Noctua Review XII (with a poem by Stephen Page)

Noctua Review issue XIII

Below is the link for the digital issue of Noctua Review. Check it out!!

With a poem on page 37 by Stephen Page, entitled “Parrot Plague,” which by the way, will be included in a book by Stephen Page to be released later this year.

corn cropParrot Eating Corn

(Photo of parrot courtesy of 123RF)

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(Cover and bird super mobile courtesy of Noctua Review)

BLP » Far Villages: Welcome Essays for New and Beginner Poets (with an Essay by Stephen Page)

BLP » Far Villages: Welcome Essays for New and Beginner Poets
— Preorder on

With an essay by Stephen Page

Order a copy for yourself (even for brush up), for a novice poet friend, or (for teachers) order a slew for your next poetry writing class.


Abayomi Animashaun, Jose Araguz, Stacey Balkun, Chaun Ballard, Christine Beck, David Bergman, Marina Blitshteyn, Michelle Bonczek, DanielBosch, Zoe Brigley, Aaron Brown, Guillermo Cancio-Bello, Rob Carney, Kelly Cherry, Michael Collins, Tasha Cotter, Rishi Dastidar, Noah Davis, Victoria L. Davis, Todd Fleming Davis, Jaydn DeWald, Melanie Faith, Jenny Ferguson, Kyle Flak, Leonard Franzen, Robbie Gamble, John Guzlowski, David Harris, Duane L. Herrmann, Jon Hoel, Natalie Homer, Kathryn Hummel, Ashton Kamburoff, Laura Kaminski, C. Kubasta, John Langfeld, Joan Leotta, Tanis MacDonald, David Maduli, Katie Manning, Michael Martin, Jason McCall, Nathan McClain, J.G. McClure, Megan Merchant, Amy Miller, Norman Minnick, Jennifer Moore, James B. Nicola, Dike Okoro, Stephen Page, Gillian Parish, Barbara Perry, Kevin Pilkington, Darby Price, Jessamine Price, Michael Rather, Jr., Nancy Reddy, Christine Riddle, John Robinson, Diana Rosen, Helen Ruggieri, Claudia Savage, Nancy Scott, David Shumate, Linda Simone, Tara Skurtu, Carol Smallwood, Emily Stoddard, WhitneySweet, Thom Tammaro, Sophia Terazawa, Kari Treese, J.S. Watts, Kari Wergeland, Ben White.


  • Ooh! I love this book, love hearing others speak about their craft, their muses and monsters. Filled to the brim with all things poetry, this book offers beginners (and experienced writers because there is always something more to learn) a place to start, where to go next—and what might happen there. These essays are enabling and encouraging and useful. They speak not only to process but also to the life of the poet, the business of poetry and the need for literary citizenship and community. This is a book I’ll return to again and again! Readers will, too. And get a fountain pen!!
  • —Karla Huston, Wisconsin Poet Laureate 2017—2018


Abayomi Animashaun

Abayomi Animashaun is a Nigerian émigré. He holds an MFA from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and
a PhD from the University of Kansas. His poems have appeared in several print and online journals, including 
Diode, TriQuarterly, The Cortland ReviewAfrican American ReviewSouthern Indiana ReviewThe Adirondack Review, Passages North, and Versedaily. A recipient of the Hudson Prize and a grant from the International Center for Writing and Translation, Abayo is the author of three poetry collections, Seahorses, Sailing for Ithaca, and The Giving of Pears, and the editor of three anthologies, Far Villages: Welcome Essays for New & Beginner Poets, Others Will Enter the Gates: Immigrant Poets on Poetry, Influences, and Writing in America, and Walking the Tightrope: Poetry and Prose by LGBTQ Writers from Africa (with Spectra, Tatenda Muranda, Irwin Iradunkunda, and Timothy Kimutai). A member of the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission, Abayo teaches writing and literature  at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh and lives with his wife and two children in Green Bay, Wisconsin.


