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Poetry Breakfast

Serving a little poetic nourishment every morning. Start your day with our new expanded menu. Poems, of course, are our specialty. But we will also be serving a fuller menu that includes poetry book reviews to feed poets' and poetry lovers' souls.

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book reviews

Book Review – No Such Thing as Distance by Karen Paul Holmes

I never expected to find a few recipes at the end of a poetry book.  But that is what concludes No Such Thing as Distance by Karen Paul Holmes.  Strange as it seems, they fit perfectly.  The poems are filled with “ingredients” – a dab of family history, immigration, marriage; a pinch of illness, death, divorce; along with measurements of geography.  Karen’s poems illuminate how the ordinary is really a combination of extraordinary ingredients.

I let the words of other’s who have reviewed No Such thing as Distance fill you in on more about the collection.  For the moment, I’m still in the kitchen surrounded by all the amazing ingredients.

No Such Thing as Distance Cover FRONT

No Such Thing as Distance
by Karen Paul Holmes
Paperback: 102 pages
Publisher: Terrapin Books (February 1, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 099821597X
ISBN-13: 978-0998215976
Available through Amazon and Terrapin Books.

 

 

Sample Poem:

Macedonia Bean Soup

His mail gets forwarded now
but sometimes a letter slips through.
My ex enters my mail slot,
his address, mine once again.
An envelope might even slap
Mr. and Mrs.

This sadness, some say
it will linger. My cheerful self
will have a chink.
Does it add character?

I pass the Heavenly Ham shop,
think of the bean soup
my dad taught him to make
and see them in our kitchen
chopping yellow onions just so,
the secret pinch of mint,
peppers a little too hot for me
but not for them,
how of all the sons-in-law
he was the one who asked to learn,
how I will never have his soup again.

Perhaps one day, I’ll make it myself.
Call the leaving a blessing, move
to the shore of a silver-blue lake,
mountains echoing fireworks
on the Fourth of July,
chinks of brilliance in a black sky.

Reviews:

Karen Paul Holmes is a convincing poet.  In No Such Thing as Distance, she mends the body/mind split, the life/death split, the love/betrayal split, the parent/child split and its reversals—a mother in a coffin in a blond (instead of gray) wig. With grace, beauty, and humor, she explores how the past remains the present through music, art, pop culture (Barbie and the Beatles), as well as her rich cultural inheritance.  A truly empathetic writer, Holmes feels her family’s medical procedures and provides us with food (even the recipes!)  She knows that Zumba and the waltz are all part of the same great dance.  Her title may signal quantum physics, but it’s also how close this poet whispers in her reader’s ear.” – Denise Duhamel, Scald

“What marvelous poems these are, and how complete a collection. Like a circus aerialist who makes us gasp one moment and laugh the next, the poet takes us from her immigrant father’s Macedonian roots to her own maturity, to the life of a woman who is smart and well-read yet knows her way around a Coney Island hot dog and finds the attentions of a drunk cowboy oddly flattering. There are so many good poems here that it’s hard to pick a favorite, but I’ll put my money on “Confessions of an Ugly Nightgown,” in which a dead woman’s shapeless article of intimate apparel says it can still rouse a sleeping husband and is loveliest as it lies on the floor.” – David Kirby, Get Up Please

“Karen Paul Holmes lifts up the extraordinary found in the everyday. Here are poems that brim with finely-crafted detail, anchored to place while at the same time embracing change and impermanence. “Gulls winter here. / Like all fleeting things, they’re special to me,” she writes of a morning scene at her lake home. In poem after elegant poem, Holmes takes us across generations and countries as she grapples with larger issues, unafraid to explore the fullness of love and loss, the circularity of life. “I lived this day once,” she tells us, “and then lived it again.”” – Nancy Chen Long, Light Into Bodies

About the Poet:

Karen Paul Holmes has two full-length poetry collections, No Such Thing as Distance (Terrapin, 2018) and Untying the Knot (Aldrich, 2014). She was chosen as a Best Emerging Poet in 2016 by Stay Thirsty Media. Publications include Prairie Schooner, Valparaiso Review, Tar River Poetry, Poet Lore, Diode, and other journals and anthologies. Holmes hosts the Side Door Poets in Atlanta and Writers’ Night Out in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She also teaches writing classes at the John C. Campbell Folk School and other venues. http://www.karenpaulholmes.com

Book Review: “What You Saw and Still Remember” by Judith Waller Carroll

Cvr_WhatYouSaw_bookstoreOpening What You Saw and Still Remember is like opening a door that leads away from the news, political debates, from the entanglement of technology and to a quiet garden.  It looks at nature with clear eyes.  It does not judge nor rage nor cry.  It sits peacefully and embraces the beauty around us that is so easily forgotten.

