The Poet's Journal:A Beginner's Workbook for Writing Poetry
Nebraska Poetry Society 2022
Are you ready to unleash your inner poet?
The Poet’s Journal is part guidebook, part workbook, part journal—and 100% perfect for learning and practicing basic poetry writing skills.
If you’ve always wanted to write poetry but found the form intimidating or if you’ve dabbled in poetry and want to learn more about how to write it well, then The Poet’s Journal is perfect for you!
Let poet Charlene Pierce, president of the Nebraska Poetry Society, teach you basic poetry terms and techniques that will have you writing amazing poems in no time!
The Nebraska Poetry Society is a nonprofit organization that promotes and supports poets and poetry in Nebraska and beyond. To learn more, please visit nepoetrysociety.org. All profits from sales of this journal support the Nebraska Poetry Society.
For the Love of God
Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2023
The humorous, the serious, and, at times, tragic experiences owners share with their dogs. Lyrical and metaphorical, many poems in this collection recount the experiences Harrison has shared with the dogs he’s had the pleasure and honor of knowing through the years. His three Drahthaars were consecutive companions for over forty years of hunting, fishing, and canoeing adventures in some of the wilder parts of Nebraska, from the Sandhills and the Pine Ridge, to the Platte, Loup, Niobrara, and Elkhorn River valleys. Obviously, for this poet, the companionship of a dog is about as close as one can get to the love of God.
A chronological and semi-biographical collection of poetry, essays, and short stories by Hannah Wilkinson. Writings explore a variety of themes from the bold exploration of youth to the biting pleasure of love to the systematic paralysis of mental illness. Once more unto the breach.
Building Brownville explores forms of grief through the internalization of experience and wanders further to wonder if the past is too far away to fix the present while also serving as a love letter to Nebraska. This collection offers a millennial voice within poetry––a voice that not only subverts the norm of what poetry is but defies the stereotypes of a region, offering connection through grief, love, and place––to experience a somewhere which we have never been.
Feeding the Fire
WSC Press 2022
Twyla M. Hansen writes of her on-going journey of love, hope, and her concern for the natural world, grapples with grief and honors her late husband’s memory in his brief fight with cancer, and demonstrates in narratives of earlier times that “The past is never dead,” as William Faulkner said, but indeed, “It is not even past.”
Sandhills Press, 2022
Bonnie Johnson-Bartee is a poet whose primary subjects are motherhood and daughterhood in all their various manifestations. She casts a tender yet searing eye upon family histories, dynamics, and the very notion of "women's work," and each poem in this collection takes the reader on a journey toward recognizing how vulnerable and fallible we all are in our search for a meaningful life. Cord Blood is a sort of verse memoir: it's personal, honest, and authentic, but it's also universal in its acknowledgment of parental guilt and the redemptive possibilities of legacy. Johnson-Bartee reminds us that fairy tales so often betray us, but without the telling of tales, both those that carry light and those that carry shadow, our lives lack muscle and blood.
Letter from a Place I've Never Been
2021, Edited by Kwame Dawes
Hilda Raz has an ability “to tell something every day and make it tough,” says John Kinsella in his introduction. Letter from a Place I’ve Never Been shows readers the evolution of a powerful poet who is also one of the foremost literary editors in the country. Bringing together all seven of her poetry collections, a long out-of-print early chapbook, and her newest work, this collection delights readers with its empathetic and incisive look at the inner and outer lives we lead and the complexities that come with being human.
All Odd and Splendid
This collection of poems is an exploration of lives and selves transformed by choice and by chance. Formally and thematically diverse, these poems are testament to the will to redefine oneself in a world of constant, and often painful, change. Beginning intimately with poems of personal examination and moving gradually to the world of shared experience, Hilda Raz rethinks the structures of family and community while examining the impact of loss and growth. Raz's poems celebrate the strangeness in the ordinary, bringing us into contact with a beauty and pain that are inseparable when we see things as they truly are.
