tagged poetry

Voces Zine (Summer 2010, Issue 3)

Unapologetic. Raw. Honest. The third issue of Voces Zine is a collection of poetry by artists from different communities—indigenous, people of color, trans, and queer—sharing their experiences as survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Originally inspired by a small community of Latino immigrants, this issue represents a first-time inclusion of contributors from outside of its original roots. The eclectic air of the compilation reflects this shift.

Banana Sandwich

The Astonishment is the moniker of Russian-born Marianna Limno, but although it’s her stage name and image on the cover and she delivers the poems on this spoken word album, the words were written by James Crippa, an expatriate Brit residing in Los Angeles. I found this surprising as most spoken word artists perform and record their own pieces, and also because a few of the tracks deal with sex and dating from a female point of view. Limno’s distinctive Russian-inflected voice is both a blessing and occasionally a curse.

I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World

I'll tell you why I bothered picking up I Am an Emotional Creature: (1) I loved the graffiti-like cover, which reminded me of the doodling I used to pen over my books in high school, and (2) I really respect and enjoy Eve Ensler's writing.

Maid as Muse: How Servants Changed Emily Dickinson's Life and Language

The popular image of Emily Dickinson is that of an almost ghostly woman in white, secluding herself in an upstairs bedroom alone, but Maid as Muse's innovative approach shows her frequently in the kitchen. There, she is found stirring puddings, baking her famous gingerbread, and living on familiar terms with the household help.

Gurlesque: The New Grrly, Grotesque, Burlesque Poetics

The problem with books with two introductions is that one can inevitably doom the other and, at worst, the entire book. This just might be the case with the contra(dictory)dance of introductions to the anthology Gurlesque, edited by poets Lara Glenum and Arielle Greenberg.

Lahore with Love: Growing Up with Girlfriends, Pakistani-Style

A poet’s power lies not only in her well-crafted images but in the rhythm of her recitation. As I read Lahore With Love, the memoir of Fawzia Afzal-Khan, I longed to hear her read the volume aloud.

Erotic Poems

Love, sex, and springtime are fundamental themes in E.E. Cummings’ lifetime body of work, and in Erotic Poems, editor George James Firmage brings together pieces by Cummings’ that are especially sexual, exalting of fertility, and written in a voice that is at once fresh and wise, evocative of the dumb yet utterly precise instinct to procreate.

Poetry for Beginners

“I, too, dislike it,” begins chapter one. I remember sitting in class, words like “iambic pentameter” and “consonance” swirling about the room like an intolerable fly drunk on the stuffy classroom air. These words were important, we were told. To understand poetry, we needed to know the rules. And say we did learn the rules, well, we were sixteen-year-old kids and certainly not capable of unraveling the true meaning of a poem. Teacher’s pet and I didn’t even try to feign interest. Ten years later, I’ve decided to give it another go.

Where I Live: New & Selected Poems 1990-2010

It’s truly a shame that poetry is so often thought of as inaccessible, hopelessly and purposefully snarled with obscurity and flabby with rococo intellectualism. Great poetry should work on many levels, and thus appeal to a wide audience from those who appreciate it for its pure beauty and those that delight the complexity of further analysis. Maxine Kumin is a poet whose entire oeuvre is rooted in what she knows: her farm in New Hampshire, where she works in the ground, keeps horses.

New Collected Poems

Combining eleven of Eavan Boland’s books, New Collected Poems presents readers with her finest work. Boland, a contemporary Irish poet, guides readers across thirty years of her work in this 307 page tome. During the journey, one begins to traverse tradition, grasp snippets of myth, and peer inside the life of this extraordinary woman. Most of Boland’s poems are written in traditional forms, which give her work a smooth consistency.

A Day in LA: A Conversation with Kevin McCollister

Kevin McCollister is a serious and shy man who spends his days working in a Los Angeles office and his nights walking around the city’s less stylish neighborhoods snapping photographs of churches, taco stands, mariachis, the homeless, and LA landmarks like the Fourth Street Bridge, Union Station, and Olvera Street.

Little Venus

Little Venus, a collection of poems by Carla Drysdale, is at once hauntingly beautiful and disturbing. The poems are an autobiographical account of child abuse, sexual abuse, and a dysfunctional family, yet Drysdale manages to strike the difficult balance between beauty and horror.

Contents of a Mermaid’s Purse

Phoebe Tsang’s Contents of a Mermaid's Purse is somewhat like a real purse a modern woman might have: familiar and, at the same time, exotic—and so is what it holds. Dumping the purse’s contents onto the table to sift through proves to be an exercise in strange beauty—an alluring siren’s call fulfilled.

Catch Light

When I flipped over to the back cover of Sarah O’Brien’s recent collection of poetry, Catch Light, it was both startling and encouraging to see the resemblance.

