5 New Poetry Collections to Watch Out For

Perennial by Kelly Forsythe (23 Aug 2018)
The events of 1999’s Columbine shooting preoccupy Forsythe in these poems, refracting her vision to encompass killer, victim, and herself as a girl, suddenly aware of the precarity of her own life and the porousness of her body to others’ gaze, demands, violence. Deeply researched and even more deeply felt, Perennial inhabits landscapes of emerging adulthood and explosive cruelty―the hills of Pittsburgh and the sere grass of Colorado; the spines of books in a high school library that has become a killing ground; the tenderness of children as they grow up and grow hard, becoming acquainted with dread, grief, and loss.

Circus by Dante Micheaux (15 Aug 2018)
Dante Micheaux’s superb poetic aptitude is wedded to an eually superb poetic amplitude. Intimate soliloquy, lyric address, and linguistic allegory merge with resonating voices and personae. This poem is masterful, paradoxical and spiritual. The “holiness in all its unholy rejoicing” is variously scored in Dante Micheaux’s commanding Circus.

I still stand by words I wrote almost twenty years ago, when I read Dante Micheaux’s poems for the first time: “I am impressed by the serious depth and masterful technique of Micheaux’s poems. He is a true man of the world, mature beyond his years, one whose voracious intelligence and richly diverse background uniquely equip him for the literary vocation. Circus promises to be received as a masterpiece reminiscent of the best of Melvin Tolson’s work, and some of Micheaux’s poems bear an a nity to the delicate music and wisdom of Robert Hayden. But Micheaux’s in uences are not limited to the stars of African American poetry; his experience and reading ranges wide. Dante Micheaux is a code-switcher fluent in many languages. Some of his lines bring this reader close to heartbreak.”

Dante Micheaux’s Circus commands the reader’s attention. In this long poem, each line is tuned by breath and image, serious play and heartfelt critiue, but also by the modern urban motifs of grief and love. At times, signifying can get us to a desperate truth. The reader or listener has to possess a sense of history in order to be transported to the here and now. In Circus, the borders between the imaginary and the real dissolve as the poem delivers us into verisimilitude.

Safe Danger by Stephen Zerance (15 Aug 2018)
safe danger.jpg
In Safe Danger, here comes a Stephen Zerance poem sashaying down the street: snakeskin tights, clean-shaven legs, black tee–why it could be Satan himself. It’s a far cry from the baggy khakis and extra large shirt Zerance’s father would have him wear, clothes sure to make him feel like a real man. No dice. Instead, Zerance has demons under his bed and phobias–mosquitos, bees, roaches, spiders, ticks–a veritable house of horrors, his pain and longing all the more powerful for their formal restraint. These are elegant poems, knife thin, taut and edgy.

The post-apocalypse is happening now and in Baltimore in the steamy, exciting poems of Stephen Zerance’s Safe Danger, in which the mythic is mashed against the everyday to produce a strange and intoxicating juice fermented with pieces of his own body and accented with notes of lyric intensity.

Stephen Zerance’s Safe Danger is an anxious book, a book about desire and dread, worry and wonder, about how it’s possible to fear what feeds us. These marvelously brutal poems speak the body always on the verge of its own undoing, the body that is “all meat, learning how to suffer.” A skillful debut: artfully written, painfully naked, and radically disruptive.

Playtime by Andrew McMillan
In these intimate, sometimes painfully frank poems, Andrew McMillan takes us back to childhood and early adolescence to explore the different ways we grow into our sexual selves and our adult identities. Examining our teenage rites of passage: those dilemmas and traumas that shape us – eating disorders, masturbation, loss of virginity – the poet examines how we use bodies, both our own and other people’s, to chart our progress towards selfhood.

McMillan’s award-winning debut collection, physical, was praised for a poetry that was tight and powerful, raw and tender, and playtime expands that narrative frame and widens the gaze. Alongside poems in praise of the naivety of youth, there are those that explore the troubling intersections of violence, masculinity, class and sexuality, always taking the reader with them towards a better understanding of our own physicality. ‘isn’t this what human kind was made for’, McMillan asks in one poem, ‘telling stories learning where the skin/is most in need of touch’. These humane and vital poems are confessions, both in the spiritual and personal sense; they tell us stories that some of us, perhaps, have never found the courage to read before.