#poetry #poets #essaysOnWritingPoetry

Editor: #AbayomiAnimashaun #BlackLawrencePress

#writingpoetry #benningtonwritingseminars

Diane Sahms-Guarnieri’s ‘Handheld Mirror’: Well-chosen words as emotional abstract art

This Philly-area poet uses words almost as abstract art, to tease out powerful emotions or make vivid very meaningful times and places. Someone should make a painting or a movie of some of her lines.
— Read on

Read news of the author here:

Diane Sahms-Guarnieri’s Affect

These are dense poems, packed with imagery, emotion, and sensualness. A long, slow read, I lingered over every word—each affecting, not one I would extract. Reading “The Handheld Mirror of the Mind” is like reading a novel, the kind that after you pick it up and begin reading, you are reluctant to set it down.

#bookOfPoems #DianeSahmsGuarnieri #TheHandheldMirroroftheMind Kelsay Books


Santa Fe Literary Review Issues – with Stephen Page

With a poem by Stephen Page in Volume 13 (2018) — Read on

Download the .pdf or ePub to read issue 13 (2018)

Special thanks to Kate McCahill, Nancy Beauregard, and Serena Rodriguez

Except from poem Teresa: My Mask of Day —

“She unwraps and pirouettes before me, holds out her arms,

clasps my hand, ballrooms, tangoes:

She jumps up and down upon the dry earth,

raising dust to form a rain cloud.”

October, by Louise Glück

By Louise Glück
Quarterback Chapbook Series
Sarabande Books. $8.95. 20 pages.
Reviewed by Stephen Page

Autumn After the Fall

October CoverWhile I as reading Louise Glück’s chapbook “October”, I noted a theme that threaded throughout the poem–aftermath. October has always been a special month for me. A time of change. A time of clarity. It begins with the autumnal colors in full show and ends with the trees bare and sometimes a first snowfall. I remember October well when I was growing up. It was a month of crystal cognizance. The air smelled of damp earth and drying leaves. Each breath I took cleared my mind and brought in focus my sense of being with the world. I felt good. But, there was also this lurking feeling of finality. Another year had passed. Summer was over.  I often asked myself, had I done what I wanted to do this past year, or was I in the same place is was last year? Had I accomplished what I needed to accomplish? Most often, I had mixed feelings, yeses and no’s, a sort of sweet melancholy–sad that the year was over but happy that another year was about to begin. I had another year to do what I wanted to do. Yes, as a child, the New Year was always in October, not in January. It was an end, and a beginning. Winter was on the way and, yes, it would be cold. There would be snow. But, snow to me meant snowball fights, snowmen, snow angels, snow-caves cut out in the banks on the side of the road that the snowplows piled up, and of course, snow days—those special breaks from school. Winter represents death to many people, but it meant fun and rest for me. Trees, plants, grass–they weren’t dead, they were just resting, sleeping late, waiting to wake up in spring and flourish in summer. After winter, there was spring and summer vacations, baseball, girls.

Life on earth is measured in seasons and renews itself yearly. For Glück, as I think it is for most North–Hemispherians, October is a sad month, but one that also has hope.

Part I of “October” goes like this:

It is winter again, is it cold again,
didn’t frank just slip on the ice,
didn’t he heal, weren’t the spring seeds planted

didn’t the nether end,
didn’t the melting ice
flood the narrow gutters

wasn’t my body
rescued wasn’t it safe

didn’t the scar form, invisible
above the injury

terror and cold,
didn’t they just end, wasn’t the back garden
harrowed and planted—

I remember how the earth felt, red and dense,
in stiff rows, weren’t the seeds planted,
didn’t the vines climb down the south wall

I can’t hear your voice
for the wind’s cries, whistling over the bare ground

I can no longer care
what sounds it makes

when I was silenced, when did it first seem
pointless to describe that sound

what it sounds like can’ change what it is—

didn’t the night end, wasn’t the earth
safe when it was planted

didn’t we plant the seeds,
weren’t we necessary to the earth,

the vines, were they harvested?

Something obviously traumatic has passed here. A scar has formed, terror has happened, something was planted but is no longer there (and I think it is more than just plants in the garden) for the “wind whistled over the bare ground.” The narrator was devastated by an occurrence, so much so she was “silenced.” Most notable is the poem’s form—short lines, long sentences—making the poem appear tall.

