Salamander Magazine, Issue 55, Fall/Winter 2022-2023
Two recent collections from queer poets of color put into stark relief the challenges and cruelties of contemporary America. Both collections are elegiac, though in formally different ways.
Cyrus Cassells’ eighth collection, The World That the Shooter Left Us, presents a roaring protest against gun violence, racism, sexual exploitation, political corruption, and the intersection of all of these subjects. C.T. Salazar’s debut collection, Headless John the Baptist Hitchhiking, brings a quiet sense of reclaimed prayer and reflection to the heavy pall of life in the American south. The former of these titles shows the importance of a civic-minded poetics; the latter reveals the power of an internal reckoning and resolve to find an adequate language for sorrow.
Harvard Review, September 28, 2022
This is the whole point of reading broadly and deeply, right? These literary moments just become part of our own language at some point. They become such a part of us that they seem to be native, when, in fact, there’s a literary genealogy that runs through us. You spoke of the tactile or physical nature of Stein’s language, the joy of the rhythm on the tongue, the propulsion. I am struck by the way you describe the trance as a physical transformation.
Rain Taxi Review of Books, Volume 27, No. 2, Summer 2022
Of the many joys in reading Wayne Koestenbaum's Ultramarine -- the final book in his trance notebooks trilogy -- perhaps the most satisfying is the opportunity to revisit his two earlier volumes. ... All the books reverberate across each other -- nothing about them is linear, individually or collectively. As Koestenbaum reminds readers in the first of the three works, "consecutiveness perhaps / is the problem."... Koestenbaum's notebooks, including Ultramarine, work against interpretation, to borrow Sontag's phrase, and avoid overt, fixed meaning in favor of sensuousness.
Great River Review, Issue 68, Winter 2021
Field of flowers, 71
and sunny, the native
intelligence of trees
and owls, bees and
dolphins all now
in the air: what is
the nature of
"For more than a decade, Campion has engaged multiple voices in his poems: translations of ancient Roman poetry, snatches of overheard conversations. These patch together life today, among its flood of information streams. Where much of contemporary poetry mimics digital media in a postmodern pastiche, Campion makes meaningful connections from disintegrated contexts. With these poems, Campion continues the explorations of earlier collections, revealing his search for an adequate language of love as the central motive for his heteroglossia.."
"With meticulous detail, Padgett merges the election of Atlanta’s first Black mayor, the extraordinary Maynard Jackson, with the earliest days of the newly formed Georgia Gay Liberation Front. He intersects race and queer life to show an important truth: As with the riots at New York’s Stonewall Inn, the push for equality in the Deep South started with people of color, transgender people, and drag queens. They were the ones who most deeply understood the degradation of inequality and the impact of injustice, who most urgently needed change."
"Once off the stage and out of the footlights, Cohen’s gay characters are at risk, exposed in the light of day as they try simply to move through life. These stories can seem easy, but that, too, is gentle deception. The threat of angry fathers, campus bullies, and police vice squads always waits in the wings. Underneath the sweet storytelling, fear of discovery lurks, and it is pervasive to the point of paranoia."
"A riveting wildness animates Stoop City, Kristyn Dunnion’s sixth book. This collection of interwoven stories details the complicated, delicately connected lives of recurring characters who balance on the edges between embraced identity and despair, between shared community and nothing. These are not technically ghost stories, but they are haunting stories."
Great River Review, Issue 67, Winter 2020
"Brown’s mastery of poetic form is never more dazzling, though, than in his invented duplex poems. ... Weaving together elements of sonnet, pantoum and ghazal, Brown’s new form blends both Western and Eastern traditions into one that feels decidedly Southern in its colloquial tonality and blues-inspired, jazzlike variations."
"Roth, like Bachelard, understands that inhabiting a geodesic dome means something fundamentally different than inhabiting an ice-fishing hut. Not only are the spaces themselves different, but the histories they have seen are different, the realities inside them are different, for the way light enters them and shapes time inside of them is different. They are, quite literally, universes apart."