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

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