Book Recommendation: Historians of Redundant Moments by Nandini Dhar

2017-04-30 (3)

I was excited to read something that called itself “A Novel in Poems” because narrative arcs are what keep me reading. I am a visceral reader. My preferences lean towards work that tears my heart out. My reader’s eyes are influenced by being a long-time slam poetry event audience member. I am used to seeing visual cadence in print. I am not an academic reader.

I felt that it was important to start with the description of myself as a reader to be able to give anyone looking at this review the opportunity to say to themselves “I don’t read that way” because if you don’t, you may come to a completely different conclusion of this than I did.

First, let me acknowledge the extremely high level of technical skill with which these poems were crafted. If I were an academic reader, this would be my bread and butter. I know enough that I can be impressed with the form and the arrangements of words, syllables, stanzas, etc. The metaphor and similes were on point. No doubt there. This is a VERY well crafted collection.

There is a LOT of imagery in this collection of pieces. Almost too much for me. I found it hard to follow the story that this poetic novel was trying to tell. It was the reading equivalent of when a movie or TV show does the quick flash montage of images too fast to totally focus. I got a sense of what is being conveyed, but not a clear picture. Again, this might just be me.

Even with this, any poetry lover will find many gems to appreciate along the way. One of my favorites was this stanza:

Home, Mother says, is the shadow of an over-active quill.
Home, we sisters suspect, is our mother’s bone sculpted into walls.

The end conclusion for me is that as a set of poems, Historians of Redundant Moments very well put together and technically excellent. If you prefer a clear narrative arc from one piece to the next, this collection might be hard to read. If you love poetry, you will enjoy this book and its offerings. It’s definitely worth a read either way.


Thanks for reading!

Book Recommendation: New American Best Friend by Olivia Gatwood


2017-04-28 (1)I want to say it was 2010 the first time I experienced Olivia Gatwood. In 2010 I was 39 and I think she was still in high school or newly graduated. I only mention that because ageism is real and make perceptions and expectations skewed. I believe in the ageless nature of art, but life experience does affect what one writes/speaks.

But, on with my story.

I was in Albuquerque because at the time I was doing feature performances regularly. I happened to be in town the weekend of the ABQ Grand Slam to decide which poets would represent the enchanting city at the National Poetry Slam that year.

All of the poets brought their A game that night. The stage was filled with prowess and clever wordplay the whole evening.

Then there was this high school girl that touched the mic (as we all seem to do) before cracking the air in the room open like a sudden lightning strike. She spoke with as much authority and conviction and skill as anyone twice her age or more. She had a gift.

It’s been years but I think she won that night. As I was reading this collection of poems from a woman seven years away from the incredible force of nature that I met briefly in 2010, I couldn’t help but think of back then and how much she deserves every bit of success and accolades she has gotten since then.

She has a natural level of skill that her academic experience has only made even more apparent. She is truly one of the masters of the prose poem in the way she portrays narratives in what I am guessing are autobiographical vignettes.

Reading the series of stories her poems portray (autobiographical or not) took me to the other side of the world to places I have not seen nor experienced. I was intertwined into some of her portrayals of girlhood and connected by similarity and relatability to the themes and descriptions.

BOTTOM LINE… This book is well worth the read. If you like poetry at all, you will love this book. Even if you don’t normally like poetry, I suggest this book because of its predominant narrative quality of so many of the pieces. Seriously, get this book.

Book Recommendation – The Nasty Women Project: Voices from the Resistance




Another non-poetry related post, but since The Nasty Women Project: Voices from the Resistance is giving the proceeds to Planned Parenthood, I figured it would be worth posting here.

Most of the negative reviews I’ve read about this are critiquing the political stance of this book. I am going to first review this as a writer. I am going to comment on the technical merit and surprising clarity and skill that each woman presented her story in the aftermath of the crushing Hilary defeat. It is hard in this instant gratification age to find things to hold my attention and this collection of stories did just that. For this, I am glad.

The women who presented their stories resonated with me. I may not have the same situation as they do or even have the same ideology in some things, but our shared femininity bonded me to these stories. As a member of several marginalized groups, I could relate to their stories of frustration and fear in the wake of Tiny Hands Twittler’s entrance into the presidential office. I could also relate to their insistence on maintaining hope in the face of this fear.

This book is definitely for anyone who is feeling these things during this time of extreme global upheaval at the hands of a man that the narrow majority of our country felt to be the best choice. If you are hanging on by a thin thread right now and want to do SOME kind of small act to show the power you feel is slipping away nearly daily, then purchase this book to show your support and help keep Planned Parenthood around for the people who need it for birth control and reproductive healthcare.

This book is available on in eBook, paperback, and hard cover.

Please consider buying a copy of this book to be a part of the resistance. Thank you.

Book Recommendation – The Girl Who Fell from the Sky

This isn’t poetry related, but I wanted to support a writer whose work I like.

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi Durrow

I saw Ms. Durrow read when I was visiting Los Angeles years ago, but only recently got around to buying this book. It was definitely worth the purchase.

This story resonated with me because I am also a biracial woman and I currently live in Oregon so the setting and premise for the book interested me right off to see how this author presented this story about coming of age and learning one’s place in the world.

I was not expecting the extra layers of mystery in this! I love how the story comes full circle and deals with so many aspects of growing up and the African American experience (especially in a place as predominantly caucasian as Portland, Oregon).

There are some nice twists to the story and even though the characters didn’t interact in the pairing that I had hoped (you know how you can want two characters to connect), but it was deeply satisfying, nonetheless.

If you are in the market for a new story to read, definitely get this book. It is available for sale on Amazon as either an ebook, Audible, CD, hardcover or paperback.

Thanks for reading!
~ Niccolea