Tuesday, December 9, 2014


[N.B. You can scroll down on blog or click on highlighted titles or names to go directly to the referenced article.]


Bill Scalia reviews A MESSENGER COMES by Rachel Tzvia Back

Steve Dickison reviews WRITTEN 1976–2013 by P. Inman

Tom Beckett reviews WRITTEN 1976-2013 by P. Inman

Eileen Tabios engages IN THE ICE HOUSE and SETTINGS FOR THESE SCENES, both by Genevieve Kaplan

John Bloomberg-Rissman reviews SONNETS by Anonymous

Mark Young engages BEYOND THE OHLALA MOUNTAINS: POEMS 1968-2002 by Alan Brunton, Edited by Michele Leggott & Martin Edmond

Djelloul Marbrook reviews MALANGA CHASING VALLEJO: SELECTED POEMS BY CESAR VALLEJO, New Translations and Notes by Gerard Malanga

Eileen Tabios engages MANUAL and IMAGEMS 1, both by Richard Berengarten

Pam Brown reviews INDIRECT OBJECTS by Louis Armand

Allen Bramhall reviews HOME AMONG THE SWINGING STARS: COLLECTED POEMS OF JAIME DE ANGULO, Editor Stefan Hyner, with an essay by Andrew Schelling

Eileen Tabios engages  “The Way In,” a poem in DARK. SWEET. NEW & SELECTED POEMS by Linda Hogan

Jennifer Campbell reviews GOING WITH THE FLOW by Peter Siedlecki

Eileen Tabios engages TO KEEP TIME by Joseph Massey

John Bloomberg-Rissman reviews #! by Nick Montfort

Eileen Tabios engages #! by Nick Montfort

Bill Scalia reviews GEMOLOGY by Megan Kaminski

Eileen Tabios engages BOMBYONDER by Reb Livingston

Allen Bramhall reviews I-FORMATION BOOK 2 by Anne Gorrick

Eileen Tabios engages I ATE THE COSMOS FOR BREAKFAST by Melissa Studdard


John Bloomberg-Rissman reviews AFTER-CAVE by Michelle Detorie

Eileen Tabios engages AFTER-CAVE by Michelle DeTorie

Eileen Tabios engages A STRANGER’S TABLE by Anne Brooke

Rebecca Loudon reviews THE FINNISH ORCHESTRA by Kathryn Rantala

Zach Choi, Andrzej Richardson & Jeffrey Simonetti review STRAIGHT RAZOR by Randall Mann

Eileen Tabios engages POEMS FOR THE TIME CAPSULE, collected by David Watts

Heather Sweeney reviews THE MEATGIRL WHATEVER by Kristin Hatch

Eileen Tabios engages THROW    N by James Wagner, Poems to paintings by Bracha L. Ettinger

Bill Scalia reviews A DISTURBANCE IN THE AIR by Michelle Poulos

Eileen Tabios engages OTHERWISE, MY LIFE IS ORDINARY by Bobby Byrd

SS Prasad engages COMPLETE MINIMAL POEMS by Aram Saroyan, 1st edition and 2nd Edition (Edited by Aram Saroyan and James Hoff)
 and its review in GR #22 by Eileen Tabios

Bill Scalia reviews STAINED GLASS WINDOWS OF CALIFORNIA by Julien Poirier

Neil Leadbeater reviews SELECTED POEMS by Mark Ford
Eileen Tabios engages SALSA by Hsia Yu, Trans. from the Chinese by Steve Bradbury

Bill Scalia reviews COMES UP TO FACE THE SKIES by Steve Gilmartin

Eileen Tabios engages I DIDN’T KNOW MANI WAS A CONCEPTUALIST by Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingde

Bill Scalia reviews MAO’S PEARS by Kenny Tanemura

Eileen Tabios engages ON LIBERTY, REPRESSED by Tom Jenks

Allen Bramhall reviews SKY LANTERNS: NEW POETRY FROM CHINA, FORMOSA AND BEYOND, Edited by Fiona Sze-Lorrain and Frank Stewart

