First Some Updates on the Project –
I’m going to give a little update here on the status of the project, and then Sonora Taylor has a poetry collection review for us! The last week of April I started the #HookedOnPoetry project to highlight poetry for National Poetry Month in April and carry it through May and June. I ran it through four or five weeks in May with three to four posts a week both here and on Kendall Reviews, then I took a break for a week… which then turned into another week when the Black Lives Matter movement and awareness heated up. I really wanted to focus on black voices being heard, and mine being more quiet (or only posting info and news on social media platforms that pertained to that as much as possible). It was one way I could help. And honestly, for many reasons I don’t want to go into here, I’m exhausted, drained, and not doing completely well. Work duties and deadlines is about all I can keep up with and I’m even failing in how much I can do there too. However, I wanted to start the poetry project back up again and continue to post at least all the submissions I had gotten in because they were waiting. I appreciate everyone’s patience so much, but their voices need heard as well. So let’s do poetry again! I plan on maybe posting two per week until I get through what I have, and then possibly, I’ll be continuing the project throughout the rest of the year with a #HookedOnPoetry post twice a month. If you’re a poet interested in being featured, contact me anytime.
I apologize for all this website house cleaning in front of this week’s post, but I feel it needed to be said. I’m super excited for you to read this review and essay submitted by author Sonora Taylor today. I chose this one to feature first coming off the break as the collection she is reviewing here is co-written by one of the greatest black voices across several genres, five-time Bram Stoker Award winner Linda Addison. Sonora wrote this back in mid-April, and since then, the collection itself won a Bram Stoker Award for superior achievement in a poetry collection, we’ve been quarantined (or at least most of us have) for two to three months more, and life and the world seems to have HIT THE FAN. Amazing how much can change in so little time.
Without me rambling more, I’ll let Sonora take it away… enjoy!
Broken Things in a Broken Time
by Sonora Taylor, author of Little Paranoias
When my brain is troubled, I find it comforting to dive into prose and verse that connects with its scattered fragments. After our current president was elected, I went through my days in a blur, one finally broken by a book called Among Strange Victims by Daniel Saldana Paris. I laughed at a passage where the protagonist observes, “It’s unnecessary to start by describing the actions that make up my routine. That tedious list will come later. First, I’d like to state that my head floats about two inches above the top of my neck, detached from me. From that position, it’s easier for me to observe the irritating texture of the days.” I felt both amused and comforted to see my state of mind described so well.
It’s April 18, 2020; a little more than a month since we were asked to social distance and flatten the curve — meaning keep the number of infected and subsequent dead from COVID-19 as low as possible. My husband and I are safe. We have many blessings: both our jobs, a comfortable home, ample supplies, and the means to safely get supplies when we run low. Still, a day-to-day defined by doing our best to not die is one that takes a subtle toll on the brain. It can crack our psyches and make us lose sense of what day it is, what time it is, what’s safe and what’s not, who’s well and who’s not. We can only hope for the best when we text our parents or talk to our coworkers on Zoom.
When I began reading The Place of Broken Things, the Stoker-nominated (upon reading) book of poetry from Linda D. Addison and Alessandro Manzetti, I thought of it as a piece to add to the books of poetry I’ve focused on throughout April, aka National Poetry Month. The first few poems were very good, but I found myself reading them with broken focus. I floated two inches above the book’s verses much like the protagonist’s head above his own thoughts in Among Strange Victims. My mind was also on today’s news, today’s Zoom hangouts, things I could bake, if the weather would be good for a walk, if I’d have more dreams like the one I had the night before, which included images of 9/11 as well as a fight with my husband.
Soon, the poems in the book — all about broken people — began to ground me, both in their stories as well as in my own mind. My thoughts stilled and my fragments stopped trembling. I found comfort in the quiet agony of the characters. In “Facing Olympia,” a man sees all kinds of women when he sees one woman, before realizing he sees no one, only his memories. In “A Clockwork Lemon Resucked,” the poets analyze what we sacrifice in order to not have to feel. “What We Have Become” asks the titular question in the context of minds and souls battered by fear. It closes with, “who remembers Before …” — a question many of us ask when we wake up each morning as of late.
As sad and broken as the individuals in every poem were, I still found The Place of Broken Things a comfort to read. Addison and Manzetti put into beautiful words and imagery what I’ve been feeling to varying degrees since this started — hell, since even before this started. I’d feel it in pebbles rolling throughout my life from rocks of anxiety, and situations like this pandemic have been a rock slide leaving me numb and stuck. The Place of Broken Things proves to be a beam of light shining between the cracks of those rocks, saying with its warmth, “I understand. I feel it too.” It’s a warmth that is very much needed, and I’m grateful for this book and the work of both Addison and Manzetti.
You can find The Place of Broken Things online at many retailers including BookShop.org.
