Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Next book

MIDNIGHT STRIKE

A forthright, energizing collection.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Lang’s (The Cafe of Dreams, 2018 etc.) latest collection of poetry is a cri de coeur on the injustices of contemporary life.

The author, who holds the position of poet laureate of Vallejo, California, offers 70 new poems here—the majority of which were written, she says, as a “reflection of the times we live in” and her own “political evolution.” The collection opens with “What’s on Her Mind?” which declares boldly, “For every woman allowed to grace / the pages of man’s history books / there are millions more / achieving miracles that are overlooked.” It’s protest-march poetry that delivers a thumping message and sets the tone for the remainder of the book: “This is the era of every woman / must raise up her voice! // Every woman must have free choice!” This message is echoed in “A Blessing for the Women Who Pray With Their Feet,” an invocation written for the 2019 Vallejo Women’s March. It was written as a call-and-response prayer, and Lang’s bold, erudite language will empower and uplift readers: “Until all women are safe from violence, so that a woman can exist in any space without fear, we march!” Such pieces leap off the page and demand to be read aloud to release their crackling energy. Others deliver an equally powerful message in their sparsity; for example, “Fatigue” reads simply: “I’m so tired of / writing about / mass shootings.” A number of other poems address the horror of gun violence in America and New Zealand. “Never Known” delivers a valiant message of hope and determination for change: “the day our voices go silent / must be the day that this terror has ceased.” However, Lang’s poetry isn’t only about protest. Haikus, such as “Moonlight Song,” chime with the beauty and clarity of Tibetan tingsha: “A moonlight chorus / serenades until sunrise. / Wake up. Sing a dream.” Skeptics who deem protest-oriented verse to be ineffective or outmoded will struggle with most of Lang’s writing, but for others, it will be a persuasive call to action.

A forthright, energizing collection.  

Pub Date: July 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-07-209601-6

Page Count: 107

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Next book

ONCE UPON A GIRL

Therapeutic, moving verse from a promising new talent.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Keridan’s poetry testifies to the pain of love and loss—and to the possibility of healing in the aftermath.

The literary critic Geoffrey Hartman once wrote that literature—and poetry, in particular—can help us “read the wound” of trauma. That is, it can allow one to express and explain one’s deepest hurts when everyday language fails. Keridan appears to have a similar understanding of poetry. She writes in “Foreword,” the opening work of her debut collection, that “pain frequently uses words as an escape route / (oh, how I know).” Many words—and a great deal of pain—escape in this volume, but the result is healing: “the ending is happy / the beginning was horrific / so let’s start there.” The book, then, tracks the process of recovery in the wake of suffering, and often, this suffering is brought on by romantic relationships gone wrong. An early untitled poem opens, “I die a little / taking pieces of me to feed the fire / that keeps him warm / you don’t notice that it’s a slow death / when you’re disappearing little by little.” The author’s imagery here—of the self fueling the dying fire of love—is simultaneously subtle and wrenching. But the poem’s message, amplified elsewhere in the book, is clear: We go wrong if we destructively give ourselves over to others, and healing comes only when we turn our energies back to our own good. Later poems, therefore, reveal that self-definition often equals strength. The process is painful but salutary; when “you’re left unprotected / surrounded by chaos with nothing you / can depend on / except yourself / and that’s when you gather the pieces / of the life you lost / and use them to build the life you want.” The “life you want” is an elusive goal, and the author knows that the path to self-definition is fraught with peril—but her collection may give strength to those who walk it.

Therapeutic, moving verse from a promising new talent.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72770-538-6

Page Count: 196

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

Next book

Endings

POETRY AND PROSE

Downbeat but often engaging poems and stories.

A slim volume of largely gay-themed writings with pessimistic overtones.

Poe (Simple Simon, 2013, etc.) divides this collection of six short stories and 34 poems into five sections: “Art,” “Death,” “Relationship,” “Being,” and “Reflection.” Significantly, a figurative death at the age of 7 appears in two different poems, in which the author uses the phrase “a pretended life” to refer to the idea of hiding one’s true nature and performing socially enforced gender roles. This is a well-worn trope, but it will be powerful and resonant for many who have struggled with a stigmatized identity. In a similar vein, “Imaginary Tom” presents the remnants of a faded relationship: “Now we are imaginary friends, different in each other’s thoughts, / I the burden you seek to discard, / you the lover I created from the mist of longing.” Once in a while, short story passages practically leap off of the page, such as this evocative description of a seedy establishment in Lincoln, Nebraska: “It was a dimly lit bar that smelled of rodent piss, with barstools that danced on uneven legs and made the patrons wonder if they were drunker than they thought.” In “Valéry’s Ride,” Poe examines the familial duties that often fall to unmarried and childless people, keeping them from forming meaningful bonds with others. In this story, after the double whammy of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hits Louisiana, Valéry’s extended family needs him more than ever; readers will likely root for the gay protagonist as he makes the difficult decision to strike out on his own. Not all of Poe’s main characters are gay; the heterosexual title character in “Mrs. Calumet’s Workspace,” for instance, pursues employment in order to escape the confines of her home and a passionless marriage. Working as a bookkeeper, she attempts to carve out a space for herself, symbolized by changes in her work area. Still, this story echoes the recurring theme of lives unlived due to forces often beyond one’s control.

Downbeat but often engaging poems and stories.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5168-3693-2

Page Count: 120

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2016

Close Quickview