Winter Goose Publishing
70Pages; Print, $10.99
Over the last decade, Loren Kleinman has presented a template for how contemporary writers can make names for themselves: She is versatile; recent projects include a novel, a memoir, a screenplay, and a short film. She is much lauded: she received the Spire Press Poetry Prize in 2003 for her first collection, Flamenco Sketches. She was a finalist for the Nimrod/Pablo Neruda Prize for poetry, and she received three Pushcart Prize nominations. What’s more, she is an integral member of the indie publishing community online through her interviews on IndieReader.com and her blog at Huffington Post. She is also the editor of Indie Authors Naked, a collection of essays and interviews by indie authors, booksellers, and publishers. Leaving no genre unexplored, her essays have appeared in Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, and Seventeen. She also co-founded National Translation Month, a month-long celebration of writing in translation during the month of September.
Yet it is not just her accomplishments and obvious energies but her work that places her in a necessary conversation. Now, with her fourth poetry collection, Stay With Me Awhile, Kleinman has assembled more than 50 prose poems that travel inside ventricles of the heart while wishing “to move through [the] hippocampus.” Named one of the best poetry books of 2014 by Entropy Magazine, the poems in Stay With Me Awhile are poems that allow themselves to be vulnerable and raw, poems that examine longing, love, and connection. Some have a dreamlike quality, while others are more overtly surreal. “Nothing but Hope,” which opens the collection, provides a good introduction to what lies ahead:
There is nothing in the Dead Sea but hope. The rest is silenced by the falling apples. We pick them from the ground and throw them at each other. Quiet now. All clear to move on. I’m falling from the trees. Open your hand and see if I fell unscathed.
Some poems in the first half of the collection are a bit more narrative and serve as explorations of moments in time, magnifications of the images that surround a memory, such as they do in the title poem:
Fill your house with phones so you can call me anytime you want. Fill your house with plugs so you can recharge under the whirl of fan, crack of window, and stretch of book page. It only takes a moment.
At times there seems to be a bit of a struggle between nature and urban life. In “The City Is Plastic,” the speaker compares plastic utensils to cucumbers. In “You Have to Enjoy The View,” the speaker tells the reader to burn the cellphone and “Log into the long nights on a lawn in front of your house.” And in “The Woods Are Closer [End Page 28] Than You Think,” “Tall buildings and overgrown glass cubicles could never grow here. The woods are grown by a woman named Truth. Life deepens because of her.” The natural world, and trees in particular, appear often in the collection in a way that feels fresh and seems to elevate the natural over the manmade, technological world in which we live.
Throughout, the speaker refers to a character called Joseph. He is first mentioned in “Me and Him,” and while the poem is erotic, it also offers some tenderness:
He asks me to take off the do not enter sign. Joseph slides his face against mine. I let him crawl inside me this time, fill me with sugar and kisses.
While many poems are personal and live close to the speaker, there are several that are inspired by people and events such as the Charlie Hebdo attack, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, a plane crash in the Alps, a stabbing at a high school, and an American woman who was held by Islamic State militants. Others are in conversation with other writers: French feminist and philosopher Hélène Cixous and the English author Christopher Hitchens, who wrote Mortality (2012), a book of essays, as he was dying from...