Reviews - November 2019

Spelling for humanity

A review of 'Spells,' edited by Sarah Shin and Rebecca Tamás

Image by Soraya Gilanni.
Image by Soraya Gilanni.

The purpose of Spells is made clear in many ways, from the chant-like lyrical prose introduction “The Broken Open” by So Mayer to the subtitle: “21st-Century Occult Poetry.” This is a book of poetry that does magic, that believes in the magic of word-casting and spell-ing. Spells introduces a variety of ways to spell in poems from a diverse cast of poets who echo the ideas of precursors like Ursula K. LeGuin: by naming something, magic is done and change is created.

Language work is a making and remaking of the world around us, a casting of spells: “To be a witch, then, is to know words.”[1Spells, an anthology edited by Sarah Shin and Rebecca Tamás, attempts to show the magical side of poetry and “the moment before the word, when everything inside you is broken open” (ix).

Thus I am inwardly my police

A review of Daniel Poppick's 'The Police'

Photo of Daniel Poppick (left) by Charlotte McCurdy.
“Speech is the fourth wall made permanent,” Daniel Poppick writes in the title poem of his debut collection, The Police.[1] Speech is a performance, he suggests: a performance that cuts us off from others, making them, first, an audience, and then constructing a barrier between speaker and audience.