Jay Besemer reviews THINK TANK by Julie Carr


Solid Objects, 2015


Think Tank
Julie Carr
Solid Objects, 2015

Julie Carr’s compelling book-length poem Think Tank is a nested conversation comprising many voices within a context or page-space that feels both interior and geographic. The interiority could variously be experienced as a cerebral one (this is within a mind), a somatic one (mind expands to embrace bodily realities), a social one (body/mind with other body/minds), a poetic one (the page), or all of these at once. Actually, the “all of the above” interiority may well be the most complete experience of Think Tank. This way of sensing and knowing the book resonates with what the book itself does, and with what it says. Alternate voices speak freely in (and around) the interconnected interiors of Carr’s effort: Continue reading

Jay Besemer reviews Ampersand Revisted by Simeon Berry

ARCoverFinalaNational Poetry Series 2013 selection
FENCE Books, 2015

Many recently-published books of poetry (and poem-like texts) seem to explore the location and formation of the self within some larger context. Simeon Berry’s debut collection Ampersand Revisited is one of these, and self-consciously so; David Wojahn’s back-cover endorsement pops the B-word (bildungsroman) to place this 2013 National Poetry Series winner firmly within the literary heritage of other (male) coming-of-age pieces. And Ampersand certainly is a poetic rendering of one young heterosexual male’s process of coming to terms with himself and his childhood as the product of two psychologically non-normative parents. Yet the real interest of the book lies in the choices Berry makes with the text, as opposed to within it. The book itself constantly asks the question of its own creation, somewhat like the narrator himself. This formal resonance is what gives Ampersand the power to inspire multiple reads. Continue reading