University of New Mexico Press, 2021
A book of wild imagination and linguistic play, Nowhere begins by chronicling the pain that the speaker and her absent father endure during the years they are separated while he is in prison. The alternative universe the speaker builds in order to survive this complex loss and its aftermath sees her experimenting with her body to try to build connection, giving it away to careless and indifferent lovers as she dreams of consuming them in the search for a coherent self. But can the speaker voice her trauma and disjunction? Can anyone, or is suffering something that cannot be said, but only hinted at? Ultimately the book argues that the barest hour of suffering can be the source of immense creative power and energy, which is the speaker's highest form of consolation.
This brilliant debut collection offers cohesive trauma narratives and essential counter-narratives to addiction stories, and it consistently complicates the stories told by the world about so-called fatherless girls and the bodies of women.
I Have a Poem the Size of the Moon
You will find poems in your shirt pocket and Nebraska under your feet. With his crooning verbs and aching line breaks, Matt will prove to you that both are equally brilliant. The duality of home is captured in these poems as metaphor and image coalesce proving to us that Omaha is equal parts muscle bound earth and ropes draped over Harney Street lamp posts. Matt's portrayal of Nebraska is unflinching; as you navigate through the poems you wonder what was there on that spot before the Wal-Mart was built? What's the story of the land beneath it? But in these poems you will also be given answers. In this collection you will learn of places in Nebraska where pencils can be a helluva lot more than pencils and the still beating hearts of freshly killed dissected frogs will leave students unable to look away.
Finishing Line Press 2020
Clustered around the stabbing murder of two women in a Quaker meeting house, the poems in this stunning collection propel the reader forward through “Clues and Certainties” while simultaneously calling for a slowing of inquiry and judgment to the speed of stillness, to silent contemplation. In ways no legal argument could attempt, Stillwell’s poems probe the secrets, not only of guilt and innocence, but also of racial and ethnic histories, and, indeed, of life itself: “I do not know precisely, /” the speaker muses, “what this Light within means, / but gone from the body, so are we.” In simple, astonishing language, these quietly beautiful poems call on us to reach for mercy over vengeance, for an understanding that probes more deeply than “[c]onventional wisdom,” which “prepares us/ for nothing.” In a time when simplistic slogans, swift judgments and rash rhetoric prevail, poems like those found in Reasonable Doubts are nothing short of crucial.
Quiver: A Sexploration
Picture Show Press 2019
From the first time you saw naughty pictures to the snickering of your classmates to the age-old negotiation of virginity; the temptation in a bar, the temptation at work, and the safe (How safe?) bet at home; “To the Lover I Never Had,” the heartbreaks and the hearts you broke – this collection of poems will make you remember. In Quiver: A Sexploration by Holly Pelesky, what is private is public and what is public is private.
City of Bones: A Testament
As if convinced that all divination of the future is somehow a re-visioning of the past, Kwame Dawes reminds us of the clairvoyance of haunting. The lyric poems in City of Bones: A Testament constitute a restless jeremiad for our times, and Dawes’s inimitable voice peoples this collection with multitudes of souls urgently and forcefully singing, shouting, groaning, and dreaming about the African diasporic present and future.
As the twentieth collection in the poet’s hallmarked career, City of Bones reaches a pinnacle, adding another chapter to the grand narrative of invention and discovery cradled in the art of empathy that has defined his prodigious body of work. Dawes’s formal mastery is matched only by the precision of his insights into what is at stake in our lives today. These poems are shot through with music from the drum to reggae to the blues to jazz to gospel, proving that Dawes is the ambassador of words and worlds.
Rock •Tree • Bird
The Backwaters Press, 2017
This collection of poems covers significant emotional territory while remaining firmly grounded in the landscape. From memories of the isolation and beauty of growing up on a farm, to a burgeoning awareness as a teenager of the economic and cultural forces waged against family farming, to coming to terms with the legacies of her parents after their passing, and, finally, arriving at an appreciation of nature and the environment wherever and whenever she finds it, Twyla M. Hansen offers poems that are alternately sad, sweet, funny, moving, human, and humane.