Appetites by Charles Rafferty (30 July 2018)
Though it might not be yet apparent, what the world hungers for—not just the poetry world but all sentient beings—are the rapturous, precise, lyrical revelations in Charles Rafferty’s Appetites, a startling collection full of poems that chart desire through an abandoned couch transformed into redeeming ecstasy, that channel the “popcorned and sawdusty air” of the circus tent where folks gather to turn away from themselves, that show us the subversive art of souvenir-taking in the form of a sliver of Picasso’s signature smuggled under a fingernail, and that give us a “Prelude” for our time. In the vein of Stephen Dobyns and Denis Johnson, but ever original and even more expertly-crafted, Rafferty is a major American poet. If you don’t know his work yet, you owe yourself this chapbook.
—Ravi Shankar

Undeniable Attraction by J B Heller

undeniable attraction


Ivy is straight laced, orderly and responsible. She’s also in love with her boss, Gabe.

When Ivy started working for him at his private investigation firm three years ago she was instantly drawn to him.

He’s everything she’s not and everything she wants— rough, gritty, sexy and impulsive.
Ivy decides to make some changes in order to gain Gabe’s attention, but in doing so, she inadvertently draws the eye of an unwanted admirer.

Gabe is forced to take her and her rambunctious cousin, Tessa, into his home for their protection. But with Ivy in such close quarters Gabe’s resolve to stay away from the once shy beauty begins to dissolve at a rapid pace.


3 Falling for your Boss Stars

I picked this up as the 3rd book in the series was recommended to me and I never read books out of order. I just can’t… So I picked this up.

Gabe is your typical alpha male with a load of rough edges who doesn’t quite see what’s right in front of him. Well he is a man, however for the first 25% of this book I wanted to knock him on the head and tell him to cop on!

Ivy is seriously pissed off with her boss, she is tired of seeing him drowning his sorrows as he gets over his ex. She decides it’s time to let him see the real Ivy and she confesses how she really feels about him. This doesn’t have the immediate effect she had hoped.

I name my guns, so shoot me. Pun intended.

To be honest I felt there was something missing from this. It was very choppy and at times I felt lost, other times I felt, how is this happening so fast?! And where did this come from?! The collateral damage was really unexpected and really unnecessary. Also if someone called my friend who had my best interest at heart, “Bitch Face” I would not be impressed!! It just was so childish and not what I would want in a man at all!

This is a nice story but it was not on power of some of the books I’ve been reading lately and I was disappointed as Heller is a new author to me and I was looking forward to something new. I really don’t know if I will read the next books in the series.

Brilliant Book Titles #211

we are never meeting.jpg

You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.


Sometimes you just have to laugh, even when life is a dumpster fire.

With We Are Never Meeting in Real Life., “bitches gotta eat” blogger and comedian Samantha Irby turns the serio-comic essay into an art form. Whether talking about how her difficult childhood has led to a problem in making “adult” budgets, explaining why she should be the new Bachelorette–she’s “35-ish, but could easily pass for 60-something”–detailing a disastrous pilgrimage-slash-romantic-vacation to Nashville to scatter her estranged father’s ashes, sharing awkward sexual encounters, or dispensing advice on how to navigate friendships with former drinking buddies who are now suburban moms–hang in there for the Costco loot–she’s as deft at poking fun at the ghosts of her past self as she is at capturing powerful emotional truths.

Brilliant Book Titles #210

the infernal desire.jpg

You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Desiderio, an employee of the city under a bizarre reality attack from Doctor Hoffman’s mysterious machines, has fallen in love with Albertina, the Doctor’s daughter. But Albertina, a beautiful woman made of glass, seems only to appear to him in his dreams. Meeting on his adventures a host of cannibals, centaurs and acrobats, Desiderio must battle against unreality and the warping of time and space to be with her, as the Doctor reduces Desiderio’s city to a chaotic state of emergency – one ridden with madness, crime and sexual excess.

