Valyntina Grenier’s FEVER DREAM / TAKE HEART marks a poetic “double debut” with a tête-bêche chapbook, two titles bound upside-down with two front covers (featuring paintings by Grenier), which can be read from either side. The poems shape their sense from sound, but do not hesitate to critique/navigate/decipher reality with a feminist protest. Associative and dreamy, the poems also prove to be starkly political. They explore how we are miraculously alive in the midst of degrading political and weather systems. Some of the poems derive their initial lexicon from source texts, but they all confront the tenderness and violence that mark our human natures. With subtle humor, word play, and linguistic inventions, Grenier has written a surprising tour de force whose discrete short books, taken together, range from the sexual and sinister to the prayerful and divine.
Elena Karina Byrne will release a chapbook NO, DON’T in October with What Books press and her separate fourth full collection, Phantom Fields with Omnidawn in 2021. She has also just completed a collection of “Interrupted Essays”: Voyeur Hour: Meditations on Poetry, Art & Desire.
In Karen Kevorkian’s third poetry book, the title, QUIVIRA, is a metaphor for a place of unimaginable riches, never to be found, which lured early explorers across the arid southwest. The intensity of such longing is not unknown by those making contemporary quests. The force of such feeling, in sharp contrast to the spare, particular beauties of the High Desert, speaks not only of desire but also to the rough accommodations made for desire unsatisfied. The book is personal but the personal is never detached from events of culture and history.