For most of its 80-plus years, Kirkus didn’t review poetry. That changed in 2005 with the launch of Kirkus Indie, and now poetry regularly appears on our annual list of Best Indie Books. (One indie author—poet, Jesuit priest, and professor William J. Rewak—has had two of his books, The Right Taxi and The Orphan Bear, appear on our Best of lists.) The trend of standout self-pubbed verse continues in 2015.
In Pause and Ponder, Rashid Osmani balances comedy and tragedy “without maki ng the laughs feel impertinent and the grief feel insubstantial.” In one poem, he sardonically characterizes smart bombs as “precision-guided munitions” that “ring door-bells wherever they go.” Overall, Kirkus called his collection “eloquent and thoughtful.”
Davoud Safdariangives us “tactile, thoughtful quatrains celebrating individual identity and experience” in Me, Rain, and a Hired Taxi. Safdarian’s poems were originally composed in Persian; they face his English translations in the book.
In his collection Help in Our Time and Manet’s Genre Paintings of Everyday Light, Ryan P. Byrne considers Edouard Manet’s inte rest in the lives of everyday people. “The pressing question for Byrne,” said our reviewer, “is how do we instill the weight of days with meaning?” Apparently, the answer doesn’t include a romanticization of the workaday life; in “It’s All Just Another Day,” the narrator dryly notes: “It’s time to shut down for today / Another day working on the fringe….Another day is waking, / so the other person can win.” Kirkus called his collection “an effective exploration of the commonplace.” —K.S.
Karen Schechner is the senior Indie editor.