“Dinosaur Ditch” by Tim Murray

‘Dinosaur Ditch’ is a new chapbook of poetry from CFDL Press, available now, by Tim Murray. Discussed on the Literary Underground by Elynn Alexander

“Dinosaur Ditch” was the neighborhood lot of the speaker’s childhood, a place where kids played and climbed trees and got away from their houses in a neutral, outdoor space.

“where boys spend summers pissing from trees

In Dinosaur Ditch.”

Many kids can think back to a similar place in childhood and like Tim, have discovered that they now sit beneath suburban homes. (He describes it in the Project U show, give it a listen) Our Dinosaur Ditches were never as big as they seemed in our memories and like those perceptions, much is necessarily left there. We grow up, we move on.

In this way, Dinosaur Ditch is established as the childhood lost when confronting the “real world” tragedies that erode innocence.  Part of us ends up buried under a suburban home as well.

The “real world” is a town in Indiana: “Where the mercury-laced waters of Lake Michigan lap in the north”, a place of industrial accidents, pollution, generations of plant workers, “where Red Cunningham lost his arm to the alligator machinery of industry.” These were not terrible childhoods, this is acknowledged. There were jobs and families had some security, their needs were met. (pork chop dinners, etc.) Continue reading

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Watch The Doors As They Close, Karen Lillis

‘Watch The Doors As They Close”, a novella from Spuyten Duyvil, by Karen Lillis. Discussed by Elynn Alexander for Crow Reviews. 2012. 

If you don’t know about Karen Lillis, then let me take a few lines to introduce you because she is somebody that you will want to keep an eye on, and you can do so here at her blog: Karen The Small Press Librarian. 

Karen is a writer, of course, but also an advocate and community builder among those who find themselves drawn to the small press. It would take pages to do her efforts justice, and I hope that it is sufficient to say here that Karen represents the kind of inclusive advocacy and defense that we need and her efforts to organize, facilitate, and indeed- make the case for small press- have not gone unnoticed by many of us. We are honored to have her latest novella in our hands here at Full Of Crow and wish only the best for the talented and respected Karen Lillis as she continues on her tour of readings and appearances. This represents another achievement in her writing career, and she has reason to be proud of it. Many of our readers recall that she was nominated for the Pushcart by our editors for her fiction pieces in one of our quarterly publications, Blink Ink.

Watch the Doors as They Close is a new novella from Spuyten Duyvil Press, distributed by Small Press Distribution.

The narrator writes about Anselm, struggling to process not only the experience of being with him in the context of her own expectations and version of love, but in so doing- tells the story of a relationship and that interface where two people with disparate histories attempt to connect. We know that they do connect, but their lives don’t seem to integrate. They spend their time together parallel, unable to push any closer to intimacy, and in the end they part ways rather easily. Or so it seems. The narrator has taken to analysis, assembling facts and observations to more fully understand the relationship, sketching Anselm as subject.

She seems more capable, though appearing nameless and fleeting, even in her own story, recollections less their combined experience and more his past brought full circle to the present where she tries to make sense of the man she meets from her sketch of the man he was. She is like an ethnographer, gathering information to create a context for what she has observed in their time together. It doesn’t come across as sentimental or the fixation of a woman unable to let go, but rather, as the insight of an observer who, through love, has taken the time to transcribe her observations. In a sense, she honors him, and it is a story of “him” far more than “them” in the end.  Continue reading

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Elevators: Rena Rosenwasser

Crow Reviews welcomes HK Rainey, and her review of “Elevators”, by Rena Rosenwasser. Kelsey Street Press. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Up Rising: Rena Rosenwasser’s Elevators

 

I wanted to hold onto up, space of the

 

future, new building

 

You

 

               –  Rena Rosenwasser, Elevators

All manner of bodies can be seen as physical structures: our bodies are houses, our art is a cathedral, relationships are pieces of architecture buried under layers of miscommunication, missed opportunity and regret. Nowhere is this more clear than in Rena Rosenwasser’s newest collection of poetry, Elevators. In these poems, the narrator is a traveler, a lover, an artist, an archaeologist, expounding on and exploring the physical structures that we have built with our own hands.  Continue reading

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“Handing The Cask”, by John Swain

“Handing The Cask”, poetry by John Swain, published by erbacce press, UK. Reviewed for Full Of Crow by Elynn Alexander.

I keep saying that John Swain is a poet to watch, and I have published as much of his poetry as I could get my hands on including “Burnt Palmistry” and “The Feathered Masks” as well as including two of his poems when I guest edited the September 2011 issue of Graffiti Kolkata Broadside. His work has been nominated for awards and prizes and has appeared in Red Fez, part of our small press family.

The late Nobius Black of Calliope Nerve stated that John Swain “paints the world in words.” Sandy Benitez of Flutter Press said that “he has only begun to enchant us.” And I couldn’t agree more.

John Swain is a humble, reluctant artist who seems to shy away from the trappings of ambition and persona and somehow remains above all of that. It is this tendency that is part of his charm because it is refreshing, his work speaks for itself, and it reaches you without imposing. You want to let it in. In my opinion, some arrogance would be well deserved- but you won’t find it. When I first started reading his work, I couldn’t help but wonder: where the hell has this guy been? But every poet has their time, and here’s hoping that we continue to hear more from him.  Continue reading

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“Seriously Dangerous”, Helen Losse

AND WE HAVE LOST THE FAITH OF THE DAISIES

 

Seriously Dangerous, by Helen Losse, Main Street Rag Press, 2011.  62 pp. Reviewed by Paul Corman-Roberts for Full Of Crow.

