Lynette G. Esposito

Jack Tar’s Lady Parts by Charles Rammelkamp

jack

By Lynette G. Esposito

This slim remarkable volume of forty-five pages of poetry published by Main Street Rag Publishing Company of North Carolina,  relies heavily on the readers’ response to suggestions from the contemporary mindset. For example, the title of the volume, Jack Tar’s Lady Parts, is suggestive but instead of being the suggestion it is the referral to the women in Charles Rammelkamp’s life and to women’s “sea” lives in history. This twist of what is expected and what is presented reveals itself in the poetic themes of courage, betrayal and resolution in the book’s three sections: Wives, Prostitutes, and Transvestites.

Rammelkamp details the trials of sailors’ wives in the first section Wives.  He not only paints a picture of history while employing short story techniques in each poem, he also unmasks the vulnerability and resilience of women on both a literal and metaphorical sea as seen in two companion poems: Saving the Horatio, May, 1815 and Loss on pages 10 and 11 respectively. In Saving the Horatio, May, 1815, the captain thanks the women on board for making a sail that can plug the hole in the ship caused by hitting rocks so it can get back to a safe port.  The men are bailing water while the women make the plug.  In lowering the sail, a man is lost and abandoned to the sea in a one for the many scenario.  In the companion poem, Loss, the viewpoint of the widow is explored and ends with the lament
.
                        and even though Captain Dillon praised the women
                        for saving the ship,
                        all the accolades and honors of the British Navy
                        could never console me for my loss.
.
In the second section, Prostitutes, Rammelkamp explores betrayal.  In the lead poem,  Fleet Marriage, 1750, on page19, the narrator details meeting a sailor just home from the sea.   In the opening line, she says Jack’s ship’d just come in and in the middle Jack gets restless and goes back to sea.  The last three-line stanza reveals the betrayal by Jack.
.
                        Jack said he loved me,
                        when he went.
                         I said, yeah, I know.
.
On page 24, Molly Poole Changes her Mind shows a woman able to take care of herself by working as a prostitute until she is beaten unconscious by a client who doesn’t pay. She gives up her day job and goes to the Female Penitentiary for Penitent Prostitutes at Stonehouse to be rehabbed.  In the course of the treatment, she trained to wash clothes, clean and say yes ma’am. After working to exhaustion, she changes her mind.  Society has betrayed the narrator and she makes clear how she feels in the last two lines of the poem.
.
                         Fuck that.  .After three weeks, I sneaked away one night,
                         went back to the ships to take up whoring again.
.
In the third section, Transvestites, women wear many masks to survive at sea. In the poem J.C. Dickinson, Surgeon’s Mate, and the Amazon, 1761 on page 27, an unnamed woman who was thought to be a man, is discovered on the toilet and her gender is revealed.  Because of her gender, she is off the boat. On page 42 in the poem Christopher Hughes Outed, the narrator posing as a man so she can work at sea confesses she is a woman.  The fellow sailors she confesses to promise to keep her secret.  The last stanza provides resolution.
.
                         After a couple of days,
                        the rumor died a quiet death.\
                       Once again we were all complaining
                        about the awful food—
                        and how we did not get enough of it.
.
The book is a pleasurable read of poetic vignettes which resurrect, in verse form,  harsh judgments on women as they try to earn their livelihood on and off the sea.  Rammelkamp uses history as his palette as he explores the plight of different types of women and their circumstances in history..  His approach is not judgmental which is a relief and the poems are clear and precise.
.
.
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.
.
.
Advertisements

