April 30, 2009

Review by Mary Meriam

by Rose Kelleher

The Waywiser Press
P.O. Box 6025
Baltimore, MD 21206
ISBN: 978-1904130-33-8
2008, 88 pp., £7.99

Why do we read poems? Poems can be songs, prayers, chronicles, confessions, memories, meditations, complaints, portraits. Poems give us contact with the world and help us feel less alone. Reading a poem can be a moment of pleasure in an otherwise painful world. Sometimes poems speak for us when we can’t find the words, when it all seems too terrible. Here’s where we can be thankful for Rose Kelleher’s brave, strong book of poems, Bundle o’ Tinder. This book wrestles demons to the ground and pins them there, crushed.

In Kelleher’s poem, “Lourdes,” compassion is in full force. Lourdes is a grotto in France, with spring water that many pilgrims believe can heal. With great gusto, Kelleher writes:

Burst the spigots. Overflow.
Send mercy surging down the mountainside,
washing over every borderline.
Don’t just stand there. Go

These commanding lines are just one Continue reading

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April 10, 2009

Review by Mary Meriam

by Julia Vinograd

Zeitgeist Press
1630 University Avenue #34
Berkeley, CA 94703
ISBN 0-929730-84-x
2008, 70 pp., $8.95

The cover of Julia Vinograd’s new book of poems, America Is Hiding Under My Bed, is graced by a lively, loving portrait of Julia, painted by her sister, Debbie Vinograd. Both Vinograds are portrait artists: Julia paints with words; Debbie is a poet with paint.

Adrienne Rich could have been describing the Vinograd sisters when she wrote, “The revolutionary poet loves people, rivers, other creatures, stones, trees inseparably from art, is not ashamed of any of these loves, and for them conjures a language that is public, intimate, inviting, terrifying, and beloved.”

The book’s eponymous poem is a public, intimate, inviting, terrifying, and beloved portrait of America as a felon, fugitive, and addict. In contrast to a poem about hiding is this poem about being invisible in plain sight:

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March 25, 2009

Review by Mary Meriam

by Judith Rechter

ISBN 978-0-9729185-4-1
2007, 64 pp., $12.00

Life is a perilous balancing act. In a flash, the comforts we cling to can be stripped away. Judith Rechter’s book of poems, Wild West, is a wild ride through the perilous world. Animals and people are lost, fallen, chomped, bleeding, beaten, dead, skeletal. Several poems depict hair-raising rides in “the small world of the car” (Robert Bly), whether it be an actual car, or a bus, as in “Planetarium,” which I give you in full, and quickly, so that you can relish and be reassured by Rechter’s virtuosity as “the master-mistress of the absurd”:


Wow, I thought what guts. Was she serious?
We all sat on the bumpy bus grinding gears
as it lumbered like a wild beast pricked
with a metal hook just behind the ears.
The driver was in charge of her vehicle.
She was master-mistress of the absurd.
Sure Missus, we might drive over the railing.
Ok, I relaxed and watched a video
of what we might see up at the pinnacle,
the world spread out, flagged like a windy
banner consuming constellations and nebulae.
Our Milky Way reminded me of the enormous
space of things, earth tiny and to the left at the edge.
My grandson was mouthing the worry that the sun
might explode as we neared the top. His mom confessed
she had him on a new drug that made him
pee in his bed at night but maybe would help
him focus. I shook in disbelief.
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