Protective Coloration / David Jibson

ProtectiveColorationCoverIn this splendid collection of engaging and unmistakably American poems, David Jibson manages to find beauty in utterly unexpected places: piled up on a back shelf at the Salvation Army Store, for example, or strung along the bedraggled length of the Ohio Turnpike—or perhaps in the lovely, tentative dance of a blind woman learning to walk with a white cane. Along with a faint echo of Ted Kooser or Billy Collins at their conversational best, you’ll be captivated by Jibson’s own irresistible voice: that of a witty, insightful observer of the astonishments that surround us.

Marilyn L. Taylor / Wisconsin Poet Laureate, Emerita

To read David Jibson’s poems is like leafing through a pile of photos of your life and suddenly rediscovering feelings and events you had forgotten or never knew. Each snapshot is replete with carefully selected images organized to create unity and fulfillment. His poems range from trivia to exotic, from people we recognize to those we would like to meet. Topics include science, religion, philosophy, history, music, art, and (the requisite for all good poetry) basic old-fashioned entertainment.

Lawrence W. Thomas / Founding Editor of Third Wednesday Magazine,
Honorary Chancellor, Poetry Society of Michigan




Protective Coloration

The Walking Stick is indistinguishable from his habitat,
as is the Dead Leaf Butterfly, the Pygmy Seahorse,
the Tawny Frog-mouth of Tasmania and the Giant Kelp-fish.

So it is with the poet of a certain age hidden in a corner booth
at the back of the cafe as quiet as any snowshoe hare,
as still as a heron among the reeds.

To Have and Have Not

In the balcony rows where the lovers sit
it’s not so far from heaven
where the beam from a projector
slices the darkness and we,
playing at Bogie and Bacall,
splash ourselves up on the screen,
an etching of a former world,
where we wish we could
live out our lives in two dimensions
in the deep shadows of a darkened theater,
the objects of every envy.

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You’re in the Wrong Place / Joseph Harris

(Wayne State University Press, September 15, 2020)

YoureInWrongPlaceCoverIn a thrilling interconnected narrative, You’re in the Wrong Place presents characters reaching for transcendence from a place they cannot escape. Charles Baxter stated that “Joseph Harris has a particular feeling for the Detroit suburbs and the slightly stunted lives of the young people there…You’re in the Wrong Place isn’t uniformly downbeat-there are all sorts of rays of hope that gleam toward the end.”

The book, composed of twelve stories, begins in the fall of 2008 with the shuttering of Dynamic Fabricating-a fictional industrial shop located in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale. Over the next seven years, the shop’s former employees-as well as their friends and families-struggle to find money, purpose, and levity in a landscape suddenly devoid of work, faith, and love.

Vivid, gritty, and original; You’re in the Wrong Place is a love letter to the city of Detroit. A terrific book. (Julie Schumacher Thurber Prize–winning author of Dear Committee Members)

These stories come to us from the front lines of urban decay and renewal, telling us news that stays news. The book is compassionate in its understanding of an entire population group that is proud even in defeat, and the writing often rises to wonderful eloquence. This is a very powerful book. (Charles Baxter author of There’s Something I Want You to Do)

Like the city they struggle to live in, the Detroiters in Joseph Harris’s short stories lead lives ravaged by loss-lost jobs, lost homes, lost loves, lost lives, lost dignity, and lost worlds. And yet even among ruins, with the help of Harris’s artful prose and redemptive imagination, his characters salvage fleeting moments of makeshift grace. Here is a new voice worth listening to. (Donovan Hohn author of The Inner Coast)

Author Bio: Joseph Harris is the author of the story collection You’re in the Wrong Place (Wayne State University Press, 2020). His stories have appeared in Clackamas Literary Review, Midwest Review, Moon City Review, Great Lakes Review, Third Wednesday, Storm Cellar, and have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He lives in Oak Park, MI.

Story that first appeared in Third Wednesday: “Easter Sunday.” Third Wednesday Vol. X, No. 1. Winter 2017.

Purchase At:  Wayne State University PressBookshop, Indiebound, Barnes & Noble, & Amazon.