If You Turned Around Quickly
Main Street Rag Publishing Co, 2016
There’s nothing fraudulent nor overstated in the often-harsh world that Michael Catherwood presents in If You Turned Around Quickly. Yet, too, there’s surprising beauty, “where a shadow/waits like breath against a cool pane of glass,” or “how sunlight feeds/dust on Venetian blinds.” Catherwood surveys his boyhood past, his years of hard drinking, and his love of art, of painting especially (Max Beckman, van Gogh) in which, perhaps, he “Believe(s) for a moment the sky is clear,/so crisp you can see into your first days.”
Smell of Salt, Ghost of Rain
BrickHouse Books, Inc, 2015
In pool hall and tenement, pine forest and ocean depths, these poems reclaim the abandoned moment from chalk and rust, shadow and silence. Young summons forth the grit and the ghost, the breakable and the beautiful to show us how we are ''one thing breathing'' in an earthly elegance that is surely the language of grace.
Tupelo Press 2013
Although gender is never simple in Waite’s book, this inclination to let it speak, in all of its various incarnations, gives the book a great strength and relevance. Clear language makes the poems accessible (a word I use in the most positive sense), and a fluid motion between past and present, between masculine and feminine, makes them complex. All told, Waite has put together a valuable, fascinating, and beautiful first book.
In Red Ocher, the wild mortality of the natural world merges with melancholic expressions of romantic loss: a lamb runt dies in the night, a first-time lover inflicts casual cruelties, brussels sprouts rot in a field, love goes quietly and unbearably unrequited. This is an ecopoetics that explores the cyclical natures of love and grief. Throughout, Poli’s poems hold space for the sacred—finding it in woods overgrown with thorny weeds, in drunken joy rides down rural roads, and in the red ocher barns that haunt the author’s physical and emotional landscapes.
Half Agony, Half Hope
A bittersweet poetry collection that examines toxic cycles of love and loss, attachment and abandonment, and infatuation and disappointment. If your heart has ever felt like it was either on fire or ice cold, prepare yourself to truly feel something. These words are a direct channel to the soul. Feel the agony. Feel the hope. Feel alive.
Finishing Line Press 2022
Unsuspecting Cinderella is what happens after the glass slipper slips on and the prince carries the poet off to the castle. These are pensive, incisive lines of deep hungers (I want you to want me like a fever breaking), and the Midas-like emptiness at the castle that leaves one curled into a ball and opening umbrellas on the inside. It’s the cautionary tale of compromising our truest self for a life that is both more than enough and nowhere near enough. A chapbook that reads like a novel written on a silver matchbook.
An Otherwise Healthy Woman
Backwaters Press 2022
The poems in An Otherwise Healthy Woman delve into the complexity of modern health care, illness, and healing, offering an alternative narrative to heroics and miracles. Drawing on Amy Haddad’s firsthand experiences as a nurse and patient, the poems in this collection teach us to take a moment to stop and acknowledge the longing for compassion in each of us, what ought to be the immediate human response to suffering. The poet isn’t afraid to explore her own fears and failures or to find joy and humor in the many roles women play. An Otherwise Healthy Woman presents the intimate experiences of a nurse, the vulnerable perspective of a patient, and the lessons of caring for family.
What Happens in Nebraska
Stephen F. Austin University Press 2022
A journey across the state exploring misconnections, unrequited love, and longing. Dixon believes what happens in Nebraska doesn’t stay in Nebraska; instead, her poems wade into the Missouri River and then launch readers into the clouds above, the ancient stars light years away, and eventually they plummet to the heartland’s cornfields where the distance between people is simultaneously vast and fleeting.
