The other day a package was waiting for me when I got home for work. One thing that struck me peculiar about this package was that both the "Return" address and the "To" address was one and the same. The second thing that was peculiar about this package was that the envelope writing was in my scribble.
So I sat there for about five minutes trying to figure out why I would send myself a package, when it dawned on my that maybe I should open it up and see what it was. The was, was this poetry chapbook. The who from, was Noemi Press.
A couple of minutes later, I remember the who. Back in March of 2008, I entered a contest sponsored by Noemi Press and submitted one of my short stories to them (A Betrayal of Vows, I believe). This was the writer who won the contest.
FYI: I found this website last year called NewPages, that has links and listings to indie bookstores, publishers, record labels, literary journals, etc. It's a nifty website to explore and I highly recommend it if you're looking for stuff that is seriously off the beaten path.
Note: I'm not a big fan of poetry, and while I was submitted stuff for potential publication from the beginning of '06 to early '08, I found that most (if not all) literary journals and about 75% of small publishers lean slavishly towards poetry. I am not insulting poets or poetry, but it seems to me that a lot of other genres (like the short story or the essay) are getting the shaft by the abnormal focus by publishers on poetry.
Here now are my observations on this poetry chapbook entitled "Un-Shelter".
1} The publisher is a very small not-for-profit literary organization located in Las Cruces NM, and is called a 501(c)(3). If I remember correctly, they publish less then six titles per year.
2} About half the poems were previously published in journals such as Colorado Review, The Laurel Review, and Volt just to name a few. I haven't heard of any of these save the Colorado Review, but I would fathom a guess that they're high-end literary journals.
3} The poems themselves are written in a variety of styles, topics and pentameters. While the style and pentameters wouldn't necessarily turn me off (I did enjoy a poem written by someone else that was done as anagram), certain topics would. To me, topics like murder of prostitutes simply doesn't work as a poem (Riptide is one such poem in this chapbook) no matter how you write it.
4} Topical poetry is another turn off for me. This chapbook seems to contain a lot of topical poetry, some of which would really work much better in the essay form as opposed to the poetry form.
This is pretty much my non-book review of this chapbook. While there is poetry out there that would definitely appeal to me, this doesn't. If topical poetry does for you (poetry slams are another big turn off for me and this chapbook reminds me of the poetry slams that are held every year in CT), then this chapbook is for you. I believe the cost is under $7.
Tune in next time, when I give my personal take on Swords of Talera by Charles A. Gramlich.