New Books in Poetry: The Lampblack Blue of Memory by Sarah Adleman

Sarah Aldman-The Lampblack Blue of Memory-My Mother Echoes

A new episode of the New Books in Poetry podcast is up, in which the fabulous Athena Dixon speaks with Sarah Adleman about her book The Lampblack Blue of Memory: My Mother Echoes (Tolsun Books, 2019).

Athena writes of the book:

Adleman’s collection, a gorgeous hybrid of poetry and memoir, is a journey through grief and forgiveness. The author’s debut book uses both the personal and the informative to examine and preserve the loss, grief, and cleansing set in motion by her mother’s death. She honors her mother not only in the crafting of these shared memories, but also in the actual formatting of the text itself. Adleman gives her mother voice by including her own work interwoven throughout the retelling. The author does not shy away from the heaviness of absence, her personal reaction to the events, and especially not the profound changes to her father. She unfurls these emotions in the light and scrubs away the haze. She leaves us with the “bliss at the core of our beings” and challenges us to walk beside her to the other side.

You can listen to the interview here or on the podcast app of your choice.


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New Books in Poetry: Mary Shelly Makes a Monster by Octavia Cade

Octavia Cade-Mary Shelley Makes a Monster

A new episode of the New Books in Poetry podcast is up. Despite some technical difficulties, I had a delightful conversation with Octavia Cade about her book, Mary Shelley Makes a Monster (Aqueduct Press, 2019).

In Octavia Cades’ brilliant collection of poetry Mary Shelley Makes a Monster, the famous author of Frankenstein crafts a creature out of ink, mirrors, and the remnants of her own heartbreak and sorrow. Abandoned and alone after Shelley’s death, the monster searches for a mother to fill her place. Its journey carries it across continents and time, visiting other female authors throughout the decades — Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Octavia Butler, and others. Pulling from the biographical accounts of these amazing authors, these poems beautifully examine the nature of art and creation, reading and consumption, and how monsters are really reflections of ourselves.

You can listen to the interview here or on the podcast app of your choice.


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Culture Consumption: March 2020

About halfway through the month, the impact of the novel corona virus became clear, with the Bay Area counties where I live issuing a shelter-in-place order in order to limit the virus’ spread. Everyone I know has been impacted by this. For me, personally, this has meant that I’ve been working from home — with a change in how I interact with media. My reading and podcast listening was down last month, movie watching and gaming was up.

Books

Pretty Marys All in a Row by Gwendolyn KisteI only completed one book during the month of March — Gwendolyn Kiste’s novella Pretty Marys All in a Row. Each night Resurrection Mary wanders a lonely highway, waiting for a driver to come by and pick her up. Once inside the car, she starts the scares and prepares to feed on their fear. When morning comes she returns home to the other Marys, other urban legends who fill the night with terror — Bloody Mary, Mary Mack, Mari Lwyd, and Mistress Mary, Quite Contrary.

As a family bound together in their ghostly state and need to feed, they gather together and share the scares of the night, supporting each other when the scares are few. But when the scares grow further and further apart, they will have to fight for their own deathly existence.

I loved the idea of bringing together these embodiments of urban legends. They each have their own strong personalities and have created their own powerful bonds with the few people who believe in them. In general, I just love seeing women come together as friends and family, women who stand up and fight for their place and bodies and rights to exist in the world. A fun, quick, smart read.

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On Writing In Stressful Times

My commute to my day job was effortless this morning. The roads were nearly clear and traffic was almost nonexistent. As someone who generally drives a minimum of two hours a day, this would normally be a cause of celebration. But these open roads are the result in numerous Silicon Valley folks working from home in the face of the corona virus — a reality that left me melancholy.

Turns out, nearly empty roads are a strange, haunting sight.

This month, I started a challenge to write 30 poem drafts in 30 days (a challenge I normally do in April during National Poetry Month, but I got confused and started it early, so here we are). I found a nice rhythm to the work at the start of the month, but have since fallen behind and am having to play catchup.

As more and more news flows in about all the messed up goings on in the world, the writing of poetry or fiction feels like a frivolous thing. How could putting words on a page possibly help anyone or anything?

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New Books in Poetry: If Men, Then by Eliza Griswold

if men then by eliza griswold

A new episode of the New Books in Poetry podcast is up, in which the fabulous Athena Dixon speaks with Eliza Griswold about her book If Men, Then (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020).

Eliza Griswold writes in Snow in Rome, “we hate being human,/depleted by absence.” In her latest poetry collection, If Men, Then (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020), Griswold grapples with a world that is fracturing at its foundation. In this series of poems, all at once dark. humorous and questioning, the author moves from the familiar to the unjust to hope with a keen eye. She guides readers through a world that at times strips the humanness from our bones with embedded violence and disconnection, but also calls for us to reconnect by reminding us to be a bridge out among the flames.”

You can listen to the interview here or on the podcast app of your choice.


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