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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This Reality Of Man, by Michael Aaron Casares

“This Reality Of Man”, poetry by Michael Aaron Casares, published by Lizard’s Tale press, 2010. Reviewed by Elynn Alexander for Full of Crow.

Michael Aaron Casares takes a candid look at humanity, as an observer at times, at other times a participant. He asks us how we spend our time, what we are entitled to, what it means to live with authenticity, to be a “citizen” with responsibilities, to touch down inside our own lives in the context of the “mad swirl”. We live in a vast unknowable, without any sense of how these pieces fit together. Continue reading

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Twenty Stories, Kristin Fouquet

Richard Godwin reviews “Twenty Stories” by Kristin Fouquet.

What immediately struck me as soon as I started reading these excellent stories, is that Kristin Fouquet inhabits the European tradition of literature.

She uses detailed and concise description which she has mastered to an unusual degree to conjure characters quickly from the page and render a narrative with immediate impact.
There is heartache here and humour, there is tragedy and insight.

From the brilliant opening story ‘The Dead Redhead’, which has the courage to remain equivocal, through the excellent ‘The Kitchen’, the reader gets an immediate sense of the author’s playful eroticism and control of words. Continue reading

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“Forked Tongue”, by Craig Sernotti

Forked Tongue, by Craig Sernotti, Published by Blue Room Publishing. Elynn Alexander for Full Of Crow Press. 

Nothing’s out there, so stop looking

Nothing’s inside, so stop retching

If you follow Craig Sernotti, you will probably find that these poems represent the style that you expect from him, and that is a style that you probably feel strongly about- you either like it, or you don’t.  There are topics that some readers are just not comfortable with: penises, blowjobs, vibrators, urine, big tits, flatulence. I don’t think Sernotti cares.

Continue reading

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On “Epigonesia”,by Kane Faucher and Tom Bradley

Lynn Alexander on “Epigonesia”, by Kane Faucher, annotated by Tom Bradley, published by Blaze VOX.

Resist the temptation to confuse the writer with the narrator, and the narrator with the channeled. In “Epigonesia” we see a writer –Faucher- who is also a character but who speaks with the voices of multiple and disparate others, explained by still another voice, Bradley, who provides the “annotation”.  It is through Bradley that we are led through the sequence of inhabitants, a parade of  “literary luminaries”. Continue reading

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“Watching The Windows Sleep”, Tantra Bensko

Lynn Alexander for Full Of Crow on “Watching The Windows Sleep”, a chapbook produced by Naissance, written by Tantra Bensko.  A review by Spencer Dew appeared in decomp in January as well and you can check that out here. Find out more on Tantra Bensko at her website and at Naissance Press: Official Tantra Bensko Web Site and the Official Naissance Chapbooks Web Site.

“Whimsical ridiculous meets explorations of consciousness.” Bensko is known for her experimental poetry and fiction, work that is strange and surrealist. It seems fitting that she begins this chapbook with the poem “Non Containers”, as this is not a collection that can be easily defined, a mix of poetry and fiction that tantalizes the imagination: Continue reading

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Rummaging In The Attic, by Constance Stadler

Rummaging In The Attic is a collection of poetry by Constance Stadler, produced by Differentia Press in 2010. (Read It Online Here)

Constance Stadler takes us through a mindscape, the attic housing of the seemingly disparate in context and chronology, at times rendered mute and others- in the words of Rich Follett- buoyant, ebullient. The attic holds hope in the face of gracious resignation, the poet both grieves and reaches. Continue reading

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Noise Difficulty Flower, by J.D. Nelson

Noise Difficulty Flower, produced for download by Argotist Ebooks, written by J.D. Nelson. Discussed For Full Of Crow by Elynn Alexander. 

Who knows how long I have been interested in J.D. Nelson’s work, or how I first came across it. As a prolific poet, widely published, one is bound to run into him somewhere, in the usual places. But J.D. Nelson is not the “usual”. What he does is a different kind of poetry. You are amused, challenged, entertained, and you will be transported back to whatever it was that made you love the things you loved before life made the argument for “maturity”. Nelson is playful, but twisted. That said, Nelson doesn’t shy away from serious things, he just presents them right alongside. His poetry is a liberated strange. Continue reading

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"Voices", by Kyle Muntz

“Voices” by Kyle Muntz, published by Enigmatic Ink, reviewed for Full Of Crow by Lynn Alexander.

“I held my breath, adrift beneath the surface of an immense ocean, mirroring the sky, as all creation mirrors the external, hiding, by means of reflection, its secret of the internal, the silent and true.”

“I spoke to myself with many voices, and dampened my voice on speaking. I had no concept of loneliness.

Galaxies of color accented a fluctuating, formless

kind of vision.”     (p. 96)

Continue reading

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"No Asylum" by Nicholas Karavatos

“No Asylum”, by Nicholas Karavatos, published by Amendment Nine, Arcata, California.

No Asylum is Karavatos’  first full length collection, and he recently wrapped up a book tour in the U.S. on the west coast. He has now returned to Dubai, where he teaches literature and writing at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.

I started the book after hearing him read from No Asylum in Sausalito at Studio 333, and at Priya in Berkeley where I felt truly honored to share the “stage”. Karavatos is a strong reader, respected as one of California’s own despite his time at Sharjah and Muscat, his events recommended by an appreciative local poetry community. I read most of it in one sitting, without interruption, despite the length- and I am glad that I read it that way. The poems stand on their own and many have been published previously (West Wind Review, Portland Review, Minotaur, Red Fez, Thieves Jargon, and more)  but there is a sense of cohesion in the way that he has organized them and thematic relationships emerge in the experience of them read together.

Karavatos begins with the ticking of descending elements: social to intimate, then up through ascending years. Before you can jump in, you have to consider why Karavatos chose to begin this way- my sense is that he is establishing the pattern, establishing the parameters of the lens, changing scale. Scale is an important element because it is often easier to understand power and the dynamics of coerced consciousness in terms of individuals as compared to the individual in societal context. Think about the difference between a year and a lifetime, or two people in a relationship as compared to two nations at war, both fraught with their complexities but with scale we can focus more on interplay, absent the distractions of perceived scope. He will return to years again at the end- this, the first of many places in “No Asylum” where we see layers shifting along co-occuring grades, coupled yet distinct, as David Meltzer states: “…sharp voiced political poetry in tandem with astute and tender love lyrics.”

Meltzer’s characterization proves helpful for the reader who second guesses this recognition as there is  subtlety to this achievement, seamless but later, unmistakable.

Your niche is a door to God

My qibla vulva (“The al-Masjid Code”)

In the first poem, “Rapunzel Akbar”, the speaker finds himself considering Kabul via media reporting. It is the land of social control, often described with that eye for contrast that seeks to divide people into “enemy others” compared to the free United States:  “jail for lewdly selling ice cream to girls”. (11) This is the new mandate of the media, supporting distinctions. And of course, supporting the State. Continue reading

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