Book Review | Glass Bikini by Kristin Bock

Reviewed by South Broadway Press Editor, Brice Maiurro

In Glass Bikini, I want to say that Kristin Bock throws us smack dab in the center of an endless-seeming funhouse. Funhouse feels incomplete though. Riddled with everything from angels to monsters, robots to ghosts, Bock has strewn together many worlds, funhouses, haunted houses, universes, and open fields alike.

Bock has a knack for quick, weirdo storytelling the likes of James Tate, but Bock separates from Tate when her words turn down darker roads, often leaving the reader with a profound feeling that something substantial has just occurred. I found myself reflecting on the absurdity of my own experience. In the lawless land of a universe where snowmen cry tears of fire, I was given permission as the reader to reside in whatever strange corner of the ether that called to me.

Monsters are probably the most common image of the collection, stomping around at the intersection of childlike whimsy and our collective trauma. This is aided by a selection of quotes throughout by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, author of Frankenstein. In her second poem, “Creation Myth”, the poet herself creates a monster. “The ideal monster is 8 hands tall,” says Bock establishing her authority on the creation of these terrible creatures. The poem continues on to place together the ornate details of this monster before ending with “Then, find the ribbon within the figure, the gesture at its center and pull.” She seems to advise us how to make a monster, just to show us then how to dismantle one. “Sometimes monsters are so big you can’t see them,” Bock reminds us in “The President’s Dream.”

This theme continues throughout the collection. A matter-of-fact building of a surreal world, if only to figure out how to escape it. A looking-in-the-eye of the ugly and scary, then blown away as soon as Bock decides to send in the hurricane.

At times the world-building is devastatingly quick. In “How Rabbits Finally Took Over the World”, Bock says, “Sometime after the extinction of whales,” as if it were just a throwaway line. I want to stop, and grieve this loss, but in what feels like a mirroring of our own modern world, I’m left with the deep feeling that there is simply no time. There is too much to do and say, and my longing to process all this change will have to be placed on the backburner, possibly to never be revisited. 

Where so many poems in existence might feel like a warm hug, or floating down a river, with Bock’s poems, I often felt I had found myself in a bear trap, or perhaps a wormhole between universes. She wonderfully works with dark matter, as if she is acting as the great organizer of the animalistic floats and mannequin musicians in a parade of the shadow self.

One of the turns I found astounding in Glass Bikini was the occasional page turn to something romantic and incredibly present. In “Barn Burning” the poet comes home to a barn on fire, and in an undoubtedly spiritual moment shares with us,

“Out of the smoke / a mare walked up to me / slowly, as if she knew me— / as if we weren’t on fire.”

Moments like this were the highlight of the collection for me. In the middle of so much frenetic chaos, an undoubtable and slow encounter with beauty held so much weight to me as the reader.

Bock is well-aware of that reader, and the relationship that she is engaging them in. Her poems in the second person had a strong “you” to them, as if Bock were reaching her hand out directly to us to belong here, come hell or high water. With the same insistence as John Lennon’s famous “picture yourself on a boat on a river,” Bock presents the reader with less of a request to come along, and more of a sudden and total immersion.

I’d have to say my favorite poem in the collection was “Pluto”, where Bock casts a spell on a laundry list of all of the bigots, abusers, racists, and misogynists of the world, sending them to the cold recesses of space. “[T]here’s a place for you here,” says Bock, “ inside my vacuous core of ice and ash.” Bock firmly draws a hard line in the sand against these all-too-real monsters and monstrous ideologies that persist on the main stage of society.

Bock’s poetry is a magic I want to see more of. In Glass Bikini, she is resolute to fall as deep as she can into the rabbit hole, prepared to make and unmake the cruelest of monsters and reform herself in the shade of whatever strange color she can. This is what I want of poetry, the humility and power of a collection like Glass Bikini. One section of the book is introduced with an Emily Dickinson quote “’Tis so appalling—it exhilarates—“. This appalling exhilaration finds home in the words of Bock to remind us that these fever dreams are a masterful mimicry of our sober reality.