The title is almost misleading.  In our busy digital age, the book actually speaks of those things we rarely notice and of what we have almost forgotten.

If you need to step out of chaos and just let the world be its perfect self for a while, then What You Saw and Still Remember can take you there.  You’ll see and smell and feel with all your senses the beauty nature gives us.

Here are two poems from What You Saw and Still Remember:

Pastoral

The deer are in disgrace again
for leaping thee back fence
and devouring the lilies.

How can we blame them
when such shameless colors
taunt and tease.

The azaleas are a pale-purple sea.
I want to dive in
with all my senses.

Even the homely wren transforms
from brown to golden as he teakettles merrily
to anyone who will listen.

Let others write in gritty words
their lessons of hopelessness
and heartache. I am content

with the silken language
of a cobweb, the airy balance
of butterfly and birdsong.

Dimensions of the Heart

A blue whale’s heart
is the size of a male gorilla,
but human hearts are measured
in more fanciful terms:
as big as Texas, hard as stone.
Soft. Sinking. Restless.

My own fickle heart
craves solitude in a crowd,
company when I’m alone.

All those years by the ocean
and it only wanted mountains,
the smell of blue spruce.
Now it yearns for salt spray and sea weed.
A mild winter. Fresh crab.

Or maybe those whispers of longing
really come from the soul—
that immeasurable space
somewhere between the mind,
with its reason and logic,
and the hollow muscular organ
pumping blood through the body,
oxygen to the brain.

 

Details:
ISBN: 978-1-59948-646-8
72 pages
Available at Main Street Rag Publishing

 

About the Poet:

Judith Waller Carroll is the author of The Consolation of Roses, winner of the 2015 Astounding Beauty Ruffian Press Poetry Prize, and Walking in Early September (Finishing Line Press).  Her work appears in numerous journals and anthologies and has been nominated for Best of the Net. Awards include the 2010 Carducci Poetry Prize from Tallahassee Writers’ Association. She lives in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas with her husband, the novelist Jerry Jay Carroll.

 

Reviews:

“Judith Waller Carroll is a perceptive observer of both the human and nonhuman worlds. She is also a master of the brief lyric poem. Her precise images take hold and settle until the poem’s close, when they stab and sizzle. What You Saw and Still Remember could be labeled poetry of place, as long as places within the human heart are included. Carroll’s finely wrought poems seize our own hearts and do not let go.” –Andrea Hollander, author of Landscape with Female Figure: New & Selected Poems, 1982 – 2012

“This book reads like the comfort of a soft rain and then the sun breaking out after. Carroll’s poems are filled with keen observations of everyday nature and the intricacies of human relationships. They remind their audience, gently, to savor the minutia of each day. Contemplative and intimate, this work, like all good poetry, will call the reader to slow down, to read again.” –Sandy Longhorn, author of The Alchemy of My Mortal Form

Book Review: “Writing in the Ether” by Catherine Arra

writing-in-the-ether-cover-750x1125

Writing in the Ether is less a poetry book and more a private conversation you feel honored to have shared with you.  Unlike most books of poems, this one has a central character.

It only takes a few pages to feel as if your closest friend is confiding you, holding nothing back, and handing you the treasures and trials of her life.  She is sharing her story, her family’s story, in vivid details so much so that you think you might have been there with her too.

You can feel the essence of her in the room with you as you read.  You should be sipping wine together or sharing a pot of coffee.  You know what she’s saying is important, personal; that no one should over hear this and that you should never share with anyone what she’s shared with you.  That’s where you go reading Writing in the Ether.  It takes you to a place with a character you care about and in return, you feel as if that character cares about you too.

Here are two poems from Writing in the Ether:

Finding You in Smoke

Mother, if I could summon you back
I’d sit with you at my morning table
prepare strong coffee the way you like
place an ashtray near because you’ll
want to smoke after this long time away.

I’d finally insist that my eyes, replicas
of your hazel-green-framed-in-auburn
see beyond what I needed from you
slide down your color-streaked coronas
and slip through

like Alice chasing rabbits. I’d
fall into your girlhood, snuggle up close
smell your skin, shampoo, interlock fingers.
We’d whisper like best friends, sisters

and then you could tell me your secrets
the ones that walk backward, scream at night
the ones that kept you away from me
the ones you burned with 60 years of cigarettes
that killed you anyway.

 

The Girl Who Made Them

In the closet of my room, the long, slanted roofline
plastered white was a perfect canvas for sunflower suns,
psychedelic peace signs, mottled self-portraits, and mindscapes.
The walls, tablets for tortured free verse
on teenage love, existential loneliness, fists against
Vietnam and Kent State.
E. E. Cummings, Ferlinghetti, Peter Max, and too much
van Gogh influence, all in oil-based pastels that
“No matter how many damn times I painted,”
Dad said,
“it all bled through.”
Eighteen years later, a sixteen-year-old
in my creative writing class says,
“We’re renting this house. In the closet of my room there’s all
this cool stuff, art and poems like frescoes in an old church,”
and she writes a poem to the girl who made them.

