The Usefulness of Hippopotamus: A Humorous Chapbook for Trying Times

Vincent J. Tomeo (Atmosphere Press)

| Reviewed by Kim Calderon

When the author was in college, he ran around Washington Square, like a cherub. When he came back, he noticed that all his clothing was stolen, so he had to take the New York City Subway home, with no clothes on, wrapped in the New York Times. ''No one said a word. At the time, it was unbearable. Decades later, I can now laugh.''This episode narrated in the introduction greets the reader and prepares them for a hilarious romp with an author who understands the place of humor in the economy of human suffering. This book is a collection of poems...

Some Good Writ: Christmas, Cancer, Dad, Wine, Sex and Jeff

Jeffrey Bailey (Jeffrey Bailey)

| Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo

Some Good Writ: Christmas, Cancer, Wine, Sex and Jeff by Jeffrey Bailey is an intimate, observant collection of poems that examine life within the poet's family, his own personal experiences, and the thoughts and emotions that propel him from one moment to the next. The sub-title offers a glimpse of what readers should expect in this superbly rendered collection of poems — sickness in the family and how it affects everyone, intimacy, passions, and observations on a variety of topics. Bailey writes about love, humanity, politics, and nature, and...

Corpse Beneath the Crocus

N.N. Nelson (Atmosphere Press)

| Reviewed by Jane Riley

Corpse Beneath the Crocus by N.N. Nelson is a collection of poems that explore themes of loss, grief, and hope. Infused with symbolism, the author captures images from nature to echo the pain of loss and the silent rhythms of a suffering heart. The metaphors are strong and the song of the bird seems to reflect the inner world of the personae: ''Poor little bird / To feel such mighty things.'' These poems are energetic and they highlight the pain that enters a soul that experiences loss. The author allows images of nature to speak strongly...

The Art of Falling

Julia Wendell (FutureCycle Press)

| Reviewed by Cristina Prescott

The Art of Falling by Julia Wendell features a fine-wrought collection of poems that explore both intimate and universal themes — from human vulnerability to embracing change, from falling to developing a creative and austere spirit, from the relationship between father and daughter to the connection with animals. Wendell translates the fears of the human heart, the inimitable sense of longing, and human experience into words that take a life of their own.These poems are rhythmic and the timely linebreaks, as well as the diction, deli...

Grief and Her Three Sisters

Jerry Lovelady (Atmosphere Press)

| Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo

Grief and Her Three Sisters by Jerry Lovelady is a gorgeous collection of poems that capture life, love, and loss. The first thing that catches the attention of readers when they start reading Lovelady's poetry is his incredible ability to write with clarity while allowing the fusion of nature with human emotion. And then there are those moments that compel readers to reflect on insights about life and the author’s wisdom. You'll find one as you open the first poem, “The Great River Taketh.” It reads: ''In death there is always life. / In a see...


Sabrina Simon (Gatekeeper Press)

| Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo

There are fifty poems in Violet by Sabrina Simon, and that may sound like a slim collection of poetry. But hold on, you are about to step into a world where emotions become life in the words that speak them, where imagery translates the imperceptible nudges on the edges of fragile hearts, and where sound and rhythm measure the pulse of a heart that speaks a language that is universal. The collection is intimate, riveting, and tender, and it is just impossible for the reader to not be moved. Sabrina Simon's poetry is simple, deceptively so, ye...

The Trojan Mare

Marina Šur Puhlovski (Perlina Press)

| Reviewed by Bertin Drizller

Lyrical and symbolic, The Trojan Mare by Marina Šur Puhlovski is a tale of the mutations of a country, a woman named Rosalie, and the Madman called Moses, a man she smuggled into the house. Translated by Graham McMaster, this book offers a compelling metaphor for the Yugoslavian society and political atmosphere in the period from 1929 to the late 1980s. Readers encounter characters that navigate the corrupt system that operates within the prism of lethargy, and while some are smart enough to make this system work for them, others are trapped in...

Filling In The Black: One Woman’s Journey of Re-education

Joan Kantor (Joan Kantor)

| Reviewed by David Reyes

Filling in The Black: One Woman’s Journey of Re-education by Joan Kantor is a collection of thought-provoking, oftentimes poignant poems that capture the painful experience of the color line and what it implies for humanity. Kantor's voice joins those of icons like Langston Hughes to denounce the inhumanity and the inequality of equal men, solidly opposing racism in all its forms. These outstanding, lyrical, and intelligently crafted poems brilliantly portray the empathic voice of a white woman who stands against racism. She doesn't hesita...

Penelope’s Purple Passions

Penelope Chaisson (Evoke 180 LLC)

| Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo

A dazzling collection of love poems, Penelope’s Purple Passions by Penelope Chaisson is divided into four parts — The Egg’s Innocence, The Larvae’s Sincerity, The Pupa’s Paradigm Shift, The Adult’s Climax — symbolic of the journey of a butterfly and telling of the human experience of love. The butterfly is Penelope who falls in love and is thrilled by the experience. But then as she matures, she begins to understand that love can be more than just what she feels, opening her heart to its beckons and discerning the call to grow as she matures in...

Doctoring in Nicaragua

Greg Stidham (Finishing Line Press)

| Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo

Slim and poignant, Doctoring in Nicaragua by Greg Stidham is a collection of twenty-three short poems that capture the author’s experience as a pediatric ICU physician. In turn observant and lyrical, the poems capture unique moments with the personae, parents grieving the loss of a child, the joy of watching a child recover, or the moment caught between hope and despair while “ the irregular heart / strikes the syncopated / backbeat of the bass lines, / borrows from the undercurrent / of the blues: blue lips, / blue fingertips.” The p...

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