Glass Bikini was published by Tupelo Press and is available for purchase here.

Transplanting | Lillian Fuglei

Image: Matt Artz

Transplanting

Prune the leaves- pluck
the crisp ones that no longer
serve her, watch them
hit the floor with a bone crunch.
Gently untangle
her vines from their previous
cage. Dislocate her
from one pot,
descending to the next.

We place her
into the soil. Pearlite
and peat moss, spilling past
the edges of her new shelter, dusting
your Pine-Sol purified floor.

Pat her down, our hands meet
under the dirt, a brush
of unearned domesticity.
Specks of soil, line
the ridges of your fingertips,
granting anonymity
to your palms.

Sitting
knee to knee, surrounding
her dwelling. I gaze
into your eyes
and wonder, will this be her final
resting place? Or will we uproot,
disrupt her growth, push her
past the point of no return?

Lillian Fuglei is a Colorado based poet. She began writing poetry in High School, after a lifetime of attending open mics thanks to her mother. She currently bounces between two of the highest paying jobs possible, substitute teaching and freelance journalism. You can find her on Instagram at literary.lillian.


This poem is from South Broadway Press’ new anthology, Dwell: Poems About Home. Purchase here.

HOMESICK | M. Palowski Moore

HOMESICK

I am dreaming of
An Alabama night-
Crickets chirping; echoing
Of sentiment, breaking
The song of the loon
Diving, strutting
Through phrases, phases
Of a honeysuckle
Milk glass moon
Whose distant sway
Ripples, pools, pulls
Pebbled ponds, precious pearls
Where locals gather
To swim, fish, skip stones
Across reflections of sky and stars.

I am. falling, failing-
Form fleeing a cold city
An asp escaping
This fruitless orchard
A moth chained by the
Candlelight of a distant beacon.

I close my eyes
See the pines, skies
White wings, fluttering
Glittering patchwork
Transforming. I am again
A small-town boy
Taking the back road,
Wooded path winding
To the Jackson-Slaughter bridge;
Racing in the pecan grove,
Chasing shadows, fireflies;
Laughing, dreaming, laying
Staring, believing- feeling
The force; the iron vein
Of a vanishing home-
Remembering more from
Windows that never close
A place I no longer belong.

M. Palowski Moore is a poet, writer and storyteller.  He has five volumes of poetry, including the Lambda Award nominee BURNING BLUE. His compositions reflect diverse themes and interpretations of prejudice, racism, socioeconomic inequality, homophobia and systemic oppression.  He is a contributing poet to the Civil Rights Memorial Center (SPLC) community poem A CIVIL COMMUNITY, a new exhibit that will be featured inside the final gallery of The Civil Rights Memorial Center. 


This poem is from South Broadway Press’ new anthology, Dwell: Poems About Home. Purchase here.

Rooms | Liza Sparks

Image: Guillaume Lorain

Rooms 

“I dwell in Possibility—”
-Emily Dickinson

Every
body has a right
 to shelter in a home.
To be safe from cold, the heat,
the storm.

///

We want a house built by the people / we want walls of justice / 
we want liberation / we want windows and doors of possibility / 
look outside / in a world where everyone has a home / 
anything is possible / how do we transform / 

///

“Home is where the heart is.” The heart is the size of your fist. 
Some things are worth fighting for.

///

Homelessness is not a choice. 

Criminalizing survival is unconstitutional.[1]

///

The body—
my body is made of rooms of memory—
The body—
my body is made of hallways—
The body—
my body does not remember—
The body—
my body remembers everything

///

Here is my skin. Imagine all of the things I have touched.
Here are my bones. 

///

I do not remember leaving the dwelling of my mother’s body.
I do not remember being born.

///

What does it mean to care for another? 


