blue jeaned buddhists by Dan Jacoby – Duck Lake Books, November 2019
blue jeaned buddhists is a 94 page volume of poetry with a quiet spirituality without turning away from the more violent reality of American life. At time reminiscent of Kerouac, Corso, or Ginsberg, this poetry is tempered with the quiet reflection of Dickinson. Jacoby bravely shows us the harsh injustice of life to give us the strength to find and embrace inner peace.
Being an older gentleman who began writing poetry seriously late in life, Dan Jacoby tempers the wisdom of age with a fresh voice.
Boys by Daniel Moore – Duck Lake Books, December 2019
Daniel Moore lives in Washington on Whidbey Island with the poet, Laura Coe Moore. His poems have been in Spoon River Poetry Review, Columbia Journal, Cream City Review, Western Humanities Review, Phoebe, Mid- American Review, December and others. His poems are forthcoming in Weber Review, Duende Literary Journal, Bluestem Magazine, Slipstream, Levee Magazine, and The Blue Nib Magazine. His work has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes and Best of the Net. Visit him at Danieledwardmoore.com.
Hall of Fools by Shamrock McShane – Son of Sham Press, 2017
Hall of Fools is a nonfiction novel about American public education. If you want to know what it’s like to teach in a public school for one whole year – or thirty – or any number in between, if you want to know if your children are safe in school, or if they’re learning anything and who is teaching it to them, if you’re brave enough, enter the Hall of Fools. Hall of Fools is the story of public education, seen through the prim of a thirty-year career teaching Language Arts in middle school.
Shamrock McShane, writer, actor, teacher, taught Language Arts in Florida public schools for 30 years. He studied with Padgett Powell, Harry Crews, and Donald Justice and was a Henfield Award nominee at the University of Florida (MFA). His work has appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Long Shot, Steel Toe Review, and The English Journal. A Shakespearean-trained actor as well as a prize-winning playwright, his roles include Mercutio, Macbeth, Prospero, and most recently Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. He is the author of Rock Beauty and the non-fiction novel Hall of Fools. As a screenwriter collaborating with his son, the director Mike McShane, his films include The Votive Pit, You Are Not Frank Sinatra, and It’s All Good.
Dusk & Dust by Esteban Rodriguez, Hub City Press, September 2019
Set along the U.S.-Mexico border, Dusk & Dust introduces the voice of a “boy straddled on the valley of two geographies.” With a keen eye, gentle humor, and great empathy, Esteban Rodríguez’s debut collection explores the lives of the generations who have made their homes in a landscape too often neglected and forgotten. Like the region they portray—relentless, unsympathetic, singed with uncertainty—these poems are marked with a visceral beauty. The aroma of cattle mingles with steaming tamales, and carnival organs play behind telenovelas in this richly conjured and mercurial world. Through the eyes of his luchador mask, with a foot planted firmly on either side of the fence, the young speaker grapples with a host of cultural and familial expectations, a tenuous grasp on his family’s language, and his own burgeoning identity. Funny and poignant, Dusk & Dust lays out a labyrinth of cultural expectations, and, with a voice as clear as it is unique, illuminates a world that seeks to be remembered and lived.
Esteban Rodríguez is the author of the collections Dusk & Dust (Hub City Press, 2019), Crash Course (Saddle Road Press, 2019), and (Dis)placement (Skull + Wind Press, 2020). His poetry has appeared in The Gettysburg Review, New England Review, TriQuarterly, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. He is the Interviews Editor for the EcoTheo Review, a regular reviews contributor to PANK, and a poetry reader for BOAAT. He lives with his family and teaches in Austin, Texas.
Counting Down: A Memoir of Foster Parenting and Beyond by Deborah Gold, Ohio University Press/Swallow Press, 2018
When Deborah Gold and her husband signed up to foster parent in their rural mountain community, they did not foresee that it would lead to a roller-coaster fifteen years of involvement with a traumatized yet resilient birth family. They fell in love with Michael (a toddler when he came to them), yet they had to reckon with the knowledge that he could leave their lives at any time.
In Counting Down, Gold tells the story of forging a family within a confounding system. We meet social workers, a birth mother with the courage to give her children the childhood she never had herself, and a father parenting from prison. We also encounter members of a remarkable fellowship of Appalachian foster parents—gay, straight, right, left, evangelical, and atheist—united by love, loss, and quality hand-me-downs.
Gold’s memoir is one of the few books to deliver a foster parent’s perspective (and, through Michael’s own poetry and essays, that of a former foster child). In it, she shakes up common assumptions and offers a powerfully frank and hopeful look at an experience often portrayed as bleak.