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: February 13th, 2022

Domestic Violence by Iliana Rocha

Morning dragonflies tricked by the sliding glass
door, scattered on the porch like cigarettes torn in half,
& a horse in watercolor, its joints light blue circles.
Golf carts zoom over the green breasts
of the hills. I slept on my hands,
flat pillows filled with a puzzle of tiny bones. Loneliness’s

gray blanket, last night’s mascara, loneliness—
a dragonfly hovers like spit in slow motion near the glass,
promises to fill the pane with itself like his hand,
my face reflecting back at him. Half
the world is still asleep, my breasts
alive & waking from my shirt. Wind in circles

through grass, horses tip in its direction. Saturated circles,
faces, move the muted TV screen, broadcast more loneliness:
buy this property, try this exercise. A woman with hard breasts
isn’t convincing. When I shift in myself, glass
breaks inside me, a sky losing over half
its stars, desperate dark hands

finding something else to fill it. Like hands,
birds clap their wings in desperation’s applause, circling
as if their species is dying out. My throat, half
gastrolith, half swollen tequila, it’s not loneliness
we flying things try to avoid, but in glass
a painful logic, one you learn like the breast’s.

A rainbow interrupts the white cloud breasts,
like mine, where once his hands
lived, then destroyed. My breath against silence’s smooth glass,
longing for the wisdom of a tree’s hollow, sex circle,
how it endures loneliness
by invitations to other survivors of this world from half

its violence, all its love.

© 2021 Iliana Rocha. Today’s poem was taken from the April 2021 issue of Poetry.

Iliana Rocha earned her Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing from Western Michigan University. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her debut collection of poetry, Karankawa, won the 2014 Donald Hall Prize in Poetry. You can read more about Iliana Rocha and her work on her 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.

Poem for the Day: January 27th, 2022

American Deathbed by Jiarong Zhang

is boneboat. We make teeth 

from pennies for our American

toothfairy. We hide them under our

pillow next to our nectarine

acetaminophen. Dali mouths

opening to other mouths

form this neck of history.

I’m sucking my pregnancy

test like a popsicle. I’m

breastfeeding the sea.

You’re in bed with

your video game girlfriend

except it’s you on the screen,

you’re playing in the first person

your lips are kissing your feet.

You’re smoking a cigarette

in the deportees club.

You’re sitting on the toilet

beside your female-gendered

tub. I’m watching an old

woman crawl up the hill

of the city. I’m baptizing

myself in the acidachelake.

The sun is throbbing

into my throat. For who.

For who. I’m scalpel

-ing an ebony. You’re Fishhawk

Midnight. My naked legs

bent into the Geese

-Shaped V. Before we sleep,

you look out the window

to see what’s left of me. Out there,

beyond the American Deathbed,

you tell me there are lesions of

kindness. There are birds

jeweling our sleeps. There

are hyacinths, just purring.

I want my mother to see.

On the moon, you say

look closely to see

a child’s TV

playing infinitely on loop,

just purring with gravity.

I want the old song to play

of my father snoring in his

sleep. Mother yelling at me to

leave. In this twilight,

even anger is so pretty.

Live for me.

© 2014-2020, BOAAT Press. All rights reserved.

I love how playful Zhang is with language in this poem. From the lesions of kindness to the hyacinths, just purring, every image Zhang conjures is haunting in its specificity while abstract in its execution. In the background of it all is an undercurrent of electricity waiting to zap the attentive reader. American Deathbed is one of those poems you can’t read just once, and the reader willing to give it the time and attention it deserves will not regret the decision.

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.

Poem for the Day: January 14th, 2022

i found a lover and we left the city by Patrycja Humienik

temporarily. crackle of the fire said as much.

temple into the sprawl of limbs, which came later. first



the alchemists: oysters we ate quietly as we could,

laughing, not saying a word, eyes full of language.



and it wasn’t that no one had ever touched me before,

but it had never been like this. tunnel-less. not a search



for a prize, zippered pearl to coax out of grieving.

not the scarcity of hardship or the dismissal of it, but we did look



up: airglow: sky a cicatrix: purpling, paler. damage,

and the need to undo it—not to fix, but to unribbon



the past. my mama grew up in a rural place, rolling jade

hills, my name betrayed her wish to leave that lack.



szlachetnie urodzona: desire for wealth and its associated ease.

i don’t blame her for using a name like a tool for weeding.



i, too, prune and tug at my story, but she wanted me to live

up to my name, and for that i might blame her, i learn other names,



plants that please me: forsythia, hyacinth, pyracantha; my lover

gives me a dried bouquet. i prefer weeping



willow, even seaweed, something of water. i want

not to say this but to be understood with my eyes, the way



i was, for a moment, by the fire. but some lovers are not for

lasting, though that part comes later, if i, must i, tell the truth.

© 2014-2020, BOAAT Press. All rights reserved.

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 7th, 2022

Dream Journal by Kareem Tayyar

If you’re swimming
then you have lost something important.

If you’re flying
then your heart’s been broken.

If you sit at a table before a deck of cards
then you are afraid of getting older.

If you undress beneath a single spotlight
then you are about to commit a crime.

If you are singing while holding a Spanish guitar
then someone you know has passed away.

If you are preparing to leap from a balcony
then you are mourning the loss of your childhood.

If you place your lips to the breast of a cloud
then you have forgotten to say your prayers.

If you run three red lights in a row
then there is a lesson you still haven’t learned.

If you pull water from an old well
then your father is preparing to call you long distance.

If you hear music playing from another house on your street
then your sister is about to come back from the dead.

If you cup your hands as a hard rain begins
then you are days away from falling in love.

If you find that you cannot run when you want to
then there is a book that you need to reread.

If you awaken in a field of strawberries
then a long  journey awaits you.

If you eat the strawberries
then you won’t be going alone.

© 2022 Kareem Tayyar. Today’s poem is taken from the January 2022 issue of 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: January 6th, 2022

The Snow Is Deep on the Ground by Kenneth Patchen

The snow is deep on the ground.   
Always the light falls
Softly down on the hair of my belovèd.

This is a good world.
The war has failed.
God shall not forget us.
Who made the snow waits where love is.

Only a few go mad.
The sky moves in its whiteness
Like the withered hand of an old king.
God shall not forget us.
Who made the sky knows of our love.

The snow is beautiful on the ground.
And always the lights of heaven glow
Softly down on the hair of my belovèd.

© 1943 Kenneth Patchen. Today’s poem is taken from Collected Poems by Kenneth Patchen, which was published by New Directions Publishing Corporation 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.