Book and Chapbook Reviews: Comstock Review Poets
Authors - T
Peggy Ann Tartt succeeds in lifting the pall of death and loss with the delicate voice of familial love in her first prize-winning collection Among Bones (Lotus Press, 2002). These poems are sensitive, well-crafted and filled with vivid imagery, keen observations and insight.
The Cats in Zanzibar (Books by Bookends) and What the Waking See (Books by Bookends) are the generous offerings of J. Tarwood, peripatetic poet whose poems range the world he has lived and worked in for much of his life.: Yemen, Turkey, Colombia, Chile, and others, but also mines the rich world of childhood and family. (added 8/05)
Judith Taylor's Curios (Sarabande, 2000) is totally original and sassy with its brief, often enigmatic poems that both flirt and probe as they reflect on shards of familial memory and post-relationship reckonings. She follows this up with Selected Dreams from the Animal Kingdom (Zoo Press, 2003), a book Hilda Raz calls "delicious" with its rich language, high wit and originality; especially delightful are her twenty inventive takes on the sonnet.
Susan Terris’ books include Fire Is Favorable to the Dreamer (Arctos Press, 2003), Curved Space (La Jolla Poets Press, 1998), which was the Editors Choice for the 1998 National Book Series, and Natural Defenses (Marsh Hawk, 2004) which contains a delightful and imaginative section of poems responding to Neruda’s Book of Questions. Her chapbooks include Killing in the Comfort Zone (Pudding House, 1995), Eye of the Holocaust (Arctos, 1999), Angels of Bataan (Pudding House, 1999), Greatest Hits (Pudding House, 2000), Marriage License (Pavement Saw, 2007), and Block Party (Pudding House, 2007), which refers to the poetic form employed, not the subject matter. Her newest chapbook, Double-Edged (Finishing Line, 2009), constructs poems which reflect ordinary situations that reflect an understanding of the workings of the cosmos. 12/09. Her newest book is Contrariwise (Time Being Books, 2008), an imaginative exploration of the portrayal of children in literature and art in poems that are rich and vibrant. This poet writes exquisitely poignant lyrical/narrative poems that are both linguistically brilliant and compellingly wise. To quote David St. John, “Susan Terris’ poetry is exquisite and extraordinary. Her poems exhibit an intellectual verve and a linguistic brilliance that are remarkable. There are few poets who can so deftly orchestrate the dramatic dilemmas of the daily world with the profound wisdoms of the larger world.” Highly recommended reading. Added to 3/09. www.timebeing.com, www.puddinghouse.com, www.finshinglinepress.com
Maria Terrone's precise language celebrates the tough, the common, that which endures in The Bodies We Were Loaned (Word Works, 2002). These poems are closely attentive to each passing moment as she evokes "the body’s unequivocal language." This book is one of 2002's best. Her second collection, A Secret Room in Fall (Ashland Poetry Press, 2006), a co-winner of the 2005 McGovern Prize, is compelling and imaginative in its surprising and persuasive portraits, its acute observations of places and things. (updated 12/06)
The Hand Waves Goodbye (Main Street Rag, 2002) is Susan Thomas' fine collection of poems, many of them ekphrastic, touching on Vermeer, Brassei, Pavese. Giacometti and others. In the State of Blessed Gluttony (Red Hen, 2004), for which the poet won the Benjamin Saltman Award, the reader finds the superb feast set by a ravenous imagination. There is tremendous, and refreshing, range and variety to these lively, and lovely, poems.
Sue Ellen Thompson's The Leaving: New and Selected Poems (Autumn House, 2001) shows the poet's discriminating eye and ear in these beautifully crafted poems. She is a poet of the personal and domestic, of love and marriage, and her observant gaze is as precise as her language is engaging. Link: Autumn House, scroll almost to bottom of page for listings of poet's 3 books. (updated 12/06)
Birds of Sorrow and Joy (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003) holds the new and selected poems of New Jersey poet Madeline Tiger. Love and loss, life and death, are her subjects, her style direct, truthful and courageous. The poet has an incisive eyes for detail. There is also My Father's Harmonica (Nightshade Press, 1991), 47 page chapbook filled with wise poems of the heart.
Daniel Tobin: Second Things (Four Way Books, 2008), deals with universals and their expression in the physical, with time, and with myth, how it is expressed in our memories. Tobin is very skillful in his formal poems and this book, like its predecessor, shines. Previously, Tobin's second poetry collection, The Narrows (Four Way Books, 2005), ranges back and forth between the West of Ireland and New World Brooklyn as he recounts the many-sided history of his family, locating it within the larger context of world history. The poems are written in richly textured blank verse and possess both narrative power and astonishing lyric depth and grace. (updated 11/08)
Francine Marie Tolf: Blue-flowered Sundress (Pudding House, 2007) is a 36 page chapbook of many delights. Although the subjects can be serious and often deal with the ordinary tragedies of living., the poems are not grim or over-laden with sorrow. They are luminous, filled with light and hope. An outstanding collection. Highly recommended. (Added 4/08)
Alison Townsend's stunning Persephone in America (Southern Illinois University Press, 2009) is a fierce and compelling retelling of the Persephone myth as it recurs in myriad ways in contemporary American culture. Renewal is the theme, the poems are focused and intense, beautifully imaged and set forth. Previous work includes The Blue Dress (White Pine Press, 2003), delicate and graceful, life-affirming elegies, scripting the work love accomplishes within us. And a chapbook, What the Body Knows (Parallel Press, 2002) which contains poems which were later included in the two books which followed. (New 4/09)
Woman in Rainlight (Hobblebush, 2004), by Jean Tupper, is a poetry collection filled with humor and ironic wit, with wisdom, gentleness, and clarity. The poet observes ordinary, domestic life and finds it wild at the core. These poems please, surprise, and transform.