You can find the review of my book at 12.21 as he reviews a number of books. Mine got 4.5 stars! He is a substantial reviewer so I am very pleased.
You can find the review of my book at 12.21 as he reviews a number of books. Mine got 4.5 stars! He is a substantial reviewer so I am very pleased.
Here is a review of my book Dream Poem by Marc Nash. He is a very strong reviewer ( watch his podcasts) and a writer himself. So I am so pleased he really liked my collection! He gave it 4 stars on Goodreads. The review will be on his April podcast as well.
K.D. Rose (Goodreads Author)
Marc Nash’s review
Apr 22, 2018
I read KD Rose’s first collection “Heavy Bags Of Soul” which oscillated between quantum science and spirituality, but I feel this collection is far more focused and far more personal. The science is still there, but the human scale rather than the nebulous divine is far more in focus. Political poems, poems of rage about the indignities of ageing, poems about time all carry you off in contemplation of your own fate(s) ahead. The poem “Just Shy Of Eighty” about the poet’s hospitalised father craving a cigarette, because, well what difference would it make at his time of life? was particularly poignant.
From “The Immensity Of Moments” –
Time is the poetry of devouring. It eats at emotions with delicacy. Time wears a facade of lace doilies and proper table manners. Like frogs boiling in water, too late before you realize it, time devours all feeling from memory.
This was a stunning poem. I also really liked the opening poem, an homage to Ginsberg bleeding and dripping with assonance and a political urgency. And the poem “Who And What We Are” mixing our gross fleshy materiality with our higher, creative souls and the uneasy symbiotic relationship between the two in one’s art.
There are several poems expressing the impotency of the poet and artist to effect and serious change on the world, on our fellow man. There’s a poem for the death of the Artist formerly known as Prince, Nirvana & Joy Division – two bands whose lead singers took their lives – are also referenced.
The collection ends with an interesting essay, containing a key to this collection, “Slim volumes on the other hand—poetry is a key example— build vertically, with ever expanding circles, tangents, and some linear thrown in. Dense.” And finally a short story “The Empath” about seeing the emotional tinge of other people’s speech in colours betraying their true meaning.
All in all a strong collection.
Hoa Nguyen’s poetry is not easy. Her style is elliptical and sonically driven, prone to the non sequitur and the homophone. Her poems turn rapidly away from each scene or sentiment they consider, one moment watching flowers bob in the wind, the next rhyming words in a kind of étude, and the next caught in an outburst so emotionally direct we are surprised to see it in a poem at all. We might think we are in comfortable mythological territory in a poem like “Diana Was the Moon,” from her latest collection Violet Energy Ingots, but right away we see we are not:
that air between ears
Brutal was how I put it
You captive in the bathroom
I am staring not starving
maybe starring not scarring
I think this is instead a cancer
In this short passage, Nguyen puts the moon—symbol of all symbols—into the emptiness of the mind, addresses an unseen interlocutor with words of intimate sympathy, gets caught in a childlike rhyming game, and then leaps into strangely specific medical territory in what could be a wry assessment of an unknown condition, a metaphor, or an inside joke. To follow Nguyen here—deploying so many verbal strategies in rapid succession—is like trying to follow the tip of a fencer’s sword.
Difficulty in poetry can be categorized. Some poems make reference to history and literature on nearly every line; others break language down into barely sensible syllabic mutterings; still others bury their meanings in reticent images. Nguyen’s work combines all of these techniques, but she unifies them with a raw emotional force that more palpably vibrates the deeper one settles into her poems.
To follow Nguyen is like trying to follow the tip of a fencer’s sword.
This force and the sense of psychological intimacy it affords make Nguyen a surprisingly inviting poet, despite how challenging her poems can appear. Joshua Marie Wilkinson says that Nguyen “dislodges the domestic from its normative articulations,” and this technique has reached its culmination in Violet Energy Ingots. These are deeply personal, domestic poems, caught up in household activities, the nuances of partnership and parenthood, changing weather, and the day-to-day turbulences that make up the real terrain of our emotional lives: frustration with loved ones, appreciation for our children, fond but sometimes ambivalent remembrances of the past, and bitterness toward the entrenched injustices of our larger society.
