The Aeneid

Translated by David Ferry
University of Chicago Press ($35)

by Anshuman Mody

In a poem in his 2012 collection Bewilderment, David Ferry works with a letter in which Goethe says, “To live / Long is to outlive many.” Ferry’s poem is about “The death that lives in the intention of things / To have a meaning of some sort or other.” The imagery of loss and yearning in the work of this mature master suggests how suited he is to appreciate that same profoundly mournful quality in Virgil’s epic, The Aeneid. Every new translation holds its mirror up to the original, so we might ask: by what features might a reader in English come to know Virgil in Ferry’s version?

The tone of Virgil’s poem is frequently elegiac. During passages of warfare, Virgil even tends to be exquisitely delicate, as can be seen in Robert Fitzgerald’s 1983 translation:

The Argive fleet,
Drawn up in line abreast, left Tenedos
Through the aloof moon’s friendly stillnesses

Ferry’s “under the silent / Stillness of the moon,” by contrast, falls a bit short in phrasing the total beauty of Virgil’s “per amica silentia lunae,” but his translation often has a measured eloquence that can be full of feeling:

Aurora rose, spreading her pitying light,
And with it bringing back to sight the labors
Of sad mortality, what men have done,
And what has been done to them; and what they must do
To mourn.

Ferry’s version gains by its simplicity of language, especially as The Aeneid offers “a quick succession of events.” Where another prominent Virgil translator, Robert Fagles, gives us “One hope saves the defeated: they know they can’t be saved” in his 2006 version, Ferry conveys thoughtfully and simply that the defeated are “clarified by despair.” In Book II’s recounting of the fall of Troy, the merit of Ferry’s simplicity is palpable; the narration flows but retains a literary quality. The tone of his work feels carefully accomplished, as when he describes the bewilderment of Turnus as he is pursued by Aeneas to his death:

It’s as in sleep, in the quiet of the night,
Our languid eyelids close and in their dream
Won’t tell wherever we are nor where we’re going
Or trying to go nor can we get there where-
Ever where might be, and who knows who it is
We maybe are, our legs gone weak, no way
To get there where?

Passages both of warfare and human suffering abound in The Aeneid, as they do in Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey. In Ferry’s version, there’s a notable balance of an eloquent sensibility and a narrative simplicity—both of which Virgil’s epic demands, often simultaneously.

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Rain Taxi Online Edition Spring 2018 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2018

Make Yourself Happy

Eleni Sikelianos
Coffee House Press ($18)

by Linda Lown-Klein

In this, her seventh collection of poems in an oeuvre that includes a long eco-poem, two hybrid essays/memoirs, and six other books of poetry, Eleni Sikelianos writes whimsically about how to "make ourselves happy" while sounding a strong cautionary note about the risks to the biosphere if we focus solely on our own well-being.

Chiding us for our selective perception, she writes:

The sounds of

sirens outside the window are
gay to the ear that tends
to hear what it needs
to make itself happy.

Her poems urge us to acknowledge our responsibility to the universe, as when, after killing a raccoon that "looked so evil," the speaker wonders: "What if it were The / Last Animal on Earth?" Wary of the risks of human self-absorption, the speaker in another poem says: "I would not wish to live anywhere, ever, where everybody's always / happy.”

In a world where "Everybody's hoarding / Everybody's barfing up / the world's extra energy,” Sikelianos writes poignantly about the determination of the animals to hold on:

They will never be done Never be
done dancing     If we wipe them
from the face of the earth
they will never be done being
part of it          making the world with their
sounds & feet & hooves

until they are done dancing the
animals' ghost dance &
then they will be done.


Throughout this three-section book, Sikelianos deconstructs and reconstructs words and sounds, stretching and shortening them to create new meanings. "put the letters in the tin can and rattle them around," says the speaker. Elsewhere, burrowing down to basics, she says: "I look up at the sky, scan / for atoms, colors, vowels."

Imagery from the biosphere abounds. This is a world where all is fluid and objects morph into one another: "A seagull goes crashing / right into a cloud / because it wants to be a cloud / . . . The clouds being hills once hug the hills close.”