A satirical tale of magic and sex, The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman is a dazzling quest for truth, love and identity.

Refugee Real Stories series


The above is a wonderful series of Picture Books written by Andy Glynne and illustrated and designed by talented artists such as Salvador Maldonado, Tom Senior, Jonathan Topp, and Karl Hammond. These stories, which were originally produced as award-winning BAFTA animations for the BBC, reveal the real-life stories of refugee children and teenagers from Afganistan, Erithrea, Iran, Zimbabwe, and a country in Eurasia. The children in the stories above have fled their home countries and have undergone the traumatic experience of war and separation, of social violence and abuse, of forced displacement, of rejection and deportation, until they are fortunate to find refuge in a place that responds to their urgent need for emotional and social support, a place which they may eventually call home.

These 5 books are highly recommended to parents and to educators. They are written with an immense sensitivity to the impact that these issues may have to primary school pupils who had themselves been once forced to flee their home countries (or whose parents had undergone a similar traumatic experience), but also to children who are unfamiliar with the realities of the refugees and the asylum seekers.

Indeed, this series of books is a perfect educational tool for informing primary school pupils about the harsh realities of the refugee crisis, for developing intercultural understanding and for promoting an education that encourages, supports, and cultivates a democratic and empathic experience for pupils.


You can reserve these books on South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

5 New Plays to Watch Out For

The Inheritance by Matthew Lopez
the inheritance
You have to wonder why there isn’t a word in the English language for the fireworks that go off in your brain when you finally kiss someone you’ve wanted for years. Or for the intimacy and tenderness you feel as you hold the hand of a suffering friend.

A generation after the height of the AIDS crisis, what is it like to be a young gay man in New York? How many words are there now for the different kinds of pain, the different kinds of love?

Matthew Lopez’s The Inheritance premieres in two parts at the Young Vic Theatre, London, in March 2018.

Rails by Simon Longman (24 May 2018)
I think I can feel the world turning a little. It feels like it’s just grinding to a halt. Mike is a 16-year-old with a bully of a brother and a mum who doesn’t speak. Sarah is a weed-smoking teen who can’t wait to get out of their dead-end town. One hot summer their lives collide in a blur of hormones, loneliness and dreaming as they discover that growing up is just as confusing as they say. Funny, poignant and sharply reminiscent of the joy, pain and confusion of growing up, Rails explores what it means to feel lonely in a forgotten and isolated corner of the world. This edition was published to coincide with the world premiere at Theatre By the Lake in Keswick in May 2018.

Mood Music by Joe Penhall 
mood music
‘Music is medication. The elixir of life. It’s for injecting into the blood stream to take away the pain…to promote euphoria…to adrenalise us and give us courage and fortitude’

In a top London recording studio, Cat, a young songwriter, her producer Bernard, their lawyers and psychotherapists go to battle over who owns a hit song. Amidst a gathering storm of bitter complaints and brutal recriminations Cat and Bernard inflict a devastating toll on each other in a war that only one of them ca win.

‘The music industry isn’t about healing heartbreak and vulnerability. It’s about selling it’

A sly, wry exploration of the dark side of the music industry by the multi-Olivier Award-winning writer of Sunny Afternoon and Blue/Orange, Joe Penhall.

This edition was published alongside the world premiere at The Old Vic, London in April 2018, directed by Roger Michell.

Joy Ride: Show People and Their Shows by John Lahr
joy ride.jpg
Joy Ride throws open the stage door and introduces readers to such makers of contemporary drama as Arthur Miller, Tony Kushner, Wallace Shawn, Harold Pinter, David Rabe, David Mamet, Mike Nichols, and August Wilson. Lahr takes us to the cabin in the woods that Arthur Miller built in order to write Death of a Salesman; we walk with August Wilson through the Pittsburgh ghetto where we encounter the inspiration for his great cycle; we sit with Ingmar Bergman at the Kunglinga Theatre in Stockholm, where he attended his first play; we visit with Harold Pinter at his London home and learn the source of the feisty David Mamet’s legendary ear for dialogue.