The Second Blush: Poems

Whenever I come across a poem that resonates with me, I feel as though I’m meeting a long lost friend who reminds me of what’s really important in life. The Second Blush is a collection of poetry by Molly Peacock, a poet and author based in Toronto, who writes about everyday life with the eye of an artist and the voice of a poet.

Weapons Grade: Poems

Reading Terese Svoboda’s poem “Vets” title to finish reminded me of a story of an older friend who marched against Vietnam early, before others had marched, and who told me of the veterans. Those veterans of earlier wars would march with the students, the protesters, the young, and the naïve. These veterans would encircle the protestors to protect them from those who tried to stop them. The police dared not stop the veterans—those people who lost their youth as they (once again) protected the innocence of others—now in their own cities.


With her first collection of poetry, Incivilities, literature and theory professor-turned-poet Barbara Claire Freeman excavates the vagaries of an American narrative—“how it became, what it began,” as one of her poems says. Like men counting bodies on a battlefield, exploding the absurd order of the data they have collected, Freeman’s poems rebel against the aftermath of the atrocities (the title puts it mildly) they insist on recognizing.

Names: Poems

Marilyn Hacker is a poet after the heart of not just poetry readers but poetry writers. I was immediately enthralled by the rich language of this National Book Award winner—for Presentation Piece in 1974—a language pulsating with raw indignation at injustice and celebration of what are life’s quotidian and banal joys: the small pleasures of winter light, sips of Sunday coffee, and the company of friends.


It seems like it has become very fashionable for poetry collections to have short and ambiguous titles. We are long past the era where poems’ titles were incredibly detailed, as in “To my Lover, Upon Discovering that I Forgot to Do the Dishes and Churn the Butter. Autumn 1864.” I was drawn to Christine Hume’s Shot because it sounded promising, between the edgy title and the vague descriptions I could find through online previews.

The Phoenix Gone, The Terrace Empty

I have always been fascinated by the immigrant experience, especially within America. Being fifth generation American myself, it is safe to say I am quite removed from it. Yet I often do research and write about my ancestors, thinking about what they went through when they entered Ellis Island in New York and tried to make a place for themselves in a strange land. One hundred years ago, Europeans flooded our shores, and today, immigrants from many different countries make their way here. Their experiences are completely different from previous immigrant generations, right? Yes and no.


Unmentionables is a striking collection of bold, in-your-face poetry that covers a variety of subjects using a type of broken-up and eclectic writing style. I found the poetry somewhat confusing, and though they focused on ordinary topics, like animals and nature, It was challenging to discern what they were all about.

NIV: 39 & 27

Hayes' new volume of poetry, NIV: 39&27 is theology that travels. Most people know a story of someone accosted at an airport with a copy of The Bhagavad Gita.

The Ravenous Audience

I’ve always thought that at its best, art in some way disturbs us: out of complacency, ignorance, or innocence that has become a liability. The Ravenous Audience by Kate Durbin is a deliciously disturbing collection of poems that delivers a sensory-emotional feast ripe with smells, sounds, and flavors of the sacred and the profane.

Taste of Cherry

One of the best ways to support awareness and understanding of taboo topics is to display them in a way that is non-threatening and invites discussion. Kara Candito’s Taste of Cherry is just such a collection of poetry.

Lost Alphabet

Lisa Olstein’s second collection of poems, Lost Alphabet, is a beautiful book of prose poems. The poems are written as entries in a naturalist’s notebook, and the entries are split into five sections. The speaker of the poems is never given a name, but is a lepidopterist living on the outskirts of a village of people that are not her own.

War Dances

In War Dances, Sherman Alexie’s new collection of stories and poems, we encounter characters attempting to come to terms with the challenges that life tends to throw at us in the contemporary world. The first story of the collection, “Breaking and Entering,” is about a Native American man who accidentally kills a Black teenager after the teenager broke into his house.

The Woman You Write Poems About

Most of the time when I read poetry books, I’ll dog-ear the pages of poems I really like. I started to do this with Danielle (Dani) Montgomery’s collection, The Woman You Write Poems About, but within the first twenty pages I realized I didn’t have one non-bent-down page corner; every single poem in this collection is intriguing and amazing in its own way.

Bone Dream

After an encounter with the divine, even dreams must seem mundane and tiny, despite their distance from everyday reality.

Bright Star

When John Keats wrote "Bright Star, Would I Were Stedfast" for his beloved Fanny Brawne, he was a penniless wordsmith with a knack—but not a hankering—for stirring up controversy. Though history now regards him as one of the finest poets, Keats wasn’t popularly praised during his twenty-five year lifetime.


Over the past twenty years, director Jane Campion has created some of the most thrilling depictions of femininity on screen. From the Academy Award-winning The Piano to the dirty yet pretty _In the Cut_, Campion's sensually earthy films depict worlds seen through the eyes of women.