The Non-Herein, by Michael Mc Aloran, published by Lapwing Press. Reviewed by Elynn Alexander for Full Of Crow.
Of the non herein Ash upon drought as if
It could be uttered Set to light
Broken cleft absent In whip of
Spinal affluence Dragging out the magus
Pulse of futile Again once again
Till none Asked of without quarter
Michael Mc Aloran’s collection “The Non Herein” from Belfast publisher Lapwing Press invites the reader to anomie and paradox, what lies within is self-negating. His poems mirror back life, (“opiate’s glass” . (Traceless of), “naught of the sheet glass” (Never Once) reflected as decay, vitality that reaches to extinguishing, the “jugular ash”. (Into Echoing) Continue reading →
“White Vases”, John Swain. Discussed by Elynn Alexander for Full Of Crow Press.
Poets navigate with labels. It is just a part of the deal as people try to make sense of their associations and perhaps figure out their own sub-sects. What we find, however, is that poets surprise us and like all artists, poets evolve. We have to challenge ourselves to suspend the need to define one another because when we do, we stay open to a fuller catalog.
To put Swain’s work into a box (nature) is to minimize what he is doing, what poets do, and doesn’t speak to the question of WHY he brings up nature or birds or anything else. It ignores the scope of what he accomplishes, and constitutes a cherry picking of themes that is a common practice with poetry and poetic criticism, this pursuit of labels and categorization. It keeps the reader in periphery, and ultimately leads them away from “White Vases”.
As a reader of John’s work for years now, I would like to encourage people that read his work to resist the temptation to typecast him and to force associations. I hope that I can at least make the case for the rewards of digging deeper, as there are few poets on my radar that bring me to the point of study the way he does. The beauty of his writing makes me want to sit with his poems; their resonance makes me want to understand why they touch me. Their brevity fools me into thinking that they are simple and then I embark on an experience that becomes more layered with each read and with each book I find myself taking what he is willing to share and adding it to the experience of him, and when you have that relationship with a poet’s work it is an appreciation that is difficult to convey.
“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 →
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 →
This is the Review Section for Full of Crow, edited by Aleathia Drehmer and Lynn Alexander.
We review independent titles and small press publications, as well as self-published work. We hope to incorporate some of our knowledge of the authors, their approach and methods, and bring something different to our reviews in that we want to go past an attempt to judge quality. We are looking to describe work, explore a specific aspect of work, talk about context or what an author was trying to achieve. We want to talk about the work, but also the writing of the work.
We welcome correspondence regarding reviews, as well as your feedback and participation in a discussion of the work. Please address your correspondence to us: