Book 44: Rhyme and Rebellion  by Harry Whitewolf 

Harry Whitewolf recently reached out to me on Goodreads (just a howdy-do sort of deal) before inviting me to the online event he created for a five day window in which this collection of his poetry would be free through Kindle. As someone who is a fan of poetry, eBooks, and free things, I was quick to download it. 
I’ll begin by saying that the description turned me off – “P.C. Pussies,” the title of one of Whitewolf’s poems, was enough to make me cringe. I hoped for satire and was in turn highly disappointed. 

The first poem in the collection, “Equality for the Poor,” has a very strict rhyme scheme (aabbccdd), so I wasn’t sure what to expect; I soon understood that rhyme is not only central to the collection through the title, but through each poem as well. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not huge on constant rhyme; if you’re with me on that this collection is NOT for you. Whitewolf relies very heavily on rhyme, something that seems to have limited nearly every poem in this collection. 

In “Ads, Abs and Apps,” Whitewolf references “White boy rappers,” a stunning chunk of irony for the simple fact that the majority of this collection read like it could have come straight from the mouth of one. 

My favorite poem in the collection is definitely “Skint,” a prose poem that doesn’t try so hard as the rest – the lack of odd line breaks and forced rhymes is so much better. 

In a lot of cases Whitewolf has excellent sentiments, but I can’t enjoy the poems for the rhyming. I would love to read more work from him that feels as organic as “Skint,” and perhaps that’s what his other collections are like. 

I give the collection a 4/10. 

My previous post contains the amazon link – if you act fast the free kindle edition window should still be open. 
Happy reading,

Scarlett 

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Free Kindle Book

Hello all! 

I’m here to share a quick link to a free kindle edition of a book of poetry that’s just come up on my radar!

I’ll be reviewing it ASAP, I just got done downloading my eBook. 

Harry Whitewolf reached out to me a few days ago (just a hello, etc.) on Goodreads and just invited me to the five day event in which this edition is free, so I’m assuming he’s looking for reviews – kindly keep that in mind when you download your copy and keep Goodreads reviews in mind. 

Rhyme and Rebellion by Harry Whitewolf

Happy reading friends! 

Book 43: Emotional Rescue by Ben Greenman

This is my second giveaway win from Goodreads (of the current five) and I hate to say I got quite sidetracked and didn’t pick it up for a while. It’s a kindle edition, a nice bit of instant gratification that I’ve left collecting virtual dust for well over a month. It’s a fairly new book, published on the first of August this year (as I was moving into my current apartment).

The premise of this book is that each essay is written about a song or group of songs, most often a playlist of songs with related themes or subjects. Most of the essays were written by Greenman in some vague past, allowing them to represent a truer interpretation of each time period in his life that’s written about – at least that’s what the intro said, however, the majority of the essays read as though they were written in reflection.

There are so many genres of music, so many themes, so many overlaps between the genres and time periods present here – it’s clear that Greenman knows his stuff.

I really loved how witty Greenway’s writing could be; he encompassed some of my favorite elements of CNF. The realism, the sarcasm, and the introspection all came across as quite genuine. The fact that the book was written over a span of time and that each essay was written organically was refreshing. My issue with this was the uncertainty of time; though the songs can provide somewhat of a timeline in a few instances, there’s not a clear-cut timeline anywhere. I appreciated it in some ways, but it also lead me to read all of the writings as semi-present or eerily undefined in terms of time. “A long time ago,” etc wasn’t enough for me.

My least favorite element of the book was the frequent onslaught of song groupings; at times it was too much, I couldn’t quite appreciate each song the way I did when it was just one or two. The concept of them being like mixtapes was neat, but again, not my favorite.

Disclaimer: I didn’t take the time to listen to each of the songs before I read their respective essays, though it could have certainly heightened the experience. I might recommend that for a more immersive reading, though it would certainly make the book move slower and could be hard to balance in terms of reading/listening in varied settings. Personally, I read all over the place, so looking up the songs and taking pause to listen to all of them wasn’t doable during my reading.

If you’d like to get a feel for his writing, you can find my highlights from the text here.

I give the book a 6/10.

Emotional Rescue: Essays on Love, Loss, and Life–With a Soundtrack

Happy reading,
Scarlett

Book 42: The Chaos of Longing by K. Y. Robinson

In a world equipped with the opportunity to self-publish it’s a toss up – will this poetry speak to me? Will it be riddled with cliches and faux profundity? One never knows. This collection from K. Y. Robinson is a mixed bag, neither the best nor the worst that I’ve read.

I got this book via Goodreads Giveaways, signed by Robinson and everything. The circumstance of having received this book directly from the author makes giving it a mixed review a little more painful, but necessary nonetheless.

I was starkly disappointed the farther that I read – the first two poems in the collection grabbed me, I was ready for a devastating book. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel very satisfied by the time I finished it. Robinson addresses so many of my favorite subjects; topics in this collection range from her cultural background and her childhood to her victimhood to her sexual agency. There was so much potential here!

Like e. e. cummings, Robinson doesn’t capitalize anything throughout the course of the collection, including her name. I consider that a bit of a bold move, though it’s totally stylistic. Overall, this element of the collection didn’t really profoundly affect the way it read, but I considered it worth note. For the most part she seems to be a free form poet. I didn’t catch much meter, but I did catch (and promptly take issue with) a good deal of rhyming.