Random Saints / Joe Cottonwood

Random_Saints_72Random Saints by Joe Cottonwood
Publisher: Kelsay Books, May 2020

available at Kelsay Books and from Amazon.com.  

In “Officially Licensed Poet,” the speaker says to the poet ‘I don’t really like poetry but I like your stuff.’ I really do like poetry and I like Joe Cottonwood’s stuff too. If I were asked to choose a book to encapsulate late twentieth century early twenty-first century life as told by a humane and gifted observer, Random Saints would be my pick. Cottonwood is a master story-teller. Put a log on the fire, pull up a comfy chair, open the book. Prepare to laugh, prepare to cry, prepare to feel better about the human race.
Donna Hilbert, author of Gravity: New & Selected Poems

I have to say HOLY WOW. This whole thing knocked me over. Joe Cottonwood is a poet of uncommon perception. His work is direct, embodied, and authentic. Each poem is packed with the real wealth that comes of close observation and hard-won wisdom, carved down to the essence. Let Random Saints show you how the “grinding of the earth creates a diamond.” Then grab a few extra copies. You’re going to want to share this book. 
— Laura Grace Weldon, Ohio Poet of the Year 2019, author of Blackbird

Joe Cottonwood’s humanity illuminates his beautiful poetry, unfailingly drawing us into kinship with our fellow beings—two-legged and otherwise—in ways that surprise and delight. His writing proves the power of simple words and everyday experiences. I was honored to publish so many of these pieces in The MOON magazine.
— Leslee Goodman, publisher of The MOON magazine

JoeJoe Cottonwood is a carpenter by day, poet by night. He lives under redwood trees in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California.

We Bury the Landscape / Kristine Ong Muslim

KMuslimWe Bury the LandscapeWeBurytheLandscape
ISBN 978971542929-0
120 pages
Cover by Nadya Melina Nievera
Release date: October 25, 2020
Publisher: University of the Philippines Press

Click cover for link

It isn’t everyday a book offers two very different ways of reading. The first: intensely personal, sometimes bewildering and yet rigorously demanding in terms of creative participation, and the second: intellectual, research-based and analytical, but also a call to a communal multi-genre artistic experience. These two different methods are on offer in Kristine Ong Muslim’s collection of micro fictions We Bury the Landscape, an assemblage of very short ekphrastic pieces.”
Michelle Bailat-Jones in Necessary Fiction

Although the relationship between painting and prose is certainly essential to fully experiencing this collection, the collection is more than an exhibition or exercise in ekphrasis … Muslim’s collection-exhibition chronicles the process in which the things we drown, discard, and bury are exhumed and continue to haunt us even after we have buried them again.”
Hayes Moore in A cappella Zoo

Conceptually, this is one of the most unusual books I have ever read. We Bury the Landscape, by Kristine Ong Muslim, is a collection of 100 mini-stories based on works of visual art—paintings for the most part, but also drawings, and one photograph …. The pieces themselves reflect the surrealism of the selection. They are flights of the imagination, untrammelled by pedantic considerations of plausibility. In effect, they are more in the nature of prose poems, where the language is every bit as important as the content.”
Colman O Criodain in Gloom Cupboard

It’s not the talking that is significant but the stories themselves that are important. We must accept the things we most want to query. All of which suggests that one strand of the weird invites us to reconsider entirely how we tell stories and how we understand them. I’ve been thinking about this every time I come back to Kristine Ong Muslim’s We Bury the Landscape.”
Maureen Kincaid Speller in Weird Fiction Review

[We Bury the Landscape is] filled with an uncanny wisdom about what terrifies us most in life and death—a knowledge so nonchalant and startling each poem proves only to reveal truths about each of us, about our humanity.”
Susan Yount in Rebellious Magazine

 

Landscape with Grenade
      after Cliff McReynolds’s Landscape with Hand Grenade / oil on panel, 1972

GrenadeWhen the little people discovered the grenade on their valley, they did not know what it was so they prayed to it, tilled the land, and planted their tiny sacred crops around it as if it were some sort of shrine. Something so big and black with a curious contraption on one end had to beget miracles. So for months and months, they sang to it, asking for whatever it was little people desired in their little hearts. When nothing happened and because they were cowardly, they slit the throats of innocent animals in sacrifice. And when nothing happened still, they pelted the grenade with small stones. The grenadegod, of course, would not budge.

