Stain by Nathalie Anderson

Stain
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Review by g emil reutter
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“The Silver Stain,” they called it, this medieval innovation—
silver nitrate fired onto glass, turning a white surface
sallow, citron, saffron, sulfur—the silver alchemically
aping gold: a crown, a wing, a head of hair, an apricot
or palomino. No longer did the glazier need to cut
a separate slice of yellow, but could tint and fire and tint again—
       -First stanza – Stain: Six Meditations on the Craft
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And so begins Nathalie Anderson’s Stain. The collection consists of four parts: “Stain”, “Wreckage”, “Crush”, and “Kyoto”. Like the craftsman noted in the above stanza, Anderson’s use of language in each section tints and fires and tints again.  
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In the poem Revelation – Shatterings at Canterbury she writes: If God is a light inaccessible, /a light beyond our comprehension, then/how shall mere eyes see? Pierce our walls/ with windows, but shade them, shade them. /At Chartres, / light seeps ruby, light pools sapphire. At Sainte Chapelle, /it’s dazzling as diamond, all lux and lumen, / splendor in the glass. Anderson has the eye of a mature poet as this stanza brings the stained glass to life in the word of the shading, of light seeps and lights pools of splendor in the beauty of the glass transformed once again on the page.
 
The section “Wreckage” brings to life the photograph album of Elize Hodges FitzSimons, an album kept during the Second World War. A master of images, Anderson’s Secret Heart is stunning, such as the second stanza:
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Why so mysterious? Against the dark,
Exuberance on exuberance: girls
who’d tell all. Friends like sister; sisters so close
they call each other always only “sister”; a man
grown so familiar, he’s wall, he’s furniture,
he’s shadow; a crowd so tight, who bothers with names?
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And again in the second stanza of Old Flame:
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The way he sits, canopied in forrest.
Live oak crowns him, crosses him; and Spanish moss
Scrawls over his white t-shirt, shawls his shoulders,
cauls his arm. She’s written by his picture, “Not
a cave man,” but he’s caverned, shadowed, primal.
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She brings the photograph to life for the reader with no need for the reader to view it. Her improvisational writing and deliberate use of imagery brings the photograph to life in words.
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The section “Crush” ends with an outstanding poem, Troll. The first stanza brings the reader under the bridge with the Troll.
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Troll under her bridge, raw from clawing up
her rankling, swollen green with grudgery,
feeling on her spine each splintery plank,
each trip trap tramp, each neat little goat’s hoof.
She’s a cat-fit rash for rocketing, back
Always up, hackles always bristling. She’s
the worm in your apple, thorn in your flesh.
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In the final section, Kyoto, Anderson brings the reader to Japan in a series of poems that confirms her position as both a realist and imagist. From the first stanza of Shisen-Do:
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For every slightest quaking leaf, a gardener
to lull and hush it. For every flighty gust of green,
a gardener to sleek it, clip the wing. For every spree
of branching limb, a gardener to rein it, bend
back the wrist, twist the arm in. No sprig evades
their balding, no frond their fondest scrutiny.
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Rakushisha
Poets’ Hut
House of Fallen Persimmons
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So quick, the cloud flung
over the garden, trailing
its beaded fringe, that
delicate pelting.
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Under the thunder,
falling suns, their heft
explosive, stormed to bursting:
coronas of succulence.
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And then the moon,
all pocks and rots and bruisings.
It softens on my window sill:
ghost fruit.
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Stain by Nathalie Anderson is lyrical with intense imagery driven by realism.
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g emil reutter is a writer of poems and stories. You can find him here:About g emil reutter
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Girl Behind the Door by Stephanie Dickinson

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Review by Dana Porreca

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A New York City transplant returning to her native Iowa recounts her mother’s last days. Snapshots of Iowa farm life are offered in the form of nostalgic musings and rich description. Stephanie Dickinson’s newest novel is a family history and biography of her mother, Florence, as much as it is her own memoir. Tales from Dickinson’s own life are told in the shadow of her mother’s last days, in vivid, stream-of-consciousness description that engages the senses as well as the intellect. This stream-of-consciousness can be seen in her description of Iowan life and landscape as well as anecdotes of an idyllic yet yearning life on the farm. We can feel her rich life through her use of language from the first chapter, “A gown so lovely it makes the insects go silent, like when the sun passes behind a cloud,” to her last. Her diction wraps readers in a cloud of nostalgic intoxication, tastes, textures, smells not even spared, “The Blue Kettle Cafe, where the cuisine features sweet-sour aqua pickle relish, Jell-O marshmallow salad that tastes like a wound, bacon bits, and croutons.”

Such positive imagery is in stark contrast with the frame story of Dickinson’s lucid, real-time divulgence of her mother’s demise into dementia. While Dickinson’s pastoral portrait of her childhood draws on old photographs, journals, letters, and other tangible items, her description of her time spent with her “actively dying” mother is the narrative (interrupted by flashbacks and musings brought on by her mother’s actions or possessions) of her mother’s hospice stay, death, and subsequent burial and division of her things. Dickinson writes, “The sun is pitched dizzily overhead as we get to the final box of Florence’s possessions.” Dickinson’s vivid description reveals layers of emotion and events. The seemingly one-sided blossoming of their mother-daughter relationship is drenched in grief as well as fulfillment, “The more vulnerable my mother became, the better our relationship.”  The grief of her mother’s “active dying” is balanced out by stories of life on the farm and adolescent rebellion.