That same dreamlike quality obliterates boundaries of time and place; in this book where nouns come alive as verbs and which is rich with references to mythology, psychology, philosophy, science, and literature, Sappho can emerge from the past to step right into the contemporary world of the poem:

What I mean and what I meadow
What I want and what I winnow
When I see it it's Sappho biting into a sesame seed
She arrives right through the centuries
Walked from Mólivos to Pétra
Bright blossoms along the way
Green fields seaside and some rundown stone houses among the hotels
Sappho, how's it going

Often, the poetic act itself is the subject, and on one page we meet the poem in the flesh:

I am walking down a narrow street
I leap
into your arms
your arms are the poem
and I am the poet
how wonderful
to meet like this
right on the street, stranger!

Sikelianos leaves us much to ponder and urges us what best to heed, if we want to truly learn "how to live":

"ONE WAY" into these woods
the sign says and
"no parking" as if
I'd want to park my carc-
ass in a patch of snow
a fuzz of white pine sapling says yes yes
in the wind then
no no!         when it says yes
and when it says no make a
go of
it. It
is how to live. (35)

Enhanced by its illustrations and well researched, Make Yourself Happy is committed to seeing language in all its vibrancy make a plug for the universe.

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Rain Taxi Online Edition Spring 2018 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2018


Jacqueline Waters
Ugly Duckling Presse ($15)

by Greg Bem

A mesmerizing book of poetry, Jacqueline Waters’s Commodore often reads like a journal, a daybook, a record of activity. It is a demonstration of the difficulties of consistency in a world where we take balance and stability in our daily lives for granted. Commodore is also a powerful push towards the confessional tone of the 21st century, one that offers readers a new way of looking at the deeply personal and the persistence of the individual.

Waters’s poems carry a wide range of appearances, which often hinders the expectant reader from gaining a foothold in the work, but this disorientation wears off over time. In some of the most earnest moments, the poems find their enjambed lines simulating prose, and every so often, line breaks are far from present. (“You have often walked into large mirrors because you don’t recognize your reflection and truly believe this other person will move out of ‘your’ way,” she writes in “I’m Entitled to My Opinion.”) But Waters subtly utilizes the line breaks for the sake of dramatic impact, demonstrating a keen eye for the line and ear for the sound, as in “The Actor”:

They broke it off
and gave it to me I
ground it to a powder
I mixed with water
in an old hated pail

Thus I gave them escape

Beyond their visual surfaces, the substance of the poems is of great value and weight: it comes from Waters herself primarily, and pulls in the lives and offerings of the people and the world around her. Commodore as a title reflects structure and leadership, and often the poems find their voices speaking of will, confidence, and reflection on conflict. This style of response and reflection follows in the footsteps of many poets that have come before her, but Waters maintains an integrity of her own. The poems feel authentic, which ignites the energy beneath them.

While the poems’ sprawl in content and form gives Commodore a slow start, this quality is also what charges the book’s core with so much purpose. The grave and often empathetically arousing moments in these poems thus bear a form of irony. Appearing to lack connection to a greater whole, the poems suddenly open when paired with the enduring, persistent engagement just pages further in the book. The funnel of comments and ideas reverberate and echo in conjunction with the book’s growing context. As such, Commodore is a fantastic example of a book that develops its moral perspective, a growth Waters hints at in “The Holdings”:

A believer wants advice, instruction
not aids
to reflection
not a shut lake flowing back
from the pornographic border

In the end, Waters’s poems lead to well-being. There is process, resilience, catharsis—and best of all, there is a sense of love for self and acceptance of the world. In our current state of cultural anxiety, we certainly need the explorations developed in Commodore.