Masterplan by Eric Greinke and Alison Stone

master
.
By Lynette G. Esposito
.
The collaborative poetic voices of Eric Greinke and Alison Stone compliment each other in their co-authored 72 page tome, Masterplan published by Presa Press of Rockford, Michigan.
.
The poems do not credit either Greinke or Stone but both throughout the four sections entitled Emergency, Little Novels, Q & A and Tarps. The poems successfully vary in theme, form, and subject matter.
.
In the first section entitled Emergency, the eighteen poems cover emotive themes and situations that inspire unease and fear.  In the poem Bad Actor on page 22, the narrator puts the reader in a public place watching a live theater presentation. The twelve-line one-stanza poem visualizes a benign situation which characterizes the audience as innocent or totally oblivious depending on perception
.
                                           The gunman surprised us
                                           when he leapt on the stage.
                                           His eye were cold as he took aim
                                           at the man in the front
                                           row loudly unwrapping
                                           caramels, instead of at the actor
                                           pretending to menace
                                           the tied-up mayor and his wife.
                                           The other actors froze
                                           And the audience thought it
                                           part of the show, even after
                                           the real blood began to flow.
.
The contemporary and subtle commentary on seemingly both real and staged theater inter mix and confuse, not the reader, but an audience that was watching pretend evil  When the audience is confronted with real life evil, it has trouble recognizing and processing what is happening.  The poets have a light touch as those on the stage realize what is playing out in front of them while those who came to watch are now the ones being watched in a skillful switch.
.
In the section, Little Novels, the poems are each numbered (from 1 to 31) and are presented as poetic vignettes each telling an almost full story.  Poem 29 entitled The Beaten on page 40 is a good example.
.
                                          The sad marching band ran from the field, their
                                          plumed hats drooping, out-of-tune instruments
                                          held to their chests.  They’d practiced for weeks
                                         but their routine had been derailed by
                                         serial love affairs in the rhythm section.
.
The story line is almost complete but suggestive enough for the reader to imagine more
.
In Q & A, the third section, the first line of each poem begins with a question.  Of the six poems in this section, I favor two equally: Animals as well as Monkey Time.. IAnimals the question is: What don’t dogs tell us?  The answer is:  That we don’t deserve them.  In Monkey Time, the question is: What time is it?  The answer in the second line is:  Time for regret to give way to desire.  This technique of question and answer throughout the poems in this section is consistent and interesting with many twists on old adages sprinkled with touches of surprise irony.
.
In the final section, Tarps, The End? begins with the Double Rainbow was the first sign, and ends with: Atheists learned to pray, just in case.  My favorite line in the poem is The dogs meowed.  If the world were to end, wouldn’t there be signs and interpretations?  This poem presents contemporary images and uses a question mark in the title symbolically negating the suggested signs as a maybe.
.
The tome is full of both short and long poems of various forms that give clear images of modern life and relatable outcomes to how people react to and interpret situations.  I liked the seamless mixing of two voices in a clearly successful collaborative endeavor.
.

You can find the book here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0996502688/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

.

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.

White Storm by Gary Metras

WHITE-STORM-193x300
By Lynette G. Esposito
.
White Storm by Gary Metras, published by Presa Press, the reader is introduced to traditional form and images that walk, skip and run across the pages in common and uncommon images delighting in clarity and directness but holding a surprise insight that appears close to the end of each poem.
 .
For example, the first poem entitled White Storm, the reader is surprised that although night is wheezing and the trees are pounding, it is a love poem  and a lament on lost youth and hope.
 .
                             Old man night is unsettled
                             In his white haired sleep.
                             From my bed I hear him
                             wheezing in the trees, pounding
                             his fists on the brittle mountain.
 .
The poem ends with
 .
.                            …Where are the angels?
                            about to sing our praises and the praises
                            of light and grass and field solid under foot,
                            so we could rise from the bed:
                            and step into the simple day?
The word images demonstrate the precise language of winter and age and lost youth and it works well .
 .
Robert Peters of The Connecticut Poetry Review says “Metras writes moving mediations on our lives and on his own.  His language is direct and unpretentious.   His music has a full and faultless sound…in every poem there is a surprising  insight,,,”  I found this so true.  On page 73,
.
The Melted Bell suggests so much.
 .
                                Born in fire, the forged bell
                                Learned its pure song that rang
                                Sundays through slatted steeple
                                Down hill and across valley.
 .
The poem has four stanzas with four lines each and each stanza details the power of the bell until it is melted and the sound can only be carried in the heart.  But still, although it can no longer ring, it is heard.
 .
Metras celebrates women men love in his poem, Believing in Eyes ,on page 74 where he references the Beatles’ Lucy in the sky with diamonds to what men see in the eyes of  their beloved women. He mentions diamonds he sees in the eyes from wife to his daughter to his granddaughter in a way one can feel his joy .in knowing these girls.  He ends the poem with:
 .
                                …So let us praise all the women
                                 who ever showed us that joy, that hope,
                                 which men by ourselves can’t know.
 .
This poem clearly shows the complexity of the deep relationships between men an women.
 .
I don’t have a favorite poem in this book.  I liked them all.  This is a good read.
 .
You can find the book here: White Storm
.
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.
.
.

The Liar’s Asylum by Jacob M. Appel

appelc_la_w-250x386

By Lynette G. Esposito

The eight short stories in Jacob Appel’s Liars’ Asylum are amazingly fun to read.   The 168 page collection, published by Black Lawrence Press, explores common every day experiences with life twists that both surprise and confirm the human condition.

