Book Reviews

OPA seeks to promote poets by featuring independent reviews on our website. To add your book to our review list, or to become a reviewer please contact our book review coordinator. See the list of books that need review here. See the book review guidelines here.

The Last Hippy Poet of the Woodstock Generation by C. Steven Blue, Reviewed by Shirley Marc

Reviewed by Shirley Marc The Last Hippy Poet of the Woodstock Generation, a psychedelic memoir and narrative verse by C. Steven Blue Sunset West Publishing Group, 2023, 642 pages, $24.99 ISBN 978-0997997507 Available at: amazon.com Facebook author page: www.facebook.com/cstevenbluepoet Amazon author page: amazon.com/author/cstevenblue C. Seven Blue’s The Last Hippy Poet of the Woodstock Generation is […]

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My Kindred by Paulann Petersen, Reviewed by Melody Wilson

Reviewed by Melody Wilson My Kindred by Paulann Petersen  Salmon Poetry, 2023 Available: Powell’s Books, Broadway Books, Annie Bloom’s Books, Amazon Paulann Petersen’s My Kindred might seem to be about family, but it’s much more. The book invites us into a much broader exploration. The first poem, “Inhabited,” teaches us how to read the book

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Ramadan in Summer by Bruce Parker, reviewed by Melody Wilson

Finishing Line Press, 2021, 42 pages $14.99 ISBN  978-1646627240 Available at Amazon Bruce Parker’s Ramadan in Summer transports us to physical and emotional places with spare authenticity. The first example is in the title poem, “Ramadan in Summer,” when the speaker watches a worker listlessly picking things up and putting them down on the fourth floor of an unfinished apartment

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Small Matters Mean the World by David Memmott

reviewed by George Vennredbat books, 2022, 73 pages, $16ISBN 978-1-946970-08-4Available at www.redbatbooks.com, Ingram, Bookshop.org, Amazon.com, Powells.com To appreciate David Memmott’s achievement in Small Matters Mean the World (2022), readers might start with the front cover. Memmott’s colorful digital collage suggests a kaleidoscope preparing the reader to celebrate and explore the magic of natural, organic, and

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The ground at my feet: Sustaining a family and a forest

by Ann Stinson Reviewed by Melody Wilson Oregon State University Press, 2021, 144 pages, $21.95 ISBN-13978-0870711466 Available at Annie Bloom’s and Broadway Books When I say I love a book, maybe I mean it meets my expectations or it’s better than other books I’ve read. Maybe I mean I learned a lot without working too

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SMALL FEATHER by Jade Rosina McCutcheon, reviewed by John Van Dreal

Finishing Line Press, 2020, 40 pages, $14.99ISBN: ‎ 1646622901Available at https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/small-feather-by-jade-rosina-mccutcheon/https://www.amazon.com/Small-Feather-Jade-Rosina-McCutcheon/dp/1646622901 The cover of Jade Rosina McCutcheon’s chapbook immediately caught my eye. Within a kaleidoscope of doodled line and color, a thought bubble speaking for the soul of the work declares, I AM Still Here. Within a few hours, I was at the book’s end, where

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This is the Lightness by Rachel Barton, reviewed by Louise Barden

The Poetry Box, 2022, 87 pages, $18.00ISBN: 978-1-956285-17-8Available at The Poetry Boxhttps://thepoetrybox.com/bookstore/lightness and Amazon In This is the Lightness,her new collection from The Poetry Box,Rachel Barton takes us on a spiritual and imaginative journey, starting with her narrator’s youthful sense of a universe so small…I wonder it should matter at all  (“Sometimes My Universe”) through

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The Great Hunt and Other Poems, by Patty Wixon, reviewed by Paulann Petersen

Patty Wixon’s collection The Great Hunt and Other Poems begins with a poem in which wildfire smoke dissolves/the sun…leaving the day black.  In the final poem, a bright star flickers before sliding behind a lifting sunrise. Indeed, Wixon’s poems move back and forth freely from darkness to light, from past to present, from joy to sorrow, from catastrophe to blessings.

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Stronger Than the Current, by Mark Thalman, reviewed by M. Ann Reed

The title of Mark Thalman’s chapbook, Stronger Than the Current, emerges from the dominant character trait of Helen McCready, a native Oregonian. When the rising Siuslaw River drowns McCready’s prize tulips, she keeps her rowboat tied to the back porch from which she fishes for salmon. Her patience is stronger than the current (“Mapleton”). Not a patience of necessity for survival, not a patience of placid waiting for the fish to bite, hers is rather a steadfast mindful trust in and love of the remaining beauty, which surpasses necessity.

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Firefly Lanterns: Twelve Years in Kyōto, by Margaret Chula, reviewed by Ce Rosenow

I have known Maggie for almost thirty years, having met shortly after her return from living in Japan. I found several of the stories in Firefly Lanterns to be familiar tales she shared while we visited beneath the copper beech in her back meadow in Portland or shared a meal. Other stories were new to me, and even the ones I had heard before took on new life because of her decision to write them as haibun. This Japanese form began as a type of travel writing, making it particularly appropriate for sharing Chula’s memories of her time abroad. It combines prose paragraphs with haiku, allowing the poet to craft detailed vignettes punctuated with crystalized images in the haiku. Chula is a longtime practitioner of haibun and even invented the form of linked haibun with Rich Youmans in their book Shadow Lines. In Firefly Lanterns, she takes varied approaches, sometimes concluding the haibun with haiku and other times interspersing haiku throughout a longer prose narrative.

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