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Rain Taxi Online Edition Spring 2018 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2018

Never Made in America: Selected Poems of Martín Barea Mattos

Martín Barea Mattos
Translated by Mark Statman
Diálogos Books ($20)

by Eileen Murphy

behind the glass window
I am stopped and I shake
a phantom of flesh in fear
in ecstatic whisper
by consecrated chains of flowers
to the peace of spring

It is the reader who will stand “transfixed / in ecstatic whisper” at the poetry in Never Made in America, written by young-ish (age 40) Uruguayan poet Martín Barea Mattos and translated by Mark Statman. The book consists of two parts—and the original Spanish versions of the poems are included, which adds to the richness. The first comprises generous excerpts from By the hour, the day, the month, a polyphonic, long poem that ends with the lines “God ejaculates at last // at last I’m able to park.” The second part is the entirety of Barea Mattos’s book Made in China, a collection of poems on the theme of consumer society, which ends “I am the message tied to the stone begging you to pay my ransom / . . . Because we are rats of a now-closed lab. / Like stones released in the mountains.” The two parts form a well-translated work that’s not only enjoyable, but also powerful.

In the introduction to Never Made in America, Jesse Lee Kercheval describes Barea Mattos as “the joker in the pack of cards, as the magician, as the Master of Ceremonies at the circus of poetry.” These titles seem to fit. In addition to writing poetry, Barea Mattos is both a visual artist and musician (his band has two recordings under its belt); he also runs an international poetry reading series in Montevideo. His background is non-academic, although he did study for a time at the Universidad de la República. He is a leading figure of contemporary poets in Uruguay, if not all Latin America, and now, with Never Made in America, English-speaking readers can become familiar with some of his best work.

The long poem By the hour, the day, the month is a tour-de-force, a vast panorama of thoughts, styles, and themes. The poem is broken up into smaller, untitled sections that can be distinguished because the typography—font, font size, and/or spacing—changes with each section. The title By the hour, the day, the month [Por hora, por dia, por mes] comes from the customary way garages around the world advertise their parking spaces—available “by the hour,” and so forth.

This part of Never Made in America takes the form of a long collage poem tied together by the poet’s strong voice—or it might simply be called a meditation. Barea Mattos examines post-modern consumerism (his obsession), for example, saying, “the ocean is a wasteland where the television arrived pawning / my grandmother’s jewels” and “for the sneering marketing that decided to spread its message // the one promised in school / ‘we have the right to consume what they teach.’”

In the middle of this, like a meandering river, the poem’s theme sometimes veers towards nature, love, and relationships—in a way that reminds me of Apollinaire’s poem “Zone”—with individual or personal issues mixed up with thoughts about society. In that regard, the poem also resembles Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” and Ezra Pound’s Cantos. In the sense that we get everything through Barea Mattos’s slightly gonzo but intelligent and honest viewpoint, the poem’s trajectory also resembles the work of one of Barea Mattos’s favorite writers, Jack Kerouac.

In the second, shorter part of the book, the stand-alone Made in China, Martín Barea Mattos conjures up a vast garbage dump that’s an obvious allegorical reference to our consumer society. The work is comical, didactic, unique, and intensely lyrical. Using the persona Carlos Baúl del Aire, Barea Mattos takes us along as he fills his writer’s notebook with poems, explaining that it “will be the COMPLAINT BOOK / of my post-consumption delights.” The resulting Made in China poems are a mixture of cultural criticism and personal material, and they are glorious. Who can resist poems with titles like “I don’t remember how or when or where I murdered my parents” and “There is no form for the lost or bored”? There are many memorable lines, as well; for example, in “Abysmal sea skin whisper,” the speaker laments, “If there were water in the water we wouldn’t die of thirst.”

Mark Statman, the fearless translator-poet of Never Made in America, has been acclaimed for his translation of Federico Garcia Lorca’s Poet in New York (Grove Press, 2008) and is a poet himself whose most recent collection is That Train Again (Lavender Ink, 2015). Statman’s English version of Never Made in America rises to the challenge of capturing the poetic genius of the original. His translation skills are especially showcased when Barea Mattos engages in wordplay, as he loves to do, for example, in the section of By the hour, the day, the month entitled “él.” Thanks to Statman, these major Spanish-language works are accessible to the English-speaking reader, where we can enjoy the translated poems’ sparkle.

