Bright Dead Things by Ada Limón is a collection of poems which spans death, womanhood, and relationships, all with the thread of nature. It is a beautiful collection with striking descriptions and images. I particularly liked the poems, ‘How to Triumph Like a Girl’, ‘I Remember the Carrots’, ‘Cower’, and ‘The Great Blue Heron of Dunbar Road’. Specifically, ‘The Great Blue Heron of Dunbar Road’ uses conversations between Limón and her stepfather, who had just gotten sober, to display their collective desires. While her stepfather is looking out on a lake, even though he had rarely seen a blue heron, he would always tell her there was one. In the shared acceptance of a white lie, Limón and her stepfather acknowledge the world for what it is but hope for something greater. It’s a lovely poem, and the lines about the blue heron having to exist were powerful.
Final Rating: 4.5/5
The September 2022 issue of Poetry is a collection of poems interested in the idea of monuments, real or imagined, and how that affects our understanding of the world. There are moments in the issue, particularly the poems by A. Van Jordan, which see monuments in people, those who were killed, and the affect they have on the public. The poems observe and exist in a life caused by war, the aftermath of police brutality, and what comes of being. The poems I enjoyed were ‘poem’ by Mansi Dahal, ‘Section 267C [Ars Poetica]’ by Janelle Tan, ‘I do not mention the war in my birthplace to my six-year-old son but somehow his body knows’ by Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach, ‘Missed Calls’ by Christopher Shipman, and ‘Airsoft’ by A. Van Jordan. I loved and ached from the lines written by Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach, “He isn’t asking/anymore. He is making me/monument. You would still be/if I cut you in half.” They are angry poems, poems that contain much more than themselves, and it felt like this issue resonated with me much more than other Poetry issues.
Final Rating: 4.5/5
Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote is a novel about a boy who’s been sent to his father’s house in the South. The boy is seen as more feminine by those around him, and his personality is contrasted well with another character, Idabel, a tomboy. Though, when the boy, Joel, arrives to his father’s house, he is met with his stepmother and his uncle, Randolph. Throughout his time in the house, he learns that his father is immobile and can’t communicate, that he has deep feelings for Idabel, and Randolph shot his father.
Capote created vivid descriptions and moments of vulnerability, though its language, at times, felt antiquated. I especially enjoyed Randolph’s confession and description of how Joel’s father got hurt, and his attraction to Pepe Alvarez. For the time, I’m sure it was groundbreaking to have a gay character that wasn’t seen as completely immoral. Though, it felt like the language when talking about the Black characters fell into racial stereotypes that we have grown out of.
Final Rating: 3.5/5
frank: sonnets by Dianne Suess is a collection of poetry which contemplates poverty, relationships, illness, drug abuse, womanhood, and death. The largest focus of the sonnets is Suess’ friend Mikel, who died from HIV/AIDS. It is a heartbreaking and moving collection with poems that aren’t afraid to be themselves. Suess discusses her son’s addiction, Mikel’s pustules, being working class, all in succent and relatable ways. The collection is obsessed with death, seen here, “The problem with sweetness is death. The problem/with everything is death.” To Suess, it is all consuming, through the lens of a friend, a mother, and a daughter. In the final poem of the collection, Suess aches to be loved, and to find meaning in the loss. The poems are lyrical, strong, and deeply personal.
Final Rating: 4/5
Maxwell Suzuki is a writer, poet, and photographer based in Los Angeles.