A Quilted Landscape
Independently Published, 2021
Step on into the Kick Ass Cafe; the coffee is hot, the pie is good, and listen to Lin Brummels tell you stories of country life, family horses and dogs, the smell of wild flowers and pasture grass on a June day. Take in the honest, revealing descriptions of the folks who live in this corner of rural northeast Nebraska. The poems are written like letters to a good friend, easy to read, easy to understand, straight from the heart.
Unholy Heart includes generous selections from each of Grace Bauer’s previous books of poetry, plus a sampling of new poems. Bauer has long been known for the wide range of both her subject matter and poetic styles, from the biblical persona poems of The Women at the Well, to the explorations of visual art in Beholding Eye, to the intersections of personal history and pop culture in Retreats and Recognitions and Nowhere All At Once, and to the postmodern fragmentations in MEAN/TIME. Along with these selections, Bauer incorporates her most elegiac work yet.
This elegant and moving collection documents Hilda Raz’s experience with breast cancer. The journey, from diagnosis to chemotherapy to mastectomy, from denial to humor to grief and rage, is ultimately one of courage and creativity. The poems themselves are accessible and finely wrought. They are equally testaments to Raz's insistence on making an order out of chaos, of finding ways to create and understand and eventually accept new definitions of good and evil, health, blame, and personal boundaries—in short, a new sense of self. These poems remain intimately bound to the world and of the senses, becoming documents of transformation.
all the live-long day
Stephen F. Austin University Press 2020
These are the poems of a man who has been working, perhaps not on the railroad, but in the classroom, in the fields, with his horses and his cattle. Brummels’s poetry is simultaneously poised on humor and drop-dead seriousness.
List & Story
Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2020
Hilda Raz has long been a significant voice for American poetry. She writes of widows dancing and of squirrels fat in late September, of the power of a woman’s voice, solitary, “blessed to be the womb put to use or not.” Raz brings to her poetry and all the things it may encompass an authority wrought of compassion, of awareness and hard-won wisdom. She writes, “I bent over the mess, began to gather it up” and this is an apt description for how a life might be crafted into poetry. She knows where poetry comes from. The reader will remember the triumphs and heartbreaks, where “I lean on rituals of the house. / Is it possible to live forever in silence?” and where a mother, dreaming,
Kwame Dawes is not a native Nebraskan. Born in Ghana, he later moved to Jamaica, where he spent most of his childhood and early adulthood. In 1992 he relocated to the United States and eventually found himself an American living in Lincoln, Nebraska.
In Nebraska, this beautiful and evocative collection of poems, Dawes explores a theme constant in his work—the intersection of memory, home, and artistic invention. The poems, set against the backdrop of Nebraska’s discrete cycle of seasons, are meditative even as they search for a sense of place in a new landscape. While he shovels snow or walks in the bitter cold to his car, he is engulfed with memories of Kingston, yet when he travels, he finds himself longing for the open space of the plains and the first snowfall. With a strong sense of place and haunting memories, Dawes grapples with life in Nebraska as a transplant.
Waking to the Dream
In a love letter to the Midwest, Heidi Elaine Hermanson writes of discovery, heartbreak, and redemption in the natural accumulation of her life as a poet. Inspired by a sense of longing for whatever comes next and for wherever life may take us, Waking to the Dream takes readers on a road-trip (figuratively and literally). Inspired heavily by the relationships we create together and rooted in imagery of place, Hermanson gives readers a sense of home in the search.
