“Showboat” by Grace Cavalieri – Review

Showboat by Grace Cavalieri is available on Amazon

Showboat can be seen as one long poem or as a series of short poems, but either way, it can also be viewed as a lovely necklace with pearls and nuggets of gold. As she describes the life of a Naval wife, and of those she met along the way, we are given small portraits and long arcs. Showboat is elegant in the way it melds simplicity and depth.

One example is the following stanza:

That august a plane crashed
It was Donna’s pilot          we went there
Her tan arms          her white linen dress
The knock on the door
Thank God          her door          was not our door
         Don’t say that out loud
Blonde Donna who never thought
         anything bad
Now she’s as human as it gets

There is a lovely succinctness to these words. Volumes are compressed into a few lines and we’re taken on a journey of decades within a few pages. I heartily recommend you spend some time and enjoy the ride.

“Leviathan” by Neil Aitken – Review

Neil Aitken’s “Leviathan” (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2016) has an intriguing focus. This poetry chapbook is about Charles Babbage, considered by many to be the father of the computer for the work he did with his analytical engine. I bought this book because, as a software developer myself, I found the subject interesting, even though I knew relatively little about Babbage. “Leviathan” was a more than pleasant surprise.

Babbage was a scientist and mathematician. He saw the world through his calculations. On the other hand, he loved his wife and children. He outlived his wife and four of his children. The push-pull between an analytical, scientific approach to the universe and the needs of, and desire for, human connection is a struggle that is shown at a deep level. It is a conflict that was strong in Babbage but is not unknown in today. This is from the first poem in the collection, “Cast.”

“Just as the compiler now ponders like a god at judgment, weighing
each line of code with what it means or fails to mean.
How each casting of a thing engenders the creation of another.
Nothing is ever the same after translation, after the name
has been hefted, then posited to the waves. The dark world dimming
in its simple downward trajectory of terms, the endless run of zeroes
widening back to the farthest shores. This melancholy of form.
To be. To become. The shape of nothing, how it is skinned
and laid to rest. In the hour of our words and their departures,
we are captive here to whatever comes, whatever returns,
be it beauty or love, or the unfurled wings of their manifold ruin.”

Aitken touches upon the highlights of Babbage’s life, meeting his wife, her death, and other events, as well as his meeting with Ada Lovelace. Lovelace, the daughter of Lord Byron, was the one to recognize the potential of Babbage’s analytic engine and is considered the first computer programmer. This is from “Babbage Circumnavigating the Room, Encounters Ada, 1833.”

“…And now, three-quarters of the way
around this milling mass, you find Lady Byron again, and the girl who asks
the most remarkable questions. Who stops you with a calculated word.
In her eye, the same fire as yours. The same urgency to be understood.
How is it that the poet’s daughter is so attuned to number, to the secret language
of order, the unheard symphony of the machine you have been composing
in your mind all these years? How is it that you know instantly that in her
beats the same heart of pain, the same proclivity for loss and disaster?”

All of the poems are written in couplets, some with a single line to finish. The lines are relatively long and it seems to give the words room to maneuver, allows the reader time to ponder Babbage and his dream. It’s masterfully done. I highly recommend this chapbook.

You may find “Leviathan” at Hyacinth Girl Press and check out Neil Aitken at his Facebook page.

“Can You Catch My Flow?”

Lidy Wilks, author of “Can You Catch My Flow?” is celebrating National Poetry Month with a blog tour. For this stop on the tour, I’ll be reviewing her chapbook, and I’d like to thank her for the free PDF copy so I could do this review. I also want to mention her Rafflecopter raffle — see the link at the bottom of this post.

CYCMF- blog tour & giveaway banner 3
I would say the theme of this chapbook is being a wife and mother and how the roles that are expected of us as adults can be restrictive. I would like to focus on some highlights.

In “Sleepless Nights” there is some wonderful specificity describing the feeling of missing someone:

just to hear your low,
lulling voice 202.41 miles away.
Now 9 months, 10 days, 2 weeks,
3 hours and 45 minutes has gone by
and I still don’t want to say goodnight
because I want to say good morning.

In “An Aging Love,” Lidy describes a couple’s life together in a series of quick snapshots: meeting, marriage, and children, and the future. This excerpt shows both joys and difficulties:

Melded for eight years, we grated and soothed each other
as you instilled in our sons the definition of a man while I enjoyed
my reverse harem of hugs, kisses and your reprimands.

While “An Aging Love” hints at the narrator’s world being less than perfect, rebellion against conformity is the theme of “Follow the Leader.” Here is an excerpt from the middle:

The adults are Einstein,
Cassandra and the Dali Lama,
all rolled up into one.
And us young’uns best
strive to be
just like them.

In some ways, I think the poem “The Identity of Edvard Munch” is a linchpin for the book. This poem’s tone is rather different from the rest of the chapbook. Its lines are short and the persona that speaks is intended as a 19th century painter rather than a 21st century wife and mother, and yet there is a similar complaint about “living in a/stale, conformed world.” This is a complaint that can be understood both by viewers of Munch’s paintings as well as readers of contemporary poetry, so this poem has the effect of taking us out of our modern cookie-cutter lives and connecting us with a larger view.

“Can You Catch My Flow?” is available through the following links:
Amazon
Amazon UK
Amazon Canada
eCreate Store

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

About the Author:

lidyEver since she was young, Lidy Wilks was often found completely submerged in the worlds of Dickens, Louisa May Alcott, Sweet Valley High and Nancy Drew. She later went on to earn a Bachelor degree in English with a concentration in Creative Writing, from Franklin Pierce University. Where she spent the next four years knee deep in fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction workshops.

Lidy is the author of Can You Catch My Flow? a poetry chapbook and is a member of Write by the Rails. She currently resides in Virginia with her husband and two children. And an anime, book and manga library, she’s looking to expand, one day adding an Asian drama DVD collection. Lidy continues her pursuit in writing more poetry collections and fantasy novels. All the while eating milk chocolate and sipping a glass of Cabernet. Or Riesling wine.

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“In My Neighborhood” Review

I’ve updated this review a bit.

Giovanna and I grew up together, so I’d been looking forward to this book. I’m very happy to share some thoughts.

“In My Neighborhood” is divided into three sections. In the first, Giovanna tells stories of growing up in an Italian neighborhood. The reader is steeped in the sights, sounds, and smells of these experiences and I found myself getting hungry for some good Italian food. Here is an excerpt from “Angela Maria, My Grandmother.”

There were countless garments you sewed
with your 5 daughters, including my mother
everyone sitting at the kitchen table
hand stitching collars and sleeves onto sweaters.

You picked bushels full of red tomatoes
grown in a backyard garden
You’d chop an simmer them fresh in a pan
with basil, garlic, and onions
always making your Sunday sauce from scratch.

At the butcher shop
you hand selected live chickens
feeling their necks till you found a fat one.

In the second section, our narrator leaves home, begins to explore her sexuality, and what it means to take your family and culture with you out into the world and how that changes over time.

The third section tells of leaving home and how, sometimes, our families love us even when they don’t understand us.

The tales told in these poems and stories are strong, identifiable, and honest. I highly recommend Giovanna Capone’s work