Poetry Reviews: Bad Baby

Bad Baby by Abigail Welhouse
Pages: 28
Publisher: Dancing Girl Press & Studio
Released: 2015

If a book could be a best friend, I’d want this one to be mine. This succinct chapbook is able to create a fully realized personality, one which is wholly enjoyable. With each page readers are introduced to a multidimensional speaker, who is both relatable and as unfathomable as all human beings are.

The title poem shows up first in the collection and establishes the strong, self-reliant, feminist theme. Stating “That’s not a rattle. It’s my scepter./You will obey me or else/I will make a noise/you will never forget,” the final stanza should really be a rally cry for anyone (and everyone) who is looking to make themselves known. Later in the collection “Dawson Gets A Haircut” is a coming of age ode to all 90s babes, saying “I don’t want to relax./I just want to huff ocean./I skipped church in favor of baptism./This is the new holy water.”

Not all of the poems follow this personal journey, or this call to action. Several seem to mirror the way the mind works, with wandering paths that are both tired to the concrete and surreal. “Cows, Mad” and “Q&A” are two examples where, literary, there are times the reader may be lost, but emotionally every word makes sense. Often times this is how the human mind, and heart work; a flowing mix of memories and imagined scenes that form who we are and who we feel.

Of all the poems I can actually see myself framing “Hell Is” and hanging it over my desk. I don’t want to spoil the poem, since I think quoting any of it would pull the beauty out of context. Let’s just say that hell in Welhouse’s world is a scary, caffeine free place. I also would not be supposed to see the closing poem, “Stable,” show up in an ode to Plath collection, given the lovely similarity to the poem “Ariel.”

Basically, hunt down this collection, grab a cup of coffee, and meet your new best friend.

Dog Eared Pages:
1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 11, 12, 14, 17, 19, 21, 22, 24, 27
Originally published at thenextbestbookblog.blogspot.com on January 27, 2016.

Poetry Favorites: Marita Dachsel

Straight Forward

Who is your favorite living poet?

Karen Solie

Who is your favorite dead poet?

Robert Louis Stevenson

What is your favorite poem of all time?

Autumnal by Louise Glück

Current book of poetry you can’t get out of your mind?

MxT by Sina Queyras and Jordan Abel‘s the place of scraps.

Best live, or audio, poetry reading you can remember.

In 2010, Trisia Eddy and I co-curated an exhibit and reading on Visual Poetry for the Edmonton Poetry Festival. For the reading, we used a very loose definition of what could be considered visual poetry. Shawna Lemay, Derek Beaulieu, Daniel Scott Tysdal, and Jolanta Lapiak were our readers/performers. Jolanta Lapiak is an Ameslan literary artist/performer and attracted a large deaf audience. She brought an ASL interpreter with her, whose performance of the readings of Lemay, Beauliey, and Tysdal was one of the most exhilarating and inspiring performances…

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Poetry Favorites: Lindsey Lewis Smithson

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Who is your favorite living poet?

There is no way to have one answer for this question. I love Billy Collins because he is approachable- he’s the kind if poet that non-poets and poets alike can read and enjoy. I also love the dark humor in Jennifer L. Knox‘s poetry, and the careful wording in Jill Alexander Essbaum‘s poems.

 Who is your favorite dead poet?

Sister Syl. I cannot get enough Sylvia Plath. I’ve read every single thing by her that I’ve been able to get my hands on– her fiction, her children’s stories, her poems, her letters, her journals. I even argued in my thesis that her collection The Colossus is more technically advanced than Ariel.

 What is your favorite poem of all time?

“I Knock at the Door of the Rock” by Wislawa Szymborska. Don’t need to think twice about…

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Poetry Favorites: David M. Harris

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Who is your favorite living poet? 

My favorite living poet is Judy Jacobs, but that’s because she’s my wife. The poets whose work I keep turning to are, at the moment, Donald Hall and Ted Kooser. I could just as easily have said Alicia Ostriker and David Kirby, or Gary Snyder, or any of dozens of others, if you had asked on a different day. I do a weekly radio show about poetry, and nearly every week I discover a new poet whose work is worthy of admiration and envy. But for the moment I keep coming back to Hall and Kooser because they write simply and well about undramatic, ordinary, everyday life, and find meaning in it.

Who is your favorite dead poet?

Today, my favorite dead poet is William Stafford. I’ve been reading his “new” collections as they come out, and trying to figure…

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Poetry Favorites: Meg Eden

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Who is your favorite living poet?

This seems to always be changing for me. Right now I’m on a Les Murray kick, but also love Li-Young Lee, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Ocean Vuong.

Who is your favorite dead poet?

Seamus Heaney? Elizabeth Bishop? These kinds of questions are always so hard!

What is your favorite poem of all time?

Joy Harjo’s “This Morning I Pray for my Enemies.” I have this on my bathroom door so I hope that each morning I wake up, I too can pray for my enemies.

Current book of poetry you can’t get out of your mind?

I’m reading Les Murray’s newest collected poems series, and since I recently came back from Australia, that’s on my mind. Also Tarfia Faizullah’s Seam, which is a book I’m in the process of reviewing.

Best live, or audio, poetry reading you can remember.

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Poetry Favorites: Aline Soules

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Who is your favorite living poet? 
This one’s a toughie, but I think I’ll go with Stephen Dunn.  His work is always amazing to me and while there are many great poets, his poems resonate with me every time.
Who is your favorite dead poet? 
Emily Dickinson.  About once every five years, I get her collected works off my shelf and start reading one a day.
What is favorite poem of all time? 
Ironically, since I just cited two other poems, it’s Mary Oliver‘s poem that begins:  “Is the soul solid?”  Her success in writing about the intangible soul in tangible ways is mind-blowing.
 Current book of poetry you can’t get out of your mind? 
The collected works of Gerard Manley Hopkins, another book I revisit regularly.
 Best live, or audio, poetry reading you can remember. 
I was privileged to be able to listen…

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Poetry Favorites: Jess Fraga

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Who is your favorite living poet?

Dr. Mario Rene Padilla

Who is your favorite dead poet? 

W. H. Auden

What is favorite poem of all time? 

William Butler Yeats’ “He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven,” it was part of my wedding vows.
 Current book of poetry you can’t get out of your mind? 
Richard Silken‘s Crush
Best live, or audio, poetry reading you can remember. 
Live poetry… would have been sitting in my creative writing teacher, Dr. Padilla’s class, when he would read example. I have sound recordings of them on my ipod.
 
Jess Fraga received a degree in Mexican-American Studies from CSU-LA in 2009. As an avid reader, and a bilingual writer, Jess draws inspiration from people watching. Jess’ first published work, you’ll never tip a go-go boy in this town again, an anthology about West Hollywood, is available on Amazon under the name…

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