Tag: poetry (Page 1 of 9)

Book Review: Convenient Amnesia

by  Sara Grimes

The sweetness of Convenient Amnesia, Donald Vincent’s debut poetry collection, took me to new heights before unsettling me in the pit of my stomach. Vincent catches us off guard by capturing breathtaking beauty before leveling us with the realities of twisted wrongs against the Black community. The first poem, “Lucky Charm,” sets the tone: “You knew about it but forgot like last week’s newspaper / headline. / I want to whistle whimsical feelings to white women, / Emmett Till’s charm.”

Convenient Amnesia summons all the appeal and literary acumen required of it as a fierce debut book of poems. Yet it also uses that very same blend of scholastic prowess and street smarts to dismantle oppression.

It seeks to awaken us to the history of oppression in a jarring way that we cannot forget. Likewise, it emulates a history of poetry while shaking us to the core of what it means to do the work of poetry. The first poem in Part III, entitled “Trigger Warning,” asks us, “Is art not / capitalist propaganda?”

As an artist himself, it would seem that Donald Vincent holds the inherent contradictions of this statement. It seems like a question he grapples with throughout the book. In one sense, art is capitalist propaganda because it is systematized in a way to fuel complacency. In another sense, the more agency artists—particularly artists of color—have over art, the more art can use elements of creativity, beauty, and wonderment to manifest change.

The book is divided into three sections. Part I is a savage critique of complacency in the face of racism: “When I die, will I see black? Buried in a black coffin—trapped Waiting on Obama to address my situation in his fireside chats,” Vincent asks us in “Black Ink.” Is the author equating Blackness with death, or is he asserting that only once one has escaped from the racism in this life can a Black person be free? Whatever his meaning, there is no room for waffling on the issue of race in this call to arms.

Vincent opens Part II with the words: “Because some things in life are better when we can willingly forget.” This is when the title comes into the foreground. Convenient Amnesia takes hold as the author loses himself to the three distractions of white women (“Somewhere between struggle-fest and jet lag from this year’s Cannes film festival, could this be love at first swoon?” from “Poet’s Portrait of Marie C.”), the beauty of the Western world (“I want to write this poem in French because I am in France” from “La Seine”), and education (“I peek at the Boston U. biddies, who look cute in groups” from “Riding the T.”). Each of these distractions is problematized by the dual threats of racism: violence and ignorance, two sides to the same coin. Even in the throws of the type of convenient amnesia found in French splendor, Vincent takes a trip to the graveyard and is reminded, “Death makes us feel alive, an orgasmic hoax.”

In the final section, Vincent returns to chronicling a history of oppression, but this time he does so by cracking open the lens of poetry. Vincent pays tribute to a literary cannon of diverse authors from Gwendolyn Brooks to Amiri Baraka to Emily Dickinson to E.E. Cummings. His penchant for summoning charm that leaves a sinking feeling comes into play as he takes us whimsically through Desgas’s arabesques to Maya Angelou’s America as a cage “or a jukebox with no change.”

The final poem, “Waking from Sleep,” is a tribute to John Sexton, but it is also a summary of the activist nature of this book of poetry. It is a call to wake up from the complacency of wavering opposition to racism. Moreover, it is a demand to confront it as lethal with critical urgency.


Sara Grimes is a poet and writer, studying creative writing at UC Riverside. Her poetry has been published in the Dewdrop Digest and Beyond Words Magazine and featured in Kelp Journal. She is an advocate for diverse women’s rights through her work in Expat Women, is active in immigrant education through her work at Literacy Source and uses her writing to empower neurodiverse individuals. You can find her on Twitter at @UrbanLimrick.

The Search for Happiness

By Cliff Saunders

Want to be happier?
Welcome birds to your
vast coral bed of remembrance.

You are assured of getting
your compass of moles,
your weekly copy of available space.

Give your heart a little bit
of soul, a pivotal spin
on the altar of your mountain porch.

