Antoinette Brim’s These Women You Gave Me brings front and center Biblical mythology and legend to prove a truth that can only be proven through poetry. Brim’s poems sing of the ability women have always had to love and thrive in spite of the most oppressive odds, or as Brim herself would say, “His heavy breath filled her ears. She awakened beneath.” This is really gorgeous work.
In These Women You Gave Me, Antoinette Brim weaves her persona poems of Lilith, Eden and Eve into a collection that is intimate and powerful. Her sensual, precise poems take root and resonate with the feminine in each of us. “Amidst the waters of the firmament:/ male and female float; as only indigo shadows/stitched to the depths with light can do….”Antoinette Brim’s poetry is evocative, risky and true.
In These Women You Gave Me, Antoinette Brim employs a meticulous, lyric sensibility to remind readers of the first women of the Bible and the roles women in the Judeo-Christian tradition have occupied since. This is a bold symphony to Lilith, the first woman, who “has read the Book and found her name erased.” Eve, the second wife, submits; Lilith owns her name, her reflection, her body, and soul. Brim counters the erasure with a brilliant light and language that empowers all women, that gives cause for each reader to consider that the story is often not fully told.
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Luminous, whimsical, and heartbreakingly tender by turns, the poems in Lisa Andrews’s Dear Liz are a portrait of a beloved friend, movie-going companion, and fellow human, a portrait unfailingly loyal to the telling detail, unfailingly appreciative of the quotidian. To read these poems is to enter a world that is full of feeling, at once loving and quirky. There is grief here, but these poems, more, help us continue in the world, which Andrews, sometimes plainly, sometimes in stunning images, shows us to be full of beauty. Dear Liz is a moving reminiscence, and to be offered the friendship this book offers its readers is to feel healed and restored. —Sharon Kraus
In these poems that confront the loss of a dear friend, Lisa Andrews makes us confront our own connections in the world and our own mortality. Here, we long to walk familiar city streets; to slice the avocado so thinly that there is little left to slice; to stand in the oblivious snow; to sit in the darkened theater and stop Joan Fontaine from drinking the milk; and we long to do it in the company of someone we love. An homage to friendship and to living, Dear Liz is a beauty, a heart breaker, an oracle, and a lament. —Nicole Callihan
Love is always complicated. In the poems of Drug and Disease Free, Michael Broder ponders the further complexities of love in the context of HIV and AIDS. These include the pleasures of cruising and anonymous sex, the challenges of marriage and erotic power exchange, and the realities of blood, cum and other “proud, shameful mysteries.” Broder’s narrator is intimate and plainspoken even when formalist; wary but romantic; self-mocking and elegiac; and utterly open—even with “no lube”—to loving and being loved, and all the complications those entail. —Arielle Greenberg
[Michael Broder’s] Drug and Disease Free makes an important intervention in the canon of contemporary gay poetry, in which so much writing about HIV/AIDS has remained in the realm of elegy. Even as many of these poems find Broder grieving, he is not confined by his status or the pains he has suffered. Ultimately, the triumphant possibility he realizes in this book is that freedom can take innumerably more forms than previously believed. The example of Broder’s poetry proves that even in the face of inconceivable loss, we are free to conceive of a world in which we can keep loving, writing and remembering. —Jameson Fitzpatrick (from the Foreword)
Michael Broder’s poems are sexy, fun and daring. Drug and Disease Free is a frisky poetry collection that is audacious and revelatory in a way both refreshing and uninhibited. —Emanuel Xavier
In one of the most important of the Aztec festivals, a month of fasting was ended by observers of the fast cutting up the figurine of a god made of amaranth seeds and honey and sharing it in small pieces. In Amaranth, Robert Carr feeds his readers portions of a god fashioned out of terror, longing, infidelity, wasting sickness, humor, and a searing lyrical tenderness. Crafted with the fingers of a careful and nimble musicianship, these poems vibrate with a current that simultaneously sets the teeth on edge and soothes the agitation the words produce. Even the most casual reader will be astonished by the muscular audacity of these poems—and pleasured by the harsh honey that flows from the poet’s deft pillaging of the heart’s unease. This is a remarkable debut. —Tom Daley
The poetic drama in Amaranth arises from Robert Carr’s intuition that a healthy enabling relation to one’s past depends on an unflinching re-encounter with the details of the past. The poems choose not to settle for comfortable “lessons”—instead, they swim down, bravely, into haunted caverns of memory, seeking affirmations inseparable from the facts of moments, as in “Cremation,” where the difference between two kinds of powder does it all. —Mark Halliday
Slow, deliberate, and finely wrought, the poems in Amaranth remind the mouth that it has a tongue, remind the ear that it has a heart. Robert Carr’s expressive voice is spare, honest, precise, and inventive as his poems careen from the furnace of love to the brutality of death all while offering the reader a gorgeous lyrical accuracy that’s both delicate and unforgiving. —Ada Limón
Joseph Osmundson is a scientist and writer from rural Washington State. His writing has been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Los Angeles Review, Gawker, Salon, The Rumpus, and The Feminist Wire, where he is an associate editor. He’s currently a post-doctoral fellow in systems biology at NYU.
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Sarah Sarai’s Geographies of Soul and Taffeta takes place in a universe where the real and the unreal meet each other in a careful, ecstatic dance, where words melt into their partners and opposites, and Yin and Yang swirl together like the best kind of soft serve ice cream. The ideas and images here are exact, surprising, and often humorous: in fact, Sarai’s poems strike new ground in being intelligent and far reaching while maintaining an air of humility and matter of factness. —Christine Hamm
The poems in Sarah Sarai’s Geographies of Soul and Taffeta are little transgressions, butterflies a-wing. They present a poetry of surprise. Don’t expect candy (though there might be some); don’t expect demons (even the ones who live there). Dive in, world-hunter, dreamneeder. Let Sarai’s vision and images wing you to your next place, fiercely reflective and very much alive. —Richard Loranger
Sarah Sarai’s Geographies of Soul and Taffeta is a strong and beautiful sequence of poems. What haunts me most has to do with the emotional acuity and authority, how the poems’ subjectivities are rendered essential. The generosity, the word play and re-play, the variations, the real world and its perpetual redemptions, the imagination’s power not to transform exactly, but to reveal, which is transforming—all make Sarai’s new collection a rewarding and an astonishing read. —Debora Lidov
Sarah Sarai was born in Port Washington, grew up in California, and lives in New York. A former English teacher and college professor, she is now an editor and researcher. She has an MFA in fiction from Sarah Lawrence College. Her first poetry collection is The Future Is Happy. Chapbooks include I Feel Good, Emily Dickinson’s Coconut Face, O You of the Cotton Pajamas, and The Risen Barbie. Her poems appear in numerous journals and anthologies.