Nguyen does not approach these subjects directly, however. Her poems seem to communicate outward from a subconscious that is organized by quantum probabilitiesof resonance and reference. They are messy, haphazard, and playful. They accrue obsessions—sonic and thematic tics—that come together with livewire resonance like the hum of an electric fence. In “Dear Love Not As One,” for example, she patterns color in a personal address buried in the narrative of a camping trip:
I think of you as pine crust
oak stairs boys’ feet free
We find red for vivid
fucking red for birth
blood and my
Captured me at first
I know I’m not to be the center
Why ask that we sing
“Build me up
(just to let me down)
Yellow and red are complexly contrasted with each other. Yellow—in the pine resin, oak stairs, buttercup, and the speaker’s own “center”—surrounds the vivid red of sex, blood, birth, and body, appearing on both sides of the short stanza where those red elements appear. Yellow here feels insidious, inescapable—a sense that climaxes with a song, a haunting, nostalgic earworm that we realize has been playing in the background of the speaker’s mind. The song drowns out the speaker’s own vocalizations until she herself seems to be mouthing its words as her own (notice that the final line dispenses with quotation marks). It seizes control of the poem and suffocates the speaker, as though stilling her in an amber crystal. These lines assemble an extraordinary mimetic moment, one reminiscent of Sylvia Plath’s slowly developing narcosis in “Poppies in July,” and yet even more complex with the color-play it involves.
Sound organizes Nguyen’s poems in various ways, from subtly echoing vowel sounds to nearly homophonic close rhymes that edge on hip-hop. In “Mekong I,” for instance, she twists a series of assonant chains into a dazzling sonic thread:
How to strand become
and braid your oiled hair
Vivid swoops that coil
a mouth and canal steered
Row from here to there.
She moves deftly from the short “a” sounds in “strand” and “mangrove” to the longer vowels and diphthongs in “oiled,” “swoops,” and “mouth,” the whole section hinged on “braid,” which unites these two sound patterns at the same time that it does heavy symbolic lifting as an image both of femininity and the landscape. The result is a materially and thematically rich exploration of self, history, and geography—all in hardly twenty words.
To perform analyses like these on Nguyen’s poems, however, is to be left with frayed ends. These poems never operate perfectly according to a logical system; the mind behind them is simply too overgrown. If the term I have been using to locate the source of these poems—the “subconscious”—usually suggests Freudian themes of childhood fixation and arrested development, Nguyen’s poems are a refreshing counterpoint: her poetic subconscious is positively adult, balancing an array of mature concerns that include but also go beyond baser impulses such as lust and anger. This psychological range allows for a fair amount of diversity in the collection. Domestic life does figure heavily, but it is the domestic life of a feminist poet and scholar with a specific cultural heritage living in the political turbulence of the twenty-first century, and all of these elements are incorporated—assimilated—into the subconscious material on which she draws.
These poems never operate perfectly according to a logical system; the mind behind them is simply too overgrown.
In “Eve,” one of her more explicitly feminist poems, the speaker eschews a gesture of protest or empowerment for the brasher opportunity to belittle Adam for his pride: “My man is embarrassed // kicked out / of the world-garden / to become farmers.” The tone of this moment is complex in the most human ways: sarcastic and chiding, yet full of real regret. The speaker does not critique the power of class but briefly appeals to it—insinuating a pejorative connotation of “farmers”—while using an idiom that seems far from feminist discourse: “my man.” The moment as a whole effects a kind of marital squabbling that Nguyen embraces rather than transcends.
With a completely different style, subject matter, and tone, the poem “Hid” addresses Nguyen’s Vietnamese heritage from her distant life in Toronto with a sophisticated tenderness that breaks down into stuttering tautological negation:
Eels & water snakes
½ moon the moon is halved
and I swear you are dead
The dead hang
We watch the special features
they grind wheeling over Leslie Spit
Can mourn the dead of something
Am mourning dead not dead
The poem comprises a series of small, smart maneuvers: the sustained theme of “halving,” the violent enjambment between “dead hang / cormorant wings,” the surprising introduction of an indirect object in “mourn the dead of something,” and the suggestion of “A.M. morning” in “Am mourning,” which relocates this mourning within the quotidian.
Such techniques (and the others I’ve highlighted) evidence a professionalism that is itself assimilated into Nguyen’s concerns: her approach to writing as an expert activity works its way in as a subject. Nguyen writes self-consciously, often retaining revisions or including commentaries on what she is doing. In “Blousy Guitar,” she interrupts herself: “I wrote ‘valley’ when I meant ‘longing’.” In “Red Voice,” she does it again: “Empire seeks power I wrote that / as ‘Vampire Empire’.” Throughout the book, she rewrites, reconsiders, and explicitly comments on her tendencies as a poet. She also engages with a larger tradition, writing homages such as “PS:,” a riff on William Carlos Williams’s “This is Just to Say”:
If you get this
before you leave
take some California irises
home with you
Put in fridge until spring
Plant in circle
Another poem addresses the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice and yet another reworks Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 117.” In Nguyen’s deconstructed sonnets, rhymes are slanted at such severe angles they barely find tune with each other. In “Sonnet for Mimir’s Head,” for example, Nguyen writes: “I was the song pip in the tree / is a sustaining stutter star / inside your head resides there / tells of the crackling Hung.”
