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Kristina Marie Darling interviewed at Word Mothers


Meet Kristina Marie Darling

Interview by Nicole Melanson ~


Interview with poet and editor Kristina Marie Darling by Nicole Melanson

Kristina Marie Darling is the author of over twenty collections of poetry and hybrid prose, which include VowPetrarchan, and Scorched Altar:  Selected Poems & Stories 2007-2014. Her awards include fellowships from Yaddo, the Ucross Foundation, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, the American Academy in Rome, and the University of Washington’s Helen R. Whiteley Center, as well as grants from the Elizabeth George Foundation, the Kittredge Fund, the Ora Lerman Trust, and the Rockefeller Foundation Archive Center. She is currently working toward both a Ph.D. in English Literature at the University at Buffalo and an M.F.A. in Poetry at New York University. She serves as Assistant Editor for Handsome, Associate Editor for Tupelo Quarterly, and Founding Editor of Noctuary Press. Her experimental memoir, Failure Lyric, was just released by BlazeVOX Books.

Kristina Marie Darling’s website



I started writing and submitting work for publication when I was in high school. I knew early on that I wanted to be a writer, but I wasn’t sure exactly how to get started. I bought a copy of Writers’ Market and sent my poems just about everywhere. You probably guessed that I received eighty or so rejections before I got my first acceptance. I would put the rejection slips in a little drawer, and then after awhile, the drawer wouldn’t close. Then, when my first publication finally arrived, it was stapled crooked and most of the poems were just awful. I didn’t get discouraged, though, since I knew that one publication was something I could build on, and that small things can turn into bigger things. Kristy Bowen at Dancing Girl Press was the first to take a chance on one of my chapbook manuscripts, and for that I’m still so grateful. Having a couple of publications and a chapbook helped me build more of track record, and within two years, I had some prose appear in The Gettysburg Review.



My experimental memoir, Failure Lyric, was just released by BlazeVOX Books, and I couldn’t be more excited. The collection pairs erasures with flash essays that depict a romance that was doomed from the start. The project began with the erasures, in which I took a black marker to a four-year correspondence with a male writer, who out of respect for his work, will remain unnamed. The erasures of our personal correspondence became the preface and the epilogue. The middle of the book is comprised of flash essays, which map my heartbreak through all of its various geographic locations: Burlington, St. Louis, Iowa, and the now infamous Dallas/Fort Worth airport. I see this book as an exploration of grief and the complicated orbits that it set me on.

Read the whole interview here 

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Kristina Marie Darling has Two New Reviews at Poet Hound!


Kristina Marie Darling’s Double Feature: The Arctic Circle, Failure Lyric

I admit that lately I have been very slow to read and review books these past two to three years and I can assure you I am working on ways to get back to doing these reviews more often. It will take a bit longer to achieve some of the goals I have set for myself in order to accommodate more reading, writing, and creating. I thank all of my loyal readers for sticking by. In the meantime, I will post as often as I can:

Today I review one of my favorite writers for a Double Feature. Kristina Marie Darling’s work continues to inspire me and sets my imagination spinning. 

First is The Arctic Circle, published by BlazeVox books in 2015, is a haunting collection where the ghost of the first wife lingers over the current couple’s lives. The current wife begins slipping into the first wife’s character, alarmingly the husband voices approval. The environment surrounding them grows cold, frosted over in ice. Below I am happy to share a few pieces:


The name I was given at birth was no longer my name. When I arrived at the reception hall, I was mistaken for another bride. Laced into the wrong dress, wearing the wrong shoes.

My husband would later confuse me with his last wife. He thought I was supposed to bring him cigarettes, and for a moment that seemed right. He mumbled as I handed him a purple lighter, and I left behind the only life I’d ever known.
But we were so good together. I never argued with him, afraid for years he’d remember his first wife was dead.

This poem describes our main character slipping into an expected persona and losing her individuality to make her partner happy. I fear the number of women who do this daily. I wish they would fight to keep themselves intact. Here, the bride succumbs to what is “expected” of her.
Read the whole review here
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Flutes and Tomatoes by Wade Stevenson Reviewed at Kirkus

Flutes and Tomatoes by Wade Stevenson


A Memoir with Poems

This book, a combination of engaging memoir and unusual poetry, proves that quirkiness doesn’t preclude depth. The twin pole-stars of the work are simple objects—flutes and tomatoes—but its still life also includes a knife, a bottle of wine, and the interior of a small atelier in Paris. Composed in the immediate aftermath of a loved one’s death, this collection reveals the compulsive attention of extreme grief. In it, the author reminisces about a trip he took with his love, wandering the Loire Valley farms one glorious summer. But the only evidence of passion that remains now is a dozen tomatoes stolen from those farms, and the flute that the author’s love played so well. Faced with a sense of inertia, the author believed that grappling on to something solid might help: “The only thing that would make a difference would be if I could find some objective proof of love….if I chose an object of my affection and tried to understand it as no one had understood it before.” The subject was right there on the table, red and ripening: “William Blake said he could see eternity in a grain of sand. Why not in the seed of a tomato?” In Stevenson’s provocative verse, the fruits themselves connote a fleshy voluptuousness: “Tenderly, with blind / Fingers you touch the precious skin / As it swells and dilates / Like some enormous empty heart.” But beyond the author’s rich metaphors, the objective fact of the tomatoes drives the book’s credibility: “I have written so much about the tomatoes / They at last have become the REAL REAL.” In the end, the author penetrates his subject with a knifelike concentration, which grants him acceptance of his own plight; ready for a new start, he writes of going up the steps of his basement apartment into the busy streets of a new life. Readers should take a chance on this work, and not let the unusual focus dissuade them. 

