All Aboard the ARC: Little Astronaut: Poems by J. Hope Stein

***Note: I received a free digital review copy of this book from NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing in exchange for an honest review. I have not received compensation for the inclusion of any links for purchase found in this review or on any other page of The Voracious Bibliophile which mentions Little Astronaut: Poems, its author, or its publisher.***

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Review

A lot of small joys are captured herein: running barefoot on the beach; discovering language for the first time; and all the other triumphs of new life, of becoming a person. The bond between a mother and her child is perhaps the most holy covenant we as humans partake in, and J. Hope Stein restores the hallowed realms of motherhood to their much-deserved apotheosis. In this collection, Stein has given words to what can only be described as a miracle, and we as readers are more the blessed for her contributions. I don’t think I could recommend this collection highly enough, and I’m looking forward to putting it in the hands of my customers.

The bond between a mother and her child is perhaps the most holy covenant we as humans partake in, and J. Hope Stein restores the hallowed realms of motherhood to their much-deserved apotheosis.

Little Astronaut: Poems by J. Hope Stein

Little Astronaut: Poems is due to be released on September 20th, 2022 by Andrews McMeel Publishing and is available to preorder wherever books are sold.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

All Aboard the ARC: Musical Tables: Poems by Billy Collins

***Note: I received a free digital review copy of this book from NetGalley and Random House in exchange for an honest review. I have not received compensation for the inclusion of any links for purchase found in this review or on any other page of The Voracious Bibliophile which mentions Musical Tables: Poems, its author, or its publisher.***

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Review

My first introduction to Billy Collins and his work was in my high school sophomore English class reading “Introduction to Poetry”. I’m including the text of it below, courtesy of Poetry Foundation:

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

© 1988, 1996 Billy Collins. Source: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46712/introduction-to-poetry.

Since that fateful day, I myself no longer try to “torture a confession” out of the poems I read. I simply spend time with them, ruminating on them. Some poems reveal all of their truths at once while others can take anywhere from years to never to come into the light. The best poems, at least in my opinion, are the ones you can’t explain but that make you feel something deep stirring within you.

The best poems, at least in my opinion, are the ones you can’t explain but that make you feel something deep stirring within you.

All of that said, I think that Musical Tables is one of his best collections yet. More than 125 new poems are contained therein and all of them are short. If brevity is indeed the soul of wit, there’s enough wit in these 176 pages to confound King Solomon. Don’t expect any of the poems in this collection to smack you over the head with their profundity. While some of them are indeed deeply insightful, oftentimes whimsical and playful, none of them are preeners. They simply stand in front of the reader naked and say, “This is what you get, like it or not.” Some made me chuckle. Others made me pause ever so briefly to think. It’s exactly that brand of self-effacing yet utterly winning that keeps me coming back to Billy Collins and his work through the years.

It’s exactly that brand of self-effacing yet utterly winning that keeps me coming back to Billy Collins and his work through the years.

While I can’t share the text of them here, not just yet anyway, I will tell you that my favorite poems from Collins’s newest collection are (in no particular order): “The Dead of Winter”, “Headstones”, “The Sociologist”, “Twisting Time”, “Eyes”, and “Orphans”.

Musical Tables: Poems by Billy Collins

Musical Tables: Poems is due to be released on November 15th, 2022 by Random House Publishing Group – Random House and is available to preorder wherever books are sold.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

All Aboard the ARC: unlock your storybook heart by Amanda Lovelace

unlock your storybook heart by Amanda Lovelace

***Note: I received a free digital review copy of this book from NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing in exchange for an honest review. I have not received compensation for the inclusion of any links for purchase found in this review or on any other page of The Voracious Bibliophile which mentions unlock your storybook heart, its author, or its publisher.***

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Review

Reading a book by Amanda Lovelace is kind of like settling in for a nice heartfelt chat with a friend that you’ve not gotten to talk to in a long time.

Reading a book by Amanda Lovelace is kind of like settling in for a nice heartfelt chat with a friend that you’ve not gotten to talk to in a long time. There’s familiarity, kinship, and the kind of confessions you can only make when you know someone truly and deeply. When I first found out I had been approved to read a galley of unlock your storybook heart, which is the third and final book in Lovelace’s you are your own fairy tale series, I immediately texted a friend who also loves her work and intentionally filled them with jealousy. Evil? Perhaps, but it was worth it.

You’re already the prize you’ve won.

I enjoyed every page of this collection. Its truths bear repeating and Lovelace expands upon her themes with each successive page. Throughout this collection, and indeed throughout all of Lovelace’s work, we see that the most profound truths and the best practices for living one’s life to the fullest are not complex at all. All you really need to do is let go, trust your inner voice, and chart your own path. It’s nice to have a partner to share that journey with, but as Lovelace often shares, you only need yourself. You’re already the prize you’ve won. You don’t need a charming prince in a fortified castle or a knight in shining armor. You can slay the dragon yourself and ride off into the sunset as your own hero and that’s perfectly okay.