 

“What shall I make of this hope in the dark?
What shall I make of this dark in the hope?”
  • From “Funeral in the Woods”

North Carolina poet Helen Losse is well steeped in the American tradition of plainsong so it may shock readers familiar with her style (or that of plainsong poetry or other Main St. Rag authors) to see a burning cross depicted beneath the title of her new collection of poems Seriously Dangerous. Continue reading

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“All Her Father’s Guns”, James Warner

“All Her Father’s Guns”, by James Warner. Reviewed for Full of Crow by Paul Corman-Roberts.

HIJINX FOR A SAD AND DECLINING EMPIRE

2011, Numina Press, 190 pp.

Ostensibly a madcap political caper with two narrators, James Warner’s debut novel “All Her Father’s Guns” is in fact the story of two men who are desperately seeking to redefine the meaning of their lives in a world that is becoming more and more dominated by the females in their lives. Continue reading

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Sunshine In The Valley, by Kyle Muntz

Sunshine In The Valley, CCM (Civil Coping Mechanisms) Press, by Kyle Muntz. Reviewed by Elynn Alexander for Full Of Crow Press.

We were here and we were really here. It kept us breathing.” (7)

It strikes me that they gather beneath the full sun, seeming to celebrate time’s passage rather than indulging in lamentation.

“...always to glorious burning.” (7) This is in contrast to the typical themes of the so-called human condition, creatures tethered to dread, in constant fear of our own mortality and with an often painful awareness of our insignificance. Living with the spectre brings a certain pressure to bear, beings set out to live in ways that maximize perceived “significance”: progeny, legacy, endurance of the corporeal made manifest through enduring actions and accomplishments. How to make one’s mark? How to distinguish one’s small life from an expansive tribe, exponential, a pool that consists of others with the same preoccupations, both present and ancestral? We compete with history. We want to BE something in our own right. We want to be enduring, somehow, different perhaps in the way that Muntz makes a distinction between a story and a legend. We want to be more than a story, we want to be embellished and etched into permanence, to linger. Continue reading

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Somewhere Over The Pachyderm Rainbow

Somewhere Over The Pachyderm Rainbow: Living in An Elephant-Controlled 2010 Election Diorama, by Jennifer C. Wolfe, reviewed by Elynn Alexander for Full of Crow.

Read the last review of Wolfe’s work here: Review of Jennifer C. Wolfe’s “Healing, Optimism, and Polarization”, BlazeVOX Books.

Once again Jennifer C. Wolfe takes aim at American politics in her newest collection of poetry, forthcoming from Buffalo’s BlazeVOX books. In them, Wolfe goes beyond the current political climate to explore the role of the media and pundit-ainers who “report” with seemingly unprecedented partisan bias, and do so shamelessly. She is critical, and she doesn’t pretend otherwise. She is a political poet and she goes with it, her point of view obvious, and in my opinion the targets are pretty deserving of her scorn. As Wolfe argues, though, it isn’t so much about specific people as much as it has come to be about a certain mindset. And while few of us take a naive view of harmonious co-existence, the nastiness often catches us off guard and we find ourselves wondering if we are watching an episode of “Punkd”.

Are they for real? But the sad thing is, as we read these poems, we are reminded that they are. We are reminded of some of the most egregious and ridiculous examples of politicians and their antics, reliving our ‘head shaking moments’. This is Wolfe’s diorama: an assemblage of some of the ugliest vitriole that the political arena has to offer. Wolfe will remind you of bridges to nowhere, elementary school style hand scribblers, crosshairs as “humor”, the golden 2012 ticket, memoir fiction, selective amnesia, and more. She covers a lot of ground, and if you share her disgust, much will resonate. Continue reading

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SF Poet Steps Up: Jazzbo Wind

“Jazzbo Wind”, by Michael Layne Heath, published by Kendra Steiner Editions, reviewed by Paul Corman-Roberts for Full Of Crow.

Michael Layne Heath’s poetry is about nothing if not music.  An original Washington DC punk rocker expatriated to San Francisco, Heath has found himself a nice little home with Kendra Steiner Editions, a poetry press that has now also become, surprise, surprise, a music label as well.  KSE publisher Bill Shute has had a long standing commitment to independent rock and roll and literature, and he’s got the writers to back up the commitment from the literary side of the enterprise with other rock  writers like A.J. Kaufman and Doug Draime. Continue reading

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Apostle Rising, by Richard Godwin

Apostle Rising, by Richard Godwin, published by Black Jackal Books. Reviewed for Full Of Crow by Elynn Alexander.

In his first novel Apostle Rising, Richard Godwin emerges as a writer willing to take risks because of his confidence in the reader. He understands that on one level we want to be passively entertained, and that is what sells in a market dominated by vampire clone stories and the prattle of politicians-gone -celebrity. The rubric for success seems to include attention-getting crossover and repetition, feeding the appetite  of the consumer for familiarity and predictability. In putting out a genre work- Godwin is responsive to this. Called both “police procedural” and a “psychological thriller”, there is certainly a niche market in mind. But one characteristic of a good novel is the ability to resonate with others, particularly those who don’t tend to frequent those sections in the book store, a sort of “universality” about the book’s appeal. Continue reading

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