A paean to the tomato and a song of natural devotion.

Read the whole review here

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This Visit by Susan Lewis reviewed at Poets and Poems



TSP Susan Lewis

Prose poetry isn’t as easy as it might look. I didn’t realize what tight control it can require until reading three recently published works by poet Susan Lewis, two of which are prose poetry and one of which is the more familiar verse style.

Lewis is an accomplished poet, having published numerous collections and chapbooks, including Animal HusbandryCommodity FetishismThe Following Message and At Times Your Linesamong others. Within the space of roughly a year, she published three books—two collections and a chapbook—and these are three I’ve recently read: How to Be AnotherState of the Union and This Visit. Her poetry has been published in numerous literary journals and poetry publications.

The poetry in the three collections has a broad range of subjects—commercialism, food, environmental issues, language, relationships, to mention only a few—but each of the volumes reflects a similar voice, a voice utilizing an observant eye and an air of authority. Consider the title poem from How to Be Another:

Read the whole Review here 

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Patient Women by Larissa Shmailo Now Available!

 Larissa Shmailo’s Patient Women tells the story of Nora, a gifted young woman who comes of age in New York against heavy odds. Her Russian mother is demanding; the young men around her are uncaring; and her dependence on drink and sex leads her to a shadowy life filled with self-made demons. Yet Nora’s intelligence pulls her through the difficult times—there are even moments of (very) dark humor here. As well, an appendix of poems attributed to Nora lets us into the corners of her heart and mind.

—Thaddeus Rutkowski, author of Haywire 
Larissa Shmailo’s novel, Patient Women (and the title is absolutely meaningful, in so many ways), is a brutally honest wrestling match of truth-telling and sex. I had to put this book down and walk away from it more than once; it was a bit like holding a hot coal in my hands. And even though the subject matter is over the top, the writing is stylistically brilliant. Absolutely recommended!
—Ron Kolm, author of Suburban Ambush and editor, Evergreen Review

Larissa Shmailo's Patient Women explores the intersection of mind and body, posing several compelling philosophical questions to the reader:  Is gender biological or do we inscribe these social categories through our use of language?  Is it possible to separate one's intellect from one's physical being?  To what extent is language itself tactile and embodied?  As Shmailo teases out possible answers to these questions, she utilizes a variety of literary forms, which include diary entries, appendices, poems, and vignettes.  Formally adventurous and engaging, Shmailo's book is as artfully written as it is thought provoking, offering us stylistic innovation that is both daring and meaningful.  

—Kristina Marie Darling, author of Scorched Altar: Selected Poems &     
          Stories 2007-2014.
Christ-figures are likely to be cross-dressers in this engaging bildungsroman, which takes us on a wild ride through NYC nightclubs of the 1970's, rock-bottom blackouts, a whorehouse, and the slogan-filled rooms of recovery.  Surreal and lyrical, then bawdy and riotous, then plainspoken and tragic, Patient Women had me rooting hard for its lovable, drowning heroine to keep her head above water and let in grace.
— Anne Elliott,  www.AnneElliottStories.com
Nora, born to a holocaust survivor mother, finds herself, at the threshold of adolescence in “boring Queens”. Lying about her age, her first transgression from her mother’s iron rule, she begins a series of ill-fated attempts to put distance between herself and the familial web she so desperately wants to disentangle from. She reels from one dysfunctional relationship to another, druggies, pimps, losers and masochists, searching for her lovable self. This novel unfolds in a whirlwind that is sometimes dream, sometimes nightmare yet, at it’s core, is an honest tale of one woman’s coming to terms with her past in order to claim her present. Be ready to have your heart broken and then made whole.
—Bonny Finberg, author of Kali’s Day
Larissa Shmailo’s newest work, Patient Women, is an unflinching exploration of the lasting damage some people can inflict on their children. Nora, Shmailo’s protagonist, evolves as she struggles to understand and heal her own self-hatred and her on-going self-destructive choices. Slogging one's way through a morass of denial and repression is a strong trope throughout this raw, honest book.  Nora is fiercely vulnerable and the sympathetic hero of her own salvation. This novel is dark, but there is hope that even the pain one lives through can cause one to create, finally, lasting and beautiful art.
—Joani Reese, author of Dead Letters (Červená Barva Press) and Night Chorus, forthcoming from Lit Fest Press
Larissa Shmailo is the editor-in-chief of the anthology Twenty-first Century Russian Poetry, poetry editor for MadHat Annual, and founder of The Feminist Poets in Low-Cut Blouses. She translated Victory over the Sun for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's landmark restaging of the Futurist opera; the libretto is available from Červená Barva Press (2014). Larissa also has been a translator on the Bible in Russia for the Eugene A. Nida Institute for Biblical Scholarship of the American Bible Society. Larissa's collections of poetry are #specialcharacters (Unlikely Books 2014), In Paran (BlazeVOX [books] 2009), the chapbook, A Cure for Suicide (Červená Barva Press 2006), and the e-book, Fib Sequence (Argotist Ebooks 2011); her poetry CDs are The No-Net World (SongCrew 2006) and Exorcism (SongCrew 2009), for which she received the New Century Best Spoken Word Album award . She blogs at http://larissashmailo.blogspot.com/
Book Information:
· Paperback: 312 pages
· Binding: Perfect-Bound
· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 
· ISBN: 978-1-60964-201-3

Patient Women a Novel by Larissa Shmailo Book Preview

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