Music For A Wedding by Lauren Clark

music

By Lynette G. Esposito

Lauren Clark’s Music for a Wedding published by the University of Pittsburgh Press presents 82 pages of reminiscent poetry with visual images and interpretations of every day occurrences and locations..

Vijay Seshardi, Judge says Clark’s poems take the reader into “a relationship with the invisible and the ineffable, bringing image and language (as if by magic) to the page and to the reader.” Take for example on page one in an untitled poem:

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       There is a sorrow being outside your body
         even when I am in the places where it has been.
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This generalization brings this sorrow to the heart my naming a place, the kitchen, in the next stanza and the bedroom thereafter where the narrator measures her lover with the palm of her hand so that when he is gone, she can remake him.  He does not awaken.

In Aubade on page 32, she takes the reader to the bathroom and we all know what goes on in there.  Yet, she graphically shows the act of recreation with our panties down and in the washing of hands…reproducing the life it has known.  She visualizes a common act with judgment and appraisal about how life works.

On page 63, the narrator takes us into the bathroom again in the poem Afterfeast.

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         There is no absolute aloneness on this island
         and so it is for me to understand there is none
         on any island, and so it is or me
         in the white bathroom light.
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It is not the bathroom but the commonness of the room where there should be privacy for all things and where one should be alone.  As presented, the reader finds the illumination of the white bathroom light and the realization about interpreting absolute aloneness.

She ends this poetry tome with Illinois in Spring, outside and thinking of endings.

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            ….The place that is big enough to hold every
            absence. That things grow here, pale and small from enormous land,

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            inspires abject panic. The wonder of watching a flying bird land
            on water.  The end of the line will always give you that feeling.
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The natural elements of air and water and reaching a conclusion for this narrator is panic. A reader cannot help but react to this image because it happens so often and to so many beside lake, and rivers and oceans.

Clark is an effective writer juxtaposing the common with the uncommon and twisting the images to fit a fluid form. She leaves the window open for the lace curtains to fiddle in the breeze to form a  shadowed pattern on the mind of the reader. This is a good read for lovers of poetry.

Lauren Clark holds a B.A. in classics from Oberlin College and an MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan.  Music for a Wedding is the winner of the 2016 Donald Hall Prize for Poetry.

It is available at www.upress.pitt.edu

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Lynette G. Esposito has been an Adjunct Professor at Rowan University,  Burlington County and Camden County Colleges. She has taught creative writing and conducted workshops in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Mrs. Esposito holds a BA in English from the University of Illinois and an MA in Creative Writing and English Literature from Rutgers University.  Her articles have appeared in the national publication, Teaching for Success; regionally in South Jersey Magazine, SJ Magazine. Delaware Valley Magazine, and her essays have appeared in Reader’s Digest and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her poetry has appeared in US1, SRN Review, The Fox Chase Review and other literary magazines. She has critiqued poetry for local and regional writer’s conferences and served as a panelist and speaker at local and national writer’s conferences.  She lives with her husband, Attilio, in Mount Laurel, NJ.

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Border Crossings by Thaddeus Rutkowski

Border

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By Larissa Shmailo

Like a Chinese-Polish American cross between Rod Serling and Emily Dickinson, Thaddeus Rutkowski invites you to the portals of mind and matter in Border Crossings. In this first collection of poems, the fiction writer and performance artist presents carefully sculpted, deceptively simple verses of immediate interest to the reader, typically with an understated but potent twist.

 Whether at the boundaries between cultures, the edges of human interiority, or the trespasses of racism, trapdoors usually closed shut are pried open in Border Crossings. “Light and Shadow,” among the poems opening the book, describes the poet’s initial conflict moving in and out of hidden places:

My father opens a trapdoor
and leads me down concrete stairs
. . .

I don’t want to stay.
Spiders scrunch in the corners,
and pieces of copper tubing—
. . .
litter the floor
. . .

