Featured Books for 2016
All the Babble of the Souk
by Robin Ouzman Hislop
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Poet Robin Ouzman Hislop’s first full-length collection, All the Babble of the Souk, is appropriately titled. With a remarkably consistent ear for the market’s noise, for “[t]he broken lights of the bazaar/spangled] with glistening promise/in the eyes of the dusky beggar …” (Laminations in Lacquer ) Hislop’s poems, many of them cinematic-style montages of sounds and images, show us the metaphoric souk of the world, on the beach or in the street, its glitter, its sadness, its ragtag glory:
“pets, flower pots framed captive in a moment
outside the house of the painter, a robot
in chains with an alms bowl”
(“Departures”) ...Read more of this review by poet Miriam C. Jacobs
More Reviews for this book:
Barbara Crooker Selected Poems / 2015 available on amazon.com
by Barbara Crooker
This collection brings together 102 poems from Barbara Crooker’s previous ten chapbooks of poetry, two of which won national prizes, with a handful of uncollected poems at the end. Of Crooker’s work, William Matthews has written, “Barbara Crooker’s poems have been written with a deft touch and with that affection for their textures and pacings that we’re accustomed to call, a little dryly, ‘technical skill.’ It’s a form of love, actually, and since she’s expended it on her poems, we can, too.” Janet McCann, writing in the Foreword, says, “The poems in this collection come mostly from chapbooks, collections which cluster around a theme, such as loss of a parent or friend, raising a child with autism, travel, art. Crooker’s collections are remarkable for their unity; their poems, epigraphs, even covers have a thematic thrust that collects and directs the work, making each a coherent work of art.... Reading the work from beginning to end provides an experience of Crooker’s world, that place of work and sadness balanced by art and love. It also provides vignettes of growing up in the fifties and sixties and shows what it was like to come of age as a woman in those years—the expectations, the hopes, the barriers that had to be overcome. Even in poems of loss, the energy persists, giving us the sense that Crooker is truly in the current of life, feeling its verve—what Wallace Stevens called ‘the intensity of love’ that he identified with ‘the verve of earth.’”
Key of Mist by Guadalupe Grande
Streets, courtyards, squares, cages, a microcosm of urban power...
Spread the Word
The city, the other civilization, the greatness and the spectrum of its intrinsic ruin, a memento mori for the urban castaway on the waves of asphalt. (...) Such is the ethical landscape in which Guadalupe Grande displays the moral alphabet of her poetic truth, recognizing the city as a hyperspace, where the epic idea of homeland, the country´s ideological circumstances, the historical concept of nation are devastated by the innocent look of someone who does not understand the rush, does not accept the urgency of sacrifice imposed each morning by the necessity of work, the laws of domination, the salary of loneliness.
~Juan Carlos Mestre
Que el mundo es imposible. Que las calles no pueden cabernos en el pecho. Que nada cabe en el hueco que le está destinado y así nos van las cosas. Que las hojas de los árboles siguen cayendo y el mar sigue diciendo una palabra que no podemos descifrar: una palabra en movimiento, una palabra en la que cabe el tiempo. Que estamos hechos de tiempo, pero no de mar. Que llevamos la cuenta del tiempo que vivimos, mareados, como si pudiéramos llevar las cuentas del mar. Que contamos la lluvia de los días y los pasos tartamudos de las horas. Que hacemos balance de minucias. Que se nos caen las palabras de la boca, sin entenderlas, como la nieve se aturde en el asfalto. Que confundimos la nieve con la sal, los relojes con la sangre, el pecho con un garaje, y nos consolamos creyendo que todo es relativo, como este pronombre.
WITH A RELATIVE PRONOUN
That the world is impossible. That streets won't fit in our chest. That nothing fits in the niche for which it's intended and that's how things are. That the leaves of trees go on falling and the sea goes on saying one word we can't decipher: a word in movement, a word that fits time in. That we are made of time, but not made of sea. That we count the time we live as dizzy, as dizzily as if we could count the sea. That we count the rain of days and the stammering steps of hours. That we make fuss about trifles. That words drop from our mouth, without understanding them, like stunned snow on a pavement. That we confuse snow with salt, clocks with blood, the chest with a garage, and we console ourselves with thinking that everything is relative, like this pronoun.
(Vista del horizonte desde la Costanilla del Farol)
Nada hay como estar lejos
y no saber dónde meternos;
contar los pájaros que emigran,
buscar la arena en el asfalto
y acurrucarnos bajo una farola
con espigado espíritu de álamo
mientras el tráfico de la noche
dice su palabra de río
que no llegará nunca al mar.
Una ciudad, hoy, es estar lejos.
(View of the horizon from the Alley of the Street Lamp)
There's nothing like being far away
not knowing where to get into;
counting the migrating birds,
searching for sand on the pavement
curling up under a street lamp
with the slender spirit of a poplar
while the night traffic
utters its river's word
that will never reach the sea.
A city, today, exists to be far away.
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