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Crohn's & Colitis Diet Guide

Dr. A. Hillary Steinhart & Julia Cepo. Robert Rose (Firefly Books, North American dist.), $24.95 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-7788-0478-9

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Maintaining the right diet can be challenging, but it is essential to help manage the symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. This second, updated edition of the diet guide with an expanded list of recipes, authored by the division head of gastroenterology for Mount Sinai Hospital/University Health Network in Toronto, and the inpatient clinical dietitian for the gastrointestinal program at Mount Sinai, is a welcome addition to the field that will help IBD sufferers take control of their health. The book presents a wealth of background information about IBD. The first section of the book covers the basics of Crohn's and colitis. The second section explores drug, surgical and dietary strategies for managing IBD. The third section has an extensive listing of IBD-friendly meal plans and recipes. The guide is written in easy-to-understand language, provides answers to commonly asked questions and many useful illustrations, although there are no photos of the recipes. Steinhart and Cepo are both knowledgeable, and clearly interested in helping those with IBD lead healthier lives. They have produced an invaluable guide that is highly recommended for those with IBD and those who care for them. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 01/30/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Zero to Three

F. Douglas Brown. Univ. of Georgia, $17.95 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-0-8203-4727-1

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Selected by Tracy K. Smith as the winner of the 2013 Cave Canem poetry prize, Brown's earnest debut seeks language and music for the deepest, most knotted of family ties. The speaker's son, daughter, father, and mother form the thematic core, and as personalities of these figures guide the collection forward, the self is a point of confluence for forbearer and progeny, one "body overlapping another." Many of these poems are exercises in empathy, endeavoring to see oneself as "daddy" or to revisit a family narrative in the voice of a sibling or a parent. Yet, as Brown explores the edge where the self carries into the other, some of the most potent moments are those that reveal never-quite-bridgeable rifts that pervade even the most familiar bonds: a father without recourse to make a bold child see that she had "nearly drowned" when "The danger never hit you,// Never dawned on the ‘O' of your name"; a son left to reconstruct his father's final days from imagination after he has died suddenly; parents watching their child teethe, failing "to understand/ The world forming in your mouth." Brown describes the intimacy of a universe in which "Our teeth are the tall//Towers of a city already at its borders, while yours, tiny/Jewels peeking between sand." (Oct.)

Reviewed on 01/30/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Ultimatum from Paradise

Jacqueline Osherow. Louisiana State Univ., $18.95 trade paper (104p) ISBN 978-0-8071-5806-7

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Osherow (Whitethorn) guides her reader from a light-filled Penn Station to Antoni Gaudi's fluid creations, stopping along the way to casually contemplate memory and history in a seventh collection that contains an intricate architecture all its own. In Osherow's world, apartments and highrises are "a stack/ of colored/ rectangles" on the brink of toppling; a world where things we took for granted (a school-room clock, a train ride) suddenly spring forth in a story, part of a significant past. She explores the impact of Peter Behrens in an expertly rendered modified terza rima: "He would join the Nazi Party, but not until/ he'd reinvented design as industrial./ Even the clock, you know that quintessential/ black-rimmed clock we had at school,/ no-nonsense, ubiquitous, so simple/ you never even thought it had an origin?/ I saw its picture—a Behrens design." The collection's acrobatic formal range includes rhyme, chain-linked sonnets, and even a double abecedarian. Whether she's discussing architecture, history, or language within these rigid poetic forms, Osherow's genuine enthusiasm shines through; it must be her "love of wrought, elaborate things—/especially when they're the sort that sings." (Oct.)