Appel is a keen observer of people interacting with their life situations.  John Jodzio, author of Knockout, comments,  ”I am in absolute awe of Jacob Appel’s Liars’ Asylum.  The stories here are magnetic and knowing, funny and inventive.  Appel is a master of form—deftly able to conjure up pitch perfect characters whose lips spill out both truth and wit.”  I agree.

In the story when Love Was an Angel’s Kidney on page 120, Appel narrates the story of a young eighth grader fascinated with a high school athlete who comes to her father’s camp for youth who need dialysis. The story, in true beginning, middle and end short story form, shows how love can happen and end anywhere. While the young girl would give up a kidney for her innocent love when she is skinny dipping with him in the camp lake, her financially inept father is losing the camp to the bank and his wife to his best friend.  Her father never finds another woman for whom he would sacrifice an organ, but she wonders about her young love and if he still thinks of her.   She asks:   Am I what remains when an angel’s kidney evaporates in the past? This is an interesting concept when looking at love itself as it fades into the past but remains in the heart.

In Good Enough for Guppies,  the story opens with Divorce infected the air last summer and Appel sets the scene for old women (78) seeking love in a variety of places all told from a candid observer who once in awhile participates in the story by suggesting the relationship he has with his own wife.  The narrator, Gene, and his wife, Shelia, must deal with Shelia’s mother, 78, marrying a man in his forties with a Bronx accent.  Shelia is almost hysterical because it is her mother and Gene attempts to understand survivorship in a long-term marriage.  The story suggests and shows average people reacting to love at various stages in their life and how they react as well as judge others outside and inside the family.

Appel is a master of unique and inventive story lines that are well controlled, developed and meaningful.  He sets clear scenes with unique twists that help the reader see and understand the characters in more than one perception and in more than one dimension.  I enjoyed every story.

The book is available here: https://www.blacklawrence.com/the-liars-asylum/

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.

Beauty and the Unrequited Landscape by John Goode

               beauty

.

By Lynette G. Espositio

John Goode’s Beauty and the Unrequited Landscape published by Rain Mountain Press is an image-laden delight of poems that visualize, conceptualize and realize perception from different but common landscapes.

Bill Yarrow, author of Blasphemer and The Vig of Love says “John Goode’s poems are—all things wild and wonderful.”  The reader can see this clearly in his poem When My Father Took His Chainsaw into the Forest on page 30.
.
                    the television died. 
                   Cartoons crawled across the carpet
                   and begged for more cereal. 
                   
                   The small angel of my life curled up
                    inside me. 
 
                   The sun dragged a generator across the sky
                   and the grass turned brown.
.
The visual is so clear the reader wants to hug the narrator.  The poem continues with this sharp visualization of the setting, tone and timbre to reality-based images that set time and place into emotion.
.
                   When my father took his chainsaw into the forest,
                    he cut the opossum
                   out of the encyclopedia 
 
                    He turned comic books
                    into woodchips and stone.
.
This clear evaluation of a father by his young son depicted in the images chosen reveals a landscape of detail and emotion.

This continues on through the four parts of the 104 pages of poems followed by an interview with Goode where he discusses motivation and technique.

Goode continues to visualize and conceptualize his poems even in the titles from as simple as Unemployed to Elegy for a Tree in a Poem Written by a Young Woman Sitting at the Bar.  His poems, like his titles, vary in length. Some are one stanza and some are several pages. I find this detail of form gives support to the themes.  Most are free verse/blank verse in narrative form.  In the five stanza poem The Riot of Waitresses, the first lines set a contemporary situation: The girls at work are giving birth to televisions without doctors.  From page 87 to page 94, the narrator discusses the thwarted plans of women with their breasts trapped in their boyfriends’ hands like pigeons. Goode juxtaposes common images with an unorthodox landscape.  Breasts, boyfriends, pigeons…I love it.

The reader begins through the visualization to realize something special is happening.  Goode is able to make a point or points by choosing common understandings that expand out to fresh perceptions on how life works in suggestive images that conjure many interpretations.

The poems are consistently both interesting and surprising.  In A Note From My Boss on page 95, Goode uses the letter format and uses the salutary Dear Jude to make a point.

The first line gives real sarcastic attitude please wipe up the Lysol carcasses.  This memo to the boss ends with authority: Thank-you and no signature.  How impersonal is this as a reference to real life workers and how effective in a poem.  Thank-you, John….Yours Lynette.

