Unlike other works that explore the dysfunctional family bond, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tracy K. Smith’s Ordinary Light: A Memoir is a beautiful ode to the strong tie that exists between a mother and a daughter. Her poetic and poignant memoir paints a complex picture not only of family bonds but also the devastating effects of cancer.
Smith, who had been raised by her stay-at-home mother and engineer father, has never known true loss until her mother was diagnosed with cancer before she went off to college. In an attempt to honor her mother’s life and explore her own memories, she paints a fascinating picture of her parents’ memories of the Civil Rights movement and juxtaposes the hardships they faced with her own cosseted childhood in California and the independence she faced when she attended Harvard.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Tuesday, April 21st, 2015||No Comments »|
One of the great sorrows of life is that beautiful moments are too short—they last for a brief instant before they’re gone forever.
In Eric Pankey’s heartbreakingly exquisite poetry collection Crow-Work, he explores the eternal question: How do you capture a moment in time using art before it is gone for good?
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Wednesday, April 1st, 2015||No Comments »|
Noah Cicero’s exquisite poetry collection Bipolar Cowboy dances between the fine line that divides love and mental illness, all while taking the readers on a roller coaster ride through the recesses of the human heart.
Most of his pieces muse on what it feels like to love someone with your whole heart. Each poem evokes incredible emotions, from the giddy joy of falling in love for the first time to the depression that comes with mending a broken heart. The emotionally-charged poems go on to explore how love is the defining moment of our lives, but if we experience heartbreak, it is difficult to keep going since we feel as if we’ve lost a part of us.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Friday, March 27th, 2015||No Comments »|
Alice Fulton’s exquisite poetry collection Barely Composed plunges into the depths of human grief and gives voice to our deepest sorrows and fears. Her lyrical pieces explore the nature of life, love, and death and unveils the deep emotional devastation that occurs when someone suffers through a traumatic event or is grieving the loss of a loved one.
Fulton’s work will pierce your heart as she takes you to the very brink of extreme grief, where one’s psyche is constantly being battered by the knowledge of death. She muses on how language often fails humanity when we’re pushed to that point, because there’s no words to describe the bone-crushing sadness that weighs upon one’s soul.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Friday, March 20th, 2015||No Comments »|
Author Deborah Roberts creates a mystical land of collage and color in her latest picture book, Mr. Otagiri’s Promise. While its facade may indicate it as being a children’s book, the depth of the text takes it so much further. Inspired by the beloved Otagiri ceramics that were imported from Japan to America as whimsical treasures for the kitchen, this book explores the past of the Otagiri family as fictionalized by Roberts in a poetic journey of a war-lived man trying to return happiness to his family. Mr. Otagiri’s Promise is a lyrical text accompanied by brightly collaged images that are mesmerizing in their own right. If ever there was a genre that needed more exploration in today’s book market, it’s the adult picture book, and this story is proof of just that.
|Recommended by Chelsey Grasso||Tuesday, March 17th, 2015||No Comments »|
“I need you to understand something. I wrote this for you. I wrote this for you and only you. Everyone else who reads it, doesn’t get it. They may think they get it, but they don’t. This is the sign you’ve been looking for. You were meant to read these words.”
So begins I Wrote This For You, an astonishing work of combined powerful images and lyrical text by Pleasefindthis. The second person perspective is rarely used in literature, despite its inherent value in connecting with readers. I Wrote This For You doesn’t make this mistake, instead engaging readers in a very personal, poetic way.
The book’s success has given way to a recent follow-up, I Wrote This For You And Only You, another collection of photography and poetry that is already proving to delight readers as much as the first did. There are poetry books and there are photography books, but rarely are there books that can combine the two efforts so seamlessly while pulling in readers as a third, crucial part of the context. So much for being an observer.
|Recommended by Chelsey Grasso||Thursday, March 12th, 2015||No Comments »|
Jynne Dilling Martin’s compassionate poetry collection We Mammals In Hospitable Times honors all life on Earth and warns readers about the dangers of climate change. Many of the poems are seen through the eyes of aliens, whose brains tie themselves into knots as they try to figure out how so many species can be dependent on one another and why humans are just so darned confusing. However, Martin also allows her readers to see through the eyes of humans as well, whether they be biologists, psychiatrists, or climate change activists as they muse on the beauty and terror that is life on Earth.
While some of Martin’s pieces are funny, especially when the narrator is perplexed at why humans act the way they do, there’s a grim sense of impending doom as she uses gorgeous lyrics to capture the fleeting beauty that is life on Earth. Much of her grim tone stems from the dire warnings in her poems about the rapidly warming planet. Martin contemplates on what that means not only for humans, but for every other species on Earth too. Despite the worries over climate change, Martin’s collection honors even the smallest bit of life on the planet and marvels at how truly beautiful our home is, even in the face of destruction.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Monday, March 9th, 2015||No Comments »|