Poet Nicelle Davis started 2012 with a resolution to take poetry with her wherever she goes, sharing her love with her community. As her first effort in her Living Poetry Project
, she hand-copied individual poems from Dave Bonta's Odes to Tools onto thank-you notes, and gave them to workers in her community. On her blog, Nicelle has posted a number of photos of the recipients with Dave's book. She writes:"While [in 2011] I never lost hope for the magic of poetry, I did begin to question its function in the world. Why poetry? Seemed to be my daily mantra. At the arrival of the New Year—I found my answer--because poetry is beautiful. The world can always use a little more beauty—or rather, a reminder from poetry that life is beautiful. My resolution for 2012—to enjoy time—to run with it—live with it—and be “in love” with poetry. This is my goal: to physically take poetry everywhere I go and share it.
..I met many kind, generous, and funny people while sharing Odes To Tools with my community. For this (and many other reasons), I’m grateful to Dave Bonta. His book has helped me connect with the physical, intellectual, and emotional aspects of my home–it has helped bring poetry closer to those who construct the home I love. Odes to Toolsis a tribute to the makers of this world—a testament for beauty.
"Of course, Dave is delighted, and so are we at Phoenicia. Thank YOU, Nicelle, for your generosity of spirit in thanking the people who build our homes and communities
, and for sharing Dave's Odes with them!
We were delighted to receive a copy of the latest issue of Lilith
, which calls itself "Independent, Jewish, and Frankly Feminist:" in other words, a most appropriate place for a review of Rachel Barenblat's 70 Faces: Torah Poems
. The reviewer, Marina Blitshteyn, writes: "Barenblat turns through the old characters and narratives of the Torah as though she is holding a prism in light: her modes are distinctly personal and shine with her understanding of life as a woman, rabbi, wife and mother. She places herself in the predominantly male tradition of
midrash (exigetical stories that seek to understand scripture), and she asserts her own voice in this rich lineage. What unfolds is a set of poems, one for each Torah portion, that speaks to body, ritual, complex familial relationships, and the very act of writing..."
We were delighted to read Rachel Barenblat's appreciative review of Ren Powell's "Mercy Island
" today, at her blog The Velveteen Rabbi.Rachel speaks of her appreciation of Ren's poems about growing up, "
childhood, in these poems, isn't necessarily safe" and also mentions her own anguish at reading "
Girl-talk with the Poet from Ramallah" which speaks of horrors endured by a Palestinian girl. But she also writes that the book contains great beauty. At the end of her review, Rachel quotes the first stanza of "View From an Island," the final poem in the book, I am a Russian Dollland within land
and says: "I love the opening couplet with its suggestion that each of us contains multitudes within ourselves. Lichen, heather, craggy beauty, mackerel slapping on the dock: despite all of our human sorrow, these beauties remain... This is a gorgeous collection of poems."
From Moira Richards:
Like the ages-old ghazal, of which I counted three in this collection, Ren Powell's poetry evokes musicality and sung lament. Like the couplets of a ghazal, the lines of her poems form discrete, seemingly unconnected units that nevertheless resonate a unity through their juxtapositionings. Like one long ghazal, these poems are all strung together on a refrain; on a recurrence of barely suppressed chaos - nightmare, perhaps; not a spoken refrain, but an unspoken refrain - as if the narrator, only by 'negotiating a new language' is able to speak of the unspeakable, to say the unsayable.
Moira Richards, South African poet and author, is the co-editor of Letters to the World: poems from the Wom-po Listserv, a collection of 259 poets spanning 19 countries and five continents
The Berkshire Eagle has just published an appreciative review
of Rachel Barenblat's 70 Faces:Torah Poems
by a writer of a different faith tradition, who says, in part:"She has also taught me the depth and variety and compassion in the way she practices her faith. It is not the one I grew up with, but she and I think about faith in very much the same way, and reading Rachel's prayers and poems and open letters has shown me a faith that opens continually, that shuts no one out, and that insists on honesty, effort and care. "
An excellent new review
of Dave Bonta's Odes to Tools has just appeared on the blog of poet, theologian, creative writing professor and college administrator Kristin Berkey-Abbott
, who gave several copies as gifts this Christmas. She writes:"It's a great book for those people on your list who see poetry as a hoity-toity exercise that rarely speaks to regular people.Bonta writes a poem for every almost every tool in the shed (unless you've got a really well-stocked shed). His poem "Ode to a Hoe" envisions the hoe as an agent of beginnings--not only the new garden, but also those worms that you chop in half. "Ode to a Measuring Tape" comforts me by asserting "In an old house like this, nothing is square." "Ode to a Shovel" uses the metaphor of stew and of dancing to make me see a shovel in a whole new light. "Ode to a Claw Hammer" ensures I will never see the hammer in the same way again, once I've read Bonta's description of the hammer as "the first / perfect androgyne," a creature that can "give birth to nails."His chapbook is wonderfully accessible, and I mean that in the most positive way. Even those of us who haven't used the tools will likely understand the poems."
We were pleased to learn that Kristen McHenry, an excellent poet herself and one of last year's runners-up in the qarrtsiluni
chapbook contest, has written a review
of Clayton Michaels' "Watermark."These poems never explain themselves, instead allowing space for the reader to wander at leisure, viewing them through their own lens, invited into the memories of sound and image. Michaels quirky, yet personable voice makes “Watermark” a strong addition to any poetry collection.
Kristen's chapbook from last year, The Goatfish Alphabet,
has been published by Naissance and I'm happy to recommend it to readers; I bought a copy myself and have enjoyed every poem in her strong collection.
An "Ode" at Verse Daily:
One of Dave Bonta's poems from his Odes to Tools
chapbook is today's selection by the editors at Verse Daily.
Congratulations, Dave! The poem chosen is "Ode to a Wire Brush," one of our favorites.Congratulations, Dave! The poem chosen is "Ode to a Wire Brush," one of our favorites.
Phoenicia Publishing supports its authors by sending out review copies to the most appropriate online and print anthologies and publications. We're delighted that the editors at Verse Daily
recognized the wide appeal of Dave's work, and welcome any readers of that publication who may have come over to look at Dave's "Odes to Tools" chapbook; we hope you'll like what you find!
, winner of the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize and author of Some Heaven
and The Least of These
, is a professor of creative writing, environmental studies, and American literature at Penn State University's Altoona College. Todd's own poetry is influenced by the natural world, by family relationships, and by his personal knowledge of the Amish and Mennonite who live and farm in central Pennsylvania.
He was pleased to be asked to say something about fellow Pennsylvanian Dave Bonta's Odes to Tools
, and I think his words reflect succinctly and beautifully what many of us feel about the integrity that exists between Dave's life and his poetry.In
Odes to Tools, Dave Bonta’s wide-ranging intellect and voracious curiosity are on full display, as is his insistence that we come to know the world that is forever passing from us. A meditation on everything from a measuring tape to a spirit level, this first book of poems demonstrates what all of Bonta’s readers at Via Negativa already know: here is the uncompromising voice of a man who has not allowed the broader culture to dictate what is important to him, or what is vital about the natural world that sustains us and the relationships that might actually transform us. As he says in “Ode to a Socket Wrench:” “with the click of a lever // the past screwed down / the future loose.” Bonta’s voice is one that offers keen insight into how we might move into that future, all of our senses intact, especially our common sense.