In the Saturday Essay, Scott Borchert wonders about the symbiosis of author James Agee and folklorist Harry Smith. Though it is unclear if they met in New York during the 1950s, “their works do converge —in spirit, perhaps, and not chronologically.” The “fever-dream” of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men complements the nightmarish quality of Smith’s landmark folk music compilation....more
Posts Tagged: weekend rumpus roundup
First, Julie Marie Wade points to Tod Marshall’s skillful use of call and response in his new poetry collection, Bugle. The theme of mortality punctuates this “fierce” and “stunning” book. Marshall’s speaker, Wade writes, “contemplates what we think we know about nature, music, human frailty, and human triumph.”
Meanwhile, The Internet is “the great, depressing equalizer,” admits writer and collaborator Jacob Wren....more
First, sacrifice is the key to artistic growth in Grant Snider’s “Creative Processor.”
And in the Saturday Essay, Amanda Miska realizes she is making the object of her love into a “myth,” into “the version of the story that [she] wanted to believe.” Framed by the constant presence of social media, Miska analyzes the motivation behind Internet “stalking”—the desire to win....more
First, Grant Snider provides some (mostly) encouraging words in “One Page At A Time.”
Prompted by author Colleen McCullough’s shallow-minded obituary in the Guardian, Tabitha Blankenbiller uses the Saturday Essay for introspection. The prevailing views of women’s bodies come under the microscope when Blankenbiller reflects on her experience in a church support group for women trying to lose weight....more
Gentrification, and analogies for it, are the focus of Mary Biddinger’s poetry collection A Sunny Place With Adequate Water, reviewed by Danielle Susi. The inhumanity of coin-operated machinery serves as a theme. Moments of “lucidity” make these poems “a little weird, a little quirky, and a lot beautiful.”
Then, in the Saturday Essay, Tara Isabella Burton looks back on her teenage relationship with the groundbreaking television drama Gilmore Girls and its eerie mimicry of her own life....more
First, Grant Snider’s “Inferiority Complex” explores the inner recesses of consciousness.
Then, Louise Fabiani reviews Scarlett Johansson’s scary sci-fi film, Under the Skin, which “weasels its way into your reptilian brain from its first baffling frames.” Director Jonathan Glazer does a nice job of getting the audience on Johansson’s side, even as she beckons unwitting men to their deaths....more
In the Saturday essay, “Broken Bird: Reflections on The Upside of Anger,” Kathryn Buckley notes similarities between the film, starring Keri Russell, and her own experiences—both she and Russell’s character struggled with anorexia. When Buckley finds herself in an MFA program, something clicks....more
First, Grant Snider considers New Year’s resolutions in his inimitable way.
Then, Barbara Berman draws a connection between two recent poetry collections—famous German playwright Bertold Brecht’s posthumous Love Poems and The Book of Scented Things: 100 Contemporary Poems About Perfume, edited by Jehanne Dubrow and Lindsay Lusby....more
First, Julie Marie Wade reviews the “solar system” of Kimberly Burwick’s poetry collection, Good Night Brother. The son—or “sun”—in the title “burns everyone and everything it touches.” He/it “has gone the way of the supernova.” This lovable, yet hard-to-love character seduces the reader with the promise of the ineffable....more
In the Saturday Essay, Devin O’Neill considers the dual nature of the male feminist, looking back not-so-fondly on the desire to “lash out” against an unforgiving world during high school and junior high. O’Neill used “nerd” and “goth” identities to cope with the anxiety of confronting gender norms....more
First, say hello to our new Saturday media editor, Arielle Bernstein!
Then, in “All The World’s A Stage,” Grant Snider neatly illustrates our inner performer....more
Kristina Marie Darling’s poetry collection, Fortress, is “image-rich” and wonderfully allusive. The setting is the famously decadent palace of Versailles. Like the film Marie Antoinette, “Darling’s book is simultaneously excess and desolation,” writes Sandra Marchetti. White spaces are used strategically in this “lush” book of poems....more
In the Saturday Interview, May Cobb talks with Austin-based multi-instrumentalist Guy Forsyth about The Freedom to Fail, his first studio album in six years. In a touching aside about his daughter, Forsyth explains the album title: “…she can only grow to the extent that she reaches for things.” Their discussion is framed by the backdrop of Austin, Texas, the continually metamorphosing “Live Music Capital of the World.”