Eileen Tabios engages LIFE IN THE ORDOVICIAN: SELECTED POEMS by Robert Murphy

Grace C. Ocasio Reviews ROUTES HOME by Crystal Simone Smith

Eileen Tabios engages THE WAY WE LIVE by Burt Kimmelman

Marthe Reed reviews STATE OF THE UNION by Susan Lewis

Neil Leadbeater reviews SARAH – OF FRAGMENTS by Julie Carr

Eileen Tabios engages THEY TALK ABOUT DEATH by Alessandra Bava

Bill Scalia reviews MINIATURES by Meredith Cole

Neil Leadbeater reviews A TOAST IN THE HOUSE OF FRIENDS by Akilah Oliver

Eileen Tabios engages THE SPEED OF OUR LIVES by Grace C. Ocasio

Bill Scalia reviews WOMAN IN THE PAINTING by Andrea Hollander Budy

Amanda [Ngoho] Reavey reviews HANDIWORK by Amaranth Borsuk

Eileen Tabios engages THE SHAPE OF A BOX by Grace Curtis

Tom Beckett engages A PRINCESS MAGIC PRESTO SPELL by Lisa Jarnot



Neil Leadbeater interviews Jane Seabourne


Darrell Nettles

Brandon Som reviews FROM UNINCORPORATED TERRITORY: [GUMA] by Craig Santos Perez

Jeff Von Ward Reviews WE, MONSTERS by Zarina Zabrisky

Takeema Hoffman Reviews NOCHITA by Dia Felix

Takeema Hoffman Reviews A HISTORY OF BROKEN LOVE THINGS by SB Stokes


Alexandra Gilliam Reviews BESIDE MYSELF by Ashley Farmer



Thanks as ever to Galatea Resurrects' generous volunteer staff of reviewers. In addition to some wonderful feature articles, we have 69 NEW POETRY REVIEWS this issue.  We are delighted to have several student reviewers, including from high school!--thanks to poet-teachers Jessica Smith and Hugh Behm-Steinberg.  We even have a LIST by a reviewer who just couldn't get his act together to do reviews but still wanted to recommend some books (we're transparent over here).

With Issue No. 23, GR has provided 1,452 new reviews and 122 reprinted reviews (the latter brings online reviews previously available only viz print or first published in now-defunct online sites). With this issue, we also increased our coverage of poetry publishers by 14 to 520 publishers in 17 countries. This is important as much of the ground-breaking poetry work is published by independent and/or relatively small presses who (by the nature of their work) are not always as well-known as they deserve. 

Poetry has enhanced my love of lists so here are GR's latest poetry-lovin' stats!

Issue 1: 27 new reviews
Issue 2: 39 new reviews (one project was reviewed twice by different reviewers)
Issue 3: 49 new reviews (two projects were each reviewed twice)
Issue 4: 61 new reviews (one project was reviewed thrice, and three projects were each reviewed twice)
Issue 5: 56 new reviews (four projects were each reviewed twice)
Issue 6: 56 new reviews (one project was reviewed twice)
Issue 7: 51 new reviews
Issue 8: 64 new reviews (3 projects were each reviewed twice)
Issue 9: 65 new reviews
Issue 10: 68 new reviews (1 project was reviewed thrice and 1 project was reviewed twice)
Issue 11: 72 new reviews (1 project was reviewed thrice)
Issue 12: 87 new reviews (1 project was reviewed twice)
Issue 13: 55 new reviews (1 project was reviewed twice)
Issue 14: 64 new reviews (3 projects were reviewed twice)
Issue 15: 72 new reviews (1 project was reviewed thrice and 4 projects were reviewed twice)
Issue 16: 73 new reviews (2 projects were reviewed twice)
Issue 17: 108 new reviews (3 projects were reviewed twice)
Issue 18: 104 new reviews (3 projects were reviewed twice)
Issue 19: 68 new reviews (1 project was reviewed twice)
Issue 20: 64 new reviews
Issue 21: 78 new reviews (2 projects were reviewed twice)
Issue 22: 40 new reviews
Issue 23: 69 new reviews (3 books were reviewed twice)


I love seeing review copies find a home.  In this issue, we have a modest feature showing some of the review copies in their new homes—in the homes of their appreciative reviewers.  A favorite image is above, SJ Fowler’s book THE ROTTWEILER’S GUIDE TO THE DOG OWNER now happily ensconsed with the reviewer’s daughter’s doll at Tom Jenk’s casa.  For other images, go HERE!


I continue to encourage authors/publishers to send in your projects for potential review—note that because we believe in Poetry's immortality, GR does not limit reviews to just "recent" poetry publications. And, obviously, people are following up with your review copies (see below)! Information for submissions and available review copies HERE. Future reviewers also should note that the next review submission deadline is APRIL 19, 2015.

