Review of Marjorie Maddox’s True, False, None of the Above

poet, editor, essayist, story writer, Marjorie Maddox
Marjorie Maddox (Photo Credit: Dawn Snyder)

I’m happy to have an overdue review of Marjorie Maddox’s collection, True, False, None of the Above in the spring issue of Whale Road Review. It just came out last week, and you should take a look. Issue 10 includes several solid essays and reviews along with many fine works by poets and short fiction writers, including a few favorites of mine like Trish Hopkinson and Sandra Kolankiewicz.

True, False, None of the Above was published in 2016 and won the 2017 Illumination Bronze Medalist Award in the Education Category.  While it has a mission of its own, the book makes an excellent follow-up to her collection Local News from Someplace Else (Wipf and Stock, 2013).

Since then she has also published a book of stories called What She Was Saying (Fomite Books, 2017), and a delightfully dark chapbook entitled Wives Tales (Seven Kitchens Press, 2017). You can learn more about all of her publications, news, and upcoming readings on her website at www.marjriemaddox.com.

Here is the direct link to my review of True, False, None of the Above, and below are my recordings of two poems from the book. When you pick up a copy, consider donating one to your local library.

Chapbook #2—Angels & Adultery—Coming Soon

Title page of rough proof of Angels & Adultery, chapbook by David J. Bauman
Rough Proof Title Page

I’m way overdue announcing another bit of good news. On the heels of my first chapbook, Moons, Roads, and Rivers from Finishing Line Press, comes the release of Angels & Adultery later this year by Seven Kitchens Press. That’s chapbook number two!

I think I’ll talk a bit in an upcoming post about what I’ve learned from compiling poems into these little collections, along with their subsequent acceptances and rejections. I also want to discuss what other projects I’m still and newly working on.

For now, let’s just pause and celebrate, shall we? Poet Nickole Brown selected Angels & Adultery as Number 17 in the Robin Becker Chapbook Series for Seven Kitchens Press. I love Nickole’s work (Check out this recent poem in Thrush!) so you can imagine my weepy face when I read her kind words about my chapbook (My name in brackets because the original manuscripts were blind-judged):

Angels & Adultery opens with a sometimes impossible question, one posed by Robert Lowell in his poem, “Epilogue”: “Yet why not say what happened?” This, exactly is what [David J. Bauman] sets out to do in these aching, raw poems that tell a kind of truth beyond the typical confession to create a narrative that is culpable, terribly difficult, but not without humor and flashes of joy. Here you have the complexities of queer life caged by convention, loving “with a fist,” desire exiled to strip joints on the edge of town. As one poem says, “these are the pieces of my life; this is everything. Help me.” And this, of course, is just what I wanted to do as a reader—reach in towards the speaker of these poems and help—but ultimately, they ended up doing what most good poems do: They helped me instead. As [David] reminds us in “Genesis Retold,” “Don’t listen to the lies they tell you. Paradise was never lost.” This was what I needed to hear most, and this collection made me believe it.

This chapbook is a very different discussion than was Moons, Roads, and Rivers. A&A is arguably more personal, a poetic exploration of my coming out and subsequent divorce, my coming to terms with some larger existential questions, and some reflection on a series of good, bad, and dysfunctional relationships that followed.

One caveat: The speaker in a poem is not always the poet. I don’t mean this as a disclaimer exactly because most of my poems are spoken by me or some form of me. But the facts are not always reliable. Just ask any of my family members who sat through the reading at my old hometown library last Saturday! Still, the feelings and the spirit of the poems are totally real. And because of that some of them were very hard to write. More than just exes arguing over historical details, I’m expecting to take some criticism for the confessional nature of this collection. But I’m glad I wrote it. I think needed to write it.

So that’s the scoop on my second chapbook, Angels & Adultery. Look for it this summer from Seven Kitchens Press!

Moons, Roads, and Rivers

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Cover photo by Michael B. McFarland

UPDATE:

Moons, Roads, and Rivers, my first chapbook, is about to be released from Finishing Line Press. Click here to order your copy!

The printer is running a few weeks behind, but it looks like any pre-orders should arrive by Christmas or the New Year at the latest.

