Book Review :: What is Left by Carla Rachel Sameth

Guest Post by Ginger Pinholster

What is Left by Carla Rachel book cover image

Deeply personal Pandemic Moments become vivid in What is Left, Carla Rachel Sameth’s engaging poetry collection. The work marries dark humor with pathos. Beginning with the first poem, which admonishes us to “Cover mouth and nose with dirty pictures and think of Santa Claus, but younger,” Sameth captures our magical thinking in the early days of COVID-19. Her poems are rich with longing, too. She aches for mask-free closeness with her child. Because he is a young black man, she reels in horror at the brutal police killing of George Floyd, knowing that, for her son and all people of color, the “body = target.” Her descriptions of kindness also overflow with love; she writes of a friend delivering flowers as “fragrances of hope.” Richly diverse, What is Left is uniquely American: Sameth remembers her Grandma Pearl’s Yiddish songs, and she writes with feeling about her son and her wife. After months of quarantine – when, as Sameth notes, we were like housecats, “confined to our corners, dependent” – What is Left feels like a warm hug.


What is Left by Carla Rachel Sameth. dancing girl press, December 2021.

Reviewer bio: Ginger Pinholster’s debut novel, City in a Forest, received a Gold Royal Palm Literary Award from the Florida Writers Association in 2020. Her second novel, Snakes of St. Augustine, will be distributed by Regal House Publishing in September 2023. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in the Eckerd Review, Northern Virginia Review, Atticus Review, and elsewhere. Follow her on Twitter @gingerpin or at https://www.GingerPinholster.com.

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