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.

Poem for the Day: November 28th, 2021

There Will Come Soft Rains by Sara Teasdale

(War Time)

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white,

Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

Sara Teasdale (1884-1933), while frequently excluded from mention in conversations surrounding early twentieth century American poetry, was critically acclaimed and lauded by both her peers and the public alike during her lifetime. Her deeply personal and heartfelt poems charted the changing inner landscape of a woman living through one of the most turbulent periods in American history, and we would do well to re-examine her impact on her contemporaries as well as her successors. You can read more about her life and work here.

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 27th, 2021

Patronage by Solmaz Sharif

They say
willingness is what one needs
to succeed.

They say one needs to succeed.

*

Our poets do not imagine
a screaming

audience.

Our poets are used to padding,

vinyl, on the foldable chairs,
bookshelves on casters
moved aside
to make space for them

A world polite
for their words

A well-­behaved.
A world’s behavior

malformed and they step
in as one steps in
to a nursery and

quiet

calms the tantrum
attempts not to wake
the sleeping, the milk-­drunk

and burped babe.

Our poets coo.

And beg their feet be placed in a large room.

*

Prize ring. Bull ring. Lion
through the ring of flames.

Poets convinced they are ringmaster
when it is with big brooms and bins, in fact,
they enter to clear the elephant scat.

*

There was an inlet
I pulled over once to watch the sunset, which
was still another hour or so away, the light
just low enough there to begin to change.
I should’ve stayed. I should’ve stayed.

*

A life of idle, with money

doing the work. A life beholden,
but bestowed. To make reformists of us all,

even the fascists.
Especially

of the fascists.

*

But he’s a patron.
But he makes a star of us,
he makes us of rank.

But he’s a churchgoer

and they place their hands on him and pray and bountiful
grow their wives’ bellies, a bully
for each family. Exponential doom.

Singing to each other in the private gazebo of their youth.

*

Now sing.

*

I said what I meant
but I said it

in velvet. I said it in feathers.
And so one poet reminded me


Remember what you are to them.

Poodle, I said.

And remember what they are to you.

*

Meat.

© 2021 Solmaz Sharif. “Patronage” originally appeared in The Yale Review on May 19th, 2021. Solmaz Sharif is the author of two collections of poetry: Look: Poems, which was published by Graywolf Press in July 2016 and was a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award; and Customs: Poems, which is forthcoming from Graywolf Press in March 2022 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.