Tuesday, January 23, 2007



Strangers in a Homeland
Jeffrey Loo
The Ashland Poetry Press
Ashland, OH

I had the opportunity to meet Jeffrey Loo/Lee as he was leaving Philadelphia for the Rocky Mountains. This collection shares some general themes with a CD that he released around the same time called ‘Identity Papers’. The sense of being an alien in a culture that proclaims unity, but falls quite short of delivering on that claim. The disconnect between knowing ones cultural background, and witnessing it as Loo/Lee did by returning to Taiwan, his “Homeland”. There is great depth in these mere 25 pages and I am glad to have this early work by an author who has gone on to greater things. Two additional books have been published and he now teaches at the University of Northern Colorado. I recommend this fascinating book.

The Murderous Clown
t. kilgore splake
Athena Angel Productions
Calumet, MI

Clowns are weird. They creep people out. A book titled ‘The Murderous Clown’ reminds me of a certain serial killer and that doesn’t make me want to read the book. A book with a B&W cover image of an obvious color painting doesn’t do anything to help. The poems were not breathtaking in a good way. Um, SAVE A TREE!!!!!

natural selection
Karin Randolph
Green Zone

This tiny, 5 1/2” X 4”, book by Green Zone is wickedly cool. There is precise little about the author or the Press anywhere within the book but the writing is stellar and that is what one is most interested in anyway. The prose poems are completely worthwhile. My only concern is storing books so small. They play havoc with my shelving. No matter, get a copy of this book!

Jack Gillespie
Poets at Work
Portersville, PA

Every chapbook is, in a way, a shout out – a spray-painted tag on the wall of life. This book is just that. Gillespie came from the same region of the country as I did. I remember reading about him and this book in the local newspaper. The references within the book are to people from the area as well, part of the group of poets that he belonged to. There is no publication date but the font suggests an electronic typewriter from the 1980s. There is no cover design – just the title and the author’s name. The poems are laid out as though following the sun across the sky, perhaps in the life cycle of the Mayfly itself.
There is no bio of the author, not acknowledgements. Yet, it exists. It says that Jack Gillespie lived and wrote poetry and here is his book. In that sense, he won’t be forgotten.

falling dreams
Alison Hicks
Finishing Line Press
Georgetown, Kentucky

Recently I finished reading Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. One of the benefits to having read it is that I am now very mindful of the fact that a mere 80 years ago, at the time of Woolf’s writing, it was still uncommon for women to be accepted as authors in their own right. It has been an endless struggle for recognition, and still, for a room of one’s own. That said, approaching a book as full of estrogen as ‘falling dreams’ by Alison Hicks is as off putting as women of the Nineteenth century being subjected to tomes of military history. One can only stomach so much.

This is doubly unfortunate since there are fine pieces of writing in the collection, as in ‘Breaker’ and others. Yet, the collection is primarily a book of “womanness”. There is nothing wrong with this but it is outside of the experience of most men.

The book is divided into four sections. The middle two ‘Music of Birth’ and ‘Red of Transition’ are particularly laden with overwhelming sense of the female. Some poems were simply too much to get through. One poem, “Red Song” used the word “red” TWENTY SIX times in the poem when the word “menstrual” would have sufficed. And as a quark of design, or perhaps as intention, the book is bound with red string which just happens to run through ‘Red Song’, giving the reader a string of red to additionally think about while seeking a sanitary napkin to clean off before continuing. And really, one should, the poems at the end of the book are quite strong.

As for the publisher, what little I know about them is that they bring out a lot of books each year and they all look remarkably alike. One could say “cookie-cutter” and be not far off. Overall, I am glad to have “read” it and will certainly recommend it, which I just did.