Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Pedestal Magazine Review of Marion Starling Boyer's Ice Hours

My review of Marion Starling Boyer's new collection, Ice Hours, is live now in issue 94 of Pedestal Magazine. I so enjoyed Boyer's skillful and fascinating book, and I wish I could have said more, quoted from it more. 

The best part about writing reviews is going deep into anything and everything I can find by and about the author. I don't just read the one book and write about it. I try to understand who the writer is, where they are coming from, what they have said and what they are saying. Ice Hours is another fantastic read, and I'm grateful to John Amen at Pedestal Magazine for allowing me to share my thoughts about it.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Review of The Dreams We Share live on Colorado Review

 I'm very pleased to report that my review of Raphael Block's The Dreams We Share is now up on Colorado Review's site. I am grateful to the editors for taking the piece.

I am also working on two other reviews, and am enjoying each book I read greatly. It's so difficult to capture everything I want to say about a book in only a few hundred to a thousand words.  But if I can point someone to reading a collection for themselves, that is for the best anyway. The reader will always bring their self, their history and disposition and taste, to the experience regardless. I have only my own lens from which to view. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

New Review Live at Pedestal Magazine

I'm feeling very grateful toward managing editor John Amen for publishing my review of Lee Rossi's fifth collection, Say Anythingin the latest Pedestal Magazine

I found that the more I read, and re-read Rossi's book, the more I appreciated his talent and intellect, and his wry sense of humor. The same deepening appreciation happened when I dove deeply into the last two books I reviewed. Trying to do a publication and a poet justice is not a simple task, and knowing that Rossi himself is an expert and experienced reviewer niggled at the back of my mind the whole time I was working on how to communicate the qualities, and something of the content, of Say Anything. I hope that if nothing else, it draws some readers to his work.

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Reviews, Visits, the Work

I have published a handful of reviews of poetry collections since completing Pacific's MFA program, and I have one scheduled to come out in the near future (thank you, Colorado Review!), one due to be submitted in the next two weeks (thank you, Pedestal Magazine!), and another I expect to write and send out shortly after that. (Check out Nancy Miller Gomez's Inconsolable Objects, folks.)

Review writing is its own thing, quite different from poetry itself - although the more I study what other writers are doing, have done, with their work, the more I understand about what I am doing and/or not doing well in my own. The time it takes to read and interpret and distill and present, as articulately as possible, the contents and qualities of a new poetry book, is extensive. For me, anyway. It can take me around eighty hours, I think, on average, to write the 750-1000 words that might eventually be put in print or online. Perhaps I'm just really slow. Or overthink things. (Maybe I'm overthinking this, for example.) But I have to admit that I really enjoy the forming of the piece - taking the pages and pages of notes and trying, very hard, with that lumpy pile of wet clay, to eventually make a container that will hold water. It's a metaphor that is perhaps too easy, and one I've used before - but it really does feel like a kind of smoothing and shaping. I enjoy it. And I've been told that reviewers are often in demand. So if I'm able to write something that can be used, and I enjoy the slow, usually cumbersome, but also rewarding, process - why not do it?

Ives Hall, SSU

Yesterday I was honored to visit a poetry class at Sonoma State University, having been invited by the professor, Kathleen Winter, who is not only a fantastic poet but also, clearly, an excellent teacher. I envied the students having her to guide them. 

It seemed like this class, like Kathleen's intro to writing class I visited via Zoom last semester, was full of engaged young writers. I wished I could hear or read some of their work, because I'm sure it was unique and exciting. I think there's a whole generation of important voices that will be emerging in the poetry world in the coming years. 

It inspires me to keep at it, and try new things. What do I have to say that no one else can say, and that would matter? And how well, how truly, can I say it? Isn't that what we all ask ourselves?

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Grateful for the New Year, and new publications

I started 2024 with a series of minor but impactful health problems, but even as I am at half-power recovering from the flu, I am buoyed by today's release of my review of David Keplinger's book Ice in the wonderful Adroit Journal. The editors and creative directors there have been wonderfully supportive, and I am proud of this publication. Keplinger is a fantastic poet and a kind and compassionate human being who leads weekly mindfulness meditations (each one focusing on a selected poem and what it can teach us) through the Mindfulness Initiative at American University (MIAU). I highly recommend his new book and the meditations, even if it means a 6am start time for those of us on the West Coast.

I also just received word last week that one of my newer poems will be picked up by another journal that I admire very much. More details to follow when I have them. Grateful, indeed.

Friday, October 13, 2023


I am so grateful for the poets, and people, who inspire me. In choosing a new book of poetry to review, I found David Keplinger. I do not know how I had not read him before now; he has written several books and has won many prestigious awards, and has been teaching for decades. He also is a student of Tara Brach, whom I have encountered through classes taught by Rick Hanson. At this point, I am tempted to insert all sorts of links to the websites for these esteemed teachers. And I would say more about Keplinger's work, except that I want to focus that impulse instead on writing and submitting my review of Ice

Really, though, I want to write in response to the meditation that Keplinger led this morning as part of the Mindfulness Initiative at American University (MIAU). So that is one link I will include.  The meditations he leads each week include the reading and study of a poem. Today's poem was Milton's Sonnet 19: "When I consider how my light is spent..." and I am tremendously grateful both for the reflections he shared and where they led me. I am always so self-propelled to act, to be busy and "productive," when it can be very appropriate to be still and wait

November is coming, and with it Nanowrimo, which I have agreed to do with my daughter and a colleague. But is there anything that I think I have to say that warrants 50,000 words? The sky is lightening as I write, and there is one star or planet (is it Venus? I must check - see? the push to act, always) high in the sky, and very big and bright, even as the silhouette of the trees that remain surfaces against the gray horizon.

At the moment, I want only to rise before 6 every morning and meditate, to let my efforts be in sitting, in being and experiencing a deeper understanding and compassion for myself and the world, rather than in doing. Always doing.

Friday, September 1, 2023

The Sealey Challenge Stack 2023

Can you spot the errors? I don't have The Carrying here, because I listened to Ada Limón read it instead of having the book in hand. Also, I mistakenly photographed volume 1 of Plagios instead of volume 2. But otherwise, this is representative of what I have done with the last 31 days. We now return to our previously scheduled two-or-three-books-a-month program.