What is Left Behind: Garden Elegies
Finishing Line Press 2017
The lovely poems in What is Left Behind: Garden Elegies are grounded in the past and connect us to the eternal music of spring. Stephanie Marcellus makes skillful use of the language of colorful blooms to convey grief, their scents reminding us of the temporality of life. While there is sorrow here—“I reached for your hand/ but your fingers slipped from my grasp/ like the sweet rocket’s scent on the dawn’s wind”—there is also redemption in the garden’s “life lines” and in taking her “own cure from the earth.” –Twyla M. Hansen, Nebraska State Poet
Projector navigates past and present in Michael Catherwood’s world of colorful scenarios of a one-armed Vietnam Vet running pool tables, dreaming alternate endings to John Wayne films, a vacation photo of a father scalping his son next to a teepee in the deserts of Arizona, and a man frozen in time.
the lake has no saint
Tupelo Press 2015
Poetry. LGBT Studies. Winner of Tupelo Press's Snowbound Chapbook Award selected by Dana Levin. Stacey Waite's THE LAKE HAS NO SAINT is a study in grief--a work of poetic archaeology that traces the artifacts of the past into the relationships of the present. Embedded in a powerfully modulated sequence addressing a "you" who shifts in location and identity, many of these poems feel like forms of request, imploring. The speaker's androgynous self-awareness--and wary attention to the gendered assumptions elicited by bodies--disclose in each poem a recognizable but disorienting (and pressurized) situation. THE LAKE HAS NO SAINT will unsettle a reader's sense of the certainty and stability of gender, as grammar and phrasing are also disrupted and blurred, often requiring us to read closely to hear where one sentence ends as another begins. Yet despite its formal and thematic iconoclasm, this is a book that clearly elucidates a story both heart-rending and ultimately--in its vatic honesty--triumphant.
Bones of a Very Fine Hand
The Backwaters Press 1999
Intense poetry about family life, told in a mature voice by a veteran poet of the Great Plains, Marjorie Saiser. Poet Judith Minty writes: "I am deeply moved by these extraordinary poems about giving birth and dying, about what it means to live life with dignity. They grow out of the heart of America, out of the landscape of small town and prairie, out of the hearts of people who look you straight in the eye. You dare not turn away, for the lessons to learn here are compelling. Marjorie Saiser is not only a wise and compassionate writer—her poems shine with details of the things of this earth, they pulse with the earth's very rhythms".
Button Poetry, 2023
Witty, nostalgic, rhythmic and forlorn, Matt Mason’s poetry calls on the classic rock music that shaped him. Mason laments on his childhood in the 80s and addresses the graduating preschool class of 2023, as he takes us on the coming-of-age roadtrip of a lifetime. An ode and ovation to what our ears taught us before we knew what to say, Rock Stars riffs on all things music, poetry, sports, and more. You’ll be itching with anticipation to flip over the tape, and see what the next track has in store.
Dispatches from the Unfillable Sinkhole
Dixon leads the reader into a Wonderland-like tableau of gustatory frustration. Like Alice, the further in the speaker goes, the less things make sense. "I'm allergic to liars," the speaker declares, after the promised treats never appear or vanish without explanation. Dixon weaves deft turns of phrase and surreal imagery to pull the reader in and propel them further down the path where Bugles snack foods turn into soldiers, "united in their mutiny." "The rest is rigged" the speaker declares as she realizes her insatiable hunger will never be filled.
At the Corner of Fantasy & Main: Disneyland, Midlife & Churros
The Old Mill Press 2022
At The Corner of Fantasy and Main is about more than Disneyland, midlife, and churros. It's about how our heart is sometimes more reliable than our memory and how places that are touchstones in our lives stay with us in ways that don't always seem to make sense. And, well, it's about Disneyland, midlife, and churros.
We areChanged to Deer at the Broken Place
Tupelo Press 2022
This collection considers what it means to be a queer nonbinary daughter in search of mother and myth as refuges. Inhabiting and breaking inherited forms like the sonnet, the speaker rewrites mythology to find new possibilities of queer transformation within inherited traditions―in which bodies not only change to trees and deer to escape the cishet male gaze, but also break the gaze itself. Intimate lyrics chart the interior landscape of the speaker’s asexuality and aromanticism and explore the queered nuances of body and of platonic friendships. In the process, the book explores the mother wound of how these myths are inherited and what it means to create a new story, a new vocabulary, a new kind of breaking.