Beauty and the Unrequited Landscape is available from www.rainmountainpress.com

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.

Reader Picks for the Holidays 2018

 

The following list consists of 15 book reviews published in 2018 that have generated the most interest from our readers as of November 2018. Click the links and consider a purchase for your holiday gift giving.

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/

border

Border Crossings by Thaddeus Rutkowski

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/06/01/border-crossings-by-thaddeus-rutkowski/

mailer

The Gospel According to the Son by Norman Mailer

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/07/01/the-gospel-according-to-the-son-by-norman-mailer/

appearances

Appearances by Michael Collins

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

young

The Infinite Doctrine of Water by Michael T. Young

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/08/01/the-infinite-doctrine-of-water-by-michael-t-young/

attic

A Look Back- Antic Hay by Aldous Huxley

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

leaning-into-the-infinite-cover-428x642

Leaning into the Infinite by Marc Vincenz

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/07/01/leaning-into-the-infinite-by-marc-vincenz/

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/

ornaments

Ornaments by David Daniel

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

Daggerfrontcoverhigh-res-730x1097 (1)

A Bright and Pleading Dagger by Nicole Rivas

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/09/01/a-bright-and-pleading-dagger-by-nicole-rivas/

thieves

Thieves in the Family by Maria Lisella

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/09/01/thieves-in-the-family-by-maria-lisella/

gil-fagianis-logos-book

Logos by Gil Fagiani

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/10/01/logos-by-gil-fagiani/

fire-without-light-copy

A Fire Without Light by Darren Demaree

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

Lasater Philosopy of Ranching by Laurence M Lasater cover photo

The Lasater Philosophy of Cattle Ranching

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/the-lasater-philosophy-of-cattle-ranching/

 

 

Logos by Gil Fagiani

gil-fagianis-logos-book
.
By Lynette G. Esposito
.
In the 161 page soft cover poetry book, Logos by Gil Fagiani, the reader learns from Fagiani himself in an author’s note that his poetry is of the people.
.
                          This poetry of the people, this song of the streets, has been
                           the most influential element in my literary pursuits, and why
                           my first impulse has been to write about the world with addiction
                           and treatment by means of poetry rather than prose.
.
This book fulfills Fagiani’s literary pursuit..  For example, his poem Believer on page 15 is only one stanza but powerful in both image and storyline.
.
                          On a muggy
                          fly-filled day
                          inside a courtyard
                          reeking of diapers,
                          mice-filled glue traps,
                          take-out tins of rice and beans,
                          he stands behind a long line
                          of sick junkies
                          until it’s his turn
                          to push his last ten-dollar bill
                          through a hole in the wall,
                          convinced
                          a dynamite sack of dope
                          is going to be pushed back.
.

The title suggests faith but takes an ironic tact on the “belief” of an addict with a questionable outcome for the deliverance of a product that would allegedly lift his spirits. The language used is clear and common in a setting that speaks of squalor and desperation.

Fagiani divides the tome into sections Shooting Dope with Trotsky, White Uncle Tom, Siding with the Enemy, and A Single Spark.  These titles also represent Fagiani’s approach to heal the reader with street song and poetry. Jose’ B. Gonzales, Ph.D., editor of Latinostories.com, says: This collection is full of lyrical grit. In the first section, Shooting Dope with Trotsky, Fagiani uses images in the poems talking about the black section of town, anti-poverty volunteerism in Harlem and skin popping until he almost ODs. In the section, White Uncle Tom, Fagiani tells the stories of an interview in the South Bronx, the feds busting Mikie for a pound of pure in his trunk, and teaming up with a girlfriend to scam guys.  The gritty storylines represent imperfect lives in imperfect and desperate situations.

In Siding with the Enemy, Fagiani shows a party group made up of Black, White,  and Puerto Rican men walking arm in am down a street in an Italian neighborhood singing at the top of their lungs until the narrator realizes they could get hurt and they need to leave the neighborhood when bottles start flying and exploding. A Single Spark shows situations in the subway, in the bedroom and behind the Paradise Theater with the play on words successfully executed.  The subjects, the storylines and the images use their figurative eyes to look directly into the face of reality.

The book is a  pleasurable read especially if you like looking at images that aren’t afraid to roll in the dirt and stand up to shake it off.

Gil Fagiani has many poetry collections to his credit including A Blanquito in El Barrio, Chianti in Connecticut, and Stone Walls.  He was a social worker and worked in a Psychiatric hospital and a drug rehab program in downtown Brooklyn.

The book is available from www.guernicaeditions.com

.

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.