Coiled and Swallowed by Sara Crawford

Coiled and Swallowed by Sara Crawford


Though Coiled and Swallowed by Sara Crawford begins with a poem anxious and questioning in “Spinning,” readers will find this collection of poetry by Sara Crawford to be honest and even light-hearted, a contrast represented dutifully by the second poem in the book, “Ode to Carpet.” As the book progresses we begin to see the personal and personable experiences whether in regards to love or excesses, adorations or musings; these poems seem to be questions and answers within themselves. In poems like “Flask” or “Green,” readers experience the revelry of youth, access to emotions and feelings as well as the vices of life. Consider the poem “Flask:” “Wednesday was raspberry rum”…”Tuesday was hard cider”…”Wednesday was screwdrivers”…”Thursday was whiskey”…Friday was margaritas”…”Saturday was shots of jagermeister”…”Todays is Sunday. / I’m drinking black coffee, / waiting for you to come out of the bathroom / of this freezing all-night diner. / I wait… / and wait… / and wait… / for you. / But I don’t think you’re coming out this time. / I don’t think you’re coming back . / And my flask is empty.” “Green” exhibits a similar quality, ” The traffic light tells me to move forward / and I’m still choking on this herbal haze / trying to forget the shade your eyes turned / when you saw her. / I stumble out of the car onto tiny blades of grass, / the pine trees look so vibrant in contrast with the sky. / Grasshoppers dance around me and I almost forget / the picture of your lips on hers. ” The beauty of these works, though seemingly heavy, are contrasted in the body of work by poems that reveal the strength of character. Poems like “Music” and “Music Theory” display the writers affinity with audible arts, singing and music making, by drawing on the inspirations of her experience. “Music Theory,” for example, weaves personal experience with music and musicians to a point of seemingly ekphrastic type writing that lauds or reacts to the inspiration as reacts or addresses the point at hand. Of course there are totally light-hearted poems, as “For Frank” which is actually as cute as the kitten it is written for and poems representing absent beauty like “Sunrise.” Personal faves of mine were “The Novelist” about the determination of a writer, that I found quite honorable, and “Dreaming,” a poem endearing to the questions of life and living. All in all, Coiled in Swallowed is a collection of poetry open to all readers, a snapshot of life through the eyes of one Atlanta, Georgia singer/songwriter/playwright/poet (not in that particular order), a vital and well-founded beginning to a promising and proactive vision. 39 pages. $7.

Ink on Wood by Kevin Brown

Ink on Wood by Kevin Brown


Kevin Brown of Arkansas has given to readers the world over a phenomenal new collection of prose in Ink on Wood and an astonishing first for Virgogray Press. I found his work quite riveting. In short the work included in Ink on Wood is searing prose at its best. “02:10:31” and “The End, the opener and closer for the book, are dramatic tales of regret and loss told in unconventional and interesting sequence;  the former being framed as the story unfolds through video and the latter like flashes of memory. Tragic as they are, one cannot help to turn the pages as the story unfolds and the puzzle pieces itself together.   Between these two tales is work that is humorous, as in “Ecdysis,” which frankly I found shocking when I first read. Considering ecdysis means “to shed off skin,” I found this piece to be a masterful literary echo, an elegant step forward for humanity that doesn’t cease to punch you in the jaw. “Learning How to Die,” a nostalgic account between father and son, that is ultimately a tale of acceptance of death, resonated with me. The issue of mortality is lightly punched around by a drunken father teaching his son to box. Other pieces include, “The World (and Everything in it),” a light-hearted look at love loss that reads thickly with poetic hints and crassness. Of course, that’s just skimming the surface, you’ll have to read the story to get the full scoop. Prose fans, fans of flash fiction and short stories, Ink on Wood by Kevin Brown is definitely a collection to pick up—satisfying to the last word.

27 Pages. $7.

This Just in: “Nude Poetry Garage Sale” by Peter Magliocco, Plus “Limbo” Now in 2nd Printing!

"Nude Poetry Garage Sale" by Peter Magliocco

 The newest release from Virgogray is here! “Nude Poetry Garage Sale” by Peter Magliocco is 30 pages of poetic diversity that kinda hinges on its various abstractions of thought and images as it trips into a variety of ideas, some humorously narrative, others absurdly profane. I walked away from this version of “Nude Poetry Garage Sale” thinking Peter Magliocco is nothing short of a mastermind. Even at its opening we see a writer wanting to buck the current with poems seemingly addressing the state of art and editorialship. But I loved the abstraction of images and how sensibly they address the apparent issue as in the poem, “Illusion of Art:” 

Far from the blank page
on your computer screen
where faint radioactive emanations
persistently grope for
all the imprisoned writers of the world
mentally chained to machines
& inherited obsolete concepts
that should remain unwritten,
unthought, undisturbed
the way mirage water puddles
on distant roads are
in the sunlight,
before you race towards them
and they disappear.

This is also present in “The Hunger Artist” where Magliocco writes about “true art” and censoring “literature befouled by commerce & whatnot” drives the point home with a seeming sarcastic, self-defamatory quip: “I’ll cut this poem-pretension up / & add it to the beef stew / which lacks a saving grace / of sorts.”  I found “Narrations from the invidious conflux” humourous with its opening schema of the 1959 Psycho film as it weaves itself into topical briefs on Obama, Valerie Solanis and impending earthquake doom–I rather liked that poem. “Something Behind Everything” tapped into the spiritual and profound, another aspect I find appealing when reading poetry. These lines are wonderful,

Please send good tidings
to the prison where now I sleep
dreaming of us reading together
the skywriting of planes
above the ecliptic tilt
clouds shape ivory hills
for the hiding gods.

Wow. And all this in the first five pages! Could it get better? It could. There were other poems I found to be insightful, if not after a double-take and a closer read through, such as: “Bury Her Heart on Highway 61,” “A Casualty of Permissive Sex in Unorthodox Times (which, by the way, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize),” “From the Nude Christ,” and “The Vision Inescapable.” Another poem I found humorous was, “Host,” but only because I jaywalk and never really looked at it as inviting hard-metal death, but that’s why I like reading poetry. Over all, “Nude Poetry Garage Sale” is a hefty helping of verse, a bit thicker than some, with a little bit of imaginative deciphering required. It is the thoughtfulness that is so inviting, though, and is worthy of those desiring an engaging read. Cover art by Justin Jackley. 30 Pages. $7.

“Limbo” by Michael Aaron Casares (2nd edition)


Limbo Now in Second Print

The 2006 Virgogray release of “Limbo” has been re-issued in an expanded and revised 2nd print and is now available for your readership. “Limbo” now contains 20 pages of poetry, including many poems not available in other publications. “Like Father,” “Upon Dying,” “Conversations” are among the gems contained in this collection. Get it while you can!

Also, be sure to check out an interview with Michael by Jim Harrington at his website, “Six Questions For,” an interview site dedicated to getting into the heads of editors and publishers! Jim has picked the brains of many creatives, including: Lynn Alexander of Full of Crow, Alison Ross of The Clockwise Cat, and Allie Dresser of Gloom Cupboard just to name a few.

 Thanks again to everyone hanging in there with us as we go through our birthing process. We look forward to a fruitful end of the year with new releases from Kevin Brown, Felino Soriano, Sara Crawford, Michael McAloran and Doctori Sadisco on the horizon… chapbook submissions will re-open before you know it, as well as the Carcinogenic Anthology printed edition–so stay tuned and get involved!