Book and Chapbook Reviews: Comstock Review Poets
Authors - V) won the Word Press Poetry Prize on the sheer bliss of her language and musicality. As in all of her work, clarity and precision are hallmarks. The human heart, love, and nature dominate, often made exotic, many woven with a Celtic thread. Previous collections are Light Caught Bending (Diehard, 1995), Second Mourning (Diehard), and the prizewinning Dragon Lady, Tsukimi (Riverstone, 1999), a collection of Chicago-set love poems.
The Paragon (Word Tech,2005) is the remarkably accomplished first collection of her own poetry by Kathrine Varnes. Vivid, witty, both heartbreaking and entertaining, these poems of love and loss sparkle linguistically and formally. The poet also edited (with Annie Finch) An Exaltation of Forms.
Desire Vail's three chapbooks are See How Wet The Street Sounds (FootHills Publishing, 1992), First Shine of Dawn (FootHills Publishing, 1996) and In The Fold Of A Hill (FootHills Publishing, 2000). These lovely poems focus on the aural: on the sounds of nature, and on living a full life without the sense of sight.
Ryan G. Van Cleave brings us four prizewinners: Say Hello (Pecan Grove, 2000), The Florida Letters (Dream Horse Press, 2001), Greatest Hits (Pudding House, 2003), and The Tallahassee Letters (Concrete Wolf, 2003). In this, he writes with the voice and style of numerous contemporary poets who are named in each poem title. These narrative yet lyrical poems are smart, funny, and imaginative.. To quote Charles Harper Webb, he :"tells a good story and tells it vividly. His images have punch. His words crackle with energy." And there is compassion for all of us as we stumble through our lives.
Heartwood (Texas Tech, 2000) won the 1999 Walt McDonald First Book Award six months after the death of its creator, Miriam Vermilya. To quote from poet Rodney Jones' review, "Her poems combine elegance and vulnerability, profundity and whimsy... they lift from the page to enter the bloodstream with a simplicity and grace that bespeak both momentary passion and enduring wisdom. Heartwood is a nearly perfect book." I concur. This book is gentle yet witty and wise.
Martha Modena Vertreace-Doody's Glacier Fire (Word Press,2004
Benjamin Vogt is the author of Indelible Marks (Pudding House, 2004), a thirty page chapbook of emotional and physical landscape. He revisits his family using the eyes of his father, uncle, and grandfather to scan the plains where they’d lived. These are careful, well-wrought poems that care about time, who we are and who we become. (new 2006)