You can slay the dragon yourself and ride off into the sunset as your own hero and that’s perfectly okay.

unlock your storybook heart will be released by Andrews McMeel Publishing on March 15th, 2022 and is now available to preorder wherever books are sold.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

All Aboard the ARC: Broken Halves of a Milky Sun: Poems by Aaiún Nin

Broken Halves of a Milky Sun: Poems by Aaiún Nin

***Note: I received a free digital review copy of this book from NetGalley and Astra House in exchange for an honest review. I have not received compensation for the inclusion of any links for purchase found in this review or on any other page of The Voracious Bibliophile which mentions Broken Halves of a Milky Sun: Poems, its creator, or its publisher.***

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Review

Theirs is a fiercely political poetics which centers the Black Queer experience and names the many violences committed by Western governments in the name of Christianity, “progress”, and the status quo.

In their daring and evocative debut, Aaiún Nin leaves absolutely nothing left unsaid. Theirs is a fiercely political poetics which centers the Black Queer experience and names the many violences committed by Western governments in the name of Christianity, “progress”, and the status quo. Where other writers would dance on the line between truthful testimony and placating respectability, most likely due to a reflexive need for self-preservation, Nin forges a path of their own through a tangled web of desire, trauma, history, and their personal immigrant experience—in their case, one that has been rife with racism, homophobia, and other intersecting axes of oppression.

What Nin refuses to do in Broken Halves of a Milky Sun is cater to an audience that would never listen to them anyway, at least not in any substantive or constructive way. In fact, they anticipate the not all men and not all white people responses and throw it back in the faces of their would-be detractors. This is not a space for the oppressors to have a say. Sit down. They are not accepting questions or comments at this time.

So moved was I by the poems in this collection that when I made it to the end, breathless and aching, only one response would suffice: Amen.

Broken Halves of a Milky Sun: Poems was published by Astra House on February 1st, 2022 and is available to purchase wherever books are sold.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

All Aboard the ARC: The Moonflower Monologues (Revised and Expanded) by Tess Guinery

The Moonflower Monologues (Revised and Expanded) by Tess Guinery

***Note: I received a free digital review copy of this book from NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing in exchange for an honest review. I have not received compensation for the inclusion of any links for purchase found in this review or on any other page of The Voracious Bibliophile which mentions The Moonflower Monologues, its creator, or its publisher.***

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Review

Before reading Tess Guinery’s newest collection The Moonflower Monologues, I didn’t know anything about night flowers. I didn’t know that there were even such flora in existence. These nocturnal beauties, these children of the moon, bloom only under the cover of night, illuminated by nought but pale slivers of moonlight. Because they bloom only at night, they cannot be pollinated by the usual insects. Bats and moths, then, being nocturnal creatures themselves, are primarily responsible for pollinating these fragrance-heavy flowers. These flowers, as you can see, easily lend themselves to metaphor.

These nocturnal beauties, these children of the moon, bloom only under the cover of night, illuminated by nought but pale slivers of moonlight.

In The Moonflower Monologues, Tess Guinery illuminates for us a simple but complex truth: It is only in our darkest moments that we see what we are truly capable of, that we become who we were meant to be. Truthfully, we can only become the best version of ourselves after having been through the kind of reflection and introspection that she details in her book. I must admit, I read this collection through one of the darkest periods of my life. Having survived COVID-19 and been forced to live with my own limitations after the fact, I really needed something bright and beautiful to pull me out of my malaise. I needed, as one of my favorite authors Cheryl Strayed has said before, to be put in the way of beauty.

It is only in our darkest moments that we see what we are truly capable of, that we become who we were meant to be.

Part of putting yourself in the way of beauty more often than not requires getting out of your own head and admiring the wonder of creation around you. It requires you to do the deep and laborious work of excavation, to get at the truth of the wonder of life. What is that truth? For me, and I’m sure for Tess Guinery as well, it’s love.

What is that truth? For me, and I’m sure for Tess Guinery as well, it’s love.

The Moonflower Monologues was published by Andrews McMeel Publishing on January 4th, 2022 and is now available to purchase wherever books are sold. This collection is perfect for fans of Rupi Kaur, Amanda Lovelace, and Lang Leav.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Poem for the Day: January 26th, 2022

Fresco by Richie Hofmann

I have come again to the perfumed city.
Houses with tiered porches, some decorated with shells.
You know from the windows that the houses
are from a different time. I am not
to blame for what changes, though sometimes
I have trouble sleeping.
Between the carriage houses,
there are little gardens separated by gates.
Lately, I have been thinking about the gates.
The one ornamented with the brass lion, I remember
it was warm to the touch
even in what passes here for winter.
But last night, when I closed my eyes,
it was not the lion that I pictured first.

© 2012 Richie Hofmann. Today’s poem is taken from the November 2012 issue of Poetry Magazine.

Richie Hofmann teaches poetry at Stanford University. His first collection of poetry, Second Empire, was published by Alice James Books in 2015. His forthcoming collection of poetry, A Hundred Lovers, is due to be released by Knopf on February 8th, 2022. His work appears elsewhere in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, and The Yale Review. You can read more about him and his work on his website.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

All Aboard the ARC: New Names for Lost Things by Noor Unnahar

New Names for Lost Things by Noor Unnahar

***Note: I received a free digital review copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***

A poet’s heart is a populous grave. Bodies turned stories turned / guilt turned into a mouth. I am trying to be lonely again.

