A sprawling collection, light on concrete specifics, that intriguingly lays out a dance of seduction in all of its...

ARCHING OVER

COLLECTED COLLECTIONS OF GRAPHIC POETRY

K.’s (Stoner’s Bone of Contention, 2013, etc.) collection of erotic poetry offers a cavalcade of love affairs, focusing on the narrator’s moment-to-moment fantasies and experiences.

Instead of detailing the peaks and valleys of one particular relationship, K. uses graphic language to focus readers’ attention on the body parts, sexual satisfaction, and the dominance and submission of a series of different lovers. In these verses, the present seduction is all that exists; nostalgia is largely nonexistent, and anticipation matters only in relationship to the conquest that is about to take place—if the narrator’s lover follows her explicit instructions: “We will neck and pet / swooning and ardent / whispering appreciation. / Desire will drive us / to the brink / and self-satisfaction / will slide us over it.” Notions of love are left out and, with them, the darker sides of love, such as regret and rejection. The poet’s chief concerns are pleasures happening now or in the immediate future, reflected in the ubiquitous present tense, which cumulatively gives readers the sense that thousands of fantasies are unfolding simultaneously. The poems mention no names, nor do they give a clear sense of recurring partners, lending them an anonymous, impersonal quality. They also liberally use the second-person point of view, again indicating an indiscernible number of lovers. It’s hard not to be impressed by how much time and fervent energy the narrator devotes to these romps; in one poem, she describes herself as a vessel for passion rather than its source: “I’m not a giver or a taker. / I’m a transducer, a conducive element / ... / Sensual powers pass to me / and through me / ...not from me / Empty like a mirror when no one’s there.” Not coincidentally, artists often provide similar explanations when discussing their inspiration.

A sprawling collection, light on concrete specifics, that intriguingly lays out a dance of seduction in all of its conceivable steps.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-1482683462

Page Count: 150

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2013

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An exciting poetic work that lives up to its emotional and linguistic potential.

THE BETTER MONSTERS

A complex work of poetry about seeking one’s rightful place in the world.

Poets have long used the topics of arrival and departure to explore feelings of belonging. In this debut book, Dutt gives us a glimpse into what a foreigner’s arrival to the United States looks like: “how to then shed this skin / wrapped since youth / how to speak American / when we arrive / without our imagination / to bring down bodies.” This sense of displacement festers in this book, which effectively presents a portrait of a family lost between two cultures and two generations: “We can’t talk / about what we did how sometimes it’s different / from the way it’s shown but they think they know / and we can’t tell them we can’t even tell each / other.” The family systematically struggles with preconceived notions that some Americans have about the Indian population. This subject matter is nothing new, especially in the modern era, but thankfully, Dutt’s collection is a productive contribution to a conversation about inclusion and tolerance and not a rehashing of stereotypical attitudes. Despite the tumult of arrival in a new place, daily life is shown to function as prosaically as it did before. In “Over Cider and Whiskey in Hotel Rooms,” the speaker compares the generational gap that exists between her and a figure who appears to be her son. The poem builds as the stakes get higher, though it ends on a small instance of everyday life: “we’d be so annoyed / when someone would slap the car / to pass and cross // we’d all have to get out / and check.” It’s these moments, when the poems seep through the speaker’s humanism, that make the collection so gripping. And at times, Dutt takes readers by surprise with tragically poetic stanzas: “all those stones / go home to your country / my country? / where we are on any map.”

An exciting poetic work that lives up to its emotional and linguistic potential.

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77126-156-2

Page Count: 66

Publisher: Mansfield Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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A tender and clever look at a writer’s life.

WORDS IN ROWS

POETRY AND PROSE

Callen (Running Out of Footprints, 2013) offers a quaint, playful collection of poetry and prose that spans nearly 50 years of her life.

The creation of “I Love You, Sun,” the first poem in this book, dates back to 1967; the closing poem, “Galaxy Girls,” was written last year. In between are 39 other pieces about nature, love, and the absurdities of Callen’s long life. Her descriptions of nature are filled with wonder and delight: “On a clear night…the stars hung rich and heavy over us, and it felt like we could reach out and touch heaven,” she writes about the Alaskan sky; in “Come Into Life With Me,” she urges readers to “Stand wild in the pulsing rain / and know the strength of its wetness.” Love is also a major theme, both romantic and platonic. In “Puzzle,” she’s intrigued by an unnamed someone, “And, fan that I am of wholeness / I grab you up in little gifted pieces / and turn you around and around / against the straight edges of my brain.” Callen is a talented storyteller who recounts many different scenes with wit and humor. In “Blue Moon Baby,” for example, an acquaintance details his daughter’s birth and the burying of the placenta: “He finally ran out of words, like a tightly spun top that finally came to rest,” Callen writes. In “A Wonderful Fantasy,” the author works herself into a tizzy anticipating an old boyfriend’s overnight stay, which ends in disappointment. “Never Enough” tells of Callen’s family as they struggle to calculate how big a batch of mashed potatoes will be required to satiate holiday guests. Only two pieces seem out of place in this collection: the grim “Time Twister,” which details the 1966 Tower killings at the University of Texas at Austin, and “Mom Visits,” an imagined reunion between the author and her late mother.

A tender and clever look at a writer’s life. 

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9884716-1-0

Page Count: 142

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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