Tag What I’m Reading

Book Review :: Central Air by George Bilgere

Central Air by George Bilgere book cover image

Guest Post by James Scruton

“They resemble Eskimo Pies,” says George Bilgere of his air-conditioned neighbors in the title poem of his latest collection, Central Air, “or boxes of frozen peas.” Characteristically, he goes on to concede, “Not a bad life, I guess,” though admitting he’d miss the crickets “simmering / through summer, and the love / song of cicadas, burning / all night for each other, insect / ecstasies beyond our dreams.” This even-handedness typifies Bilgere’s approach, the poet awed by his good fortune on a pleasant summer evening (“Ripeness”) but also acknowledging the countless daily injustices suffered by others (“Summer Pass,” “For the Slip ‘N Slide”) as well as horrors on a global scale (“Chernobyl,” “Reichstag”). Bilgere delights in detail (“the stalled machinery” of a dead bee) as much as in the acoustics of language and the subtleties of line. Note the fatigue conveyed by the d’s in his description of a waitress’s voice (“tired, / frayed around the edges”) and the sudden, brightening weightlessness of the two-line stanza that follows:

But what she said hung sparkling
in the air, so masterful…

The collection produces the same heartening effect, Bilgere’s work a balance of light and dark, the amusing and the profound.


Central Air by George Bilgere. University of Pittsburgh Press, 2022.

Reviewer bio: James Scruton is the author of two full collections and five chapbooks of poetry as well as dozens of reviews, essays, and articles on poetry, fiction, and non-fiction.

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Book Review :: Rule of Composition by Steve Timm

Rule of Composition by Steve Timm book cover image

Guest Post by Nicholas Michael Ravnikar

The latest book from Steve Timm, Rule of Composition, more than resembles jazz. Giant-of-the-art Cecil Taylor’s album with the Feel Trio, 2 Ts for a lovely T, forms the basis for Timm’s book’s division into “listens,” when the author wrote as an improvisational accompaniment to the 10-CD set. While Timm is 21st Century Wisconsin’s answer to Russian zaum poetry and Dadaist soundscapes, he also diffuses a hyper-inflationary poetics into the nonce words others might dash throughout lyric pieces or isolate in austere minimal poems, spinning out syntactic, phonetic and morphemic swerves — each of which he entrusts to readers’ decipherment. Lines blatz across pages from “Marry pensile attribles / join the scuchus suqologue” to “that’s myander enjourn?” so that “a lipe shangs in the bilence / zeroes aglitter.” Once clought in Timm’s whipnotic enburgonment, the mive glences bursht ignoblistervly. To call his work word-salad by no means disparages it; rather, it suggests a need to elevate the art of the farrago in the culinary imagination. For anyone tired of literature that tells you what or how to think, the book can be purchased online and in-person through Woodland Pattern Book Center and A Room of One’s Own.


Rule of Composition by Steve Timm. Bananaquit Press, 2022.

Reviewer bio: Nicholas Michael Ravnikar makes understanding look like overthinking. He’s currently disabled with mental illnesses. Married with two kids, he enjoys cooking, exercise and meditation. Stay in touch via social media and download free books at bio.fm/nicholasmichaelravnikar.

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Book Review :: The Silk The Moths Ignore by Bronwen Tate

The Silk The Moths Ignore poems by Bronwen Tate published by Inlandia Books cover image

Guest Post by Jami Macarty

The Silk the Moths Ignore, Bronwen Tate’s debut and winner of Inlandia Institute’s 2019 Hillary Gravendyk Prize, is to be “read as choreography,” marking “what led to this.” In her poems, Tate makes legible what is illegible about rejection as it concerns motherhood and miscarriage—rejection by a newborn of a mother’s breast and by a woman’s body of a fetus. What are the roles of nature and will? These poems “rage at who names a body,” acknowledge that a man and a woman “carry risk unevenly,” and ultimately recognize “the present carries multiples.” Memory and recovery, balance and counterbalance are important to these poems whose forms toggle between lullaby-like short lyrics and Proustian prose poems. Brevity and extension, lines and sentences, meditative and narrative counterbalancing elements “speak a language no known mother tongued.” Tate is a poet willing to sit with the complexity of human connection: “we seek comfort and reject it.” Her poems “swim against / the waves, held by / what resists,” and, it seems in so doing the grief-currents they swim transform into a “less insistent presence.” Isn’t that what loss eventually becomes? The Silk the Moths Ignore is a collection of lyric ache that brims with “artifacts of hope.”