Spiders notwithstanding, the poet finds himself liking the smell of horsehair cement in the cellar and wanting to stay there. The rest of the volume’s poems proceed to traverse borders to the secret and unknown.

As Rutkowski comes to love cellars, so he comes to love spiders. The collection reveals the rurally reared poet’s childlike fascination with spiders, bees, flies, rodents, raptors, tree frogs, and other animalia of crevices and corners. There is both a love for the honest presence of nature’s smallest and a vampire’s interest in “little lives”:

 I can see and hear it now,
the crazy path of flight at blinding speed,
the inevitable, the unavoidable, hitting,
when the crazy fly comes into contact
with the eye, with the bed,
buzzing around upside down,
for the crazy fly has no great sense of equilibrium.

And:

. . .

I stand back
while a hyper bird perches on a jumbo stalk
so another can feed on the multi seeds
next to the mad mud hole.

Perhaps these innocent animals offer a kind of escape from other, more malevolent creatures. From “Party Animals”:

I throw a party

 . . .

Another guest says

he killed people

who looked like me

when he was in Vietnam.

The kindness of nature juxtaposes vividly with the descriptions of rednecks and racists literally at the poet’s door; the conjunction is reminiscent of Viktor Frankl seeing hope and life in a sparrow perched outside his Auschwitz barracks window. The violent racists cross borders in threatening trespass and are held back spiritually by the poet’s integrity and wit, with the help of small loving lives.

As a veteran performance poet and ranter, Rutkowski routinely crosses audience boundaries with épater-le-bourgeoisie material. A common edgy theme is sex, delivered with deadpan. From “Nine Rules for No Sex”:

No kissing with a cold sore.
No kissing with a sore throat.
No thoughtless pressing, rubbing or brushing.
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No fingering with long nails.
No fingering with hangnails.
No foolish fingering . . . .
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The motion is sometimes toward stand-up comedy, as in “Anarchist Manifesto” ( “I believe in anarchy, / but not if everybody goes wild.”) The same wry humor obtains as the poet finds his Asian roots in food and found poems; “Found Poem, Hong Kong Museum”:

When you are finished tilling the soil,
spading seedlings, weeding, winnowing,

hulling, grinding and pounding,

you may enjoy
the silky yellow rice,
the dry sticky rice,
the rat’s tooth rice,
the little flowery waist rice,
and the yellow husk full brow rice.

The poet encourages forays into the unknown, but with realism and caveats. Despite the “disappointing” toilet facilities of foreign places, and the shock of strange invertebrate foods, Rutkowski reminds us in the poem, “Border Crossing,” that “it’s the people we want to see.” And cautions his reader:
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So let’s think twice before we cross
the twenty yards of no-man’s-land.
I know you want to get there
as fast as we can.

You can find the book here:  https://sensitiveskinmagazine.com/books/border-crossings/

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Larissa Shmailo is an American poet, novelist, translator, and critic.  Her poetry collections are Medusa’s Country#specialcharactersIn Paran, the chapbook A Cure for Suicide, and the e-book Fib Sequence;  her latest novel is Patient Women. Shmailo’s work has appeared in Plume, the Brooklyn Rail, Fulcrum, the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, the Journal of Poetics Research, Drunken Boat, Barrow Street, and the anthologies Measure for Measure: An Anthology of Poetic Meters, Words for the Wedding, Contemporary Russian Poetry, Resist Much/Obey Little: Poems for the Inaugural, and many others. Shmailo is the original English-language translator of the world’s first performance piece, Victory over the Sun by Alexei Kruchenych. Shmailo also edited the anthology Twenty-first Century Russian Poetry and has been a translator on the Russian Bible for the American Bible Society. Please see more about Shmailo at her website at http://www.larissashmailo.com  and Wikipedia athttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larissa_Shmailo.