Of reviewed publications, the following were generated from review copies sent to GR:

Issue 1: 9 out of 27 new reviews
Issue 2: 25 out of 39 new reviews
Issue 3: 27 out of 49 new reviews
Issue 4: 41 out of 61 new reviews
Issue 5: 34 out of 56 new reviews
Issue 6: 35 out of 56 new reviews
Issue 7: 41 out of 51 new reviews
Issue 8: 35 out of 64 new reviews
Issue 9: 42 out of 65 new reviews
Issue 10: 46 out of 68 new reviews
Issue 11: 46 out of 72 new reviews
Issue 12: 35 out of 87 new reviews
Issue 13: 38 out of 55 new reviews
Issue 14: 40 out of 64 new reviews
Issue 15: 43 out of 72 new reviews
Issue 16: 49 out of 73 new reviews
Issue 17: 73 out of 108 new reviews
Issue 18: 84 out of 104 new reviews
Issue 19: 41 out of 68 new reviews
Issue 20: 50 out of 64 new reviews
Issue 21: 46 out of 78 new reviews
Issue 22: 30 out of 40 new reviews
Issue 23: 49 out of 69 new reviews


The beauty of Blogger is how typos can be corrected at any point in time.  If you see any typos, feel free to let me know as I can still correct them even after the issue's release.

I hope you enjoy this issue of Galatea Resurrects!  HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Eileen Tabios
Dec 9, 2014

P.S. This Introduction is photo-bombed by the editor's new puppy Athena in holiday regalia:

Sunday, December 7, 2014



A Messenger Comes by Rachel Tzvia Back
(Singing Horse Press, San Diego, CA, 2012)

A theologian once told me that we are “born into eternity.”  In a certain abstract sense this may be true.  But Rachel Tzvia Back’s book reminds us that humans are born into brokenness.  Her choice of epigram (from Leon Wieseltier’s Kaddish) reminds us that brokenness of spirit is a manifestation of a larger brokenness – but also that “the messenger” somehow summons us into the future, keeps us moving toward wholeness.  Brokenness is the obvious theme of Back’s terrific book.  But if the book were only about our broken condition, given Back’s remarkable skill, the book would be too painful to read.  Brokenness evokes compassion, sympathy, and the desire to keep searching for meaning for our loss, and by extension our very lives.  Back’s book is not theology, or philosophy, or critical theory.  It is human to its very core.  Her book illustrates the joys and sorrows of this one definitive, ineluctable fact about human formation: it never ends.

The book begins with the first act of brokenness, the creation of the universe, God speaking the world into existence, on
            That first day when
            he moved
            gentle over the face

            of turbulent waters
            his heart
            was breaking –

            of course he knew
            this was

Creation could not occur without separation – separation of the world into language, into physical distinction, into time.  However, Back takes us into God’s dilemma: the perfection of his being is broken in creation of the physical world.  The poem continues:

            all creation
            an emanation
            of distinction –

            bordered firmament
            self       and still

            in the infinite
            moment     that
            abandonment of the

            his heart

            into pieces
            shards falling

            in a torn-light hail
            of violets gold
            slender indigo

            as a newborn
            cliff suddenly

            out of the
            newborn sea

The Godhead is broken and we are the pieces.  But why is this separation necessary?  To put it another way, if God in his omniscience knew that the first human would betray him, why did he allow that betrayal to happen?  If man does not betray God, continues to exist in unity with God, how does God relate to his creation?  What is there for God to do?  The tension playing out in this poem, the second of the book, represents a large measure of her method: the brokenness is sad but inevitable, painful but necessary – and out of brokenness rises new land.  In the hands of a less skilled, less feeling poet this theme could easily into a facile tilting at windmills (at best) or nihilistic self-pity (at worst).  But Back’s view is far more sympathetic, and empathetic, to the larger “value” of suffering.  In one poem she references Lamentations 3:12, writing, Bow bent / we are set / as mark for the arrow . . . .  On the other hand, if God is directing his bow at our heart, at least he’s directing attention at us, he’s aware of us (a tiny slip of comfort Jonathan Edwards chooses to ignore in Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God).   A lesser poet would mourn the losses (father, sister, and in a way a loss of innocence) Back experiences and considers.  God setting his bow against our heart might seem, in that case, symptomatic of the objective correlative.  But in another poem Back refers again to Lamentations, specifically to a prayer beginning Modeh ani – “I give thanks” – in which the poet thanks God in his great kindness who “restores our souls to us each new morning” (this from Back’s notes).  This book is no simple lamentation for loss; it is more an anthropology of the meaning of loss and the hope of replenishment.  In an early poem, a couple is debating the origin of creation, the origin of human separation from God; the two hold differing views, but their difference is reconciled in the best possible way after the woman turns away, 

