Kwoya Fagin Maples: MEND

“With Mend, Kwoya Fagin Maples is equal parts teacher and poet: releasing a part of history that needed to be told, she’s brought dignity and light to the women of Mt. Meigs; further, she’s urging readers to learn and listen, to not repeat the ugliness hidden in our white-washed past. This is a must-read book for anyone, timeless and worth any praise Maples may yet garner for it.”

Full review published at Alabama Writers’ Forum

Savannah Sipple: WWJD and Other Poems

WWJD and Other Poems is an unflinching collection that dares its readers to find themselves in these personal but wildly relatable poems. The work is challenging but charming, and as gritty as it is gorgeous. Savannah Sipple rises up in this book, no longer allowing others to point at her flaws—instead pointing at herself in the mirror with love, staring down anyone trying to alter her reflection.”

Full review published at Screen Door Review

giovanni singleton: American Letters

“[…] this work takes multiple reads to fully digest, and that’s the point: in various ways and through multiple lenses, singleton successfully unteaches habitual acceptance and opens up new angles of understanding. Her use of concrete poetry, effectively and without limit, displays how perspective can grow when fed substance and left to thrive without limitation.  In these studies of shape and presentation, singleton destroys the concepts which control understanding and urges the reader to reevaluate how things appear, to focus less on what is named and more on why it is.”

Full review published at Broadkill Review

Emily Blair: We Are Birds

“Intimacy is the ultimate focus. Know this going into the book: there’s a lot of sex. It isn’t an easy thing to write about for most, and queer intimacy is even more difficult. But it’s more than that. In these poems you’ll find an exploration of the intricacies of heartbreak, how it looks different in each setting. You’ll find faults, self-admitted and burning. You’ll find blame, thrown without regret. Nothing here is one-dimensional: where Blair offers self-examination, she also examines her partners and the rough edges she and they try to make work. In each go, emotions get cluttered and confused or flatly denied; while the messes made seem exhausting, let’s face it: the bore of clean corners is hardly worth exploring.”

Full review published at Up the Staircase Quarterly

Ashley M. Jones: Magic City Gospel

“In Magic City Gospel, Ashley M. Jones delivers poems that conjure up everything from grits to God. Music is always in the background and her writing near enough holds your hand through the hardest parts of Alabama’s past.

She opens this collection with the honest and innocent fear of being a child learning her history, what it once meant to be black in the South and what it is now. As readers, she doesn’t talk at us about Civil Rights or what it feels like to have dark skin in a state that hasn’t fully gotten away from its worst times; she instead takes us home and shows us what it is to grow up as a young black woman in Alabama.”

Full review published at Hobo Camp Review