Two New Poetry Books

Lately, the review copies have been piling up here, which works pretty well for me, because I never have to wonder what I’m going to read. From the small press/indie part of the publishing world (which we at LitKicks love), here are two new poetry picks that have caught my eye.

Shabby Epiphanies by SJ Grady

Shabby Epiphanies takes its title from the eponymous poem that says

Among the secular priesthood
of our sexy new religion

worship must be sensual
(there’s nothing else left)

which are fitting lines to pull out for this review, since the poems in Grady’s collection are infused with sacredness and sensuality, or the sacredness of sensuality, from sound to vision to touch. The back cover says that the poet’s inspirations range from Gary Snyder to e.e. cummings, and the influence of both of these poets is highly apparent — Snyder in pieces such as “bloom cycle”, a poem that says that the language of blossoming flowers is beyond lips and ears, and cummings in the freewheeling typography of “(relation)shipwreck”, wherein the curves the poem makes on the page back up its words. Althogether, it’s an enjoyable collection, housed inside a a lovely cover (this is important to note — I judge books by their covers), and worth a look.

Songs in Search of a Voice by Marcus Harris

This is a varied collection, in terms of style, voice and subject. Harris ranges comfortably from love to domestic violence to politics (and other places in between), shifting from humor to seriousness with apparent ease. The cover art is of a winged microphone which fits perfectly, since I think many of the pieces in the book would gain strength from live reading — their cadence seems to ask for performance — yet they still stand up on the page. This is definitely a good thing, since poetry that works as spoken word often doesn’t read well on paper. Whether awed by love, talking politics, or delving into the rhythm of the street, the poetry in this collection rings true and comes from an honest place. Songs in Search of a Voice will be available for purchase in March.

3 Responses

  1. judging a book by its
    judging a book by its cover

    Jamelah, I liked your line that you *do* judge a book by a cover. Since review copies pile up over here as well, I always want to emphasize to chapbook poets and self-publishing authors that APPEARANCE COUNTS. It makes less of a difference when a book is published by a major house, but in my opinion there’s no excuse for low-quality DIY.

    I hope I’ll get my latest reviews up in a few days too … these books make good Xmas gifts …

  2. Yes, for the DIY set,
    Yes, for the DIY set, appearance definitely counts. Since self-published work/chapbooks don’t have the benefit of a marketing team to get the word out, the books themselves are the marketing tools, business cards, and promotional items. As such, every detail, from the font choices to the type of paper used, is important.

    But enough typing on LitKicks… I have more review copies to read.

  3. I would have to agreewith
    I would have to agree

    with both the cover of a book comment, which I believe I’ve made to Simon himself, and the fact that the influence and inspiration of e.e.cummings as well as Gary Snyder are apparent in his writing.

    Though I’d hate the pin the word ‘style’ on Simon, because the flow of his pen is ever-changing. Instead I’ll kindly call it a ‘signature’ or better yet, a ‘watermark’ that discreetly imprint his works in a pleasing way.

    Definitely worth reading!

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