The entire poem continues like that–short lines, tall poem. And the there is a horrible sensation of after-violation sliding down the poem:

Violence has changed me . . . (repeated twice in part II)
everything that was taken away . . .
you can’t touch my body now.
It has changed once, it has hardened . . .
My body has grown cold . . .
balm after violence . . .
Tell me I am living,
I won’t believe you.
Death cannot harm me
more than you have harmed me . . .
the light has changed . . .
you will not be spared . . .
the unspeakable//has entered them . . .
I strained, I suffered . . .
So much has changed . . .

Yes, something has happened, and I don’t just think it is the harvest. Because of the form of the poem, and some of Glück’s references, it seems something very tall has come down, or collapsed. Something that was once there no longer is:

They eye gets used to disappearances . . .
Above the fields,
above the roofs of the village houses,
the brilliance that made all life possible
Become the cold stars.

Glück might be talking about an object, a tall structure (or structures, if you notice the plural is used in the relation between the words “disappearances” and “become”), or she might be talking about ideals (as she refers to often in part IV). She might be talking about both. Whatever the case, she uses the barren-field association of the month of October as representation of something monumental that no longer exists on the horizon. A careful reader will note that October obviously comes after September, and that two monumental somethings fell once in the month of  September.  Glück does spy a kind of hope though, as she leaves the poem on a positive note

my friend the moon rises:
she is beautiful tonight, but when is she not beautiful?

This Review first published in: Gently Read Literature

Read the review on the Issuu site: Gently Read Literature Issuu and turn to page 18.

Places/Everyone by Jim Daniels


By Jim Daniels

The University of Wisconsin Press

Reviewed by Stephen Page

everyoneReading Places/Everyone will take you back home.  You will drive through your old neighborhood where you grew up, shop at K-Mart, visit a pallet factory where you once worked, eat lunch in the break room, take a drive around the shop on a Hi-Lo, guzzle a six-pack with your friends out back in a vacant lot.  O.K.  Not everyone was born in Detroit, but most people have held at least one blue-collar job in their life.  The poems in this collection set in the 1970’s and 80’s—and for that reason they are dated, but they read as though they have become timeless.  The characters are menial laborers, factory workers, union-job holders, burger flippers.  Daniels captures the entrapment felt by the middle class dupe, the working-class hero, the minimum wage worker, the assembly line jockey—almost anyone who has worked for a weekly paycheck.

“My Father Worked Late” depicts a Detroit working person’s dilemma, that is, each day could bring feast or famine, overtime or lay-off.  A household earner usually had to work two jobs or overtime to pay the bills.  It is stressful and tiring:

Some nights when he wasn’t too tired

he took off his shirt

and sat in the middle of the floor.

We wrestled, trying to pin

back his arms, sitting on his chest

digging our heads into the yellow stains

under the arms of his t-shirt…………..

he sat up, cradling us both in headlocks

in the closest thing to an embrace

that I remember……..

Other nights  he looked right through us

mechanically eating his late dinner

yelling at anything that moved.

Some mornings we woke to find him

asleep on the couch, his foreman’s tie twisted

into words we couldn’t spell.

We ate our cereal as carefully as communion

Until our mother shook him ready for another day.

This poem shows the acceptable behavior of that time between a father and the rest of the family.  The man was usually, but not always, the sole breadwinner of the family. His role was to make money, not provide love.  There was not much demonstration of affection between a father and his children.  The father in this poem is probably no longer intimate with his wife either, for he sleeps “sometimes” on the couch.  This detached behavior is too much to handle for this father, and his days often end in depressive stupors and irate snapping at his family.

A number of the working men’s wives work, but only at minimum wage jobs:

Some of the wives work now

behind counters at McDonald’s

marking clothes at K-Mart

pulling in minimum wage

grocery money for another week.

And most of them do it only after the husbands have been laid off:

Up and down the streets

men mow their lawns

do yard work

many  try to grow vegetables.

From the title of the poem, “Hard Times in the Motor City,” it is obvious that this is not just Saturday lawn work, nor a reflection of nurturing natures.  It is men without jobs.  They keep busy by working in their yards.  Many men turn to drink as an outlet:

In the bar

Steve talks about

The afternoon movie….

He says he’ll dig ditches

or clean shitholes

all he wants is a job.

He’s got a wife, two kids,

He looks me hard in the eye:

“a man can always afford a drink.”

