Confident and indelicate; goads readers to insert themselves in difficult discussions about relevant cultural matters.


Speller explores the intersections of race, sex, violence, and art in this experimental poetry collection. 

The author attempts to show the effects of gender and racial injustice by weaving together anecdotal and linguistic expression. Many of these poems use dialogue as their centerpiece. Conversations are sometimes staged between prominent political or literary figures such as Angela Davis, Crazy Horse, Picasso and Eldridge Cleaver, while others serve as archetypal characters, constructed to showcase specific societal ills. These interactions yield miscommunications, sexual discoveries and unlikely alliances. For example, “Transition…,” the shortest poem in the collection, reads: “In the body of Christ / Dubois looked at Martin, / ‘Martin, what do you think?’ // Martin looked down / tried to suppress a certain cry / reaching, he wiped a tear / from Du’s eye.” While readers gather that these interactions are meant to demonstrate the speaker’s stance on various political phenomena, this position is sometimes lost in abstraction and florid phrasing. One grandiose evasion is found in the poem “Chinatown”: “Shall we stand here with our mouths gaped in astonishment when life reinforces love and death?” Strewn with broad questions, big declarations and exclamation points, many lines might register as melodramatic. While the poems aim for concrete details and scenarios, images tend to be vague and disorienting. Lines in which an image clicks into place, however, are unmistakable. These phrases convey an idea or metaphor in a unique way or have a particularly strong sonic value. In the poem titled, “Picasso ~ The Bohemian,” readers will find one such moment: “riding the fugitive cube / with the wasp waist and black aft / eucharistic grapes and the curl of the rind….” The poem, “Queen” also contains the shimmering description of a “coca cola coochie,” and “Triptych Some Syncretism” is endowed with the gem, “the exploding heart of the vulva.” Even though these poems are collected in a book, readers will immediately wonder how they sound aloud, as they often possess the rhythms and cadences of performance poetry.

Confident and indelicate; goads readers to insert themselves in difficult discussions about relevant cultural matters. 

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2004

ISBN: 978-1418434373

Page Count: 128

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2012

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A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.



In the ninth book in the Bluford young-adult series, a young Latino man walks away from violence—but at great personal cost.

In a large Southern California city, 16-year-old Martin Luna hangs out on the fringes of gang life. He’s disaffected, fatherless and increasingly drawn into the orbit of the older, rougher Frankie. When a stray bullet kills Martin’s adored 8-year-old brother, Huero, Martin seems to be heading into a life of crime. But Martin’s mother, determined not to lose another son, moves him to another neighborhood—the fictional town of Bluford, where he attends the racially diverse Bluford High. At his new school, the still-grieving Martin quickly makes enemies and gets into trouble. But he also makes friends with a kind English teacher and catches the eye of Vicky, a smart, pretty and outgoing Bluford student. Martin’s first-person narration supplies much of the book’s power. His dialogue is plain, but realistic and believable, and the authors wisely avoid the temptation to lard his speech with dated and potentially embarrassing slang. The author draws a vivid and affecting picture of Martin’s pain and confusion, bringing a tight-lipped teenager to life. In fact, Martin’s character is so well drawn that when he realizes the truth about his friend Frankie, readers won’t feel as if they are watching an after-school special, but as though they are observing the natural progression of Martin’s personal growth. This short novel appears to be aimed at urban teens who don’t often see their neighborhoods portrayed in young-adult fiction, but its sophisticated characters and affecting story will likely have much wider appeal.

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 978-1591940173

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Townsend Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2013

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A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Mary's Song

From the Dream Horse Adventure Series series , Vol. 1

A novel tells the story of two spirited girls who set out to save a lame foal in 1952.

Mary, age 12, lacks muscle control of her legs and must use a wheelchair. Her life is constantly interrupted by trips with her widower father to assorted doctors, all of whom have failed to help her. Mary tolerates the treatments, hoping to one day walk unassisted, but her true passion involves horses. Possessing a library filled with horse books, she loves watching and drawing the animals at a neighboring farm. She longs to own one herself. But her father, overprotective due to her disability and his own lingering grief over Mary’s dead mother, makes her keep her distance. Mary befriends Laura, the emotionally neglected daughter of the wealthy neighboring farm owners, and the two share secret buggy rides. Both girls are attracted to Illusion, a beautiful red bay filly on the farm. Mary learns that Illusion is to be put down by a veterinarian because of a lame leg. Horrified, she decides to talk to the barn manager about the horse (“Isn’t it okay for her to live even if she’s not perfect? I think she deserves a chance”). Soon, Mary and Laura attempt to raise money to save Illusion. At the same time, Mary begins to gain control of her legs thanks to water therapy and secret therapeutic riding with Laura. There is indeed a great deal of poignancy in a story of a girl with a disability fighting to defend the intrinsic value of a lame animal. But this book, the first installment of the Dream Horse Adventure Series, would be twice as touching if Mary interacted with Illusion more. In the tale’s opening, she watches the foal from afar, but she actually spends very little time with the filly she tries so hard to protect. This turns out to be a strange development given the degree to which the narrative relies on her devotion. Count (Selah’s Sweet Dream, 2015) draws Mary and Laura in broad but believable strokes, defined mainly by their unrelenting pluckiness in the face of adversity. While the work tackles disability, death, and grief, Mary’s and Laura’s environments are so idyllic and their optimism and perseverance so remarkable that the story retains an aura of uncomplicated gentleness throughout.

A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Hastings Creations Group

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2016

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