[1] Denverhomelessoutloud.org

Liza Sparks (she/her) is an intersectional feminist, writer, poet, and creative. She is a brown-multiracial-queer-woman living and working in Colorado. Her work has appeared with Ghost City Review, Bozalta Collective, Cosmonauts Avenue, and many others; and is forthcoming with Honey Literary, Split This Rock’s social justice database—The Quarry, and will be included in Nonwhite and Woman Anthology published by Woodhall Press in 2022. Liza was a semifinalist for Button Poetry’s Chapbook contest in 2018 and was a finalist for Denver Lighthouse Writers Workshop Emerging Writer Fellowship in Poetry in 2020 and 2019. She is a poetry reader for The Chestnut Review. You can read more of Liza’s work at lizasparks.com, IG @sparksliza534, or TW @lizathepoet

This poem is from South Broadway Press’ new anthology, Dwell: Poems About Home. Purchase here.

Apartment | Wheeler Light

Image: Nathan Dumlao

You open the apartment door and it is just wood. Wood behind the door. You need to enter your apartment. To sleep. To work. To clean. You burrow into the wood with a small drill bore. You carve a desk inside the wood. You leave legs of the wood in each corner of the room so the wood roof doesn’t collapse on you, crushed by mahogany in the night. You wake one day and it is raining paper. A hole has split in the wood from all the paper where it was leaking from the bathtub upstairs. The paper is covered in all your upstairs neighbor’s poetry. Your upstairs neighbor is always so loud, crying for whole weeks at a time. Your neighbor is so loud the sound bleeds through the mahogany. The mahogany is now spilling into your bed, your bed you carved yourself out of the desk, the desk which appeared behind the door, the apartment which was drowned in poetry. The future that is always words.

Wheeler Light is an MFA candidate at the University of Virginia. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Hobart, Pretty Owl Poetry, The Penn Review, and Broadsided Press, among others. His work can be found at www.wheelerlight.net


This poem is from South Broadway Press’ new anthology, Dwell: Poems About Home. Purchase here.

Tell It Slant | Cortney Collins

Image: Chris Bair

My family grew corn in the heartland, but I’ve never seen it quite like this:

Angelic, husk-winged, guarding every shard of bone hidden in the soil. 

How is it that I didn’t know I had thousands of angels? They were with me all the time. 

I remember going out into the fields with my grandpa, crossing into the humid network, stalks sending out messages to each other across droplets of August air. 

I could hear their choir, their low and incandescent hum, the sway of bass clef notes rocking me to sleep in the farmhouse.

Emily Dickenson advised us all to tell the truth slant, and I remember this is what hailstorms taught the fields. The slant truth seemed tragic, in a way, as if nothing stays upright or rooted for long. Not even cornstalks.

Not even families. 

Not even farmhouses, burned to the ground long after they’ve become vacant, when the small town fire department needs a fire to practice on.

Something is always missing.

Maybe it’s just a three-hundred-sixty degree view, the ability to see that everything is overflowing, 

all the time.


Cortney Collins lives on the Front Range of Colorado with her two beloved feline companions, Pablo (after Neruda) and Lida Rose (after a barbershop quartet song in The Music Man). She is the founder of the pandemic-era virtual poetry open mic, Zoem. Zoem produced an anthology of its poets’ work, Magpies: A Zoem Anthology, of which she is co-editor. Her work has been published by South Broadway Press, 24hr Neon Mag, Amethyst Magazine, Sheila-na-Gig, Back Patio Press, and others. Cortney considers herself a poet secondarily; her first calling is encouraging others’ beautiful words in community. 


This poem is from South Broadway Press’ new anthology, Dwell: Poems About Home. Dwell will be available to purchase August 1st, 2022.

An Apology to Stina French

We would like to take a minute to apologize to Stina French. At an event that South Broadway Press helps organize and which Sarah hosts, a poet who was performing asked “Stina, why are you not up here?” and Matt Clifford said “because she talks about people” After Stina replied “Toxic masculinity,” to Matt, Sarah referred to the interaction as “poet drama” to the audience and the poet on the microphone.