Moons, Roads, and Rivers is a small collection of poems set along highways and side roads from Pennsylvania to Indiana, from backyards and bar stools to graveyards and broken-down cars. Continue reading “Moons, Roads, and Rivers”

God, Dad, and Cars

I had an interesting conversation with a coworker this morning. Unfortunately, my boss asked for his promotional postcard for my upcoming chapbook to be sent to the main library. So the impression was that I was being pushy since we received “multiple” postcards (I think really only the two unless she’s referring to the other branches as well).

Ah, sometimes the negativity bugs that crawl around work places–they just show up, no matter how good your intentions. The first question asked was why the library wasn’t getting donated, signed copies. I quipped (half-jokingly) that I didn’t write the book to just give it away. But I eventually assured her that copies were being bought and donated to all the branches and I would happily sign them. I just wanted my coworkers to know about it and share my joy.

Then she said that she didn’t “get today’s poetry.” I confess I was annoyed for a half second, expecting the old “but it doesn’t rhyme!” complaint. But then I thought, well, it’s really a fair, albeit broad statement. I mean, I’m not crazy about some poetry today either.

She and I don’t work together often, only once or twice a week when I am down at the main branch. And it occurred to me, what a great opportunity this was to talk about poetry! So I asked what she liked and she quoted the opening lines from “The Children’s Hour.” In response, I shared a recitation from memory, “Ask Me” by William Stafford, which she was surprised to discover she very much liked. “It’s beautiful, and it flows!”

I told her it was a favorite of mine, that the poet had died a few years back, and that he was one of my heroes. While my writing is not as brilliant as his, he was certainly an influence. I like to play with sound and line endings, to find a rhythm in the language that might not be expected, and often isn’t traditional.  Then I pulled up the following poem, originally published in The Blue Hour Magazine. I told her this is a small sample of what’s in this chapbook, though there are some other more surreal pieces as well.

She looked over my shoulder at the screen as I read it aloud to her. She seemed to brighten even more and said she liked it. I’m hoping this was a step toward making a convert.

God, Dad, and Cars

I’m 8 years old, perched
on a headlight under the raised hood
of our white four-door Chevy,

which has somehow stranded us
at Uncle Bob’s farm.
But this isn’t like the time before,

in Canada, when we broke down
along a country road, far from home.
Across the back seat Crystal and I

had played cards with mom while you
paced, and raged how God must hate
you. I wondered, why you thought

He’d bother a little family like ours,
only on vacation. Wouldn’t He
have more important things to do?

No one home at the farm,
but you know where the tools are—
your hands gloved in grease.

You are in control, under sweat
and sun. I hold something in place
while you work. Afterwards,

when the engine cranks,
you thank me, slap me on the back.
“Thank God you were here,” your smile

wide and rare as the words you say:
“I couldn’t have done it without you.
I couldn’t have done it without you.”

Originally published in The Blue Hour Magazine, August 2013

Please consider pre-ordering the chapbook, Moons, Roads, and Rivers, from Finishing line Press. Just click here. 

Barely South Review and Other News

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Yes, I took this photo.  A one-word poem on a tree.

I’ve been so busy working with Word Fountain, the fantastic little literary magazine that my employers enable me to edit (along with three super-cool coworkers who are editors and artists for the mag.) that I forgot to post about the excellent lit mag Barely South Review where my poem “Advent” was recently published in their spring issue!

Check them out. Check out the rest of the issue, and do all that stuff like “liking” and following on social media. All that sort of support is helpful, especially now as Continue reading “Barely South Review and Other News”

Three Poems at Yellow Chair Review

Yellow Chair Review’s new issue is up, with three of my poems included. Read, “Coyote,” “Cleaving,” and “Timothy” by clicking right here.

Also, please read an excellent little piece that just embodies the art of saying it between the lines by checking out “Reel Mower” by Timothy DeLizza. I had just moved this poem into the “Yes” folder for Word Fountain’s winter issue when Timothy contacted me to let me know that it was already snatched up by Yellow Chair Review! So now I guess I can’t complain. It’s good to be in great company!

Check out the whole issue of Yellow Chair Review here.