Chorus of the Underground Sea
WSC Press 2022
“In lush verse and precise imagery, the many voices that make up Chorus of the Underground Sea reveal and reflect the gravity of what it means to be a woman, a lover, a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a witch, an outcast, an artist, a muse. Kassandra Montag brilliantly embodies a multitude of voices that span the centuries, and these poems are equal parts meditation, lamentation, and celebration in their unflinching look at how, for many women, our deepest desires are almost always at odds with the lives we’ve chosen or been given.”
–Sarah McKinstry-Brown, author of This Bright Darkness
Santa Fe Writer's Project, 2021
Tenderness meets pain meets joy here, offering up the voices of Black folks fostering connection with their children, their lovers, and themselves. Christian's third collection of poetry takes the reader through love and longing, and manifests how we all cope and get dressed again after the harsh reality of our world lays us bare. From ghazals about erotic kinks to the disappointment of a father, these poems explore the clothes we reach for first when loss strips us naked.
Lost and Found
A collection primarily about love and exploring the cycle of it, with societal pressures and literary references sprinkled throughout. In asking a series of questions, this poetry challenges themes including heaven and hell, lightness and darkness, monstrosity, and walls or structures. This collection of poetry has three sections: Lost, And, Found. Each section focuses on the unending cycle of feeling lost in your found and being found in your lost.
This elegant and moving collection of poems grew out of Hilda Raz’s experience with her son’s journey to a transgender identity. Born Sarah, now Aaron, Raz’s child had a profound impact on her understanding of what it means to be a family, to be whole, and to know oneself. The collection moves between past and present, allowing Raz to reflect on her own childhood and on her experience with breast cancer to find ways to connect with Aaron. The journey takes us from intimacy to strangeness and back again, from denial to humor to grief and rage, but always laced with love and acceptance.
Sundown at Faith Regional
Pinyon Publishing, 2021
In Sundown at Faith Regional, Barbara Schmitz offers Heart Medicine which "drops the pain body"-an invitation to let go to the rhythms of her love songs to life. Death and childhood; memory and forgetting; family cacophonies and inventions of relationships. Detachment and acceptance, like 'the indifference cloak, ' creates a liberating energy. "The wings to the heart the Sufis say / are independence / and indifference, ' and the sense of humor at our failings becomes the success. Laced with "beauty, the lyrical pain," we drink an elixir of laughter and tears.
Indigo Quill Publications, 2020
Written as a way of exploring our darkest emotions, Forbidden Fruit: Poems of Love, Loss, Hope and Regret is a collection of poetry that pulls at the tendrils of thoughts we tend to sweep aside for fear of what bringing them into the light says about us.
This collection shines a light on those thoughts hidden within us where despair seems too close and love all too fleeting to be any barometer of truth. The poems guide us through those blackest of feelings back to where we can see the good. They allow us to express the unimaginable and realize we are all capable of regret and loss and, more importantly, love and hope.
Blue Light Press, 2020
Two-Toned Dress shows us good times, times of abundance, but does not shy away from showing the lonely times. Dig in! This well-crafted collection expertly deals with relationships, and does so with beautiful honesty. This poet helps us to remember our own times of being in love and leads us toward a compassionate view of others, including our parents, who have also known what it is to negotiate what life throws at us.
Cottonwood Strong: Bent but Not Broken
Finishing Line Press 2019
Lin Marshall Brummels mines family-of-origin stories to separate her understanding of past events from the sanitized version presented by her family. Her poems chronical growing up with cousins, fending off a brother, and believing she understands evil. However, she still falls for men who hurt her. Birth of her children, their adventures and transitions to adulthood, finally usher in some wisdom. From the vantage point of age, she seeks peace, while at the same time half-fearing she needs to blow up the process and start over.