Never Made in America
is surely an instant classic, and it invites us to get acquainted with one of the key players in South American poetry. In contrast to its title, the poetry inside this book is deliciously homegrown. Read these poems—they’ll feed your mind.

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Rain Taxi Online Edition Spring 2018 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2018

Marvels of the Invisible

Jenny Molberg
Tupelo Press ($16.95)

by George Longenecker

In her first book, Marvels of the Invisible, Jenny Molberg looks through a scientific lens in poems that are both memoirs and detailed descriptions of life forces. Her verse is lush with imagery, and in both her lyric and narrative poetry shows imagination and mastery of craft. This book won the Berkshire Prize from Tupelo Press, and it’s clear on reading the poems why it was a winner.

The title comes from an instruction manual: “With your new Microset Model I, you will discover marvels of the invisible.” In the reverie of the title poem, “My father is six years old. The light / spills in as he bends over the microscope / and folds a single ant onto a plastic slide.” The memoir of her father could end there, but Molberg takes us beyond: “Half a century later my mother’s breasts / are removed.” She and her father walk through the hospital:

through orange-tiled hallways.
He shows me the room full of microscopes.
I imagine his eye, how it descends
like a dark blue planet,
and his breath as it clouds the lens.

Molberg writes with dexterity about the natural world and uses arcane historical sources for inspiration. In “Nocturne for the Elephant,” a pianist plays notes from ivory keys to a zoo elephant: “The song is a downpour / and the elephant begins to pace. The pianist drops / to the low B-flat and, in the base of its throat / the elephant echoes the tone . . . ” The idea came from an 1823 article on the differences between the membrana tympani in elephants and humans. Similarly, “Superficial Heart” is based on a 1798 article about a child born with her heart outside her body. “It pulses in a membrane sac like a frog’s / translucent throat . . . ”

While the poet’s description is rooted in the natural world, she veers toward the mystical in verses lush with lyrical beauty, as in “The Outer Core”: “I am sitting with the moon and we are drinking from the sky. / We break open the earth lake an egg and look inside. / We discover equinox, sulfur, Aurora Borealis.” In fact, Jenny Molberg looks through multiple lenses to give us a picture of the world. She offers the reader microscopic detail—an ant, the inner ear— looks through a telescope to paint the cosmos. Most importantly, she writes with skill, clarity, and sensitivity. This is an excellent first book; readers will look forward to a second.

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Rain Taxi Online Edition Spring 2018 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2018

Civil Twilight

Jeffrey Schultz
Ecco ($15.99)

by J.G. McClure

The back cover of Jeffrey Schultz’s Civil Twilight, selected for the National Poetry Series by David St. John, explains that

Civil twilight occurs just before dawn and just after dusk, when there is still light enough to distinguish the shapes and contours of objects but not the richness of their detail.
Beginning with the idea that nothing can be seen clearly in the light of the present, the poems in Civil Twilight attempt to resuscitate lyric’s revelatory impulse by taking nothing for granted . . .

The title is spot-on for the collection, which is indeed obsessed with the ways in which our society obscures our ability to see clearly. But the suggestion that these poems take “nothing for granted” is only half-true. In fact, Schultz’s poems take all kinds of things for granted: throughout Civil Twilight, Schultz’s method is to treat the bureaucratic status quo as the inescapable starting point of our thoughts, and to follow that line of thinking to its bleak conclusions. Take the collection’s opening poem, “Stare Decisis Et Non Quieta Movere”:

If, our irises unflexing, their novae’s bursts succumbing to apertures’
Black, our pupils becoming willing to admit what they might admit,
However insufficient, however insignificant in the scheme of things
We imagine must even now unfold somehow beyond our understanding,
Beyond us, if to look up widening into the night sky and stare at the stars,
Those grains of salt scattered across obsidian, those pale fires,
Those distant repositories of whatever we put there, those whatever,
Is in fact to stare into the past, then to live in the city is to live without
History. Or is at least to live blind to it, mistake it for something else,
Some cobble exposed as the asphalt chips, little by little, away,
Some incompleteness that yet offers us a sense of completion, a sense
Some something must have led to all this, some strategic planning
Commission’s guiding hand, some intelligent designer’s intelligent design.