Reviewed on 01/30/2015 | Details & Permalink

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The Second Sex

Michael Robbins. Penguin, $18 (52p) ISBN 978-0-14-312664-5

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Robbins made waves with his 2012 debut, Alien vs. Predator, whose pages relished shock value, pop culture, disorientation, non sequiturs, and rock'n'roll almost as much as they relished rhyme. This thinner follow up—almost all in rhyme, most of it in short-lined quatrains—keeps the jangling sound, but ups the name-dropping and shock value per page: "If it's romance you're after in Phoenix,/ just ask a teen girl for a Kleenex." An abundance of names worthy of VH1 Classic invade and transform the literary classics throughout Robbins's peppy, irritable set—from the sub-Rilkean adjuration "You must improve your archaic bust" to sub-Blakean "dark/ Satanic Hayley Mills." He depicts himself, "alone with my cat," as a would-be star, a reluctant indie intellectual, and a sadly typical, frustrated American straight guy: "I make the beast with no backs." If his first book landed somewhere between the speedy cultural kaleidoscope of, say, Dean Young and the kitschy provocations of Frederick Seidel, these un-PC, often sarcastic, fast-moving lines find him closer to the latter. Robbins is also a talented, prolific critic, and his fans may anticipate the synergy, or just line up for more of his verse, though some might be afraid to find more of the same. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 01/30/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Saint Friend

Carl Adamshick. McSweeney's, $20 (64p) ISBN 978-1-940450-03-2

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Composed of 10 long and medium-length poems, this second collection from Adamshick, who won the 2010 Walt Whitman Award for Curses and Wishes, is a refreshing addition to both the McSweeney's Poetry Series and contemporary poetry at large. Adamshick displays a startling breadth of emotion and intellectual curiosity, desperate humor, and a delicate tenderness amidst existential and spiritual crisis. "They keep paging Kenneth Koch at the airport," he opens, "Someone should let the announcer know/ he is dead, that there is no city he can go to,/ that no one is expecting him." Throughout, Adamshick practices a kind of double-dance, flitting across subjects, states, and registers, yet consistently striking heartstring after heartstring: "The overwhelming sadness in seeing// yourself as human, limited/ to one term, is fleeting." Through a mix of persona poems (inhabiting Amelia Earhart and various first-name friends), direct addresses, and meditations, Adamshick reveals a sense not of radical, but of obvious, necessary empathy that culminates in the veneration of the other, a sainthood of friends: "To see that child's mouth/ cover her nipple/ was to see much of my life/ fall away it was to see snow/ before it falls/ to see mineral/ lace its way through rock." (Oct.)

Reviewed on 01/30/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Living Wages

Michael Chitwood. Tupelo (SPD, dist.), $16.95 trade paper (76p) ISBN 978-1-936797-48-6

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Chitwood (Poor-Mouth Jubilee), a professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, celebrates his working class background and the manual labor that dominated his younger years in his ninth collection. "There are miracles in this world," he writes, "but they are working class, Wednesday morning miracles/ that go mostly unnoticed by priests." Alive in these poems are the miracles of digging sewage lines, axing billboards off their metal legs, and planing wood for shelves and tables. The majority of these poems, carefully described and directly told, hold the reader in the moment of work without rhetorical or figurative escape. Nonetheless, the depictions aren't wanting for nostalgia. In a poem about digging a ditch, the poet seems to long for a time when "you knew where you stood,/ what you had done in a day,/ and what more there was to do." Similarly, Chitwood's poems yearn for the intimacy between men cultivated by these environments, such as the closeness of holding a cage light while his father worked on the car, or the witnessing of a man's unexpected singing in his wood shop: "He swayed a little who never danced,/ the man who was model of how to be a man ." (Oct.)

Reviewed on 01/30/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Instant Winner

Carrie Fountain. Penguin, $20 (74p) ISBN 978-0-14-312663-8

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Fountain foregoes the researched material and framing that characterized her first book, the 2010 National Poetry Series-winning Burn Lake, in favor of straightforward, personal narratives exploring the spiritual effects of motherhood. Addressing her child early on in the collection, she writes, "in the end, I was finally/ standing outside myself/ and watching. I could see/ that what brought me/ into the world was pulling/ you into the world." Saving any cynicism for a few poems about working as a writing teacher, these poems are wholly earnest, open, and loving. The "Prayer" poems that punctuate the collection are often indistinguishable from the personal narratives in terms of subject matter and perspective. Perhaps this is because, as she admits in the penultimate and prosaic "Prayer (Become a Buffalo)": "I do not pray/ anymore and do not know how to pray, though I spend so much/ of my time wishing I knew how to pray, which, I suppose is very/ close to praying... Inside the body,/ everything's real." Motherhood transformed Fountain fundamentally—her body, her soul and her stories—and each poem reflects a rediscovery of vulnerability and the purity of new life, "whimpering in colorful pajamas,/with their stories, which were sad,// and their fears, which were crystalline." (Oct.)