From most poets we expect maybe one or two of these approaches—a focus on identity politics or the literary tradition, on domestic matters or on the landscape. But for Nguyen none of these domains is primary. They all figure into a larger project of articulating the self, a self that is explicitly conditioned by history, culture, ethnicity, politics, literature, and the other entanglements of modern life.
The result is challenging, to be sure. But because the self who is addressed in these poems is such a complete and complex entity—because the poet is exposing all of these areas of her life—our connection with her is accelerated. We quickly fall into a deep trust that whatever she says is earnest to the utmost, is a matter of personal importance. We might not be able to fully articulate exactly who this poet is, but we have an intuitive feeling that we know her well. This intuition affords us some comfort in what can otherwise be perplexing terrain. We feel freer to suspend our need for immediate understanding; we feel encouraged to accept uncertainty as a necessary aspect of both the self and poetry. Though at first glance her work may look too challenging to enjoy, these familiarizing and reassuring effects make Nguyen one of the best experimental poets a novice reader can pick up.
In the end these poems leave us with an abiding sense of affirmation, a sense that life—in its messy assemblage of frustrations and joys—is profoundly necessary. One of her homages, “Poem of First Lines from Tagore Poems,” offers a few direct lines of such affirmation:
Let me never lose hold of this shape
Let me never lose
Life of my life I shall ever try
Light my life the world-filling light
Light oh where is the light
More life my love yet more
My first non-fiction essay was just published in the August issue of Word Riot. The title is Literary Today through the Lens of Freeman’s Arrival. For those of you who don’t know, John Freeman, former editor of Granta, prolific writer and editor and still with Literary Hub started putting out his own collection of authors. I survey the literary world by looking at his first collection.
Here is the Link: http://www.wordriot.org/
Here is a short excerpt:
And so, to Arrival. I let some time go by between reading the anthology and writing this review in order to gain perspective. I considered what Freeman must have had to go through: brazenly combining format; the need to gain an audience; placing well known writers alongside unknowns; the need to publish the best. I consider that including On Learning Norwegian by Lydia Davis was a jump through the literary world of form.
Then I think of Lidia Yukanavitch, admittedly one of my favorite writers, and how her earlier works lacked, to me, that fire I look for to make them memorable, while a simple more recent article of hers in a Literary Magazine (Guernica) made me sit up and not want to sleep for days. Lydia Davis takes me to Clarice Lispector whose form is still not accepted in America but who was a wunderkind, just like Freeman, bringing to us something alien and artful, books I had to read; there was simply no choice.
And then I tried to remember what I read in Freeman’s Arrival. For example, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline by George Saunders is not a book that I will forget. Neither is Freeman’s Arrival, as a whole. I can’t say the same for all the works within. There is a sense of “oh, yeah,” going back to it. Now I remember. Now the feelings while reading Garments by Tahmima Anam and Black and Blue by Garnette Cadogan are exhumed even as I jump in my mind to Claudia Rankine’s Citizen and anything by Lidia Yukanavitch and wonder if all good literary work must now balance on the head of the pin of injustice. The beauty of Honor Moore in The Mogal Gardens Near Mah resonates as one of the few pieces of poetry in the collection.
But then I want to think of the poet Frank Stanford and The Singing Knives and three bullets to the heart and I realize this is why I am adamant that all writing should make us feel or think, whether subtle and sonorous or fiery, to take us to depths or heights that we must reach.
This collection should be on any social-media writer’s flash drive. Although anyone can join Twitter and wade through a sea of mundane observations (many that contain mostly @’s , #’s and links), you’ll get a great collection of gems in this book. Like a good anthology of poetry, I frequently return to Brevity to see how a witty writer would have said something of interest. -Dave
To see the full review:
K.D. Rose’s review
Oct 28, 15
I give this book four and a half stars. The book kept me reading. It moved me more than once. It’s full of imagination and details, oh the details! I hung on every word. This is not a book where you want to gloss over description. But you don’t have to force yourself to read his description. His mind takes you over the hills and valleys like a 747. A 747 viewing a dystopian Dali-Escher landscape with some Lord of the Flies thrown in.
It’s merits compared to other 4 or 5 star books? I don’t know- that’s why I hate the stupid star system. Every book deserves a write-up. Within that is the meat of how good a book is.
Here’s my problem. I actually grew confused at first even going in knowing it was short stories and a novella, thinking that I was reading the same character in the second story (I know, I know, it’s even a different name) but there’s a reason for this: all and I mean every single one of his protagonists have the exact same voice. Everything else is different about them but the voice, be it Saunder’s voice or one he created for the book, is exactly the same. And that gave them exactly the same personality too. That is the deficit of this book. Compare voice to things like Spoon River Anthology and you’ll get what I mean.