 

The Spider
           after Odilon Redon’s The Crying Spider / charcoal, 1881

CryingSpiderYour own family betrayed you the day they mistook you for a spider. Your mother caught you balancing a coffee mug on your fourth leg while sewing a button onto your coat with your two inborn hands. She told the family doctor you were “not quite right.” Another day, spying through the half-opened door, your kid brother watched you spin a web on the bedroom ceiling. Turning around, you lock eyes with him. He screamed. You didn’t get a chance to lick your achy joints and explain to him that it is normal to spin a web, to trap insects. Afterwards, your brother had to be sedated. For two years, he had the same bad dream. Your father, saddled since birth with pretending to be human, blamed you. When at last you had the sense to run away from home, nobody reported you missing. Your family must have assumed that anyone with eight legs must travel farther, go places no one else can. Most days, you wish that were the case.

Revenge of the Goldfish 
     after Sandy Skoglund’s Revenge of the GoldfishGoldfish / art installation photograph, 1981

It started when my sister and I painted the bedroom walls an incestuous blue. At first, only two appeared, seeped through the walls. Goldfish. All fat lips and yellow-orange ugliness, squiggling as if they had the right to materialize. One landed near my sock drawer. The bigger of the two settled on top of the blue lamp. The fish wheezed as they died, waiting for water. It got worse each day. In a week, goldfish poured from the ceiling, the unadorned walls, the dresser mirror, under the blue bed. Hundreds. Their husks dropped on the floor. Even in our sleep, we could hear their gasps. We trod on their bodies as we dressed for work, back to the world that did not know what we had to endure inside this little room. We only collected them when we could no longer stand the smell, that pungent, moldy odor of decay. We talked of moving out, although by the time there was gurgling in the bathroom pipes, we knew it was too late.

Some Electric Hum / Janice Northerns

(Lamar University Literary Press, 2020) Release date: Aug. 1, 2020. $15, paperback

CoverThe poems in Some Electric Hum are set in Kansas and Texas and interrogate gender and social norms against the backdrop of a stark rural landscape. These brave and carefully crafted poems explore topics of coming of age, womanhood, immigration and human rights. With beautiful imagery and a clear voice, Some Electric Hum will appeal not only to lovers of poetry, but to all lovers of the written word.

Available from all major online book sellers
https://bookshop.org/books/some-electric-hum/9781942956792
https://www.amazon.com/Some-Electric-Hum-Janice-Northerns/dp/1942956797

Janice Northerns’ debut collection, Some Electric Hum, disentangles the gnarled branches of a family tree into poems of complicated love and endurance. Deeply engaged with place, these poems range across Texas to Kansas to hold up the objects and people that created a personal history and “grapple with words just west of the tongue.” Intimate and invested in the lives of others, Northerns crafts narratives of tenderness and survival, reminding us all it’s always possible to move forward and carry our stories with us.” Traci Brimhall, author of Come the Slumberless to the Land of Nod

It’s not often you see a whole life that’s gone into a book, but here we have just that. Janice Northerns lives this life intensely, and lives intensely in language. At the core of this book are the raw elements of birth, love, and death; while surrounding them are sophisticated yet impassioned readings of the violence of history, class, and social codes.  These are poems to be read both largely and closely, for the stories they tell, and for their turns of poetic craft.”  William Wenthe, author of Words Before Dawn

“Poetry is the thinking mind bodied forth, and in Janice Northerns’ poems here that comprise a kind of extended meditation on the strange and difficult country of her youth, West Texas, the bodying forth–the impossibly precise, sharply honed imagery; flawless narrative flow; and dramatic landscape description–is breathtaking, a sure sign of poetic talent on a very deep level.” B. H. Fairchild, author of Usher: Poems


northernsheadshotA native Texan now living in Kansas, Janice Northerns holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Texas Tech University. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in many journals, including Ploughshares, Third Wednesday, and Southwestern American Literature. Awards include a Brush Creek Foundation residency and a Sewanee Writers’ Conference scholarship.