Dickinson’s memoir leaves the reader fulfilled, much like her end theme. Her prose is cathartic, drawing out laughs, sighs, and even tears at times. Every stage of life is represented; be prepared to experience them all with Girl Behind the Door.

You can find the book here: http://www.spdbooks.org/Products/9781495106088/girl-behind-the-door.aspx

Dana Porreca is an avid reader, English teacher and writer living in New Jersey.

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Versos de un Doctor Criollo (A Ranch Vet’s Verse) by Fernando M. Terrizzano

VesrsosDeUnDoctorCriolloBookCover

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Review by Stephen Page

While I was in a veterinary store in Lobos, a neighboring town twenty kilometers north of a ranch I was visiting, I noticed a stack of brown and red books on the corner of the display-case divider that divides the tellers from the customers. I picked up one of them and recognized the cover illustration as a Gustavo Solari, a local, and internationally famous, artist. The title of the book was “Versos de un Doctor Criollo” (“A Ranch Veterinarian’s Verses”), and it was written by Fernando M. Terrizzano, a veterinarian who lives on a ranch that borders the same river my friend’s ranch borders, El Río Salado (The Salty River). I didn’t even open the book to read a few of the poems. I just decided to support the local artists by purchasing the book. I am glad I did. What I like about the book is the quality of writing, the attitude of the narrator, and the vivid characterizations. Terrizzano reveals the rustic realities that accompany pastoral settings while portraying the ranch workers as human beings. As Bruce Chatwin said once, “If you can’t maintain the dignity of the people you are writing about, then you shouldn’t be telling their stories in the first place.” Many scenes in the book are Wild-Western. More importantly the book has Green Appeal, as the narrator watches pastures and wetlands transform into biosphere-poisoning mass agriculture.

The book is available by going to or contacting anyone in the veterinary office “La Ensenada” San Martin 8, Lobos Province- Buenos Aires.  Telephone  02227 – 42-2009.

 

Stephen Page is the  author of “A Ranch Bordering the Salt River.”. He can be found at

https://smpages.wordpress.com/

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New Poems by Diane Sahms-Guarnieri

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Poet and Contributing Editor to North of Oxford, Diane Sahms-Guarnieri has recently had some poems published at Blue Heron Review and Jonah Magazine

You can read Let Memories Awaken here: Blue Heron Review Issue 8 Summer 2017

And at Jonah Magazine : Under the Eaves and Iris observes a sparrow at the apex and remembers

Karen Corinne Herceg on the Joe Dans Radio Show July 26th at 11 a.m.

Karen Corinne Herceg

Poet Karen Corinne Herceg, a contributor to North of Oxford , will appear on the Joe Dans Morning Show with Donna Reis. The show will air on July 26th at 11 a.m. You can listen on line at www.wtbq.com

Submissions are open

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State Highway 232 is Oxford Avenue in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

 

Submissions to North of Oxford are open on a rolling basis. We accept submissions of poetry, reviews, essays and commentary. Our complete guidelines are here: https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/about/

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2 Poems by Tony Rickaby

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Elephant & Castle Underground Station

Elephant & Castle Underground Station

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 ELEPHANT & CASTLE
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A voice from somewhere
Accelerates away around
Chugging on
Circling overhead
Silence suddenly
Screeching at the crossing
Shouting running home
Siren round the corner
The Eastenders theme
This particular flightpath
Today’s rat run
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A baby cries spasms
Buster barking
A conversation ends in laughter
In a deep voice
Door slams deeply
Hiss from somewhere
Not so loud reply
Shunt to a halt
Cheerful snatches
Something muffled dragged
Sort of rustling
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A machine spins
Asking so quietly
Blares and booms
Continuous screaming
Coughing in a waistcoat
Red anorak revs
Repairs somewhere
Roof bangings
Sighing on a car bonnet
Splattering onto concrete
Throbbing in time
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IMG_5131 copy (1) copy

photograph by Tony Rickaby

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TOWARDS THE RIVER
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different dots – fixed directions
floating rubber – grey positions
lines at angle – random dark
row of arcs – see-through metal
some thin – some thick
striped horizontals – elastic brown
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thicker emerging – woollen sphere
angled table – floating ochre
camouflage cover – concentric slots
cracked hill – edible stop
lost root – mirrored y
mystery box – resting bricks
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splitting wall – yellow island
upturned purple – criss-crossed flaking
corrugated shop – leaning diamonds
mesh wall – hanging hedge
weeping slats – tangled brick
wooden rust – lonely white
Tony Ri
Tony Rickaby has produced hypertext animations for Drunken Boat, Locus Novus and Toad; visual poems for Altered Scale, Counterexample Poetics, Cricket, InStereo Press, 20×20, Otoliths and Suss; prose for Anderbo, Athregeum, Aspidistra, Dark Sky, Litro, The Whistling Fire, and Word Riot; poetry for Camel Saloon, Ditch, Message in a Bottle and Sugar Mule. He lives in London. Tony Rickaby