Reviewed on 01/30/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Heaven and Other Poems

Israel Horovitz. Three Rooms (PGW, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (110p) ISBN 978-1-941110-11-9

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At this point in his lengthy career, Horovitz (The Indian Wants the Bronx, Park Your Car in Harvard Yard, etc.) stands among the world's most successful living playwrights; stars from Al Pacino and Marsha Mason to James Franco got their start, or came into their own, through his work. Horovitz has written verse for decades, but has not collected it publicly until now, at age 75, and the result is a varied lot: serious autobiographical poems (including an elegy for his sister) strongly influenced by Robert Lowell; a limerick; an acrostic for Samuel Beckett; quick depictions of Paris, and of "my beloved Gloucester, Mass."; and poems about sex, about crushes, about married love, including "Our Married Life," in which the playwright and his wife become empty nesters: "Amazed, we cling face to face/ To face a single Destiny/ That paired us and prepares us/ For this parting." Horovitz can be grave, or light-hearted, about advancing years, "amid constant battle/ With human inequalities/ Such as snow and cellulite." Horovitz's talent with plots and actors exceeds his talent with the subtleties of a verse line. These poems would likely not receive much attention were Horovitz not otherwise known, but he is and attention may come from the many readers who have enjoyed his plays. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 01/30/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Mimer

Lance Phillips. Ahsahta (SPD, dist.), $18 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-1-934103-56-2

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In his fourth book, Phillips (These Indicium Tales) creates for readers a sensation of being presented with an exhibit of assemblages in a modern art gallery, going so far as to include an author's statement with the book's press sheet. Following loosely in the tradition of Marcel Duchamp's turning a urinal on its back and calling it a fountain, Phillips offers poetic objects that on the surface appear to be something entirely different than what they claim to be. What that identity may be, however, remains rather obscure. There is a feeling that something has been withheld or, more accurately, erased. Despite the vagueness, the poems seem to want meaning to be gleaned. Here, "One thinks a tree or sees a tree and has tree in the text, tree of predictables." And somehow that tree means something despite the clear desire for the tree to just be a tree. If this were more traditional L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry the meaning would be in the sounds and looks of the words. But Phillips dares us to find more—"By lips, lips by moon lit"—though he shies away from digging in and delivering any deeper meaning. Like a lot of language experiments, these poems are fleeting and slide away as soon as they are finished. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 01/30/2015 | Details & Permalink

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We Mammals in Hospitable Times

Jynne Dilling Martin. Carnegie Mellon Univ., $15.95 trade paper (56p) ISBN 978-0-88748-596-1

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This historically-, scientifically-, and zoologically-minded debut by the National Science Foundation's 2013 Antarctic Artist in Residence abounds with formally-restrained, wickedly-wry poems that feature witty titles ("Out of Whose Womb Came the Ice," "Reasons to Consider Setting Ourselves on Fire") and manically-, widely-shifting points of focus. Martin's work runs on definitive statements and their accrual: "the bride in scarlet boots and a beaded collar is soon forgotten/ kneeling pregnant in sealskin trousers as she heats the hoosh," she intones, before noting how "the Eskimo language is often consulted by crossword makers,// kayak, mukluk, igloo, ukluk penciled in by the lawyer on the train." She moves from scene to scene, from the arctic to domestic, from observations about global warming to the remark that "We've rocketed beyond the age of miracles." Frequently dark ("I would like to suck in your last exhale as you expire") and funny ("The dancer's dying words: get my swan costume ready."), Martin's poems consistently and assuredly forge ahead with each line, maintaining a hyper-state of pace and prosody, and tying life's smaller moments to a grander narrative: "When I try to imagine my life to come/ I see a lump of sea glass buried,// ground to a blinding clarity under/ centuries of sand." (Feb.)

Reviewed on 01/30/2015 | Details & Permalink

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