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Sweet Nothings

By Cliff Saunders

There is no brotherhood of smiling wizards,
no mantra against the bells of teen spirit.

No mystery here—stones celebrate with song
how they shape the world into mountains

and waterfalls, their voices full of gracefulness
and elegance. We ought to let them dream

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Into the Afterlife

By Cliff Saunders

What happens when you die?
I think you’ll open at last
into the pain of oceans,
into memory and its horizon,

into music, music, music.
I can’t tell you when the lilies
will be glorious, when red flags
will be singing over the edge

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Decade Old Elegy: Personal Dream

by Sean Cho A.

and you wake. You’re in the passenger’s seat
now here’s the first choice:
look forward or
look left
what you chose says a lot
about trust. Let’s say you look left.
The man driving looks like your father.

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Book Review: Two Menus

By Andréa Ferrell Gannon

Rachel DeWoskin is a five-time novelist and memoirist. Two Menus is her debut poetry collection which, despite being billed as poetry, does not escape a certain delicious fictionness, like here: “The night Des tore her hair out, it was literal. / White sheets beneath her lit the hospital,” or here: “Today, school again in the wrong / boots, dress Kari S. writes along / my locker ‘bitch.’ She still / leaves me notes: ‘I hope you die – I will.”

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Rock

By Guna Moran

A rock can only be made smaller
By beating and hitting
Can never be made larger

Rocks are generally homeless
They lay everywhere

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Mother

By Guna Moran

Mother
Bless me to turn into dust
Would stay stuck to both your feet every day

Mother
Bless me to be your teardrops
Would glitter in your eyes in times of joy and sorrow

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The Cult of One Mirror and You

BY: DANIEL EDWARD MOORE

When playing with yourself                becomes your       self
        & there aren’t enough           razors             in the medicine chest

to manscape your world    into    highways    &   bi     ways
            yes, the eagle has landed           but no            this is not a leap

for mankind       on to a lunar landscape       of love        this is
          the cult of         one mirror & you           as history blushes with

ecstasy’s shame      & the rain forest       burns        between your legs
         as your boa       constricts            for the third time      today
                      in this          your most global        hour.


Daniel Edward Moore lives in Washington on Whidbey Island. He has poems forthcoming in Weber Review, The Cape Rock, KestrelRed Earth Review, RipRap, The Timberline Review, River Heron ReviewPassages North, The Tipton Poetry Journal, Passengers JournalThe Night Heron Barks, and Sweet Tree Review. He is the author of two chapbooks, Confessions of a Pentecostal Buddhist (CreateSpace) and Boys (Duck Lake Books). Waxing the Dents is a full length collection from Brick Road Poetry Press. Visit him at Danieledwardmoore.com.

Summer Novel

BY: THEA GOODMAN

Done, stand in the woods
pages behind you
insects screaming
like nothing has happened. 

(A bottle slips from your hand
Beer into peat, the trees
in German beer gardens
relish their hops.
leaves grow dense and shady)

It feels like a book,
thumbs scrolling through time
as if the screen is liquid,
and the characters are impossibly
relatable.

(Pour the whole bottle out into the ground.
No need for the blurring.)

Behind you the house is lit,
chapters snapping like magna tiles,
slices of yellow and orange,
warm the rooms,
plexiglass attachments,
coming together with relief.

(Leave the bottle there
It’s degradable, and your own yard.
An awning of delectable shade will
shelter you.
Sand will return and all the pages
too will vanish.)

Hand on the knob,
return to the living
more and less human.
The children are sleeping,
you haven’t said goodnight. 


Thea Goodman is the author of a novel, THE SUNSHINE WHEN SHE’S GONE (Henry Holt and Co. 2013.) Her fiction, essays and poetry have appeared in this journal, The Rumpus, The New England Review and other venues and have been awarded a Pushcart Prize Special Mention and The Columbia Fiction Award. She’s at work on a new novel and poems and periodically teaches writing at The University of Chicago. 

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