Reiter’s Block Year in Review, Part 1: Best Poetry

Loyal readers, I apologize for the three-week blog hiatus. I was writing 30 poems and poem-like scribblings for the month of November to raise money for The Center for New Americans, a literacy program for immigrants in Western Massachusetts. You can still sponsor me through the end of 2011 here. (I’m still writing poems, just in case.)

This year-end roundup will be posted in several parts since there are so many good reads that I want to highlight. Today, I’ll be recommending a few poetry books that caught my attention.

Lara Glenum and Arielle Greenberg, eds., Gurlesque: The new grrly, grotesque, burlesque poetics (Saturnalia Books, 2010).
Unicorns! Masturbation! Dead cows! As Glenum writes in her introduction to this anthology, “The Gurlesque describes an emerging field of female artists…who, taking a page from the burlesque, perform their femininity in a campy or overtly mocking way. Their work assaults the norms of acceptable female behavior by irreverently deploying gender stereotypes to subversive ends.”

Juliet Cook, Thirteen Designer Vaginas (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2011).
Punning, darkly playful, experimental poems inspired by vaginal reconstructive surgery websites. “They can’t quiver and whimper/if they’re not real, he said, referring to some breasts./We all know they’re implants, not live puppies”. Chapbook cover even has pasted-on fake jewels. What more could you want for $5? Visit Cook’s website for links to other titles, including a free download of Mondo Crampo.

Jason Schossler, Mud Cakes (Bona Fide Books, 2011).
Winner of the 2010 Melissa Lanitis Gregory Poetry Prize, this quietly powerful autobiographical collection chronicles a Midwestern Gen-X boyhood, where exciting dreams of Star Wars and movie monsters give way to the more drab and painful struggles of his parents’ divorce, and the losing battle of his Catholic conscience against teenage lust. Schossler narrates the essential facts of a moment that stands in for an entire relationship, allowing the reader to make the connections that his childhood self couldn’t see.

Nick Demske, Nick Demske (Fence Books, 2010).
Insane sonnets compiled from the data-stream of our decadent culture. Read my blog review here.

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