34 pages, $10.00
Review by Hannah Rodabaugh
Brandel France de Bravo’s poetry chapbook Mother, Loose combines childhood nursery rhymes and a sense of overwhelming grief into a fascinating, hybrid document. At times, it resembles the humor of the book Politically Correct Bedtime Stories—except this collection is more like its grown-up cousin than its twin. Other times, the collection is intense in its portrayal of the narrator’s dying mother—sometimes similar to Plath’s aesthetic-like immolation of her father. This chapbook’s lush language, its poignant grief, and its imaginative retelling of classic nursery rhymes are a delight to read.
The title appears to be a sort of intersection: a play on the words “Mother Goose” and “Mother Lose.” This double meaning is intentional as so many of the poems, even the retold nursery rhymes, are about the death of the narrator’s mother (or at least a mother figure) from some form of cancer. Continue reading
65 pages, $12
Review by Brian Fanelli
After having met editor, essayist, book reviewer, lecturer and poet Lori A. May during my M.F.A. work at Wilkes University, I wondered how she managed to balance a successful writing life with her travels, which include year-round trips in various cities to guest lecture or teach workshops. So, when I learned of her new full-length book of poems, Square Feet, I was curious if her travels would be documented in the book. Instead of writing about life on the road, however, May’s latest collection is grounded in one particular place, the domestic home. Shifting from first to third person, and relying mostly on short narrative and lyric poems, May’s work hones in on a married couple and their struggles in maintaining a happy marriage.
The book opens with a few third-person poems that introduce readers to the wife and husband, specifically their desire to keep a good home and find happiness in the myths of the American Dream. In the opening poem, “Place Settings,” for instance, the reader learns how the wedding gifts gather dust, saved for “special occasions,” while the wife imagines celebrations, but “rarely cares to entertain.” Yet, she imagines meeting the right couple that will appreciate such fancy chinaware. The small details make the poem engaging, specifically the lines about the saucer cups sitting pretty, unused, which makes the reader question why the couple keeps all of the fancy silverware if it serves no purpose other than decoration. Continue reading