Of course, the irony being that turning to alcohol can result in procrastination and justification of spending money needed to pay for family food.  It’s a downward spiral.  Work less, drink more, squander money.  Drink more, squander money, work less.

How does having no job affect behavior ?  In “No Job”:

He pulls out

all the bushes in his yard

swinging a shovel at the roots.

He chases away the paperboy.

Television smashed in the driveway.

His wife hides from the neighbors.

No, no, no jobs:

He throws his knife in the air.

Frustration, frustration, frustration.   Of course it does not help that most workers are not college educated, and cannot move out of their world.  Most had only three choices when they finished high school, go to work for one of the Big Three:

High school, toking behind auto shop

parking lot sticky in the heat.

Ford, Chevy (GM), Chrysler—

where you gonna work?

The second section of the book is attention-grabbing because Daniels turns to second-person point-of-view, a technique not always easy to pull off.  Daniels does it well, and brings the reader into the world of the working-class stiff.  Digger, the main character of the section, becomes the man we all love to hate.  He is obnoxious, crude, rude, and rough around the edges—but with second-person as his ally, we the readers readily empathize with him.

In Diggers’ first poem, he is in a traffic jam on his way to work, worried whether he is going to make it on time or not.  It is not until we get to the line: “Maybe you’ll be late for work after all” that you realize he is kind of hoping he will be late.  He is a man going to a job he hates, but he is going anyway.  I am reminded of walking to school, hoping there would be an accident or some natural catastrophe that would make me late, for no other reason than to be late.  However, I knew if I were late, I would be in trouble, so I kept walking, conforming to the rules but at the same time, wanting to break them.

In “ Diggers Thanksgiving” we have a man whose parents are senile, probably at too young an age, and Digger thinks:

You think of putting them in a home.

You remember as a child

pulling the wings off flies:

so delicious, so delicious.

What can you do?  How does anybody justify doing something unpleasant?  Become apathetic?  Hardened?

What does a person do when they feel trapped in their lives?  How do he or she think?  Probably, something like this:

The sky darkens into night

while you shovel and lift

the wet thinning snow…..

you bend down again

for the heart attack

you know will kill you.

Digger experiences the feast/famine predicament too:

You drink beer after beer

on your porch staring

at your sun-scorched lawn

on our first weekend off

in two months.

Your neighbor’s lawn mowers growl

at you from all directions

If it don’t grow

                        Then I don’t have to cut it,

You think, but lift yourself

at last out of the broken rungs

of your chair and move

toward the side of the house…

you unweave the hose tangled

from the girls’ water fight

like it’s a rope on a ship—

you are in a late movies you saw last week—

you are on the ocean and this rope

anchors you down.

Suddenly the hose unkinks

and squirts you in the face.

It’s not salt water,

not fresh.

You stand in the driveway

watering the lawn, garden

the side of the house

holding the limp hose,

pissing on everything.

Digger is working overtime.  His first weekend off in two months and what does he have to do?  Take care of his lawn, that status symbol lying in front of his house that shows everyone in the neighborhood who he is, how he conforms to the norm.  He must maintain your lawn.  It is expected.  Most effective about this poem is Daniels’ choice of words at particular times. The “mowers growl” shows how Digger feels they are nagging him to get to his lawn work.  Then, “ holding the limp hose,” reveals Digger’s feeling of impotence.  Finally,  “pissing on everything.” tells how digger still can remain defiant in his thoughts.

In part three of the collection we go back to the first person.  “Short Order Cook,” one of the best of the collection, is a wonderful poem about the pride and ambitions of the minimum-wage worker.  But in the next poem, the cook reveals his feelings of helplessness:

“I don’t need to be smart

to work here.”

The grease sticks to my skin

A slimy reminder

Of what my future holds.

Places/Everyone is an exceptional first book.  Daniels’ voice is young, but not immature—it resonates with the authority of one who has worked many jobs and seen many places. Daniels’ language is simple, but that renders the personae in the poems.  Digger, the main character, portrays the typical working-class Joe—the internal rebel and the external conformist, the one who gets up early to go to work everyday even when he feels the job is not what he should be doing—and that reveals the main theme of the book—conformity. You will enjoy Daniels’ depictions of Motor City life, and even if you were not born in Detroit, you will feel ethos because this book reaches out to Everyperson everywhere who has worked at least one honest job.