Stage to Page / James B. Nicola

All the world’s a page, and originates on the stage? That is the provacative question posed by James B. Nicola’s Stage to Page.

s2pCOVERimageBravo! The marvel of James B. Nicola’s substantial collection is how his superb craftsmanship never once muffles the voice of his exuberant stage-struck heart. A warm-hearted, cold-eyed ode to the business known as show. —John Guare

Stage to Page is an exhilarating tour of show business, informed with the poet’s deep and lively involvement in theater. A master of meter and rhyme, James B. Nicola has the power boldly to experiment besides. All of us who care for staged comedy and drama, movies, music, and dance (and who doesn’t?) will cherish this unique and fascinating collection. —X. J. Kennedy

James Nicola’s Stage to Page…is a book for anyone who has waited in the dark, either backstage or out in the house, for the magic to begin, and Nicola’s spells, like Prospero’s, are powerfully transporting. This book is a delight! —David Yezzi

This collection is, like its author, a Shakespearean clown.Thanks for allowing me the pleasure. The book is great. —Rob Corddry

Sprightly, graceful, often wise, these poems both study and inform. James B. Nicola is a light-spirited teacher with much to impart about the stage that is the world. —Rachel Hadas

James Nicola reminds us over and over that live theater is ephemeral… and I think all stage actors live with a quiet terror that, after we strut and fret our hour upon the stage…no one will remember. I think it’s something all human beings wonder. Stage to Page sure made me wonder. —John Cariani

James B. Nicola…entices the goddess of our subconscious lives to “emerge from the sea foam” and holds us spellbound about what goes on behind the scenes and in front of the curtain as he teaches us what it means to be both an actor and an audience. —Christina Zawadiwsky

Stage to Page is the kind of book you will want to relish a few pages at a time. —Philip Fisher

An incredibly insightful, truthful and entertaining series of poems that feels new and familiar at the same time. —Larry Pine

Stage to Page…is irreplaceable. There isn’t anything remotely like it. It’s beautiful. —Austin Pendleton

JBNicola_photo_w_cherrybloomsJames B. Nicola’s full-length collections include Manhattan Plaza (2014), Stage to Page: Poems from the Theater (2016), Wind in the Cave (2017), Out of Nothing: Poems of Art and Artists (2018), and Quickening: Poems from Before and Beyond (2019). His nonfiction book Playing the Audience won a Choice award./ 

Stage to Page: Poems from the Theater
published: Word Poetry/WordTech Communications, 2016 (Cincinnati)
https://www.wordpoetrybooks.com/nicola_stage.html

Quickening: Poems from Before and Beyond / James B. Nicloa

fdce27aa-e208-46e5-8787-d491176a8568Over the course of the 20th Century, T. S. Eliot’s “Hollow Man” finally learned to Howl with Ginsberg, but has since evolved into the 21st Century’s Empty Man—and Woman. Quickening: Poems from Before and Beyond is about a certain hope to answer the existential quagmire of daily life we find ourselves surrounded by: a poetic reminder that the same miracle that made Something to begin with, recurs every moment of our lives. These poems attempt to illuminate, investigate, and celebrate the mysterious place-that-is-no-place where the Center does hold: the moment that brings us from Chaos to Cosmos, from Void to Creation, from Nothing to Everything. . . . Hence the subtitle, for Quickening is a collection of Poems from Before and Beyond –plus what lies between.

James B. Nicola’s full-length cJBNicola_photo_w_cherrybloomsollections include Manhattan Plaza (2014), Stage to Page: Poems from the Theater (2016), Wind in the Cave (2017), Out of Nothing: Poems of Art and Artists (2018), and Quickening: Poems from Before and Beyond (2019). His nonfiction book Playing the Audience won a Choice award.

published by Cyberwit.net, 2019
Order at https://www.cyberwit.net/publications/1217

The Only Light Coming In / Joseph Hardy

Joseph_HardyJoseph Hardy is the author of the poem “Trial and Error” published in Third Wednesday’s Summer 2020 issue, and that appears in his new book of poetry, The Only Light Coming In. He is one of a handful of writers that live in Nashville, Tennessee, sho does not play a musical instrument; although a friend once asked him to bring his harmonica on a camping trip so they could throw it in the fire. His wife says he cannot leave a room without finding out something about everyone in it, and telling her their stories later. 