The Silk the Moths Ignore, Bronwen Tate. Inlandia Books, September 2021.

Reviewer bio: Jami Macarty is the author of The Minuses (Center for Literary Publishing, 2020), winner of the 2020 New Mexico/Arizona Book Award – Poetry Arizona, and three chapbooks, including Mind of Spring (Vallum, 2017), winner of the 2017 Vallum Chapbook Award. Jami’s writing has been honored by financial support from Arizona Commission on the Arts, British Columbia Arts Council, and by editors at magazines such as The Capilano Review, Concision Poetry Journal, Interim, Redivider, Vallum, and Volt, where Jami’s poems are forthcoming.

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Book Review :: The Murders of Moisés Ville by Javier Sinay

The Murders of Moises Ville by Javier Sinay book cover image

Guest Post by Ira Smith

Published initially in Argentina in 2013, The Murders of Moisés Ville has only now been made available in English with a wonderful translation by Robert Croll.

In 2009, Javier Sinay, an Argentinian author and journalist, received an interesting email from his father. It referred him to an article published in the late 1940s by his great grandfather, Mijl Hacohen Sinay, detailing the murders of Jews committed in one of the first Jewish colonies in Argentina, Moisés Ville. The history of this colony, long forgotten not just by Sinay’s immediate family but by the Jewish community as a whole, prompts him to investigate the crimes that occurred over a century ago, against the backdrop of hardship and violence that afflicted the settlers.

Continue reading “Book Review :: The Murders of Moisés Ville by Javier Sinay”

Book Review :: Hands of Years by Riley Bounds

Hands of Years poetry by Riley Bounds book cover image

Guest Post by Elizabeth Genovise

Hands of Years poetry collection by Riley Bounds chronicles a journey of faith undertaken with open eyes. While stylistically spare (“tall and slim as votive candles”), these poems reach deep, plumbing the seminal moments in the author’s spiritual life and illuminating the healing power of such moments. Death is described as a space where “life simply leaves, vagabond through zodiacal clouds and dust”; to his father, the poet writes, “Your heart was always a war drum, so stay and tithe your noise”; a child’s prayer is “proffered to Who he doesn’t know from the textless hymnal of his solar plexus, the liturgy of bone and marrow.” In the collection’s final piece, Bounds prays that he might one day “hold the hands of years and become the voice I sing, echoing up the wall of our netted souls, refracting each other’s given light.” The power of these poems lies in their meticulous imagery, their brutal honesty, and their bold confrontation with difficult truths. They alternately rattle and soothe, offering a glimpse of light after each forage into the darkness.


Hands of Years by Riley Bounds. Kelsay Press, October 2021.

Reviewer bio: Elizabeth Genovise is an MFA graduate from McNeese State University and the author of four short story collections, the most recent being Palindrome from the Texas Review Press (forthcoming September 2022). www.elizabethgenovisefiction.org/

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Book Review :: Future Shock, Revisited

Future Shock by Alvin Toffler book cover image

Guest Post by Claude Clayton Smith

Having read Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century (Random House, 2018), I reread Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock (Random House, 1970), which I’d devoured after the Kent State shootings sparked riots nationwide. “Events were transpiring too rapidly for the adaptive powers of the human psyche.” Hold on! That’s from the Introduction to the Romantic Period in the Norton Anthology of English Literature (1962), reflecting the despair felt as England’s agricultural way of life was ripped asunder by the Industrial Revolution. Compare Toffler: “The normal institutions of industrial society can no longer” [endure the] “rising rate of change in the world,” which “disturbs our inner equilibrium, altering the very way in which we experience life.” Toffler quotes Daniel P. Moynihan (1927-2003), then chief White House advisor on urban affairs, who says the United States “exhibits the qualities of an individual going through a nervous breakdown.”

