Some Shimmer of You – REVIEW

Wow, this collection must be great, because it seems like everyone here at BrickHouse is buzzing about it! Below you’ll find yet another review of Marilyn McVicker’s Some Shimmer of You written by Laura Wallace, author of “The Hour Between Dog & Wolf.”

McVicker’s collection was a finalist for publication here at BrickHouse Books, but ended up being the one that got away. Clearly, that loss was on us. Please enjoy this lovely review, and consider grabbing your own copy of this lovely collection.

––Kate, BhB Online Editor


McVickers lost her daughters in the 1980’s to the remorseless homophobia of the law and a vindictive ex. Forced to submit to the gavel, she pressed her pain into poems about the limitlessness of love and grief. There is no numbness here. Her children are everywhere in their absence, as is the physicality of memory: “In the dark, their scents were how I told them apart.” A child’s voice whispers from a letter: “I promise not to change much before you see me again, I don’t want you to miss anything.”

The law is a cold knife a lawyer wields: “He wants the names of every friend, every lesbian you know…” Terror rises in daytime and in dreams: “I have been digging for days, fingers raw and frozen.” These poems insist, press, erupt in pent-up lists of stillborn gestures, anguished tenderness. Only in “Order of the Court” does cellular keening rise to rage: “SOLE custody? Custody of their SOULS?”

Seasons wear on. Eventually the poet finds healing, if not acceptance, in a garden, tending plants a child would love: “new sunflowers atop their gawky stalks, baby pumpkins clinging to their hairy umbilicals.” No parent who has been unfairly parted from a child, no child who has been so sundered, and no person who feels this bond will be unaffected by this collection.

–Laura Wallace, author of “The Hour Between Dog & Wolf”, New Poets Series

New review for Doritt Carroll’s GLTTL STP

Featured on Washington Independent Review Of Books, Grace Cavalieri reviewed Doritt Carroll’s GLTTL STP while showcasing Carroll’s poems.

Check out Cavalieri’s review below:

GLTTL STPThe title stands for glottal stop, a choking sound produced in the throat; and the words’ conversion to a book title without vowels is just one  sample of a woman who is a risk taker and a safety net all it once. Dorrit Carroll is sublime. What does she do and how does she do it? First, we start with the quality of her mind – the poem cannot be any better than the person who presses it into being. Her mind is like a giant constellation from which tiny zodiacs occur perfectly formed.

From the poem father:

… I say that I can’t miss you/because you are inside me/is it your lips/or mine/that press together/as if they are sealing off/an envelope of disappointment//your or my finicky way/of straightening a desk/pinching each paperclip/between thumb and forefinger/as if it’s a dead fly//and whose measuring eyes/appraise me/from the mirror//composed/perhaps/to a fault

Or look at this poem titled p.m.:

the night you/ gurgled yourself dead/your breaths sounded like/bubbles blown through a stroll//as if the milk of you were being drunk /by a greedy child somewhere/with no manners// and then at last the straw hit/the bottom of the glass/because the bubble stopped//and you/glass that you were/looked no different/empty/than you had/full

Sometimes she just snapshots a scene:

the Christmas trees

lie on their sides

on the curb

as if they’d been shot

just steps from their

front doors

as if they’d almost

made it

to safety

Doritt Carroll’s poetry is concrete and allegorical at once. Poetry never repeats itself and yet   poems are made of the same old words we all use. Caroll’s impulses are her ideas. She hones each thought diligently until it acts precisely the way she chooses. Anyone can have a flash/an inspiration, but the implementation tells all. These are carefully made poems from templates that have antecedents in our craft, but that are particularly targeted on a page that could belong to no one else. Who knows what Carroll is made of and she, herself, wonders here:

valentine

the heart

is a complicated instrument
 

four adjoining chambers

in which
 

God knows what

goes on

To check out more of Cavalieri’s reviews, go here.

Calling all WWII enthusiasts…

path-of-valor-a-marines-story

For all our readers interested in World War II novels, check out BrickHouse Books’ Director Clarinda Harriss’ review for Path of Valor: A Marine’s Story by George Derryberry.

To read the review go here.

For more reviews, check out Chamber Four’s blog here.