The Woman in the Moon
The Backwaters Press 2018
The poems in this collection move into the past with her mother and father and also explore the present both with family and culture. The poems range in quick flourishes of conventional subjects rendered in exquisite imagery and observations to everyday occurrences that are suddenly spiked with clear focus and complex movements. Saiser’s poems are intricate and graceful in their treatments of numerous subjects, including landscape and evening, grocery stores and roadways, death and birth, love and loss, where sudden realizations seem at once deep and clear and natural. The voice in these poems is fluid and sure.
A Proper Lover
Main St. Rag Publishing Co, 2017
A Proper Lover is one woman's journey to find and become a proper lover, in spite of what's been done to her. Like the deceptively simple work of Nikki Giovanni, these well-crafted, honest poems of the heart and body whisper their gospel to the soul.
I Have Nothing to Say About Fire
The Backwaters Press 2016
This collection explores the notion of witnessing. Particularly in our technological age, when we have access to international news as it happens, the question comes up: what responsibility do individuals—including those living in relatively quiet middle America—have in regard to world events? The poems in I Have Nothing to Say about Fire reference autobiographical elements: marriage, children, parents, in-laws, etc., but they also reference global tragedy: war, terrorism, genocide. As we experience our own personal losses and triumphs, what relationships should we strive for with family, friends, neighbors, and the strangers around us, particularly as their narratives push them forward into our and/or the public’s consciousness? In this book, Marjorie Saiser explores these essential questions and offers potential answers that may help all of us.
Scott Abels inhabits vestiges that include Mexico, Hawai`i, and Nebraska. Their landscapes are very different, but Abels is more interested in their parallel dysfunctions. The boys who lose arms on Mexican trains join missing hands with the unemployed in the American Midwest. “We can depend upon the land. / But we cannot depend on jobs.” He codes his family history with symptoms (e.g., Rx = prescription drugs; SRP = Strong Religious Preference). Not that everything is hopeless, as Abels remarks with a wryness worthy of strong whiskey: “Happy journey, / Everybody. / We had medical care, / and Coca-Cola / has reached us here.” This is global capital's family tree, whose diagnosis is dire. But Abels's prescription makes the desert of the real a carnival. It's a “Dick Cheney Parade,” and Christopher Columbus shits bricks. Given an oil spill or other disaster, “Whoever owns it / is lord of all he wants.”
Too Heavy to Carry
People expect that their lives move in majestic sweeps, but that’s only because memory and legend work that way, but reality works in the small moments of our experience. Too Heavy to Carry explores those moments by focusing in close. This wonderful collection aims to name the evils that people live through: loneliness, betrayal, inadequacy, and loss. Dixon easily captures not just the glimpse of hope, but shows the agony and obstacles one must endure before she crawls out of the bottom of the well.
This is a must for survivors of any variety―divorce, depression, domestic violence, abandonment/neglect and other painful experiences.
Rambo Goes to Idaho
In Rambo Goes to Idaho, Scott Abels has blurred the lines between pop culture and personal struggle, the east and the west, God and Gene Simmons. At once heroic and elegiac, these poems balance on a knife edge not unlike Rambo’s, and what’s most beautiful here is that they sometimes get cut. With additional cameos by Paul Bunyan, Karl Rove, and a transformative speaker that can make you laugh or break your heart, bring your popcorn to this one. Abels notes of Rambo in the first poem “He is good, / but he is a product of the world.” By the end, you’ll believe every word he says.
The Art of Country Grain Elevators
Bottom Dog Press, 2006
These are poems that spring from the ground like fresh seed, but never without human references. And it is the human references, in country circumstances, that make them familiar and understandable to everyone. Whether he is writing about giving his father a haircut or questioning him about the Great Depression, Volkmer knows farm-people intimately and describes them with bedrock wisdom in a world of tarpaper, boxcars, corn, propane tanks, drill bits, wooden elevators, concrete silos, flour mills, rats, ferrets and barn ladders.