This, his first book of poetry, and can be found on Amazon at:

 Amazon.com : joseph hardy the only light coming in or at josephhardypoetry.com

The_Only_Light_Coming_In_coverPage turner, The Only Light Coming In, will make you both smile and reflect. This collection of poems has some unforgettable lines. The last line of “Two Stop Lights, One Diner” reads “Her feet must be killing her,” came as an unexpected twist and shows a great empathy by the author. The opening line of “Once Love, In An Italian Restaurant,” reads “At a table for two, Love threw hot escargot at me,” and so makes it an impossibility not to be immediately drawn in. While “I’m thinking of going bland” may be a poetic device, it is not easily forgotten. A seamlessly flowing and intriguing debut collection by Joseph Hardy. Kay Thompson Fields, journalist

Entangled with the ghosts of his past, Mr. Hardy works to make sense of his past. He moves toward understanding his failures, and the self-destructive decisions of those he has loved. His memories are fluid, unsparing. The universality of relationships, an irony of daily life, is what grips the reader as events of their own lives come to pass. This is no simple despair. Each day raises specific, a struggle with his inner life, sometimes troubling, always trustworthy.  Stellasue Lee, Ph.D., author of Queen of Jacks, New & Selected Poems

It may sometimes be too early, but it’s never too late, to come of age. In wise lyrics and compelling narratives, Joe Hardy’s The Only Light Coming In gives us hypnotic eloquence mixed with intricate truth. Logic isn’t good enough—“beating a drum with no hand / as logic tries to do”—but the art of waiting, of honesty’s eventuality, is praised. Hardy’s poems remind us constantly that we’re “full of waiting;” they are quirkily meditative, populated with dreams both real and imagined. The poet tells us “I should go to bed and dream, / catch whatever comes into me, / up from me, // acknowledge / I am a stranger to myself / in this place.” In poems accessible but rich in music and implication, Hardy desires to capture what can be held of what’s most slippery. Hardy’s is an expansive, profound debut full of one man’s quest to be both broken and fiercely alive. Gary McDowell, author of Aflame (White Pine Press, 2020)

I come to poetry for arresting imagery and for phrases that make me grin or that stop me in my tracks. I come to poetry to sit with a familiar feeling like an old friend, and to leave with a fresh thought like a new companion.  I come to poetry wanting stories I can follow and that transport me back to stories of my own.  I come to poetry hoping to feel the wonder of “Hmmm, I hadn’t thought of it like that before,” and to feel the envy of “Damn, I wish I had thought of that!”  This collection of poems by Joseph Hardy possesses an abundance of all these elements. And as happens to me when I enjoy the gifts offered in generous poetry, I left this book feeling blessed and grateful.   Ramon Presson, author of When Will My Life Not Suck?, The Roles of a Lifetime, I’m Not (Totally) Making This Up, and Voice Lessons

After Before / Jane Blanchard

AfterBeforeJane Blanchard’s newest poetry collection After Before has a steady rhythm page to page, moving from short to long form and back again, signaling a fearless passing of time and seasons. A youngster is roused to “soar into the sky” without fear of death in “Take Flight, My Child.” A mother breastfeeds fearlessly in “Sustenance” as an aging beachgoer frolics shamelessly in his Speedo in “Out and About at Dawn.” Blanchard’s words illuminate the journey of anyone panning life’s moments for gold while courageously facing down “fools and facts and fears and such.”
     —Lori Cameron, editor, The Penwood Review

Where to begin? Nearly every poem has at least one passage that deserves quoting. Even the short, untitled verses between poems offer food for thought or bring a smile. This is a large and delightful collection, technically skillful, varied in subject, sharp in observation, and fun to read. After Before is the best collection I have read in a long time.
     —Jack Hart, editor, Ship of Fools

The comforting metaphors and well-modulated rhythms in Jane Blanchard’s After Before are like eavesdropping on the secrets best friends whisper to one another—or the confessions of a long marriage where terseness and gentle humor are always appreciated. You’ll be glad you listened in. 
     —Jerry Bradley, poetry editor, Concho River Review

 

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