New review for All the Heat We Could Carry

Chamber Four, a blog that provides a plethora of information about publishing, literature, and ereading technology, has reviewed All the Heat We Could Carry by Charlie Bondhus. The review does a wonderful job of providing background on the author and book along with providing their favorite lines from All the Heat We Could Carry.alltheheatwecouldcarry

Short preview of Chamber Four’s review:

Winner of the 2013 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award, Charlie Bondhus’ All the Heat We Could Carry is a meditation on war, the effects of war, particularly on gay soldiers, specifically with regard to the endless war in Afghanistan in the 21st century.  Shifting scenes from the home front in America to Afghanistan and back again, these poems expose the emotions and perspectives of soldiers, in the midst of conflict in the strange, alien terrain of  war and in the familiar, but now no less alien, environs of home.

The title comes from a line in “April,” the final poem in the middle section, a poem about the beginning of the end of a romantic relationship.  For one of the storylines in this collection is about the break-up of two lovers affected by the war.

Make sure to check out Chamber Four’s full review here and to check out their blog overall! Another great resource for book lovers. Many thanks to Chamber Four for their beautifully written review.

The spoken and unspoken moments of Carroll’s GLTTL STOP

GLTTL STPGLTTL STP by Doritt Carroll

BrickHouse Books 2013 $12.00

A review by Sonja James

Beginning with the title, GLTTL STP, Doritt Carroll’s new book of poems encourages us to consider the importance of what is present and what is absent in our understanding of the world. Though Carroll has removed the vowels from the title, she kindly defines herself and her project by clarifying the title in the epigraph at the beginning of the book. “GLTTL STP” is “glottal stop,” which is “a sound produced in speech or singing by a momentary complete closure of the glottis.” This is also described as “a tightening or choking off of sound.”

Carroll simplifies this definition in the title poem, “glttl stp.” She clarifies herself in the opening lines: “everything good/is in the things/that we don’t say.” She then gives examples of “glottal stop” with images from everyday life: the space between sculptures in a museum, the moment before a struck match bursts into flame, and the tension in the air before a recess bell rings. She concludes with the image of two birds pausing in their song “because it was/the right place/in both of their songs/to pause/the/glottal stop.”

After establishing these parameters of the spoken and the unspoken, Carroll then decides on the concrete content of exactly what she is willing to reveal about herself in subsequent poems. In the poem, “2010,” she writes of the death of her father while distancing herself from it. She writes of herself in the third person: “the year her father died/Christmas wasn’t awful/just divided.” In “report,” Carroll reverts to the first person and gives a cheerful account of an ordinary day of life.

The upbeat mood does not last. She then writes four poems that are reflections on various aspects of death: “final commendation,” “death poem #5,” “in re: the scheduled rapture,” and “erasure.” The opening lines of “erasure” sum up the finality of death: “everybody dies the same/boning up like skeletons/stinking like toilets.”

In “first apt.,” Carroll turns to a different subject when she describes an incident of marital discord between a newly married couple. In “to each,” she elaborates on the theme of relationships:

we come into this place

trailing clouds of others

daughters and husbands

mothers we hated

lovers we rejected

and forgot about

loved

forgot again

The closing poem of the volume, “edits,” compares life to the act of poetic creation. Carroll addresses herself as “you:” “you’ve already written the poem/but now you have to fix it.” The poem she speaks of stands for the act of living one’s life. Everything in the poem is “in the wrong order” and the poem and she have “never really gotten along.” The poem can’t be erased because it has been written “in ink.” At this point she tells herself “there’s no more blank paper/so the only thing you/can really do with it is/revise/revise/revise.”

And so the volume concludes with this note of hope. Life in its permanence and vast array of mistakes can be revised. Carroll has spoken, revealing herself as one who is overtly silent and yet profoundly vocal. This is “glottal stop.” The vowels have been restored in this book celebrating and defining what one poet is willing to say and not say. The poems in GLTTL STP transport us to the edge of speech and then save us from any temptation to leap in despair. This is an exciting book and one worth reading.

Sonja James is the author of Baiting the Hook (the Bunny & the Crocodile Press, 1999), Children of the Moon (Argonne House Press, 2004), and Calling Old Ghosts to Supper (Finishing Line Press, 2013).

Poets are invited to submit recent books for review consideration. Contact Sonja James at sonjajames@earthlink.net

Little Patuxent Review recaps literature event

Missed the Baltimore Book Festival? Kicking yourself for missing out on the opportunity to celebrate literature? Fear not because now you can read this great review that recaps the event along with pictures to make you feel like you were almost there.