At times Dracula, Thelma & Louise, and Nightcrawler, Open Throat is a captivating exploration of queer longing and kinship that is simultaneously an ode to the wild and to the humanity that, particularly in Los Angeles, can be so quickly glossed over in favor of the superficial.
Ghost Poetry is a poetry collection that converts anguish and sadness into a creative power. There is suffering throughout the book, but the strength that underpins the pain is unmistakable, like a wild horse “burning unbridled inside the sky’s ceiling” exerting its will to live.
The poet aptly observes a ‘Bovine Heaven’. However, it also subtly indicates that such peaceful living is impossible for human beings, be it from a sociological or ecological perspective. It also sets off a train of thought where Earth is not left the same from one generation to the next.
Set against the back drop of American culture and history from the 1970s, the age of politically progressive Protestantism, right up to contemporary times and the expansive hell right wing evangelicals want to make for us all. Letting readers draw their own conclusions, Borofka does this in deft strokes that never seem strident or extreme.
We’re not taken through the streets of this city as much as we are taken on a tour of language. These poems are driven by sound, and a tone that lulls us until images catch, tumble open, or almost combust. Pace and momentum shape the collection, delivering softly-stated violence often inflicted by the natural world upon itself. In Still Life with Razor Blade, we see “night cut evening’s /throat to let the dark out.”
Troy surprises every time with her complex and introspective exploration of her inner thoughts and emotions, particularly in the context of relationships. In her poem “At my Trial,” she mentions an authoritative figure referred to as “Master.” This poem is divided into five sections, each revealing different aspects of the poet’s experiences and emotions.
Jessen plays with language and meaning. She values the visual form: the spacing and arrangement of the words, phrases and sentences. The poems can be interpreted in many ways, and I am not surprised that the poet has won numerous awards.
In her latest book of short stories, An Unshared Secret, Ketaki Datta shows her skill with the form, creating a series of twenty short stories set primarily in Datta’s home country of India, mostly in or around Kolkata. The capital of West Bengal is so much a presence in these stories that it almost functions as a character itself, providing more than a backdrop.
The Crimean War and Cultural Memory is more than a window on cultural disapprobation, from a particular era. It is a sensitive, scholarly (with great photographs and illustrations) exercise in resurrecting obscure, ‘forgotten’ history. How history gets to forgotten is the main issue here.
Rambles is a passionately written and vivid collection for our times. Stylistically accessible and typographically varied, I am left with an abiding sense of the warmth and raw honesty of its writer and her unwavering compassion for those who are struggling. And perhaps we should not be surprised: that energy is, I feel, implicit in the cover of the collection, painted by the poet—a lively abstract depicting a swirl of soft blues, greens and yellows, as vigorous and warm as the words of Copello herself.