Weather by Kelly Cherry

weather

By g emil reutter

Cherry is a narrative poet in this slim collection of poems. Within its pages she captures turbulence, calm, defines the seasons. Cherry captures the wind in the poem, Birds on the Patio Feeders, No. 1:

The big wind scours the sky as if the sky is a giant kitchen sink/ Trees bend, hanging their heads, sorrowful/ Such drama. Yet we are captivated to see.

Yet the collection is just not about weather, it is about much more such as these lines from the poem, This Should be Winter, reflecting what the future may hold:

Thrity or forty years from now, we may be heading north in search of water, in search of air that can be breathed, in search of food that’s not been wrecked before it’s harvested.

Cherry captures the essence of a storm in both its quietness and violence in the poem, Rain:

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It falls. Sometimes quietly, sometime loudly
as bullets hitting targets, or soldiers in war

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A sprinkle doesn’t even seem like rain.
It does an almost silent dance, then stops.

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demure as a virgin. The breaking thunderstorm
rails at everyone, but the daylong soak

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that rescues trees, flowers, and failing farms
sings a song both simple and everlasting.

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In the poem, The Start of Spring, she writes of the young in comparison to the old:

Spring is for the young, and the young/ put smiles on the old. Maybe rueful smiles. maybe sagacious smiles, maybe fond smiles/ as the old remember their checkered youth…The young are always foolish/ the old, always reminiscent.

She writes of a beach party and the aftermath in the poem, The Fourth of July:

…men and woman burn logs on a beach and hope to get lucky/ Sex is such a driving force, and then?/ Its not. It leaves us high and dry/ as if our bodies were nothing but old clothes/ hanging on a weathered, worn-out laundry line. 

The poet writes of an elderly woman who keeps bits of the season in Autumn LeavesThe deaths of the living, even leaves/ sadden an elderly woman once a child/ dragging her feet through fallen leaves or pressing/ the pretty leaves into a scrapbook.

Cherry is a forecaster as she writes in the poem, Mayday:

It strikes terror in our hearts/ like a fire alarm…Is it the end of our world?/ Of course it is. Earth’s dying./ Our world is ill, regurgitating/ its insides.  

Weather by Kelly Cherry is not for those who enjoy the disconnect. This collection of narrative poems connects with the reader through plain speaking combined with excellent imagery. Cherry writes of the seasons but also utilizes weather as a metaphor for lives lived and more directly the condition of the earth.

You can buy the book here: https://www.spdbooks.org/Products/9780998187204/weather.aspx

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g emil reutter is a writer of stories and poems:

https://gereutter.wordpress.com/about/

North of Oxford – Open Submissions

North of Oxford wordpress

North of Oxford is always open for submissions. Please review our guidelines at:  https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/about/  and send something along for consideration of publication.

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Past Interviews at North of Oxford

chimera frank

An Interview with Frank Wilson

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2016/09/18/an-interview-with-frank-wilson/

Lynn Lifshin 2

An Interview with Lyn Lifshin

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2017/06/01/an-interview-with-lyn-lifshin/

IMG_0418

An Interview with Bradley D. Snow

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2017/06/01/an-interview-with-bradley-d-snow-living-with-lead-an-environmental-history-of-idahos-coeur-dalenes-1885-2011/

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©  Martin Desht 1995-2018

An Interview with Martin Desht

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/05/07/an-interview-with-martin-desht/

Summer Reading Recommendations 2018

The following books were reviewed at North of Oxford between January and June 2018. They are listed according to total views by the readers of North of Oxford. A link to the review appears below each title and links to where to purchase the book appears in the review.