The Place of Broken Things Summary –
Bram Stoker Award winners Linda D. Addison and Alessandro Manzetti use their unique voices to create a dark, surrealistic poetry collection exploring the many ways shattered bodies, minds, and souls endure.
They created poems of visionary imagery encompassing death, gods, goddesses and shadowy, Kafkaesque futures by inspiring each other, along with inspiration from others (Allen Ginsberg, Pablo Neruda, Phillis Wheatley, etc.).
Construction of The Place started with the first bitten apple dropped in the Garden. The foundation defined by the crushed, forgotten, and rejected. Filled with timeless space, its walls weep with the blood of brutality, the tears of the innocent, and predatory desire. Enter and let it whisper dark secrets to you.
“Addison and Manzetti appear, here, as a songwriting team, certain tunes attributed to one, then the other, but regularly meeting, so that not only do we get to know where each great poet is coming from, but their electric union to boot. At turns gritty and aqueous, this book is totally alive. Addison and Manzetti have written a volume in which literally every line is worthy of being that book’s title.”–Josh Malerman, author of BIRD BOX
“There is no book of poetry quite like THE PLACE OF BROKEN THINGS! Linda Addison and Alessandro Manzetti spin dark magic! Highly recommended!”–Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of V-WARS and GLIMPSE
Linda Addison, Biography –
Linda D. Addison born in Philadelphia, PA is an American poet and writer of horror, fantasy, and science fiction. Addison is the first African-American winner of the HWA Bram Stoker Award®, which she won five times for her collections Consumed, Reduced to Beautiful Grey Ashes (2001) and Being Full of Light, Insubstantial (2007) and How To Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend (2011), Four Elements (2014), and The Place of Broken Things, written with Alessandro Manzetti (2019). In 2016 Addison received the HWA Mentor of the Year Award and in 2018 she received the HWA Lifetime Achievement Award.
She has published over 350 poems, stories and articles and is one of the editors of Sycorax’s Daughters (Cedar Grove Publishing), an anthology of horror fiction/poetry by African-American women (HWA Bram Stoker finalist). Catch her latest work in The Place of Broken Things, written with Alessandro Manzetti (Crystal Lake Publishing) and anthologies Cosmic Underground (Cedar Grove Publishing) and Scary Out There (Simon Schuster). Addison is a founding member of the writer’s group Circles in the Hair (CITH), and a member of HWA, SFWA and SFPA.
Find Linda’s Amazon Page HERE.
Alessandro Manzetti, Biography –
Alessandro Manzetti lives in Rome, Italy and is a three-time Bram Stoker Award-winning author, editor, and translator of horror fiction and dark poetry whose work has been published extensively in Italian, including novels, short and long fiction, poetry, essays, graphic novels and collections.
English publications include his novels Shanti – The Sadist Heaven (2019) and Naraka – The Ultimate Human Breeding (2018), the novella The Keeper of Chernobyl (2019), the collections The Radioactive Bride (2020), The Garden of Delight (2017), The Monster, the Bad and the Ugly (2016, with Paolo Di Orazio), and The Massacre of the Mermaids (2015), the poetry collections The Place of Broken Things (2019, with Linda D. Addison), War (2018, with Marge Simon), No Mercy (2017), Sacrificial Nights (2016, with Bruce Boston) Eden Underground (2015), Venus Intervention (2014, with Corrine de Winter), and the graphic novel Calcutta Horror (2019)
He edited the anthologies The Beauty of Death (2016), The Beauty of Death Vol. 2 – Death by Water (2017, with Jodi Renee Lester) and Monsters of Any Kind (2018, with Daniele Bonfanti). His stories and poems have appeared in multiple Italian, USA, and UK magazines as well.
He is the Founder & CEO of Independent Legions Publishing, an HWA Active member, and a former HWA Board of Trustees member.
Find him on his website HERE.
Thanks to Sonora for her wonderful review of the collection.
Sonora Taylor, Biography –
Sonora Taylor is the author of Without Condition, The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales, Please Give, and Wither and Other Stories. Her short story, “Hearts are Just ‘Likes,’” was published in Camden Park Press’s Quoth the Raven, an anthology of stories and poems that put a contemporary twist on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Taylor’s short stories frequently appear in The Sirens Call.
Her third short story collection, Little Paranoias, is available on Amazon. Her next book, Seeing Things, will be available June 23, 2020. She lives in Arlington, Virginia, with her husband.
Find out more about Sonora on her website.
Seeing Things –
Featuring cover art by Doug Puller, the book will be available in e-book and paperback on June 23, 2020, on Amazon.
It will also be available in paperback through Bookshop.org and IndieBound.
Link to Pre-order (e-book only) on Amazon.
More on #HookedOnPoetry –
Thank you to everyone who stopped by and read about these wonderful artists and their work. If you are curious about the rest of the the poetry posts already featured this year, or in years past, you can find them all in one place on the POETRY page here on my site.