Then, in a review of the “masterful” and “personal” Blood, Sparrows and Sparrows, Kenji Liu highlights the gradually evolving voice of poet Eugenia Leigh....more
In the Bay of Fundy, between Maine’s northeast coast and the western shores of Nova Scotia, lies an island called Grand Manan, whose windswept landscape serves as a source of inspiration and meditation for Alison Hawthorne Deming....more
Thanksgiving is still three weeks away, but it’s never too early to express our gratitude. MariNaomi shows us how it’s done with a concise list of the things she is thankful for, which includes “the tenacity of young me, who kept at it for so long.”
An excerpt from writer and cartoonist John Dermot Woods’s new “illustrated compendium,” The Baltimore Atrocities, brims with macabre mysteries....more
First, Diana Whitney reviews Cynthia Cruz’s poetry collection, Wunderkammer, meaning “cabinet of curiosities.” This is a book of “delicious… detail.” Cruz’s poems, Whitney declares, “have a wry sense of humor that tempers the traumas they reveal.” The poet, who was born in Germany, transports readers from Berlin to upstate New York, from death to madness to redemption....more
First, Grant Snider’s favorite things, in rhyme.
In The Last Book I Loved, Richard Kramer delves into the “determined and effective” Judith Schneiderman’s memoir, I Sang To Survive. A “propulsive drive” lies behind the Auschwitz survivor’s writing. “What I love most about her book,” Kramer writes, “is the joy with which she tells it, the many moments when her words and insights jump off the page, glowing, specific.”
Lastly, in an animated conversation about story writing and storytelling, “that cool girl” Megan Stielstra opens up about her creative process....more
First off, Grant Snider unfolds one of our most dogged clichés.
More than one hundred and fourteen years ago, an uprising broke out in China that eventually became known as the Boxer Rebellion. But according to Jennifer Cheng, the movement now occurring in Hong Kong differs fundamentally from that violent, ultra-nationalist Rebellion of the past....more
Then, Matthew Daddona reviews Carl Adamshick’s “empathetic” collection, Saint Friend. The poet employs a “smooth and elegiac rhetoric that is more concerned with sonic repetition than it is flawless consistency.” Adamshick’s book is worth a look for its “flair,” its “speed,” and its willingness to experiment with form....more
The “the stirring, hot-blooded motion” of the poems in Irene McKinney’s collection Have You Had Enough Darkness Yet? is striking, given its posthumous publication. Charlie Atkinson reviews this “curious” and sometimes “playful” examination of mortality, noting the poet’s competence and profound understanding of her topic....more
In response to Dave Eggers’s new book, Your Fathers, Where Are They? And The Prophets, Do They Live For Ever?, Alex Kalamaroff takes us on a guided tour of the “dialogue novel,” a genre where conversation between characters is “the primary or only means of narrative advancement.” Kalamaroff boils the genre down to three sub-categories....more
First, a little creative encouragement from Grant Snider to jump start August.
Then, in this review, Andrew Fulmer examines Jeff Alessandrelli’s use of the poetic “factoid.” Alessandrelli makes a series of successful allusions in his collection, This Last Time Will Be The First. It is a “contemporarily fresh” collection that deserves our attention, Fulmer argues....more
First, “Creative Thinking,” by Grant Snider.
Then, the grandiosity of nature suffuses Ketchum, Idaho, the setting of the Sunday Essay and the place where Ernest Hemingway spent his last days on earth. Author Eileen Shields, who lives part of the year on the same street as the old Hemingway house, offers us a thoughtful meditation on “Papa’s” death and the strangely masculine American mythology of suicide by gun....more