In its juxtaposition of biographical detail and critical analysis, Joy Ride explores with insight and panache not only the lives of the theatricals but the liveliness of the stage worlds they have created.

The Assassination of Katie Hopkins: A Musical by Chris Bush and Matt Winkworth 
the assassination of katie hopkins
A shocking crime divides the nation. Fingers are pointed, sides are drawn, facts are hard to come by. Why did this happen? How do we move on? What must we remember?

It’s easy to have an opinion online, safe behind the anonymity of a keyboard, just like, share and subscribe. But as the digital mob polish their pitchforks, the world starts to question just how free should free speech be?

The Assassination of Katie Hopkins is a smart, witty new musical by Chris Bush and Matt Winkworth about truth, celebrity and public outrage.

It premiered at Theatr Clwyd in April 2018.

Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan

altered carbon

I’m a big sci-fi fan so this was always going to be up my street, but I feel it’s a particularly strong novel in and of itself. Now and then, sci-fi, so often the realm of grim, unerringly accurate portraits of a dystopian future, produces a novel of truly terrifying prescience and this is definitely one of them.

Altered Carbon is set a few hundred years from the present. New worlds have been colonised and death, for many, is nothing more than an  inconvenience. The basic premise is nothing new; a rich man has been murdered and ex-special ops Takeshi Kovacs has been flown in to solve the case. If you think about it, it’s not surprising in the least that Morgan wrote a standard detective thriller, as the fact that human behaviour has not progressed concurrently with technological advancement is a common trope for many science fiction novels. What elevates Altered Carbon above standard though, is the excellent writing and the way Morgan’s creations sit uncomfrotably in the back of your mind, like sinister visions of a future you’ve always somehow always known, and in equal measure, dreaded.

If you’re a sci-fi fan, you’ll see this as a particularly strong showing. If you’re not, this will make you a sci-fi fan. The one blemish in the copybook is the sex scenes. I acknowledge that they’re notoriously difficult to write and if there was just one bad sex scene you’d let him away with it but there’s two of them, and they’re not great. Still though, full marks for everything else.


You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Brilliant Book Titles #209

i love capitalism

Iconoclastic entrepreneur and New York legend Ken Langone tells the compelling story of how a poor boy from Long Island became one of America’s most successful businessmen.

Ken Langone has seen it all on his way to a net worth beyond his wildest dreams. A pillar of corporate America for decades, he’s a co-founder of Home Depot, a former director of the New York Stock Exchange, and a world-class philanthropist (including $200 million for NYU’s Langone Health). In this memoir he finally tells the story of his unlikely rise and controversial career. It’s also a passionate defense of the American Dream — of preserving a country in which any hungry kid can reach the maximum potential of his or her talents and work ethic.

In a series of fascinating stories, Langone shows how he struggled to get an education, break into Wall Street, and scramble for an MBA at night while competing with privileged competitors by day. He shares how he learned how to evaluate what a business is worth and apply his street smarts to 8-figure and 9-figure deals . And he’s not shy about discussing, for the first time, his epic legal and PR battle with former NY Governor Eliot Spitzer.

His ultimate theme is that free enterprise is the key to giving everyone a leg up. As he writes:

This book is my love song to capitalism. Capitalism works! And I’m living proof — it works for everybody. Absolutely anybody is entitled to dream big, and absolutely everybody should dream big. I did. Show me where the silver spoon was in my mouth. I’ve got to argue profoundly and passionately: I’m the American Dream.

Brilliant Book Titles #208

angry management

Welcome to Angry Management.

It’s a place for misfits. For stories that will rip out your heart and give you back one better than what you started with. Stories about prejudice, rage, and hope. About surviving it all and showing the world that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

In three novellas, Chris Crutcher brings together some of his most unforgettable characters—among them Sarah Byrnes, Angus Bethune, and Montana West—to bare their souls. No sugarcoating here. Just the truth.