New Books in Poetry: Leave It Raw by Shakira Croce

Leave It Raw by Shakira Croce - New Books in Poetry

A new episode of the New Books in Poetry podcast is up, in which the fabulous Athena Dixon speaks with Shakira Croce about her book Leave It Raw (Finishing Line Press, 2020).

Athena writes:

Like a storm waiting to break over a plain, Shakira Croce pulls at tensions and heartstrings in a debut collection filled with longing, wit, and intelligence. Through masterful imagery, Croce floats between the rural and urban with ease, pulling back the veil to see what lies beneath. These poems do not shy away from looking at life in all its beauty, violence, or complexities because within those boundaries we can begin to understand what it means to be human. As she writes in Homecoming,  “It’s about finding/the space/to bring out what’s already/inside you.” In Leave It Raw, Croce makes that space and empties out the heart for all to see.

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


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New Books in Poetry: Freedom Knows My Name by Kelly Harris-DeBerry

Freedom Knows My Name by Kelly Harris-DeBerry - New Books in Poetry

A new episode of the New Books in Poetry podcast is up, in which the fabulous Athena Dixon speaks with Kelly Harris-DeBerry about her book Freedom Knows My Name (Xavier Review Press, 2020).

Athena writes:

In Freedom Knows My Name, Kelly Harris-DeBerry creates the world anew from scraps of memories and rhythm. She bounces between the pages, as well as the accompanying audio version of the poems, with confidence. Kalamu Ya Salaam writes in the introduction “The poet’s task is to turn words into song, utter incantations that heal, inspire, be more than ordinary talk” and Harris-DeBerry has a voice that encompasses each other those tasks. It is strong and it is unwavering. Whether she is on the page or in readers’ ears, Harris-DeBerry’s poetry is a bounty of culture, womanhood, home, and possibility. In an age where everything can be, and is, commodified for profit and the cool factor yet the actual Black artists producing the work can be undervalued, Harris-DeBerry’s poetry honors and respects the legacies of Southern migration, the Midwest, and Blackness.

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


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Poet Spotlight: Rebecca Hart Olander on the Flaws and Snags of Love

dressing the wounds-rebecca hart olandera

Rebecca Hart Olander’s poetry has appeared recently in Crab Creek Review, The Massachusetts Review, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among others. Collaborative work made with Elizabeth Paul has been published in multiple venues online and in They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing (Black Lawrence Press). Rebecca is a Women’s National Book Association poetry contest winner and a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee. Her chapbook, Dressing the Wounds, was published by dancing girl press in 2019, and her debut full-length collection, Uncertain Acrobats, is forthcoming from CavanKerry Press in 2021. Rebecca teaches writing at Westfield State University and is editor/director of Perugia Press. Find her at rebeccahartolander.com and @rholanderpoet.

dressing the wounds-rebecca hart olanderYour new collection of poetry is Dressing the Wounds. Tell us about the project and how it came into being. 

The new collection is also my first collection, and it came into being in kind of an unusual way, at least for me. In sum, I created it with a specific press in mind, and I didn’t get feedback on the manuscript as a whole before submitting it for consideration. To explain further, in the summer of 2018, I was feeling pretty discouraged by the lack of success I was having placing my full-length manuscript. I had finished my MFA program three years prior, and each year I was having a steady incline in individual subs being accepted, but lots of rejections (and a nice bunch of semi-finalist/finalist nods) for the book. I felt like it was high time I had a book in the world, and it began to seem silly that I hadn’t even had a chapbook out yet. Even students of mine were publishing chaps, and I was feeling like I’d skipped a step trying to go from individual publications to placing a full-length manuscript. 

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New Books in Poetry: The Spinning Place by Chelsea Wagenaar

Chelsea Wagenaar-The Spinning Place

A new episode of the New Books in Poetry podcast is up. I had a delightful conversation with Chelsea Wagenaar about her new book The Spinning Place (Southern Indiana Review Press).

Chelsea Wagenaar is the author of two collections of poetry, most recently The Spinning Place was winner of the 2018 Michael Waters Prize. Her first collection, Mercy Spurs the Bone, was selected by Philip Levine to win the 2013 Philip Levine Prize. She holds degrees from the University of Virginia and the University of North Texas, and currently teaches at Valparaiso University. Her recent work appears or is forthcoming in Image and The Southern Review.

“Moon-sliced star-pocked
streetlit bleat, coal train moving
like its own ghost along the tracks.
2:00, 3:000, my shadow sways
as I catch myself, hand on the wall,
pulled from bed by your nocturnal haunt,
you at your crib rail, blanket clutched,
more sound than body.”

— from “Night Shift”

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


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Poet Spotlight: Melissa Eleftherion on survival and how language reshapes our perception of the world

Melissa Eleftherion is a writer, librarian, and a visual artist. She is the author of field guide to autobiography (The Operating System, 2018), & seven chapbooks, including the recently released little ditch (above/ground press, 2018). Trauma Suture is forthcoming from above/ground in 2020. Her poems have appeared in many journals including Berkeley Poetry Review, and The Tiny. Born & raised in Brooklyn, Melissa now lives in Mendocino County where she manages the Ukiah Library, teaches creative writing, & curates the LOBA Reading Series. Recent work is available at www.apoetlibrarian.wordpress.com.

Please tell us about the genesis of your new chapbook, little ditch. What is the collection about and how did it come into being? 

little ditch is a chapbook about survival through sexual abuse, rape culture, & internalized misogyny. This is also a book about being sexualized as a young, non-binary person growing up in rape culture. About being a preteen on the verge of something shattering. About the fur.   

As I was completing my first book, Field Guide to Autobiography, I was visited by these urgent, dark spells or calls to action to write a way towards these poems. These poems felt caked in dirt, but very alive – I felt the need to dig deeper. Using various creative exercises like trance, tarot, & cut-ups, I tried to summon the hidden. There were times where I’d not be able to recall anything, other times I’d feel immersed in sense memory. All these gaps and leaks where trauma holds in the body. I later referred to these as “the ditch poems.”

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