Category Archives: Poetry

Book Review — Shaler’s Fish

Shaler's Fish by Helen Macdonald

Shaler’s Fish by Helen Macdonald is a collection of poetry from the author H is for Hawk and Falcon. Macdonald is a writer, poet, historian, illustrator and naturalist. She’s worked as a Research Fellow at Jesus College, Cambridge. She is an affiliate of the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge.

This is probably the most difficult collection of poetry I have read since Eric Linsker’s La Far. There is a definite lyrical quality to the poems. In fact, the reader will get caught up in the flow of words. There is a beauty to the words and phrasing but it is very difficult to create imagery. From “Poem:”

small fowles

rain runs from their back in nomadic immortality holes
for each eye, pygostyle, furcula, pinions oiled & the grease
directs neat beads from throat chat chat hatching barbs
and sills broken white a flint egg.

There is still something that needs to be discovered in this collection. It has the appeal of a song you like and keeps popping into your head, but the words elude you. Eventually, however, everything comes together. I imagine it will take several more reflective reads before it all clicks together. The vocabulary is difficult, but the rhythm created keeps calling the reader back. For those with a taste for interesting and complex poetry, this is a worth read.


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Book Review — History

History by David O’Hanlon is his first collection of poetry. A quick search finds little information on the poet but his publisher is from North Yorkshire.

This is a very readable collection of poems covering mythical, historical, and personal history. The historical and mythical blend well together in the larger first section of the book. O’Hanlon certainly has an appreciation for the Greek and Roman mythology and history. Unlike many specialized poems that seem to concentrate on the subject rather than the form, O’Hanlon finds a balance. Likewise, his subject specific poetry does not lose the subject to the form of poetry. Nothing is worse than finding poetry on a topic you like, say bicycling, and find beautifully written lines that are technically wrong in practice. Here, O’Hanlon achieves perfect balance. I had the advantage of reading the Kindle edition of this collection so I was able to highlight the title name and refresh my memory on the god, hero, or historical person being written about. Most names were familiar but the nudge did help me and O’Hanlon’s words play a perfect tribute.

The personal observations are equally well done. In the poem, The Line notes items that make lines — wires from headphones, a crack in a mended statue. One item is different:

My name is in pieces. It has been for years. Since I abandoned cursive, in fact.

History is an outstanding first collection of poetry. It triggers thinking in its subjects and the words gently pull the reader in. Learning and observing as an art form. Extremely well done and earns a very rare five stars from me.

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Book Clubs, Get Your Poetry Fix Here

Book Clubs, Get Your Poetry Fix Here

Why don’t book clubs discuss poetry books more often? Not sure, but here’s your chance to right that wrong.

What’s Wrong with Ordinary? Poems to Celebrate Life is about relationships and raising children, midlife and menopause, and everyday joys and sorrows.
Jericho Brown, Poet, author of Please (winner of the 2009 Book Award) says: “Merritt is a poet of the domestic sphere whose work reminds me of translations from a language I could never know were she not a writer.”
Dave Morrison, Poet, author of Fail and other collections, adds: “The sparse architecture of the poems adds power, as there is so much unsaid, but felt, between the words.”
Marie Lecrivain, reviewer for poeticdiversity: “There is great joy in her work and an honest wit (yes, there is such a thing). Merritt reminds me that the best poetry is simply written in the same vein as one of America’s greatest poets, Ogden Nash, without the embellishments of academia or the arrogance of abstraction.”
Joanne Greco Rochman, Arts Editor of the Fairfield County Review: “This poet goes right to the core of the human experience and plays on every nerve fiber as if plucking the strings of a Stradivarius.”
On the publisher’s site, Ordinary sells for $13.95 plus $5.95 shipping. If you order five or more copies from me (okayed by the publisher!), I can give you each book for $10 plus only $2 shipping, so you save $7.90 on each book.

Email me at Come on. Give poetry a chance.

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Thoughts on America on July 4th Ginsberg’s America

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July 3, 2013 · 21:15