Common Grace is a wonderful poetry collection by Aaron Caycedo-Kimura from Beacon Press. My favorite poems: Burial, marking territory, Nest, and If this were the day. The collection, which showcases a wide range of forms — from prose poems to one-liner haiku — is infused with memory, family history, anguish, connection, and the astonishments of everyday life. Highly recommended, most definitely worth seeking out and adding to your stack of poetry books.
Whimsy by Shannon McLeod is a wonderful novella, an emotional story about a young woman who is dealing with scars both internal and external. A tragedy has happened in the past, a traumatic experience that haunts her — but the dramatics of that event and the immediate aftermath are in the distance. What this story explores is the quiet echoes and jagged ripples of guilt that continue to impact how she experiences and perceives where she’s at right now — the usual goings on in life — work, dating, family. I was impressed with this exploration — so thoughtful and raw and nuanced. Most definitely worth a read.
Station Eleven is an ambitious and fantastic novel. Ever since I read Peter Heller’s The Dog Stars — one of my favorite books — I am always on the hunt for an interesting literary take on a post-apocalyptic landscape. Definitely glad it lead me to read Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven — was very much drawn into the world and the characters, and especially loved how the arts/theater is such an important part of the story — the plot, yes, but also the way it weaves together such a surprising through line on the befores and afters of the characters. Very much worth a read. If you’ve read and loved Heller’s The Dog Stars, this book meets that high bar. If you have never read The Dog Stars, then definitely add both of these excellent post-apocalyptic literary books to your to-read list.
Very much enjoyed this post-apocalyptic novel by Lily Brooks-Dalton — a well-paced thriller of urgent and massive unknowns that mainly focuses on how to grapple with said unknowns from the far reaches of both space and the earth. One set of characters is on a spaceship returning to Earth from a mission to Jupiter. The others are at an Arctic research center, and something catastrophic has happened across the globe. While this novel is set in the future, it’s the near future, so everything feels very contemporary — that there is a manned space mission to Jupiter is the one major leap. I don’t want to say too much about this book, so as to avoid spoilers. What I will say is that the novel is very inventive in the way it propels the story forward — it truly is a thriller — one that requires you to be patient, because part of the thrill is that you have to wait, just like the characters. I love that the mystery of what has happened is a constant that holds — as is the need to connect. This is a novel ultimately about needing and desiring connection in a very unique and extreme circumstance, across time and space, and that is what drives the story forward and keeps you turning pages until the very intriguing end.
Maggie Umber’s Sound of Snow Falling is a stunning work of art — based in science, rendered in gorgeous paintings, poetic in its wordless storytelling, resonant in its silent observation. It is a graphic novel about a family of Great Horned Owls — no text, just images. The nocturnal setting comes alive, and the perspective of the beautiful creatures living their lives in a wooded habitat — co-existing, predator, prey — is explored from vantage points that do not disturb the natural order of things. As the viewer of the book, we are getting to witness nature unfold in the quiet of a deep, dark night — singular moments, as well as expansive life cycles. It’s like studying stars silently after an epiphany, and feeling connected to who you are at that singular moment and all the pulsing, humming, stirring life in the immediate surroundings of where you stand, seen (maybe, fleetingly) and unseen. Maggie Umber is an extremely talented artist with a very unique way of telling stories through her paintings. I highly recommend this book, and encourage you to keep an eye out for her future projects.
Down comes the snow
a cosmos in the silence
owls fly through our night
I loved the racing pulse of this book by Tatiana Ryckman — sort of a hybrid of a prose poem and a novella, it goes deep on longing and the messes and pleasures created by giving into the unyielding attraction and impulsive desires with that person that you just can’t quit, even though you should, but maybe shouldn’t, never mind where it’s all headed, because you already sort of know – or maybe you don’t. An exquisite capture of the scratched borders of hopeful and hopeless yearning. Everything is from a distance, but up close in memory, anxiousness, and fantasy. Lyrical and propulsive and raw. Highly recommended.
I Don’t Think of You (Until I Do) is published by Future Tense Books — Be sure to check out this fantastic small press’ full catalog.
I’ve been following and reading Anna Vangala Jones’ stories for a while now through her published works in literary journals. Always impressed with the depth and range and emotions evoked through her writing. Turmeric & Sugar, published by Thirty West, is an incredible collection of her stories, and I highly recommend it. “Echo” is my favorite story in the collection, and it’s a piece that is beautiful, haunting, and poetically triumphant. Also, the cover design by Carolyn Brandt is gorgeous. Get this book on your shelf!
I feel very fortunate to have a poem included in this book – It’s an electric collection of poems that explores the theme of “Dark Confessions” – the dancing shadows and simmering undercurrents of lands, dreams, relationships, the past and beyond. This publication comes from Black Bough Poetry, which is a driven, community focused publisher – I highly recommend checking out the works that they are publishing and the inspiring social media programming that they’ve developed. Black Bough Poetry has built a welcoming community of poets that encourages the sharing and celebration of poetry – it’s a thrill to be a part of it, and I highly recommend checking it all out and joining in on the creative fun.
Full details on Dark Confessions.