All posts filed under: Features

Featured essays, interviews and multi-part series.

Adam Tavel: “Let Those Sparks Arise”

Firewood and Ashes: New and Selected Poems Ben Howard Salmon Poetry, 2015 A career-spanning collection, Ben Howard’s Firewood and Ashes: New and Selected Poems displays the poet’s lyrical sonorousness, formal mastery, and spiritual inquisitiveness. His most recent poems occupy the book’s opening section, where aging, memory, the beauty of the natural world, and the uncertainty of human endeavor are the poet’s chief subjects. One of the most compelling among these, the titular elegiac sequence “Firewood and Ashes,” grieves for a lost friend in crisp, tersely-composed lines and conjures the final metaphor in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73, where the dying body mirrors flame’s self-consumption. We hear echoes of the great bard’s “glowing of such fire / That on the ashes of his youth doth lie” most clearly in Howard’s fifth and final section: Forty years of friendship. One by one they rise, these memories, as if they might resume a story or fashion out of fire a single breathing person. So let those sparks arise, and let that smoke disperse, knowing as we do that even firewood …

Michelle Peñaloza: “Little Ghosts, Little Hidden Fires”

Post Subject: A Fable Oliver de la Paz University of Akron Press, 2014 Post Subject: A Fable, the latest collection of poems from Oliver de la Paz, is a highly controlled and obsessively organized collection. Each page contains an epistle-cum-prose-poem of three stanzas addressed to “Empire,” each beginning “Dear Empire, / These are your _______”.  These poems are cataloged in sections—titled Address, Atlas, Ledger, Zoo and Zygote—with each poem composed of near-abecedarian subjects. Epistle by epistle, Post Subject: A Fable demands that an Empire behold its ashes, boardwalks, canyons, devotees, engines, and so on. The book represents a fraught correspondence, a catalogue, noun for noun, of the consequences of empire. Two epigraphs introduce the collection. The first is from Edward Said: “…history is made by men and women, just as it can also be unmade and rewritten, always with various silence and elisions, always with shapes imposed and disfigurements tolerated.” De la Paz pairs this with a quote from Henry L. Stimson, “Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail.” De la Paz thus plays with the idea of what the reader …