Category Archives: 5 Stars

Hourglass Museum and the timeless art of life

5 Stars


Hourglass Museum

Hourglass Museum by Kelli Russell Agodon appears to be a book of poetry based on art — and it is, but it is also so much more. It is a book about life and its distractions, get-togethers and their conversations and other nuances of everyday life.

In fact, the book can be summed up by its opening poem, which lets the readers in on the secret, the joke, the maddening reality of what life has to offer.

Agodon is a master of enjambment, the turns-of-phrase and metaphorical imagery that begs awe-struck questions like, “Where did THAT come from? How did she come up with THAT?” that may leave poets wanting to take their craft to the next level.

There’s no dessert in the picnic basket,
so I swallowed time.

Or this line, which is simple enough, yet for me it seems Agodon was channeling Ezra Pound.

Because the dress was worn.
Or wasn’t.

The book is a dialogue between art as life and life as art. There is both an unresolved tension between the two as well as an agreement to live in harmony together. But as the book progresses, it becomes less about the former and more about the latter. Agodon investigates questions of womanhood in general as well as motherhood and the family dynamic that is simple inspirational to read due to the way she expresses these themes.

Hourlass Museum is 120 pp and published by White Pine Press.

The Bluebeard Myth Gets a Red-Hot Makeover


5 Stars


 

Some Fatal Effects of Curiosity and Disobedience by Laura Madeline Wiseman is a wonderful take on the Bluebeard fable. For those of you who don’t know the story, it is essentially a Jack The Ripper story, but with wives instead of prostitutes. Wiseman modernizes the story and tells it from the perspective of three sisters, all of whom are wrapped up in their fateful relationship with the same man.

This is not a story of gore and murder; it is a story of sex and love. Their big city lives are filled with contemporary ideas and values. They are not completely naive and unsuspecting, but love and romance blinds them.

Wiseman comes up with a wonderful way to deal with the “blue” on Bluebeard. Everything is blue: there are blueberries, blue boxes, blue scarves, blue jeans, blue eyes, and much more.

The book is divided into three parts, one for each sister, and one for the late wives. Wiseman uses sectional poems to tell longer stories within stories, and employs prose poems, structured and unstructured free verse to tell the tale. I enjoyed every poem, but my favorite might have been the sectional poem “Against Plot”, which takes us into the second sister’s sexy past. The poem provides the reader with a character that is at once multi-dimensional and complicated yet easy to understand and relate to.

An excerpt:

At seventeen, a girl knelt between my thighs
during an overnight, her dark bedding
on the floor, the blinds rolled together,

the ringing phone lifted, then settled on its hook,
the thrum of music. I didn’t know anything
but her warm breath on my skin, her fingers,

To say I couldn’t put this book down is an understatement. Wiseman writes in a style that is accessible and colloquial, yet passes all the rigors of the poetic craft with flying colors. Her line breaks, her economy of words, and her sense of music are all flawless in this book. Some Fatal Effects of Curiosity and Disobedience was published by Lavender Ink in 2014 and is 110 pp. It can be ordered through Amazon,