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Massachusetts Reviews: Absent Altars

- By Elmira Elvazova

Paper-Thin Skin by Aigherim Tazhi, translated by J. Kates. Zephyr Press, 2019

For a debut poetry collection, Aigerim Tazhi’s Paper-Thin Skin is a work of stunning originality. Part of what makes this work so compelling is the way that it grapples with the mystery involved in the creative process, namely the act of turning “everyday life into a miracle,” which requires a kind of searching and tuning-in to all frequencies until one finds a clear signal. The poetic imagination, which alights at making connections between seemingly dissimilar things, is the focus of the book, revealed through the speaker’s interest in mitigating internal worlds with external realities....


Brew the Locomotion for Whitman's Marvelous Machine

- By Marsha Bryant

Most great American train songs are really about people. But Walt Whitman’s “To a Locomotive in Winter” and Emily Dickinson’s “I like to see it lap the miles” are machinist at heart. They don’t depict engineers, stokers, and passengers. They don’t take you home, and they won’t bring your baby back. Dickinson’s mechanical animal, a frolicsome iron horse, rounds mountains and crosses valleys before finally coming to a stop. But Whitman’s train keeps on coming, making a constant locomotion: throbbing, gyrating, shuttling, protruding, careering, rumbling...


Massachusetts Reviews: Odes to Lithium

- By Allison Bird Treacy

Odes to Lithium by Shira Erlichman (Alice James Books, 2019)

There’s something apt about the fact that Shira Erlichman’s Odes to Lithium arrived in the world in 2019. That’s because this year is the 25th anniversary of Elizabeth Wurtzel’s landmark book, Prozac Nation, while Kay Redfield Jamison and Annie G. Rogers, psychologists who both blurb Erlichman’s collection, published their books documenting personal experiences of mental illness a year later in 1995. Now, a quarter of a century on, Erlichman’s odes bring a new kind of wonder to our conversations about mental illness, a tenderness not just towards the self, but...


Massachusetts Reviews: Bells for Whitman’s Captain

- By Marsha Bryant

What’s an elegy for Abraham Lincoln doing in a 12-ounce beer bottle? The third Walt Whitman tribute in Bell’s Leaves of Grass Series reinvents the poet’s preferred beer style as a confluence of American Black Ale and India Pale Lager. Bringing roasty malts and Michigan hops to lager’s crispness, Bell’s Brewery labels O Captain! My Captain! a Black India-Style Pale Lager. Even with this mouthful of attributes, its mouthfeel is light. This beer isn’t as dark and opaque as a stout, but the head is...

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