Books in Brief 2022

Where I Can’t Follow, a novel by Ashley Blooms

Blooms follows her critically-acclaimed debut, Every Bone a Prayer, with a story set in Blackdamp County, Kentucky. “Where I Can’t Follow explores the forces that hold people in place, and how they adapt, survive, and struggle to love a place that doesn’t always love them back” (Sourcebooks).

Shutter, poems by Taylor Byas

Award-winning poet Taylor Byas’s second chapbook continues her observant attention to form and music. “Byas deploys double exposed syntax and the unflinching accuracy of film . . . A love letter to desire and its attendant dangers” (Jeni De La O, Madhouse Press).

Thresh & Hold, poems by Marlanda Dekine

 Winner of the 2021 New Southern Voices Poetry Prize, Dekine’s debut collection “is a holy, radical unlearning and reclamation of self. Thresh & Hold offers magic, healing, and innovative pathways to manifest intimacy” (Hub City).

The Dead Are Everywhere Telling Us Things, poems by Sean Thomas Dougherty

Chosen for publication by poets Jessica Jacobs and Nickole Brown, Dougherty’s collection is gut-wrenchingly honest. Jacobs and Brown note, “Raw and plainspoken, heartbreaking yet humorous, this book is free of even the slightest hint of poetry-posturing” (Jacar Press). 

The Attic Bedroom, poems by Rebecca Griswold

Griswold’s beautiful and inventive debut is described as “original and often startling.” “Lyrical, powerful, and bold, The Attic Bedroom explores survival and healing as a woman looks back on an earlier experience with a community that turns out to be a cult” (Milk and Cake Press).

I Thought I Heard a Cardinal Sing: Ohio's Appalachian Voices, poetry anthology edited by Kari Gunter-Seymour

The editor describes this diverse anthology as representing “Ohio’s Appalachian population, providing examples of honor, endurance, courage, history, love of family, the land; and provides evidence of how even against the odds our people continue to thrive” (Sheila-Na-Gig).

In the Backhoe’s Shadow, poems by Thomas Alan Holmes

“In his debut poetry collection Thomas Alan Holmes offers a measured evaluation of a lost past, balancing the consequences of generational shift with expanded understanding of family, love, and place” (Iris Press).

Lark Ascending, a novel by Silas House

House’s seventh novel is a meditation on grief and hopefulness in a dystopian future, “a riveting story of survival and hope, set in the not-too-distant future, about a young man forced to flee the United States and seek refuge across the Atlantic” (Algonquin).

The Book of Susan, a novel by Melanie K. Hutsell

Described as a “riveting deep-dive into one woman's experience with bipolar disorder and God,” Hutsell’s second novel is “the spare and sympathetic recounting of a journey—from derailment, to diagnosis, to the discovery of a lifetime” (Paraclete Press).

I Am Woman, poems by Yvonne M. Johnson

An exploration of how patriarchal societies define womanhood, Johnson’s poems are “strongly womanist and Affrilachian…She explores the nuances of gender and sexuality with lyrical compassion and gives female bodies voice,” writes Kelly Norman Ellis. (Accents Publishing).

Even When We Sleep, poems by Marilyn Kallet

This is the 20th published book from Knoxville-based poet/teacher Marilyn Kallet. “If poems are bodies that remind us of our bodies, then Kallet’s somatic poems tackle what it means to be alive and dazzling,” writes poet Tiana Clark about Even When We Sleep (Black Widow Press).

Pottery Town Blues, short stories by Karen Kotrba

Part of Bottom Dog Press’s Appalachian Writing Series, Kotrba’s story collection, set in East Liverpool, Ohio, “bubbles with history and place, sight, sound, and taste” (Bottom Dog).

Strictly From Hunger, poems by Jennifer Litt

Accents Publishing released Litt’s debut noting the poet’s voice is “playful, yet fearless;” and Sarah Freligh writes that “Litt negotiates the space between humor and heartbreak in lyric lines that scald even as they soothe.”

Dear If, poems by Mary B. Moore

“Grounded in nature and the body’s knowledge of death, Mary B. Moore’s fifth poetry collection queries the divine, evoking its traces in doubt, dread, and awe. . . Inventive in image, metaphor, and wordplay, Moore mourns belief and its loss” (Orison Books).

Lioness, a novel by Mark Powell.

Powell’s seventh novel is “a page-turning, heart-wrenching examination of extremism: What pushes people to act violently, and is that violence ever justified?” (West Virginia University Press).

The Tillable Land, poems by Melva Sue Priddy.

If you pre-ordered Priddy’s debut collection from Shadelandhouse Modern Press, you received a pack of Cherry Bomb Tomato Seeds inside! Priddy’s poems, “a heart-racing, heart-breaking lyric,” are endorsed by Rebecca Gayle Howell, Maurice Manning, Molly Peacock, and others.

Underscore, poems by Roberta Schultz

“How do the events of our lives chorus into through-composed pieces without reprise or return to familiar themes? When do we finally sing along with the unmistakable music of the spheres? In her first full-length collection, Schultz begins by looking ‘in instead of up’ at the cadences we underline and define as our own” (Dos Madres Press).

Choices, three novellas by Annabel Thomas

A journalist and novelist, Thomas sets her three stories in farming communities in central Ohio. Diane Kendig notes: “Thomas’s evocative, brilliant depiction of these settings and characters remains both contemporary and timeless, and above all, unforgettable” (Bottom Dog).

Buffalo Dance: The Journey of York (Expanded Edition),  poetry by Frank X Walker

An extension of Walker’s 2004 classic, this edition features “a new historical essay, preface, and sixteen additional poems,” and “speaks to such themes as racism, the power of literacy, the inhumanity of slavery, and the crimes against Native Americans, while reawakening and reclaiming the lost ‘voice’ of York” (University Press of Kentucky).

Robert Morgan: Essays on the Life and Work, critical anthology, edited by Robert West and Jesse Graves

“This first book on Morgan collects appreciations and analyses by some of his most dedicated readers, including fellow poets, authors, critics and scholars. An unpublished interview with him is included, along with an essay by him on the importance of sense of place, and a bibliography of publications by and about him” (McFarland & Company, Inc.).

Poetry’s Possible Worlds, essays by Leslie Wheeler

Wheeler combines the personal with the poetic in her debut essay collection, analyzing poetry while narrating the story of her father’s unraveling. “Nothing is resolved, even after his death. The past and present keep shifting” (Tinderbox Editions).  

The Year of the Monster, short stories by Tara Stillions Whitehead

Whitehead’s new collection of stories mixes "traditional prose with screenplay and script-hybrid" and "encourages close examination of how American media and our complicity in its marriage of violence and culture perpetuate the human and environmental crises” (Unsolicited Press).

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