Jane 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
In 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
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.
We all have a dream, an idea of heaven on earth. For Laurence Thomas the dream is of a simple idyllic life in a cabin in the woods or on a lake. In The Cottage Thomas lives out his dream through his poems and we get to live the dream with him. The poems are written with sensitivity and a special devotion to detail. The tranquil mood is reminiscent of the prose of Walden or the poetry of Gary Snyder or Wendell Berry but with Thomas’ own individual style and ear and eye for the sublime. These are poems for a rainy Saturday, poems to be read slowly and savored like perfectly aged wine, hopefully on the porch of your own cottage, real or imagined.
–David Jibson, Editor of Third Wednesday, a literary arts journal
Thomas, I think, isn’t totally honest in this chapbook. Maybe even subversive, which is in his nature and part of his charm. On the surface he takes you to a cabin by the lakeside, opening the door to nostalgia like Yeats does in “Innisfree,” walking the paths through mushrooms, listening to the sermons of maples and Virginia creeper, rowing in the moonlight, celebrating Halloween with the lake’s residents. He claims that cabin life carries him “away to places in the mind not possible to find in reality,” a theme echoed in “A Morning Walk Shows Changes” when he writes, “[O]n the breeze is a hint / of excitement as if just around the bend / or at the water’s edge I’ll find / some treasure . . . .” Look deeper though, with the artist’s eye, the poet’s eye, and you’ll find the treasures taking different forms. Quietly, sneakily, Thomas seems to be writing about poetry in a grand and disguised metaphor. He leaves footprints for you to follow in the soft lakeside landscapes that lead to valuable and hospitable moments: “Everyone is invited to visit me here and take a dip into these refreshing waters.” You can dip into the beauty that surrounds a fishing cabin, a lake, and its environs or a dip into the pleasures of word and image and craft. Thomas invites to both.
–Mark Tappmeyer, Professor of English (ret.) Southwestern Baptist University, Bolivar, Missouri
Leslie Schultz has been a frequent contributor to the pages of 3rd Wednesday Magazine.
Concertina “Art sings a whole from a world in tatters,” writes poet Leslie Schultz in this remarkable collection. Schultz employs precise poetic forms to locate the “mineral music of our very bones.” The poems proclaim the material world – “the essential necessities… that make dreams real” – to celebrate poetry’s “ethereal alchemy.” Each poem creates a conversation between the poet and her many-layered audience. In “Open for Business,” the writer tells her father, “I’m still listening.” The poet’s voice here is accomplished, formal, witty, strange, and listening hard: to family stories, to nature’s notes, to the rooms of her house, to days “distinct with wonder.” In “Taproot,” a “crown” of 18 sonnets for and about Schultz’s great-great grandfather, each sonnet begins with the last line of the prior sonnet and transforms it to reshape the story. One sonnet turns an assertion to a question: “Can I build as lightly as birds/word shelters for the living and the dead?” This collection says yes. — Susan Jaret McKinstry
Cloud Song In Cloud Song, Leslie Schultz is a master gardener. The beauty and abundance of her poetry springs from both a generous nature and a cultivated sensibility. Like the couple in her delightful character study “Gilbert’s Hobby,” she tends the “rampant garden” of free verse and the carefully shaped bonsai of formal verse with equal attention and skill. Her poetic garden is filled with sunlight and color and changing weather. What she offers is not an untouched Eden, but a real world populated by deftly-drawn characters existing in various states of fallen grace, a place where the poet’s attention always wanders from ideas of order toward the real beauty of the ephemeral: “sun slipping/behind the western trees, fish/tumbling in sparkles over the dam,/this garden in riots of color and seed.” — Rob Hardy
Still Life with Poppies: Elegies Still Life with Poppies: Elegies by Leslie Schultz is what the name implies: bright joy against a sorrowful landscape. Death is everywhere in the world Schultz writes about—its relentlessness, its creativity, its suicidal call. Yet life in all of its various forms continues—some beautiful, some not. Cruelty may show its aftereffects for generations; a harsh set of comments may freeze creativity, at least for a time. While many may become cynical or depressed as a result, Schultz perseveres. Her poems about myth, in particular, are standouts. Schultz also understands in a profound way that the most emotional personal moments are mythical: emblemized by something as simple as plastic fruit in a blue bowl, or as iconic as a childhood home. For the depth of this understanding alone, you should read this book. — Kim Bridgford
Leslie Schultz’s poetry has appeared in Able Muse, Blue Unicorn Journal, Light, Mezzo Cammin, Swamp Lily Review, Poetic Strokes Anthology, Third Wednesday, The Madison Review, The Midwest Quarterly, The Orchards Poetry Journal, and The Wayfarer; in the sidewalks of Northfield; and in a chapbook, Living Room (Midwestern Writers’ Publishing House). She received a Pushcart Prize nomination in 2017 and has twice had winning poems in the Maria W. Faust sonnet contest (2013, 2016). Schultz posts poems, photographs, and essays on her website: www.winonamedia.net.