TAR (The Atlas Review) Chapbooks

It Was Over There by That Place by Diane Glancy

“I translate without original language,” writes Diane Glancy on the first page of It Was Over There by That Place. “I translate the traces of the process of original thought.” Communication, for all the good it does the writer, is a territory like any other. For the indigenous writer, wrenchingly so. Even still, communication does not sit in some idyllic frame; it is mutable, subject to change. This last bit is of keen interest to Glancy. To speak in this chapbook is to access memory, and to access memory is to challenge chronology, imagination, and its discontents. Glancy blurs the present, such that even the genre through which she writes is at odds with the page, and we are left with the glimmering world wrenched by territory and language. “I would be hurt. That was known,” she writes. “It was in the words the place carried.”

So Devilish a Fire by Nadia Owusu

Winner of the 2019 Whiting Award for Non-Fiction

Nadia Owusu’s So Devilish a Fire is a chorus “possible only through fire and mother.” In this chapbook, Owusu’s rigorous inquiry of multiracial identity, nation, ancestry and what traditions ask us to “burn to be beautiful” is the manuscript, song and voice I have waited all my life to sing and singe alongside of. It’s an honor to live in the time of such lyric. In the tradition of June Jordan, who told the truth to become beautiful, Owusu is as unerasable as her forbears. Here, truly, is an author who writes a beauty that is a form of justice; gives me permission for some small, retroactive hope for the boy I was; and is for all of us who have had our bodies labeled a half-truth. To take this book in your hands is more than a gift—it is to receive permission to gleam.

—Julian Randall, award-winning author of Refuse

boy/girl/ghost by torrin a. greathouse

In boy/girl/ghost, torrin a. greathouse writes, “every tooth-filled thing opens / its mouth & the whole night / howls.” You. Me. Every tooth-filled thing. This stunning collection is an intoxicating examination of the body and its multitudes of survivals, extinctions, and rebirths. