Vouched Books is all about rocking the bells for small press literature. In this space, a range of writers have pulled your coattails to the exciting work they’re reading that demands a wider audience. One of the books I’ve read in the past few months that fits in with all this goodness is “If I Am Burning” a poetry chapbook by Rachel Marie Patterson, which is out on Main Street Rag.
In these pages, you’ll get hit upside the head by a couple of ghazals that fight the form (one is called “Bipolar Ghazal”) while still delivering terrific couplets and delightful repetition. These poems are about being a woman, about exploring the way woman are judged, touched, and ultimately shamed. And about how this narrator—with wit, insight, precision, and compassion—fiercely fights back.
Picking just one poem to highlight for you, but perhaps my favorite, the most haunting, is “Piano Lessons.” What’s striking about the poem is the way the narrator’s mother continuously disappoints and endangers her child, who has caught the attention of an unsettling, predatory teacher. The poem doesn’t dwell in it, but treats this lack of protection as matter-of-fact, an understatement that embraces the subtlety and terror of the moment.
You can read “Piano Lessons” here and, since you’ll be on that page, snag a copy of Rachel’s book, too! While you’re at, visit Four Way Review, Four Way Books brand spankin’ new journal where Rachel is the co-editor.
Follow Michael on Twitter: @mpnye