I am South by Donna Snyder; Review by Lawrence Barrett

Lawrence Barrett Review of I Am South by Donna Snyder, Virgoray Press, 2010; Available at www. virgoraypress.blogspot.com.

Donna Snyder, an accomplished, well-known and published El Paso poet and writer has delivered her first book, or rather chapbook, with a style that can be characterized as uniquely her own. Not one to obfuscate meanings, Snyder writes with searing clarity and in-your-face commentary that is refreshing because, thank God, one does not have to sit and agelessly ponder a puzzle-work of abstractions.

I can’t write subtleties by nature
I articulate experience in blatant terms
I name the emotion

Snyder also employs hugely scenic, dramatic and emotive imagery which sort of shimmers and moves her work along, at times, embryonic and dreamlike. Snyder begins her work with an ekphrastic piece, “A Pastel Study in Shadow.” Snyder writes in “Part Three” of her “Pastel Study”:

She sits alone with her guest
In the non-light of dusk
Her feet firm on the floor

Calls it by name without distress
Hands warm on sloped thighs

When the light fades
The shade will eat
The lilac dust

(Read the full review at Slim Gizzards Poetry Review)

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Deena Metzger on “Elektra’s Mouth”

Poet extraordinaire recently sent us some thoughts on Suzi Kaplan Olmsted’s newest release, Elektra’s Mouth:

“Tortured by too many gifts to serve each well, Suzi Kaplan decided, to our great benefit, to pour what she knows of this impossible life into the very heart of story.  Also, in a time when almost everyone lies, she has decided to tell the truth, in poetry, no less.  And so, this book and the ones that will follow.  I have been fortunate to have known her so many years and to stand by her as we are all so honored to do. ”

– Deena Metzger, author of Ruin and Beauty, New and Selected Poems (Red Hen Press, 2009) and Writing For Your Life (HarperCollins, 1992).

Review: Chris D’Errico’s “Vegas Implosions” by Michelle Gaddes

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Poetry Book Review
Vegas Implosions & Exterminator Chronicles

By Chris D’Errico

‘One day I will switch sides and help the
insects defeat the humans’
-Chris D’Errico, Black Flag.

Vegas Implosions is an intensely-woven mapping of a post-modern landscape, written by a disgruntled slayer-becoming in the shadows. Chris D’Errico, clearly a wonderful rhizomatic love-child of Franz Kafka, Hunter S. Thompson, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, begins a journey with grounded, loquacious, intricate observations and raw, reactionary prose-style poetry. D’Errico’s quest-driven compilation commences within a colourful, carnivalesque landscape; that which we know and love as – Las Vegas.

D’Errico’s narrator, like a multi-headed phoenix, rises from his constructed disillusioned, desert dreamscape, seditious and sore. He partitions his book by turning the poetry autobiographical, in the first-person perspective. This section is titled, ‘Exterminator Chronicles.’ D’Errico journeys from the physical landscape, to the personal landscape and finally concludes with his ideal of fantasy-scape, which sees his narrator holidaying in Hawaii, where, contrastingly, the vermin and insects he exterminates daily now live in serene unison with him.

Anything but obsequious (!), D’Errico’s work reflects an ambiguous and torn position in his world. The subversive poem, ‘Black Flag’ sees the narrator tired of his love-less, soulless existence and he imagines a new plateau where he ‘switches sides.’ Rather than ‘bringing home the bacon,’ as he claims, he entertains the idea of a different warfare. This may be read as a new Travis Bickle waiting in the surreal throes or he could be advocating a pro-environmental message too. Thus, the diversity of meaning in D’Errico’s pieces allows the reader to indulge in a rollercoaster journey of entertainment, apprehension and uncertainty.

D’Errico’s piece, ‘Exterminator takes a vacation’ offers audiences glimmers of hope. From the depths of self-annihilation, accusatory and destructive paradigms does he escape (for the moment) the cycle of reality’s tedium. The ‘voice’ in this piece transforms, like Kafka’s insect revelation; instead of death, rebirth is shown through use of language that transforms into the beautifully aesthetic and – spiritual. The South-Pacific trade winds have doused away the narrow mindedness and degradation that he perceived his home to be constructed of. His ‘take-home message,’ it seems, is that we are empowered to change and create the environments we desire to inhabit – and even if it is only via the vehicle of fantasy. Nonetheless, the psyche is able to be distracted, somewhat. Vegas Implosions is a subversive, manic conversation – emblematic of humanity’s continual, incessant, driving drudgery that plagues the modern world. It is sweat and loathing, desire and despising. Vegas Implosions is the every-day-man’s inner monologues screaming silently in queues and homes, everywhere.

D’Errico is a talented poet with a sharp, sardonic, journalist’s eye of his pocket of the world. He exhibits a mindfulness and awareness that understands part of the human condition which is duende-driven and prone to fatal implosion at any given time of day. Vegas Implosions is not just free verse, it is cheap-as-casino-chips verse and yes I would purchase this book if I was browsing in my lunch-hour for entertaining gratification. It may be read randomly or cover-to-cover. Here D’Errico offers diversity and autonomy for his readers to be the navigators of text.

While, perhaps not every reader’s ideal book of poetry, Vegas Implosions offers a ripped, psychedelic sketch of a landscape which has to be seen to be comprehended. Even then, one has to pinch themselves to know they are alive. However, D’Errico asks all the probing questions; indeed ‘why are all these people dying in bad shoes?’ When in fact we know the answer, as does D’Errico, all we need to do is kick them off! And then the world will show its passing, cold shoulder once more, but shoeless, we will be free.

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Michelle Gaddes is a writer from southern NSW, Australia. Her poetry compilation, Pariah is available from Ginninderra Press, Port Adelaide, Australia, and her forth coming, Aurora Borealisfrom the same publisher. Michelle is currently editing her third manuscript and she teaches Regional & Environmental histories at the University of Wollongong, NSW. Michelle completed her M.A in 2011 with Deakin University (Writing & Literatures), Victoria, and her research interests are broad. She is interested in the contemporary representation of landscapes together with rhizomatic theories and post-colonial texts. Michelle has been published in the UK, Australia and North America via various print and electronic media; Danse Macabre, Gloom Cupboard, Carcinogenic Poetry, The Canberra Times, The Bemboka Times, Forward Poetry, Zygote in my Coffee, Scorpion Poetry, Rufous Salon etc.