From the beginning, the poem’s title insists upon the impossibility of a clean slate: stare decisis is the legal principle by which judges are bound to precedents. And while the first image we’re given seems to be an image of clear sight (“our irises unflexing”), it’s quickly buried by clause after overly complicated clause, so that it becomes extremely difficult to follow the otherwise straightforward logic of the argument (e.g., if to see the stars is to see into the past, then to live in the city where you can’t see the stars is to live without history).

To further complicate things, the argument works to undermine itself as it unfolds. As we wade through the dense language, we soon realize that what we see isn’t so much the stars but the stars as a palimpsest of symbols, “distant repositories of whatever we put there.” (Even the seemingly throwaway image of the stars as “pale fires” is overloaded in this way: the phrase alludes to Nabokov’s novel, which in turn alludes to Shakespeare). Having undercut the idea of seeing the stars, the poem then undercuts the other part of the argument: the lack of history. While we may at first imagine that we “live without / History,” in fact we only “mistake it for something else.” History is always there, always shaping what seems to us to be pure perception, so that when we look in wonder at the stars, what we see is “some strategic planning / Commission’s guiding hand.” In other words, because of our place in history, we can’t even imagine a God outside of the context of bureaucratic committees. Later in the poem, the Demiurge (the artisan-like creative force responsible for the universe in Platonic/Gnostic thought) makes an appearance, and the speaker assures us that

. . . the Demiurge is busy upgrading
Broadband access. The Demiurge desires that all our images be crisp
And archivable and formed in forms accessible to it for periodic review,
Desires that our imaginations be bound by the images it has abstracted
From us. The Demiurge even purchased the Weekly and since the takeover
Has personally overseen the advice column: Don’t be so sentimental!
All that can be thought’s been thought. All that can be felt’s been felt.

Maybe the creator of all things isn’t a strategic planning committee; maybe it’s a Demiurge that covers its totalitarian impulses with broadband access, crisp images, and an advice column urging complacency—that’s better, right?

The implication, of course, is that we shouldn’t be complacent. At the same time, though, the poem doesn’t allow itself to become an easy, feel-good call for action. Instead, the speaker acknowledges our shared collusion:

And you try, Lord knows you try to act right, keep things simple,
Show up to meetings mostly on time and looking like you might belong,
Like you’re committed to the institution and its mission, though not,
You know, too committed, nothing that would arouse suspicion you’re
Anything but perfectly professional, perfectly detached . . .

The “you” (both speaker and reader) plays by the rules all too well. So when the poem ends with the Demiurge advising us that “If the smog’s too thick, see a film of your city’s sky. / They clean that stuff up in post—. Try not to raise a fuss. Just be fucking civil,” we feel at once the importance of resisting the demand for complacency and the near-impossibility of doing so.

Civil Twilight is often interested in exploring how the speaker participates in the very thing being critiqued. For example, “Resolution in Loving Memory of Sky & Gooseflesh” adopts the same longwinded committee-speak that it critiques:

Let us therefore resolve again never again, and make of our bodies the shape
Of hope as it’s portrayed in the artist’s conception of its future reenactment,
A shape the contours of which—and this is hardly avoidable, the poverty
Of concrete possibilities having narrowed down to what, only a few years ago,
Would have seemed like unimaginably austere notions of necessity—
Take something first of Officialdom’s and then of the primetime procedural’s
Form, and we mention this now, I should mention, if for no other reason
Than to at least begin to account for what will strike us all as a heightened
Police presence, but which, in reality, is nothing out of the ordinary, the sky
No longer there to provide us anything other than police helicopters’ circling . . .