Unkindness isn’t okay, and it’s especially not okay in a public setting. Stina, you deserve to expect that a community space will be kind, and that any conflict between you and someone else will be handled privately and still kindly. When something unkind happens in a community space, it should be addressed. Sarah apologized to Stina the night of the event and once again would like to apologize for not addressing the conflict then and there.

Brice also apologized to Stina the night of, and would like to apologize now publicly. We also would like to apologize for not being more communicative with Stina and the community at large in the weeks following the conflict. We’ve learned a valuable lesson about keeping communication open and transparent in our community.

We hope that there is a space for reconciliation here. We are open to dialogue, and Sarah also plans to address this incident and share this apology at the next community event.

Yours in Community,

Brice and Sarah, of South Broadway Press

Matt Clifford would like to say this:

I am sorry to talk about people talking about people to other people in front of other people. It was not my space to truth and talking about people to other people like that isn’t cool. Stina, I hope you and everybody could know just how sorry I truly am. I intend for my own health to never speak of or to you again.

This was an individual slip of tongue in the midst of playing I wish didn’t happen. We have had overwhelmingly successful collaborations with around 400 poets, musicians and artists of many mediums, including ~55 last month and dozens more in the upcoming weeks. Our record of diversity is among most any event on the Front Range. If you don’t feel Punketry is a welcoming space, obviously don’t come, but I can promise you it is and we will continue the work to make sure it stays that way.

Poetry Anthology Partnering With Village Institute

South Broadway Press is partnering with the Village Institute to raise money for their operations. To do this, we have created an anthology of poetry entitled “Dwell”, which we will be providing copies of to supporters who donate $20 or more.

You can find the link to the fundraiser here!

The Village Institute is a live/learn/work center designed with and for refugee families in Northwest Aurora. As it says on their website, they “help families build wealth, worth, and wellbeing by bringing housing, language learning, job readiness workshops, and mental health services all under one roof.”

“Dwell” is an anthology of poems about our personal and collective identity of home. It is a full-length collection of over 35 poets meditating on themes of love, immigration, grief, homelessness, and impermanence, among other topics. The anthology features the work of such poets as Caleb Ferganchick, Abigail Chabitnoy, Crisosto Apache, Aerik Francis, Wheeler Light, Said Shaye, Liza Sparks, Zack Kopp, Jessica Rigney, and many more.

Thank you to LiveWork Denver, who provided a generous grant to make this anthology a reality. In line with the mission of this book, LiveWork Denver does incredible work to create access to homeownership for folks who may otherwise feel ownership is out of reach, including facilitating opportunities in community housing, co-buying, cooperatives and live/work spaces.

Thank you for your support. All donations and shares are very appreciated!

Editor Interviews | Terra Iverson

Terra Iverson is thrilled to be on the South Broadway Press editing team.

Originally a businesswoman, her passion has always been in the written word. Ink is an art form, painting your world in the minds of others. The meaning of a word, the structure of a stanza, the moment when you forget who you are because it is all so powerful. Terra loves those moments. She’s often found reading nearly everywhere she goes, even while walking, which she doesn’t recommend.

She has experience as an editor in publications such as Obscura. Terra has had her poetry and play scripts published in Project Yes and Obscura. Terra is also currently working towards publishing her collection of short stories, artwork, and poems. A Colorado native, she resides in a small mountain town with her husband and their two sons.

You can follow Terra on Instagram @terraiverson.

It’s so much easier to see the world in black and white. Gray? I don’t know what to do with gray.

Garrus Vakarian, Mass Effect 2

What does this quote mean to you?

The human mind tries so hard to fit everything into a category; to choose a side. Is this black, is it white? Does this fit into this box or that? It’s hard to do, but I want to see the gray, the opaque place where most of us truly dance. It’s difficult to walk through, even harder to write about, but when I hear or read something and it burrows its way into my soul, I want to honor it. Even if I don’t know what to do with it, even if it’s “gray”, I still want its company.

