Review: This Is Between Us by Kevin Sampsell

By Nancy Smith

ThisisbetweenusOnly a few paragraphs into This Is Between Us, it becomes clear that this is an intimate portrait of a relationship. A narrator speaks, perhaps confesses, directly to his lover of five years, and we get to peek inside the everyday details of this romance. The book is divided in five sections, marked chronologically by time. Early in Year One, our narrator says, “On just our second real date, we started talking about what our life would be like together. We talked about houses, cars, dreams, our kids, and our friends. Then we reluctantly talked about honesty, as if we weren’t really sure what it meant.” And this—the talk of a life lived together—is exactly what unfolds over the course of this lovely, understated novel. Read More

Janice Worthen reads Nomenclature

Janice Worthen lives and writes in the Bay Area of California. She’s a regular contributor to the online news source The Alamedan. Her poetry has appeared in The Rectangle, Switchback, and her poem “Fire Closest Kept” won University of Idaho’s Banks Award. When Janice isn’t writing, she haunts the warehouse of Small Press Distribution as a volunteer.

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