 

Details:
Kind: Perfectbound
Pages: 100
Language: English
Date Published: December 2018
ISBN 978-1-948017-32-9

Available for purchase at Das Madres Press

 

Publisher’s Book Description:

The poems and short prose in Catherine Arra’s Writing in the Ether were born from the connective tissue of memory, the bones of the past, and the spirit that insists not only upon seeing and remembering, but upon reconciling “the holy and the unholy” to embrace what is.

Here is a story of a girl growing up in the 1960s with a mysteriously elusive mother, a second-generation immigrant father, and her immigrant grandparents living next door. At the center of the collection is a desire to reach back for clarity and continuity that becomes, in itself, an act of writing in the ether.

Through an exploration into her own story, Arra invites each of us to go back and become “forever the sentinel” on the doorstep of our history, to find the sweetest joys, the most devastating betrayals, and in doing so, mark each with a cross, a prayer, and perhaps a poem, because, as Arra writes, “Love eats you, and this is the only way home.”

 

About the Poet:

Catherine Arra is a former high school English and writing teacher. Since leaving the classroom in 2012, her poetry and prose have appeared in numerous literary journals online and in print, and in several anthologies. She is the author of three chapbooks, Slamming & Splitting (Red Ochre Press, 2014), Loving from the Backbone (Flutter Press, 2015), and Tales of Intrigue & Plumage (FutureCycle Press, 2017). Writing in the Ether is her first full-length collection. Arra is a native of the Hudson Valley in upstate New York, where she lives most of the year, teaches part-time, and facilitates local writing groups. In winters she migrates to the Space Coast of Florida.
Find her at www.catherinearra.com

 

Reviews:

“Ether may be the fifth element, but poet-memoirist Catherine Arra grounds her alchemical work in the flame of the forge, toe-licking saltwater, radiant air, and earthbound ash. “There is a text within every text,” this born storyteller assures us, turning her gaze from her 1960s childhood to mismatched parents later in life, then back to her immigrant grandparents and Sicilian forebears. Arra’s words pulse with a soft incandescence, like fireflies, or sparks from a distant volcano.” —Nina Shengold

“Catherine Arra “gathers cracks in time like pick-up sticks,” and offers them to us as a shared memory. Tender yet honest, these poems capture the essence of self-discovery through fierce images of both nature and innocence.” —Lisa St. John

 

Poetry Breakfast offers poetry book reviews on Saturdays.  We do NOT receive any compensation for these reviews.  It’s just our way of supporting the work of poets.  If you are a poet who would like your book considered for review, please see our submission guidelines.

Poetry Breakfast Reopens with Poetry and Poetry Book Reviews on the Menu

Poetry Breakfast returns with a new item on our menu:  Poetry Book Reviews.

We’ll still be serving up a fresh new poem Monday through Friday.  But on the weekends we’ll be dishing out reviews and recommendations for poetry books.

Submission are currently being accepted.   See our Submission Guidelines for all the details.

We will start serving up poems and book reviews May 1st, 2019.

Poetry Book Reviews and Recommendations:
We’ve added something new to Poetry Breakfast – Poetry Book Reviews and Recommendations. You can now submit your poetry book for possible review and recommendation.

If accepted for the Reviews and Recommendations, we will write up a brief review and publish one or two poems from the collection. Also included will be your brief bio and direct link(s) to where the book can be purchased.

We also have a Poetry Books to Consider section. While we do not give a full review on these books, the basic info, author bio and links to where the books can be purchased are listed.

All books submitted will be considered first for Reviews and Recommendations. If not accepted there, we will then consider them for Poetry Books to Consider.

How to Submit Poetry Books for Review:

  • Email submissions to PoetryBreakfast@outlook.com
  • In the subject line put BOOK SUBMISSION – Your Name ( example: BOOK SUBMISSION – Jane Doe).
  • Attach a pdf, epub, Word doc. or docx. copy of the book. You may also send a physical copy. Email us for a mailing address. Please note that postal submissions will not be returned.
  • Attach a picture of the book cover, preferably a jpeg.
  • Include the book title and name of publisher. Self-published books are welcome.
  • Include your book blurb or description.
  • Include links to where the book can be purchased.
  • Include a brief 3rd person bio under 175 words (a link to your site or blog can be included).
  • If selected for our Reviews and Recommendations we will publish one or two poems along with the review. If there are poems you would like published or ones you do not want us to publish with the review, include that information in your submission.

Response time on books is 1 to 3 months.

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