 

Gessner

 

The Conduit and other Visionary Tales of Morphing Whimsy by Richard Gessner

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/02/01/the-conduit-and-other-visionary-tales-of-morphing-whimsy-by-richard-gessner/

appearances

Appearances by Michael Collins

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/appearances-by-michael-collins/

fire-without-light-copy

A Fire Without Light by Darren Demaree Demaree

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/02/01/a-fire-without-light-by-darren-demarre/

SRP.MCD.cover.qxp

Monte Carlo Days & Nights by Susan Tepper

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/03/01/monte-carlo-days-nights-by-susan-tepper/

Layout 1

The Gates of Pearl by Jill Hoffman

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/05/01/the-gates-of-pearl-by-jill-hoffman/

journey

Journey to the Beloved by nur alima schieBeare

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/04/01/journey-to-the-beloved-by-nur-alima-schiebeare/

 

ornaments

Ornaments by David Daniel

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/04/01/ornaments-by-david-daniel/

hap

Hap & Hazard and the End of the World by Diane DeSanders

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/hap-hazard-and-the-end-of-the-world-by-diane-desanders/

cover 1

the labors of our fingertips: poems from manufacturing history in berks county – Vol. 3 by Jennifer Hetrick

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/the-labors-of-our-fingertips-poems-from-manufacturing-history-in-berks-county-vol-3-by-jennifer-hetrick/

attic

A Look Back- Antic Hay by Aldous Huxley

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/04/01/a-look-back-antic-hay-by-aldous-huxley/

2 Poems by Carl Kaucher

Carl

Photograph by Carl Kaucher

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 X

Indelible the stars tonight.
Radiant, they shine
burn holes in my mind
like alcoholic buzz.
I once had a special one named X
and living below his astral radial glow,
his blue ice crystal fingers would
shimmer and spike electromagnetic diamonds
through a billion astronomical units.
The interstellar wind
just brushing the treetop shadows
of Irish Mountain.
The memory of X is following me tonight
I can still feel his faint shivering shine
tripping a gamma ray
his frail vaporous breath still
rustles the leaves on 7th Avenue
tingling cold medicinal quivers
up my spine – all quasar like
You see, it was his frigid points of clarity
that resonated internal light into my night
and passing by, I followed inspirit
down desolate streets and desperate alleys
past cheap motels and dismal diners
miserable mini markets and dying malls
crumbling churches and graffiti fried factories
Then X went off the edge
he’d disappear for nights on end
he started playing around with particle physics.
and fumbling for fun in the fractional dimension
the blistering sugar of his titanium white twinkle
burned up the solar cells sorrowfully
going from a Red Giant to a White Dwarf
and in the end I finally lost him
to a heroin supernova
as he was gone to a black hole
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Diner
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Late night at the diner of discontent
now serving six packs of imperfection…
The booths and tables are empty
except for some stragglers
a tired waitress and kitchen staff on break,
the ceiling fans spinning silence.
Half drunk lonely guy sitting at the counter
with a mug of coffee, gone cold.
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 He is staring off distant
contemplating pie.
The young waitress warms his eye
with a tear
as the smell of pot luck, out of luck
and yesterdays burnt meat loaf
lingers in the air and out the door,
hovers over the empty parking lot
on a mist soaked night.
A foggy parable of light
dimly articulates a deserted street.
Across the street
a young girl sits in a broken plastic chair
outside room 9 of Klein’s motel
where they rent poverty by the week.
She’s hoping the cops don’t come this time
as a late night traveler passes,
tail lights fading to eternity.
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Drunk guy’s got the sniffles and the shakes,
never got used to the headaches
nor the romance gone.
A bit of drool drips
from the corner of his mouth
as he nods off to dream
of a dark street strewn with French fries,
soda cup and a tattered McDonald’s bag;
where head lights dance off damp piles of leaves
near a dark creek rippling over unseen rocks
by a wooden fence where I lean to write
as cars slow to ponder
the sight of this strange night writer.
The waitress warms his coffee
as the pie has turned to crumb.
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carl
Carl Kaucher has been previously published in “Big Hammer”- “Street Value” – “Mad Poets Review” – “Wavelength 14” – “Blue Collar Review” – ” Old Red Kimono” – “Tight” and others.  He has performed his poetry widely throughout the SE Pennsylvania region. He pursues his passion for photography and writing as an Urban Wanderer. sighdways.55@gmail.com and view his photographs at:
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