Toffler (1928-2016) witnessed the Vietnam War, Watergate, the 14.5 percent inflation of the ’80s, AIDS, the Gulf War, dot.com bubble, 9/11, the internet, Afghan War, social media, etc. In passing, Future Shock mentions “alterations in climate.” But Toffler missed Donald Trump, COVID, and January 6th. Where would he begin, if still alive, to update a new edition of Future Shock?


Reviewer bio: Professor Emeritus of English at Ohio Northern University, Claude Clayton Smith is the author of eight books and co-editor/translator of four. For details visit: claudeclaytonsmith.wordpress.com.

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Book Review :: Clamor by Hocine Tandjaoui

Clamor nonfiction by Hocine Tandjaoui book cover image

Guest Post by Jami Macarty

In Clamor, Hocine Tandjaoui’s debut English-language poetic memoir presented in the text’s original French and English translations, the Algerian author tries to make sense of surviving the aggregation: “Life war songs death.” Death and war came early in Tandjaoui’s life: His mother was killed during childbirth by “raging septicemia,” and he was “not even five years old when the war broke,” “not yet seven years old when [he felt] the blast of the bomb.” Tandjaoui was born in 1949 in French-occupied (1830 – 1962) Algeria “that transformed some of the humans that occupied it into half-gods, whereas the others were reduced to subjects without rights.” Outside Tandjaoui’s window, “a musical bath” of warfare’s bullets and bombs “playing simultaneously” to the tortured, pained conversations of colonial society and jazz, blues, and classical music—the “loud speakers were in fierce competition, pushing to the max, projecting a sonorous magma into the surroundings.” Clamor offers Anglophone readers “this setting in which a person comes first to life, then to consciousness”—adult reflections and reminiscences of the sounds of Tandjaoui’s childhood, complete with a discography (Piaf, Simone, Joplin, Holiday, etc.) that was a “resonance chamber” for his grief. Hocine Tandjaoui’s Clamor: “between celebration and weeping, an ululation made of love, despair, and tenderness.”


Clamor by Hocine Tandjaoui; translated by Olivia C. Harrison and Teresa Villa-Ignacio. Litmus Press, April 2021.

Reviewer bio: Jami Macarty is the author of The Minuses (Center for Literary Publishing, 2020), winner of the 2020 New Mexico/Arizona Book Award – Poetry Arizona, and three chapbooks, including Mind of Spring (Vallum, 2017), winner of the 2017 Vallum Chapbook Award. Jami’s writing has been honored by financial support from Arizona Commission on the Arts, British Columbia Arts Council, and by editors at magazines such as The Capilano Review, Concision Poetry Journal, Interim, Redivider, Vallum, and Volt, where Jami’s poems are forthcoming.

If you are interested in contributing a Guest Post to “What I’m Reading,” please click this link: NewPages.com Reviewer Guidelines.

Magazine Review :: Youth Communication

Youth Communication My Parents are Anti Vaxxers story image

I curate the NewPages Publications for Young Writers Guide, and as much as I do this to provide a resource for young readers, writers, teachers, and parents, we could all benefit from spending some time reading the voices of young people. I was distracted from my work (a regular occurrence here, as you can imagine) when I came across “My Parents Are Anti-Vaxxers” by an anonymous contributor to YouthComm Magazine. In it, the author recounts how shocked they were when their parents went down the Facebook “Covid hoax” rabbit hole, declined vaccinations even in the face of losing a job/income, and then what they put their children through when one parent contracted the virus and declined medical care. The plaintive yet matter-of-fact style in which the author presents their perspective is frustrating to read, even heartbreaking, “It has made me question the people that I idolized growing up. The people that I believed, in my childhood innocence, could do no wrong.” Yet there is some consolation, “This experience has taught me a lot about the complexities of humans. It’s hard to accept that we can be good people and still go down the wrong paths. That things aren’t always simply black and white, though it’d be easier if they were.” And the final resolution, “But I’ve learned other people can provide guidance when your parents can’t.” It’s a sad commentary on the kind of division this experience created, and that we see continue among family, friends, and communities. It’s tough to imagine these youth experiencing the need to break away from their parents’ ideologies, but at the same time, encouraging that they (and we all) may be better off as adults as a result.