            she had had
            the last

            until he reached across
            the slender space

            between them and
            kissed her

The brokenness of creation is manifested in language as well as time, and in the section of the book titled “In a Language of Sand (A Love Suite)” Back connects the two:

            With the first word she wrote
            you, you
            began to exist . . .

            With her first written word you became

And later,

            It was love in the language of sand . . .

            Unsated and discontent –
            a language with no present tense.

            I was and would be

Throughout the book Back treats the distinction between Word and word, between divine Word (the language of God at creation here, not the embodiment of Christ), words as pieces of creation, the “unlettered becoming lettered.”  Emily Dickinson also works in this area; in poem 305: “The difference between Despair / And Fear – is like the One / Between the instant of a Wreck - / and when the Wreck has been -”, for example.  Back references Dickinson (though not this specific poem), and through the book I could feel echoes of Dickinson’s anxiety of time, especially the absence of time in the experience of pain (or loss) – that is, the terrible awareness of present-ness.  Time, for Back, is another brokenness; time is not of a piece; it does not ‘flow,’ but is relative to experience of its passing, which is subjective.  A language with no present tense is the eternal present (admittedly a contradiction of terms), a time without time; when “time” is present, the “unlettered” becomes “lettered.”  But time is all we have.  The twofold direction of Back’s poem is memory and possibility; the conjunction she chooses in the last line of the poem quoted above indicates her desire to live in both, or perhaps the inter-determinate nature of both: we live in our awareness of the past, but we keep moving into the future.   

Or, we might think of Kierkegaard’s teleological suspension of the ethical.  In Kierkegaard’s formulation, the ethical (the universal) is human existence, and its telos is embodied in our ethical responsibility to each other, authored by God himself.  But what does Abraham do when God asks him to commit a wholly unethical act (murder his only son)?  There is no answer in the ethical for this, so Kierkegaard invents a new category for Abraham’s condition (the ethical is suspended in order that Abraham can obey God by his willingness to kill Isaac; his willingness to obey God reinserts Abraham into the ethical, and God does not allow the murder).  This suspension is, in a sense, an eternal present; in this condition, time cannot exist for Abraham because time exists wholly in the universal (we determine our future based on our experience of the past), and the “present” is at best always fleeting; the best we have is not present, but participle; not be, but becoming.  A language with no present tense is the reinsertion into time; note Back’s careful choice of verbs in the final line (what use has God for verbs?  Verbs are both language and time, connected, in our experience of this inevitable, necessary brokenness).  Only love, the variety of love Back writes about here, suspends the brokenness of time; it is the kiss “across the slender space” that separates us.

In Book 6 of the Aeneid, Aeneas travels to the Underworld to seek help in finding his way to the promised land for the ‘new race of Trojans’ (Rome), and in doing so meets many of the souls locked in permanent torture.  But, in the most beautiful passage in the poem, Aeneas also gets to visit those who have lived lives of piety and meets the shade of his father, Anchises, who shows him all the souls in paradise waiting to be born.  In this sense, there is an eternity that all souls participate in; being born into history, into the tenseness of time, is a separation from that wholeness.  Back’s book begins at the brokenness of the creation of the universe, what this creation entails: the necessity of language and time, but more significantly loss, and love.  God’s heart may be broken, but we are the pieces of his broken heart; and, just as a spoken word seeks a listener, broken hearts seek reconnection.  


Bill Scalia holds a PhD in American Literature from Louisiana State University.  His most recent essays include “Toward a Semiotics of Poetry and Film: Meaning-Making and Extra-Linguistic Signification” (in Literature / Film Quarterly) and “Bergman’s Trilogy of Faith and Persona: Faith and Visual Narrative” in the anthology Faith and Spirituality in Masters of World Cinema (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2008).  Bill teaches writing and literature at St Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore, MD.