Schultz is skilled in this kind of darkly humorous irony, and uses it effectively throughout the collection. But what I’ve long admired about Schultz’s work is the way that, in the midst of all its irony, it still allows for very sincere pathos. Take the close of the poem “Civil Twilight.” For all its anger, for all its bitter looks at “helicopters’ rattling again overhead / Or prefab bulk institutional wall art, the sort of thing that hangs / In lobbies of interstate-adjacent motels and psych-ward waiting rooms,” the poem is able to turn, surprisingly and inevitably, to the human connections that hold us together, and the human failings that keep us apart:

By the time they found your body, it had long since stopped swaying
In that small rented room off the alley, the funding for your bed long since

Slashed. I didn’t hear about it for months afterward. Now, I can’t
Remember much of that last time I saw you. I could hardly bear
To look, your eyes blank, what in your mind was wild, and everything else,

Subdued finally. My eyes kept wandering to that framed print behind you
As I went on about the job I’d gotten, the girl I was about
To marry. I think it was either a sunset or sunrise, something bright and

In the distance. From what I can remember, it was a very pretty picture.

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Rain Taxi Online Edition Spring 2018 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2018

Spring 2018


A New Enlightenment: An Interview with Steven Pinker
Renowned cognitive scientist Steven Pinker discusses the impetus for his new book, which explores many improvements in the human condition.
Interviewed by Allan Vorda and Shawn Vorda

Remembering the Magic Year: An interview with Danny Goldberg
A music industry titan discusses how he turned his passion for music into a varied career, one that includes authoring books.
Interviewed by Rob Couteau

The Paradox of Happiness: An Interview with Aminatta Forna
A lawyer and writer with both a Scottish and Sierra Leonean background, Forna is the author of a memoir and four acclaimed novels, including the recent Happiness which she discusses here.
Interviewed by Allan Vorda, with Nina Shanu and Jennifer Otalor

I’m Still Trying to Figure It Out: An Interview with Noah Falck
Poet, educator, curator, urbanist, and editor Falck discusses his poetry and commitment to his adopted poetry community in Buffalo, NY.
Interviewed by Aidan Ryan


Four Irish Authors:
A Hagiography of Heaven and Vicinity by Michael Joyce
Joyride to Jupiter by Nuala O’Connor
Colours Other Than Blue by Anthony Glavin
Ferenji and Other Stories by Helena Mulkerns

These four books of prose and poetry by contemporary Irish authors shows the wide variety of talents and styles the Emerald Isle has produced lately. Reviewed by M. G. Stephens


Tillie Walden
Walden’s graphic memoir is a very careful, mostly melancholy, braided narrative about how to identify false starts, how to find true friends, and how to extricate yourself from institutions and norms that aren’t for you. Reviewed by Stephanie Burt

Chris Ware
In this massive monograph, the renowned Chris Ware collects and comments on photos, paintings, reproduced pages from his comics—both in rough and finished form—as well as his sketchbooks and personal journals. Reviewed by Steve Matuszak


Late Empire
Lisa Olstein
In her fourth collection, Olstein throws herself into a disturbing discussion about 21st-century realities. Reviewed by Denyse Kirsch

Two by Ryszard Krynicki: Our Life Grows and Magnetic Point
Two new translations show off the fearless and bold work of poet Ryszard Krynicki, who grew up in post-war Poland and dared to speak out against the official lies of the regime. Reviewed by John Bradley

Make Yourself Happy
Eleni Sikelianos
Eleni Sikelianos writes whimsically about how to "make ourselves happy" while sounding a strong cautionary note about the risks to the biosphere if we focus solely on our own well-being. Reviewed by Linda Lown-Klein

Jacqueline Waters
Waters’s mesmerizing book demonstrates the difficulties of consistency in a world where we take balance and stability in our daily lives for granted. Reviewed by Greg Bem

The Aeneid
Translated by David Ferry
Every new translation holds its mirror up to the original, so we might ask: by what features might a reader in English come to know Virgil in Ferry’s version? Reviewed by Anshuman Mody

Civil Twilight
Jeffrey Schultz
The title for Schultz’s National Poetry Series winning collection is spot-on; the book is obsessed with the ways in which our society obscures our ability to see clearly. Reviewed by J.G. McClure