Youth Communication offers short, nonfiction stories and related lessons to help students improve their reading and writing skills, and improve the social and emotional skills that support school success. They provide workshops and publications, including Represent Magazine: Stories by Teens in Foster Care.

Book Review :: Acreage by Stephanie Garon

Acreage poetry by Stephanie Garon book cover image

Guest Post by Christine Scanlon

This wonderful debut collection of poetry, Acreage, written by the visual artist Stephanie Garon, is a product of artistic accumulation where a self-conscious regard for the materiality of words is a characteristic of her poems. Many are finely sculpted pieces like, “Undercurrent,” mimicking the movement of oak leaves caught in an eddy. Repetition of the phrase, “how long can they stay under,” becomes a current pulling down both leaves and poet, and with panic, we realize all may stay “un/der.” Embodiment of a slow-motion disappearance is also a central theme in “Musée des Beaux Arts,” after WH Auden’s poem—where instead of Icarus, the central emptiness in Garon’s poem is represented by the “emptied / stamen” and the carcasses “of eight // stale petals curled.” This carnage, caused by a human hand (“Fingernail-pierced / stems / scattered”), also compromises the poet (“I / too / collapse”), and as we contemplate the artist’s imminent absence, we are left to wonder who will make the marks that cultivate meaning? There is no answer, but Garon gives us a sense in the final poem, “Feral,” that we are nearing the end of something (the Anthropocene) and may all become, like the poet, a “ravaged memory of acreage.”


Acreage by Stephanie Garon. akinoga press, December 2021.

Reviewer bio: Christine Scanlon is a Brooklyn-based poet with a collection of poems, A Hat on the Bed (Barrow Street Press), and work published in such journals as Adjacent Pineapple, Dream Pop Press, Flag + Void, and La Vague. She is a graduate of the New School MFA program.

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Book Review :: Morgan by Boyer Rickel

Morgan (A Lyric) nonfiction by Boyer Rickel book cover image

Guest Post by Jami Macarty

In Morgan (A Lyric), winner of the 2020 Gold Line Press Nonfiction Chapbook Competition, Boyer Rickel, a most open and ethical writer, writes out of “a sensation so precise” what it means to love—beyond shame or humiliation, in expansive and humble ways—not as “the hero,” but as “the hero’s sidekick.” Were this chapbook a musical composition, the minor scale “branching patterns of sound” referring to the relationship between men and their mothers, the luxury of who gets to age, the 2011 mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona, writing and reading poetry, and listening to music—the harmonic and cacophonic backdrop of lives at the center of a love song. A love story—between one who lives openly as a gay man and one who is more secretive in his choices, one in middle age and healthy, and one in his thirties, living with the complications of cystic fibrosis. The major scale “branching” the complexities of personality (“there might be many Morgans”), relationship (“separate states of extremity”), and eroticism (“denial begets desire”); the trappings of love and illness; the primary and secondary gains of caretaking—“a trade of need for need.” This is elegiac writing that “remove[s] us (readers) from time” as love and death do, but perhaps more than centering on death, this writing exalts lover and beloved—“To touch a boundary, to feel a limit”—leaving as much love on the page as possible.


Morgan (A Lyric) by Boyer Rickel. Gold Line Press, May 2022.

Reviewer bio: Jami Macarty is the author of The Minuses (Center for Literary Publishing, 2020), winner of the 2020 New Mexico/Arizona Book Award – Poetry Arizona, and three chapbooks, including Mind of Spring (Vallum, 2017), winner of the 2017 Vallum Chapbook Award. Jami’s writing has been honored by financial support from Arizona Commission on the Arts, British Columbia Arts Council, and by editors at magazines such as The Capilano Review, Concision Poetry Journal, Interim, Redivider, Vallum, and Volt, where Jami’s poems are forthcoming.

If you are interested in contributing a Guest Post to “What I’m Reading,” please click this link: NewPages.com Reviewer Guidelines.