I vowed more of both this year and kept the resolution, though the results in the poetry category are rather meager, they’re better than the goose eggs I’ve been registering for lo these last five years. I’ve actually read four short story collections. These two are worth mentioning

Raw wit and wisdom is what you can expect from Dorothy Allison, and you get plenty in this semi-autobiographical collection set in her childhood and early adulthood. How you write life-affirming stories about ugly poverty and sadistic family dysfunction is beyond me. But that’s what she does and who she is

D’Ambrosio’s title story didn’t move me as much as many others in this volume. But on the whole this is a touching and funny collection of masterful prose. See my commentary on the one re the typewriter for some insight into the man behind the words.

The Civil War being one of my favorite periods of history, the mere title of Kevin Young’s volume of poetry For The Confederate Dead was enough to attract my attention. What’s inside was more than enough to hold not only my attention but my devotion. I took to using Young’s verse as a meditative tool before writing sessions. Among the many favorites is the series of poems beginning with one entitled “Flame” that traces a family’s trek to Kansas in search of new land. So much hope and hardship. Young is black, and the poetry is plenty black, too. But it’s not racial. It’s universal.

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