Marvels of the Invisible
Jenny Molberg
In her first book, Jenny Molberg utilizes a scientific lens in poems that are both memoirs and detailed descriptions of life forces. Reviewed by George Longenecker

Never Made in America: Selected Poems of Martín Barea Mattos
Martín Barea Mattos
Translated by Mark Statman
For the first time, English readers can get to know the poems of visual artist and musician Martin Barea Mattos, a leading figure among contemporary poets in Uruguay. Reviewed by Eileen Murphy


The Endless Summer
Madame Nielsen
Danish artist Madame Nielsen’s novel is a lush read, best done in a single sitting, for its prose is luxurious and tumbling. Reviewed by Richard Henry

Glimpse of Light: New Meditations on First Philosophy
Stephen Mumford
Philosopher Mumford crafts a fictional narrative around his meditations: A man “withdraws into solitude” to do some thinking. Reviewed by Scott F. Parker

Mouths Don’t Speak
Katia D. Ulysse
Ulysse’s powerful first novel Mouths Don’t Speak explores suffering, both physical and emotional, and one Haitian woman’s search for closure. Reviewed by Julia Stein

Frankenstein in Baghdad
Ahmed Saadawi
Saadawi’s new horror novel has the simple but timely premise of retelling Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in the context of Baghdad during the Iraq War. Reviewed by Matthew M. Pincus

Blossoms and Blood
Mark SaFranko
SaFranko continues the “biography” of his fictional alter-ego, Max Zajack, working in a literary style reminiscent of John Fante and Charles Bukowski. Reviewed by Zack Kopp


Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit
Chris Matthews
The host of MSNBC’s Hardball has synthesized a familiar story into a brisk biography in which he casts Kennedy’s life as an existential progress of the soul. Reviewed by Mike Dillon

Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner
Paul M. Sammon
Originally published in 1996 and now in its third edition, Future Noir does a great job of exploring the iconic movie through interviews and essays. Reviewed by Ryder W. Miller

Black and Blur by Fred Moten
Epistrophies: Jazz and the Literary Imagination by Brent Hayes Edwards

Moten’s Black and Blur joins with Edwards’s Epistrophies in challenging the longstanding status music has consistently held as “the top” influence within the African American artistic literary tradition. Reviewed by Patrick James Dunagan

Knowing Knott: Essays on an American Poet
Edited by Steven Huff
Fifteen disparate voices try to make sense of their sometimes uncomfortable, always unconventional, relationships with the late Bill Knott's dissatisfied self and deeply affecting art. Reviewed by Cindra Halm

Letters to His Neighbor
Marcel Proust
The latest discovery of letters Proust wrote to his upstairs neighbor during the composition of In Search of Lost Time will delight any Proustian. Reviewed by David Wiley

Perfect Wave: More Essays on Art and Democracy
Dave Hickey
While the essays in Perfect Wave largely maintain the pugnacity of Hickey's early works, it is also a book that departs from the zeal and optimism of his heyday. Reviewed by Sean Nam

Making Rent in Bed-Stuy: A Memoir of Trying to Make It in New York City
Brandon Harris
This memoir, presented in connected film and cultural writings, tells the story of the ambitions and frustrations of a young filmmaker in the decade after his college graduation. Reviewed by Joseph Houlihan

Rain Taxi Online Edition Spring 2018 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2018

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Shady Sisters, 20" x 16" Digital Photography composited in photoshop

Danielle Schmitz is a Midwest based artist who works in both digital and mixed media realms. Sourcing her own photography, she uses photoshop to assemble surrealistic visions. Motifs from nature , objects from the past, and self portraiture give her work a narrative quality which provokes the viewer's imagination. Often her concepts are not preconceived, but arise during the artistic process, in which she works very intuitively and whimsically. This free-style process also extends to her mixed media work, where she creates collages from art history book prints and paints over the top with random mixed media to create detailed tableaux. To see more of her art check out her website at http://danielle-schmitz.com