I think it would have worked better as a full book with just odd chapters titled clearly about the different characters/stories. But it was amazing and dystopian to a tee and most important: I got something from reading it. And here’s the thing- it *is* an original voice. I *want* to read a whole book in that voice. But it is one and only one voice. Period.
New Goodreads Review for The Brevity of Twit
Andra rated it 4 of 5 stars
With regards to literature, prose has always been more of my forte rather than poetry. However, how can I deny the fun, the spirit, the modernity of tweeting your poems in 140 characters or less? That’s what K.D. Rose does in her new short book, The Brevity of Twit, and IMO it’s quite genius!
KD Rose has a quirky sense of humor, which is made apparent by the dry sarcasm she employs and the witty quips she makes as writing her poetic tweets. It might have been challenging to get your ideas across in 140 characters or less, but Rose seems to have tackled her assignment much as a geeky 10th grader in English class would attack an assignment-enthusiastically and wholeheartedly. I found many of the comparisons to be laugh-out-loud funny (or at least snort-into-my-coffee funny) and enjoyed chortling my way through 3 metro rides worth of hilarity. For those of you not in the DC area, my metro rides are about 15-20 minutes in length so it took me roughly 45 minutes to an hour to get through this delightful short.
I enjoyed how some tweets could be read together to form a sort of theme to the poetry (or perhaps in a different medium would be an entire poem). This gave a better insight to the ideas that were being presented, all while dosing us in short little tidbits that were easier to digest and process than trying to read everything all at once. Definitely give Rose a shot even if poetry isn’t your specialty. The Brevity of Twit is definitely brief and might give you a good laugh or two while silently examining the universe. smile emoticon
By Elf2060 on July 28, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
“The Brevity of Twit: Poetry and More in 140 Characters” by K.D. Rose is an intriguing collection of observations and poems using the framework of Twitter specifications. This is not a medium that I am very familiar with but I was fascinated by both the pithy observations that can be presented concisely and the methods of bypassing the limitations of only 140 characters using a technique called ‘Tweet series’.
I have found a few new favorite aphorisms, such as “At the table of intellect, some are missing a few portions…” or “The best books change every time you read them.” and, especially, “Charisma is usually mistaken for enlightenment, intelligence and expertise. Hence, the state of the world.” and I was entertained by the hashtags for certain ‘Trends’. This is a fun, quick read that will appeal to those who enjoy witty collections, whether one is familiar with this form of social media or not.
LINKS FOR ALL TOUR STOPS
The Brevity of Twit
July 29: The Reading Addict
July 29: Mythical Books
August 5: Reading Romances
August 5: Illuminite Caliginosus
August 12: Romorror Fan Girl
August 12: Straight from the Library
August 19: Unabridged Andra’s
July 30: The Reading Addict
July 30: Undercover Book Reviews
August 6: Romorror Fan Girl
August 6: Mythical Books
August 13: Reading Romances
August 13: The Avid Reader
August 20: Unabridged Andra’s
August 20: LibriAmoriMiei
A Taste for Mystery
July 27: Archaeolibrarian – I dig good books!
July 28: Long and Short Reviews
July 29: fundinmental
July 29: Undercover Book Reviews
July 30: BooksChatter
July 30: SolaFide Self-Publishing and Book Blog
July 31: Romorror Fan Girl
Like an addict I break down sometimes and must have more books. Despite whether I still have books yet left to read, I am lured by the reviews, by the word of mouth, by an article, by the writer themselves, or the simple fact that I already love the writer’s works. My back and forth life of books demonstrates this state of tension between the desire to write and the desire to read; the desire to spend every moment possible with family and the desire to fold inside; the desire to accumulate breathtaking knowledge, the desire to share it, and the desire to be blown away by someone’s simple ability to put a sentence together. Over and over.
You can see it on Goodreads. I go through a spurt where I list multitudes of books. Then my reviews are silent for months, or even a year. Just as suddenly, I will review 20 books on the same day, committing the cardinal sin of an author by not leaving words, just stars, because to write a review, for me, is the same meticulously governed authorial task as is a chapter in a book, or a poem, or an article.
So here is my summer reading list. Most likely, summer will turn into fall and winter. And don’t be fooled. There are always other books I’ve reached out and gotten that must also be read. There are always other books.
My Struggle, Book 1, Karl Knausgaard
Praying Drunk, Kyle Minor
The City and the City, China Mieville
The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami
Colorless, Haruki Murakami
Our Souls at Night, Kent Haruf
Here’s Your Hat What’s Your Hurry, Elizabeth McCracken
Neil Gaiman, Trigger Warning
Steve Almond, God Bless America
Gravity, Michael Davis