A collection that draws on tedious tropes of confessional poetry.


Scarlett’s debut poetry collection captures the various effects love has on the mind and body.

This work starts off by screaming loudly at the reader: “Engage me. Engage me / Tell me lies and enrage me / … / Adore me. Adore me / … / Arrest me. Arrest me.” But what feels like an aggressive cry for narrative attention may actually be just the beginning of the speaker’s exploration of the regularity, reliability, and power of emotion. In fact, as the collection develops, the poems carry the weight of heartbreak as well as the heft of self-realization as the speaker makes an emotive recovery. Scarlett has managed to create a work that flows at the speed of one theme. However, the individual poems fail to stand as independent works. For example, readers with no affinity for confessional poetry will feel as though the speaker is trying to take them into the specificities of a state of mind that they have no investment in: “I suppose you wonder why, my love for you / Won’t just go away? Why it is that when I am / without you my heart tears anew each day?” The work might have also benefited from rigorous streamlining; some poems feel unnecessary or might have been better as components of a different chapbook or full-length work. In “Chemical Soak,” for instance, Scarlett provides definitions of “flirtation,” “attraction,” and “infatuation,” among other terms, but these less-than-revolutionary definitions add little to nothing to the work as a whole. The collection’s biggest flaw lies in its show-and-tell approach, relying too much on the loaded history of its subject. The minimal amount of formal and thematic experimentation causes the poems to fall flat each time they suggest potentially interesting imagery: “Our love is now a wine stain / A crimson gash on my / White carpet.”

A collection that draws on tedious tropes of confessional poetry.

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2017


Page Count: 66

Publisher: XlibrisUK

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A volume of ambitious and engaging poems.



A collection of poetry focuses on everyday beauty and wonder.

Over the course of 50 poems with straightforward titles, retired high school English teacher Hathwell (Between Dog and Wolf, 2017, etc.) explores the world around him. Nature is a touchstone of his poetry. In “Poplar,” he expertly describes the titular tree “catching a breeze, flutter sage and silver wings” while in “Sunflower,” he lingers on the “wide blank face” of the “saddest flower.” The author also showcases culture in his poems. “Fred’s Girl” is a propulsive ode to the Fred Astaire–Paulette Goddard duet in the film Second Chorus, and “Sunday at the Symphony” captures the ethereal experience of live classical music. But the poems aren’t limited to the author’s immediate surroundings. A visit to the Spanish Steps, where Keats died in 1821, is the subject of “Readiness Is Everything,” which encourages readers to “imagine the world without you.” Hathwell plays with humor in “Dust Is Winning,” about the futile fight to keep things clean, and shows his cynical side in “Red Dress,” which describes the “ruby radiance” of an ensemble depicted in advertising. The act of writing is another recurring theme in this collection. “Song” depicts a successful writing day, in which “I rise from my desk, / Majestic, and I dance,” while “Sure Thing” warns readers “that language is prepared to lie / When you ask it to.” Quiet moments are also rich material for the poet. Throughout, he matches his message to the pacing of the poem, creating an immersive experience for readers. In “Finding Myself in the Morning,” readers sink into Hathwell’s serene, solitary scene where he can finally “not wonder / who is speaking, or what comes next.” In “Ten O’Clock,” the audience can sense the descent into a “deep, forgiving sleep.” The one flaw of this collection is its breadth. Because everything from Astaire to flora is fair game, the individual poems don’t always flow from one to the next, and transitions can be jarring.

A volume of ambitious and engaging poems.

Pub Date: April 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-939353-36-8

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

Sturdy, exuberant verse.

Defining Atlas

Like the demigod from which it takes its name, Defining Atlas is a durable, uplifting volume.

A strong current of self-affirmation, self-love, and self-confidence runs through this work, and readers will come away feeling their spirits improved. We feel some of this current in the clever “Limited”; Michaels takes the titular subject and turns it on its head: “I’m new, but I’m old / Not limited beyond my means and methods / But limited because I’m special / Special beyond the heavens and everything that surrounds me / That I’m among…limited.” Elsewhere in “From the ashes…I am,” he sings a hard-won song of renewal and rebirth: “I am victory in its rawest form / I am hope that never conform / I am the will, the drive, and the truth / I am like everyone, like you.” But Michaels does not hoard specialness or victory for himself; he wants it for his reader too, and in “Wake Up!” he urges us on toward a bright future: “There’s something good here for you / Your purpose can never be defined by just one blue / Your destiny awaits you.” Underpinning Michaels’ stirring message is a strong faith in God, whose presence infuses many of the poems here: “But I always thank God for the latter / For the strength and will it takes / Shines so bright / Shines so right.” Michaels often adopts a loose scheme of rhyming couplets, and this decision leads to one of the book’s few weaknesses. Too often, the poet picks awkward or odd pairings; e.g., “And if I could become a perfect saint / I would make believers out of the ones who say they ain’t” and the “you/blue” couplet mentioned above. But such missteps are infrequent, and they don’t dim the warm light that emanates from Michaels’ fine volume.

Sturdy, exuberant verse.

Pub Date: March 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5035-4785-8

Page Count: 106

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2015

Did you like this book?