Poetry that often transcends its own bounds, spilling over into readers’ lives and forcing them to confront their own...

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2013

One Day Tells its Tale to Another

Like a well-wrought memoir, this medley of free- and fixed-verse poems combines vivid personal narrative with probing self-reflection.

“So, I did the thing / I would never do,” confesses a young dancer upon landing an art-smothering, body-pulverizing contract job in “Paid to Dance,” one of many seemingly autobiographical poems in Augustine’s debut collection. One can easily imagine the same confession from the older narrator sleeping with her friend’s husband in “Wine and Cheese Villanelle” or the jaded lover of “Sestina,” who “learned to play double, just like him.” Compromise and disillusionment are frequent themes here but so are resilience and learning, although the narrators are often too busy navigating their lives to recognize their growing wisdom. Augustine often layers the perspectives of the narrator, author and reader to bolster the poems’ realism and emotional sincerity, and it’s a technique she hones to near perfection. On rare occasions, the poet usurps the narrator and lapses into bathos: “As we sit at this café table / in Montmartre, sheltered / from the downpour, I see our future. / I will write it down on torn paper, / using a sapphire pen,” seemingly taking seriously Billy Collins’ satirical advice in his poem “The Student” that poets should, “[w]hen at a loss for an ending, / have some brown hens standing in the rain.” On the whole, however, Augustine demonstrates much greater control and precision as she works through multiple iterations of love and loss, employing to great effect forms as varied as the prose poem, the concrete poem, the villanelle, the sestina, the sonnet and the ballad. She reimagines fairy tales, evokes foreign lands through bodily sensation, valorizes women’s perseverance, and revels in the rollicking pleasures of sex, even when they come with risk. As her narrators age, she tightens the circle, mourning and celebrating with equal intensity. One narrator contemplates the “Three Things That Did Not Happen”: “I almost saw Nessie,” “I almost won the jackpot,” and “I almost had a child. / She was there in my womb / until chromosomes killed her. / My God, that would have been something.” Among the losses, though, it “appears gone for good are dramas and bothers, / threats and therapists, drunk, needy lovers. / And…lovely, lovely, lovely is my cat’s furry belly.”

Poetry that often transcends its own bounds, spilling over into readers’ lives and forcing them to confront their own narratives.

Pub Date: March 11, 2013

ISBN: 978-1482730999

Page Count: 104

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Hastings Creations Group

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.

SHOW TRIALS

HOW PROPERTY GETS MORE LEGAL PROTECTION THAN PEOPLE IN OUR FAILED IMMIGRATION SYSTEM

A highly organized, informative discussion of the immigration system in the United States.

In this politically charged environment, Afrasiabi manages to broach the volatile issue of immigration in a well-rounded, surprisingly effective framework that combines case studies, historical research, statistical analysis and personal anecdotes to detail the current issues and propose solutions. Invocations of Kafka, “The Twilight Zone” and “Alice in Wonderland” prove warranted as illustrations of the often surreal circumstances that confront immigrants facing deportation. Immigrants usually lack access to quality legal representation, while their situation can be made doubly difficult due to language barriers and significant cultural differences. Afrasiabi incorporates his work with colleagues and students at the Chapman University School of Law to deftly weave together the facts of several compelling cases and their underlying legal issues, with a genuine sense of suspense as readers wonder if justice will be truly be served. Occasionally, though, the narrative becomes overwrought—two federal laws passed in 1996 are “dark storm clouds depositing their sleet”—although, considering the life-changing effects of court decisions, it’s difficult to overstate the ramifications: extralegal rendition of individuals with pending cases and the de facto deportation of native-born children whose parents are deported. Afrasiabi also addresses the legacy of various anti-alien laws in California, as well as marriage equality for same-sex couples when one partner is a noncitizen. As the subtitle asserts, Afrasiabi employs his additional experience in the field of property law to contrast the stark differences between immigration judges and constitutional judges, like their qualifications, vetting processes and even the oaths they take. His arguments culminate in seven concrete reforms proposed in the conclusion. In order to make the immigration system more just and effective, Afrasiabi claims the solutions are closer than we may think; we can implement procedures and safeguards already in place within the constitutional courts.

A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 249

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more