Ambitious poems that deftly tackle big ideas.

THE MARRIAGE OF SPACE AND TIME

A poetry collection explores life’s delicate equation.

Divided into three sections, Myers’ (Between Dream and Flesh, 2018, etc.) latest volume is both cataclysmic and comforting, offering free verse poems that take a long look at time and the universe alongside the mise-en-scène of daily life. The first section, “Space,” opens with a part-whimsical, part-ominous late-night conversation the speaker has with the forces of an inanimate bedroom. “So, sleep, dream, as you know / the meeting is never over. Enter / the dark with us, animal,” it ends, shifting the tone seamlessly in a way that seems emblematic of the author’s brief poems that plumb the depths of the collective unconscious. Frequently, quotidian tasks give way to metaphysical musings, as in “Dirge for Wanderers,” about a trip to the market, or “Morning Rush,” about commuting to work. The middle section, entitled “Time,” looks at the fourth dimension in terms of the eternity of earthliness and the fluctuations in interpersonal relationships, as in poems like “Yahrzeit” and “Seasonal.” Among Myers’ strongest pieces in that section are poems about the passage of time and loved ones. In “After Parking at Starbucks,” the speaker describes going for coffee with an aging parent. The author writes: “Something fine / and brittle might break as I lift it / away from its place, like that china / cup I fumbled,” drawing a line from the frailty of the speaker’s mother to her inherited china set. Details like these can be read with a bit of relief. But the focus on the speaker’s self and its interconnectedness with the rest of life can, at times, render other characters decorative and one-dimensional, as happens to the young woman a writer meets in “After the Master Class,” who is invited up to a hotel room. The final section, “Union,” is a bittersweet ode to what’s come before, prefaced by a quote from mathematician Hermann Minkowski that warns that “space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows.” Poems like “I’ll See Her Turning” and “Catch” examine the banalities of life and death and are especially effective for their humanity. In over 40 poems, Myers manages to be both brief and expansive. 

Ambitious poems that deftly tackle big ideas.

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-936657-42-1

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Moonpath Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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

SOMETHING TO LIVE FOR

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.

THE KING OF FU

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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