Noor Unnahar, [A Poet’s Heart]

In New Names for Lost Things, Noor Unnahar’s newest collection of poetry and visual art, she speaks in her own inimitable voice about the achingly familiar: love, loss, grief, death, memory, and forgetting. She writes with emotional clarity in an economy of language that doesn’t waste words. This collection is exactly what it needs to be, nothing more and nothing less, and that is the highest compliment one can pay a poet.

…she [Unnahar] speaks…about the achingly familiar: love, loss, grief, death, memory, and forgetting.

Major themes recurring throughout New Names for Lost Things include family memory, the opportunity cost of our chosen versus our lost or unchosen futures, and the way(s) in which what we choose to keep, both material and immaterial, come to define us not only to ourselves but to the rest of the world. While Unnahar’s first collection, yesterday i was the moon, was luminous in its own right, New Names for Lost Things is in a category entirely its own. Put simply, if yesterday i was the moon were a single star, New Names for Lost Things is its own galaxy. This is one of the best collections I’ve read this year and I want everyone I know to read it.

New Names for Lost Things was published by Andrews McMeel Publishing on October 19th, 2021 and is available to purchase wherever books are sold.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Poem for the Day: December 6th, 2021

For My Daughter on Her Twenty-First Birthday by Ellen Bass

When they laid you in the crook
of my arms like a bouquet and I looked
into your eyes, dark bits of evening sky,
I thought, of course this is you,
like a person who has never seen the sea
can recognize it instantly.

They pulled you from me like a cork
and all the love flowed out. I adored you
with the squandering passion of spring
that shoots green from every pore.

You dug me out like a well. You lit
the deadwood of my heart. You pinned me
to the earth with the points of stars.

I was sure that kind of love would be
enough. I thought I was your mother.
How could I have known that over and over
you would crack the sky like lightning,
illuminating all my fears, my weaknesses, my sins.

Massive the burden this flesh
must learn to bear, like mules of love.

© 2002 Ellen Bass. Today’s poem is taken from Bass’s collection Mules of Love: Poems, which was published by BOA Editions on April 1st, 2002 and is available to purchase wherever books are sold.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Poem for the Day: December 1st, 2021

To the Reader by James Merrill

Each day, hot off the press from Moon & Son,
“Knowing of your continued interest,”
Here’s a new book — well, actually the updated
Edition of their one all-time best-seller —
To find last night’s place in, and forge ahead.
If certain scenes and situations (“work,”
As the jacket has it, “of a blazingly
Original voice”) make you look up from your page
— But this is life, is truth, is me! — too many
Smack of self-plagiarism. Terror and tryst,
Vow and verbena, done before, to death,
In earlier chapters, under different names …
And what about those characters? No true
Creator would just let them fade from view
Or be snuffed out, like people. Yet is there room
(In the pinch of pages under your right thumb)
To bring them back so late into their own? —
Granted their own can tell itself from yours.
You’d like to think a structure will emerge,
If only a kind of Joycean squirrel run
Returning us all neatly to page 1,
But the inconsistencies of plot and style
Lead you to fear that, for this author, fiction
Aims at the cheap effect, “stranger than fiction,”
As people once thought life — no, truth, was. Strange …
Anyhow, your final thought tonight,
Before you kiss my picture and turn the light out,
Is of a more exemplary life begun
Tomorrow, truer, harder to get right.

© 1990 James Merrill. “To the Reader” was originally published in the November 1990 – Spring 1990 issue of The Yale Review. James Merrill (1926-1995) was one of the most celebrated poets of his generation. During his lifetime, he published eleven collections of poetry as well as plays, novels, a memoir, and the trilogy The Changing Light at Sandover.

One of the things I love most about James Merrill, other than the fact that he was a wholly original and inimitable poet, was that he was openly gay in most of his circles. For someone born in 1926 to live so openly and so unashamedly despite the stigma and prejudice he no doubt dealt with on a daily basis is incredible to me. It’s truly a shame that he is not discussed more outside of the queer literati because he changed the landscape of American poetry for everyone that came after him, queer or not.

Do you have a favorite poem of James Merrill’s or even a favorite collection? Before reading today’s post, had you heard of him? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Poem for the Day: November 29th, 2021

Tonight No Poetry Will Serve: Poems 2007-2010 by Adrienne Rich

Tonight No Poetry Will Serve by Adrienne Rich

Saw you walking barefoot
taking a long look
at the new moon's eyelid

later spread
sleep-fallen, naked in your dark hair
asleep but not oblivious
of the unslept unsleeping
elsewhere

Tonight I think
no poetry
will serve

Syntax of rendition:

verb pilots the plane
adverb modifies action

verb force-feeds noun
submerges the subject
noun is choking
verb disgraced goes on doing

now diagram the sentence


2007

© 2011 Adrienne Rich. Today’s poem is taken from Rich’s collection Tonight No Poetry Will Serve: Poems 2007-2010, which was published by W.W. Norton in 2011 and was nominated for the National Book Award for Poetry.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.