What books have made an important impact on you and why?

I’m not sure how I could possibly sum all the stories I’ve consumed into a simple list. I love adventure, I love conflict, romance, places, and characters. I feel like at the end of a good book I’ve made actual friends. I nearly weep when I’m finished, saying goodbye. I spent so much time with these stories, they influenced me, help build who I am. As a very young child, I slept every night with a book called Baby Dear. Where other children may have had a stuffed bear, I cuddled a book for comfort. Today, I read books to my children about dragons, wizards, dinosaurs, and blueberries. So perhaps these are the books that impact me the most, the ones that start myself and others down the path of discovering the worlds hidden between the pages.

What is the value of writing and art in the current state of the world?

Art is culture. Without it, society has no soul. Without art, would we truly be living? When humanity was stuck inside, faced with unsurmountable darkness, we turned to art. We turned to paint, to photos, to music, and to words. We latched onto our soul and held on for dear life.

How have writing and art helped to form the person you are today?

My art and writing gift me a way to share myself with others.

As a child, I was consumed by other peoples’ worlds. I lived in those worlds so I could walk through a broken home and many difficult and defining moments. I escaped into the imagination of others. It let me pause, breathe, and be someone else, if only for a moment.

As I grew, I started creating my own worlds, places where my mind could wander. Places where my feelings and my soul could be safe. I learned that through paint, photos, and writing I could explore that inner world and also share it with others. It’s so fascinating, so vulnerable, so beautiful, and so freeing.

What is something that matters to you?

Connections matter to me, the threads of emotion that bind people together as well as the commonality and differences we all share. There are so many people, places, and principles in this universe that have had a hand in shaping me into the person I am. My family, my husband, my kids, and my friends have all helped me to walk through this world with kindness, determination, love, joy, hope, and peace. I also value art, community, health, an adventurous spirit, and freedom.

Want to get to know our other editors? Read more Editor Interviews here.

Carrying stones | Jane-Rebecca Cannarella

Image: Tom van Hoogstraten

Erin told me her face was falling. We sat on a motel bed in downtown Anaheim, each of us with stones inside our bodies where organs used to be. Hand to her face she placed her fingers at her jaw and said, it’s sagging. Like a landslide.

Our foundations were made from the gulfs created in the void of saltwater and sun; we were grown from the melting glaciers. Skeletons shaped from every piece of rock we had once picked up from the tongue of the shore because we thought it was pretty, replacing the bone until we were both ambling monuments.

In the motel in downtown Anaheim, we cracked geodes against one another with enough force to break them open to see if our guts were quartz. The same sort of rock scientists on playgrounds smashing stones to see if there were hidden crystals, only we were older, and our shared insides didn’t carry crystals…as we found out. Sharp fragments splintered and dented the cold bedcovers, rock people applying pressure as a kind of embrace.

And her face was falling like how Venice is sinking, and the world is impermanent, so we split our skin open to find anything secreted from the soft outsides. The shells of our exteriors thawed like those candles whose wax peels away to reveal tiny gems, but really, it’s just a trinket more like trash than treasure.


Structures like bones crease into putty like how memorials fall and become their own grave markers, and on a floral smoke-smelling comforter in a strip mall in Anaheim, I ease into the rock rain of my own face and the spring that found itself seeping out of the remains of my body. Our mingled landslide faces and surfaces liquified with only the memory of boulder bodies and gritted organs left in our wake.

Tomorrow we’d go back to carrying our stones.


Jane-Rebecca Cannarella (she/her) is a writer and editor living in Philadelphia. She is the editor of HOOT Review and Meow Meow Pow Pow Lit, and a former genre editor at Lunch Ticket. She’s the author of Better Bones and Marrow, both published by Thirty West Publishing House, The Guessing Game published by BA Press, and Thirst and Frost forthcoming from Vegetarian Alcoholic Press.