There were so many great lines in this collection, but time and time again they were muddied by forced rhymes or other, weaker lines and images. In some poems Robinson is specific, uses images, and doesn’t force random rhyme patterns; I’ve dogeared (gasp) roughly a dozen very strong poems and took a mental note of dozens of stanzas that were incredible even when the entire poem wasn’t so concisely written. Don’t get me wrong, I have no issue with rhymes that don’t detract from the diction of a piece, but in multiple instances it was clear that the rhyme scheme in a poem took precedence over the strength of the language itself.

There were even a (slim) few instances in which it seemed that Robinson misused words (ie. “lynching” instead of “leeching” in “certain men” pg. 67). I hate to be harsh, but this collection was definitely in need of some polishing prior to publishing.

When Robinson didn’t limit herself by attempting an unnecessary rhyme or muddle things with cliches, her work shone as unique. I truly hope to see more from her in the future and see how her writing evolves.

My top five poems in the collection were “blood,” “1.7.93,” “charcoal,” “smoke,” and “gun and broom.”

Overall I give the book a 5/10.

The Chaos of Longing

Happy reading,
Scarlett

Book 41: All Night It Is Morning by Andy Young

Another assigned reading! It’s a collection of poetry, and it’s another stunning work. Thus far I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve been assigned.

The poems in this volume address a wide variety of subjects ranging from pregnancy, movement, loss and tragedy to love and joy. They were written over the course of what seemed like several years (some address events in 2005 and 2011 just to name a few). It reads as a carefully curated selection of what must be Young’s very best works.

Her experiences undoubtedly influenced her writing – many of them are the subjects of a poem or several poems in the collection. She experiences Katrina and Egypt during the Revolution among other things.

She uses quite a few forms; the aubade, the villanelle, the triptych, and the elegy to name a few.

A few of my favorites from the collection are “Sower,” “Fine-Toothed,” “Meet Me in Morocco,” “Overdue,” “Private S. in the Baghdad Zoo,” “Aubade in Cairo,” “Postnatal,” and “Voyeur.” I also loved “As You Sleep, the Dead Multiply,” “Egyptian Spring,” and “”Fire on the Prophet’s Face,” the last three poems in the collection. There wasn’t a poem in this book that didn’t deserve its space on the page.

Young’s writing is incredible – each poem is comprised of strong lines packed with imagery and sensory details that bring the reader into her world. She’s one of the strongest poets I’ve read this year.

I give this book a 9/10.

All Night It Is Morning

Happy reading,
Scarlett Peterson

Book 40: Small Ghost by Trista Mateer 

I have two memoirs from Goodreads giveaways and a new YA novel from one of my undergrad professors right at the tips of my fingers, all listed on my “Currently Reading” shelf, and all falling momentarily behind while I bask in Trista Mateer’s poetry for a moment. 
I reviewed The Dogs I Have Kissed not too long ago, and this week I found myself recommending Mateer to my MFA peers. I’d forgotten that I bought Small Ghost as soon as I finished the other collection and was pleasantly surprised when I started scrolling through my Kindle. 

  • I have totally not kept my goal of the book no buy. 
  • Somehow I’ve managed to start hoarding eBooks with the same ferocity that I collect tangible copies. 
  • I regret none of this. 

Mateer’s writing in this collection of poems is centered around the themes of isolation, depression, love and growth all come together to make obscure and at times even cute poetry. 

I loved “Small Ghost Goes Grocery Shopping,” “Small Ghost Throws in the Towel,” “Small Ghost Joins Twitter,” “Small Ghost Falls in Love,” and of course “Small Ghost Looks to the Future.” 

I’ve come to realize that I absolutely adore illustrated books of poetry. Rupi Kaur’s was my first love, but it’s becoming a running theme for me lately. 

Now I’ve gone and ordered Honeybee, my third and I believe the only other collection she has available. I’ll be sure to get to it quite soon. 

I give the collection a 9/10.

Happy reading ☀️

Book 39: Native Guard by Natasha Tretheway

Natasha Tretheway won the Pulitzer with this collection of poetry. It is astoundingly well-written and powerful, a beautiful collection dedicated to her late mother.

Her writing is stunning, and though this was assigned reading, I feel certain that I’ll pick up more of her work in the future. Her ability to tie her mother into poems about nearly any topic was both profoundly beautiful and heart-wrenching. The loss of a loved one is a common subject, especially for creative writers or poets, yet her poetry was organic and unique. The most compelling elements of her work being her ability to turn ordinary things like a misspelled word into a well-crafted, meaningful poem.

Themes of movement and change, death, religion, and race/racial tension combine to create a collection that is varied despite an overarching theme of loss.

In Section II Tretheway focuses on Mississippi with a historical lens, often referencing race through the lens of a slave at war time. As a daughter of a mixed-race couple, race is of course a pertinent subject for Tretheway, and she writes beautifully on the topic. Her mother was from Mississippi, and Tretheway was raised there in her home town, which ties into the dedication and overarching theme at hand.

The third section Tretheway depicts her mother’s history, starting with her illegal marriage and pregnancy, going on into her own childhood. This section deals with race in the South during Tretheway’s lifetime and immediately prior to her conception, a more modern look at race. This section also jumps back to the present towards the end.

A few of my favorites were; “Genus Narcissus,” “Graveyard Blues,” “What is Evidence,” “Southern History,” (probably my favorite, and so immensely valuable), “Incident,”  and “Elegy for Native Guards.” Overall there were few, if any, poems that I distinctly disliked.

I give the book a 9.5/10.

Native Guard: Poems

Happy reading,
Scarlett