A thoughtful and often beautiful volume of poetry that explores the Middle East and America.



Glancy (Trigger Dance, 2015, etc.) contemplates history and culture in this new collection of poems.

The impetus for this book, as Glancy explains early on, was a trip she took in spring 1994 through Syria and Jordan on behalf of the U.S. Information Agency. A cultural ambassador of sorts for the U.S., she confronted the depth of the history that surrounded her: “Standing at the ruins of Ebla in Syria, there was an older old than any of the history I knew in America.” The author’s travels in the Levant forced her to consider the disconnect she felt between the Holy Land of the Christian Bible—a place so revered by Americans—and the modern Muslim nations that Americans regard with such suspicion. These Syria and Jordan poems sit side by side with others set in North Dakota, Arizona, New Hampshire, and elsewhere in the U.S., in which Glancy examines her personal history as well as her own cultural background as a Native American. As the poet writes, “You know how seeing another country / makes you see your own / and you know how America’s eye is always on itself.” The second section of the book revisits the Syria of recent years, ruminating on how the holy desert of Glancy’s travels has become a conflagration of violence and inhumanity. In these poems, she mourns the loss of the people and places she saw in 1994, wondering what has become of them: “I thought of the dyer of blue cloth in Damascus / … / What happened to the patterns and jars of blue? / The maker of them?” The work moves back and forth between narrative verse poems and contemplative prose poems, tackling complex ideas from multiple angles. The result is a book that is both analytical and lyrically satisfying, a profound meditation on the nature of nationhood, history, and the narratives readers allow themselves to live in. The question Glancy poses in the title poem is as true of America as it is of Syria: “What can be trusted to be true / in the complexities of a country at war with itself?”

A thoughtful and often beautiful volume of poetry that explores the Middle East and America.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5326-0302-0

Page Count: 94

Publisher: Wipf & Stock

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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A volume of poetry and prose that offers heroic visions of urban African Americans.


A debut multigenre collection of short pieces presents vignettes focusing on the lives of African Americans from a variety of perspectives, both real and fanciful.

This eclectic anthology begins with an autobiographical sketch, “P Is for Pride and Perseverance,” in which King traces his early years from his 1979 birth to a 16-year-old mother to his incarceration for attempted robbery and his subsequent determination to do something positive with his life. “Baby Girl” reprises the story of King’s birth from his mother’s point of view, a girl whose teen pregnancy seems predestined by both her grandmother’s clairvoyant dreams and her own limited expectations. Other narratives are linked by shared characters, such as “Posse Up, Ladies First!” and “Thug Angel,” which provide somewhat idealized portraits of street gangs as building blocks of the black community. “Battle Kats” is an SF work about a group of humanoid felines from another planet who work undercover to defend Earth and its alien allies. The central section of the book is occupied by a collection of 21 poems. Some, like “Hold on to Love” and “Away From Home,” focus on romance while others, such as “The Rent Is Too Damn High!” and “Blockstars,” illuminate the experiences of working-class African Americans in inner-city neighborhoods. “Remember Me?” calls up the spirit of LaTasha Harlins, a young black woman shot by a Los Angeles shop owner in the early ’90s, speculating “I wonder what you could have been LaTasha?” King’s efforts to describe his personal struggles and the vibrant characters who populate impoverished black communities are ambitious and dynamic. His prose narratives are too short to feel really complete, but they deliver glimpses into a world mainly familiar to the urban poor, where drug dealing is one of the few available career choices, incarceration is a rite of passage, and street gangs view themselves as community leaders. While the author does have a tendency to romanticize life on the street, as in “Posse Up,” in which a girl gang maintains a strict “code of principles,” his writing presents a vision of what could happen if people worked to “play a part in the improvement of the community.”

A volume of poetry and prose that offers heroic visions of urban African Americans.

Pub Date: March 10, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4568-8093-4

Page Count: 124

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: Jan. 6, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A nihilistic poetic remembrance that will appeal most to older teens and 20-somethings.


Davis recounts the confounding pressures of his 1990s childhood in this debut memoir-in-verse.

When telling the story of your life, one might as well start at the very beginning. That’s exactly what the author does in this memoir, which he describes as “a thing like a very long lie to yourself.” Specifically, he tells of how “The White-Gloved Sheriff / kicked in the door / and / Pulled me” from his mother (whom he calls his “Supervisor”; he later calls her “the Computer Science Major,” “the Waitress,” and other occupational names). Unusually, he had horns and a lot of hair at birth, he says. He was immediately at odds with the people and other living things around him—his parents, his brothers, his family dog. As a toddler, he created an imaginary world for himself known as “FU,” which was “Filled with things that looked like me / And where things made sense / I was King.” His earliest years were characterized by horrible discoveries (school work, isolation, crushes, problems in his parents’ marriage), but his teen years proved to be an even greater series of highs and lows, involving confusion over geopolitical events, friends, computers, pornography, and marijuana. Like a novice who can’t quite figure out the rules of a game, Davis bumbles forward—all horns and fur and misunderstanding—inadvertently angering authority figures as he seeks an adequate method of self-expression. The poem is composed in short, direct lines, enjambed to emphasize particular words or phrases rather than establish a consistent overall rhythm. Davis’ idiolect is inventive in its names for things (siblings are “life partners,” pets are “prisoners,” teachers are “Part-Time Supervisors,” and so on), and his outsider’s observations of society are shrewd and often funny. However, the combination of snark and self-seriousness causes some poems to come off as petulant and cloying; as a result, it’s difficult to imagine anyone over the age of 22 finding the work emotionally affecting. Even so, the tone and style, coupled with debut artist Klimov’s truly engaging black-and-white illustrations should captivate readers of a certain anarchic mindset.

A nihilistic poetic remembrance that will appeal most to older teens and 20-somethings.

Pub Date: May 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-71806-449-2

Page Count: 143

Publisher: Nada Blank Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2018

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