Review: Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford

By Caitlin Callaghan

SongsofwillowfrostEarly on in Jamie Ford’s new novel, Songs of Willow Frost, William Eng, the twelve year-old protagonist, is about to run away from Seattle’s Sacred Heart Orphanage with his best friend, Charlotte. As they are on the verge of making their escape, Charlotte reminds William that one of the nuns who cared for them used to say that all great stories have a moral.  William, considering this, “didn’t know if his story had a moral to it. Honestly, he didn’t care […] All he wished for was a happy ending.”  Read More

Review: Russell Atkins: On the Life & Work of an American Master

By Patrick James Dunagan

atkinsBoth prolific and diverse, Russell Atkins’ literary output crosses over traditional divisions of genre, style, and form. He has drafted musical scores for many of his literary works and theorized his original theory of practice in his essay “A Psychovisual Perspective for ‘Musical’ Composition.” His spelling, syntax, and subject matter all tend to be unorthodox. The one problem with this selection of work is that it leaves you feeling there should be more included. Let’s have a full Collected Poems rather than this slim gathering. Of course, that is the point. The format of the Unsung Masters Series calls for the selection of the writer’s work to be followed by inclusion of recent critical essays by scholars. Responding here to Atkins are Aldon Lynn Nielsen, Tom Orange, Evie Shockley, Sean Singer, and Tyrone Williams. The essays not only provide context for approaching Atkins’ work, but also demonstrate the ongoing relevance located within it.  The hope, at least in part, is to generate a broader interest in Atkins among poets, scholars, and general readers. Read More

Arisa White reads Here the neighbor screams for Frankie

Photo credit: Samantha Florio
Photo credit: Samantha Florio

Arisa White is a Cave Canem fellow, an MFA graduate from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and is the author of the chapbooks Disposition for Shininess and Post Pardon, as well as the full-length collections Hurrah’s Nest and A Penny Saved. Her debut collection, Hurrah’s Nest, was nominated for a 44th NAACP Image Award and is a finalist for the 82nd California Book Awards. Co-editor for HER KIND, an online literary community powered by VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, and the editorial manager for Dance Studio Life magazine, Arisa has received residencies, fellowships, or scholarships from Port Townsend Writers’ Conference, Rose O’Neill Literary House, Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Hedgebrook, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Prague Summer Program, Fine Arts Work Center, and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2005, her poetry has been widely published and is featured on the recording WORD with the Jessica Jones Quartet. Arisa is a native New Yorker, living in Oakland, CA, with her partner. For more information visit arisawhite.com or facebook.com/Arisapage.

Review: Singing in Magnetic Hoofbeat: Essays, Prose Texts, Interviews and a Lecture 1991-2007

By Patrick James Dunagan

Will Alexander astounds. Prolific beyond any easily understandable degree, poems, plays, novels, philosophical tracts, and artwork endlessly pour forth from him—I even recently witnessed him play piano in a San Francisco performance with the Cloud Shepherd ensemble accompanied by jazz violinist India Cooke. At the piano, Alexander was by no means stellar, but he was competent. His apparently unbounded energy and enthusiasm for truly multi-galactic expression is spread throughout all of his writing. Infectious is one word to describe how it feels to read his work. This newly-published collection of wide ranging material showcases his critical reflections. Read More

Steve Davenport reads Dear No. 2 Pencil, Decomposing in Whiskey

Davenport_2

A product of American Bottom, an Illinois floodplain across the Mississippi from St. Louis, Steve Davenport is the author of two poetry collections: Overpass (2012) and Uncontainable Noise (2006). His poems, stories, and essays have been anthologized, reprinted, and published in scores of literary magazines both on-line and in print. A recent story in The Southern Review received a 2011 Pushcart Prize Special Mention.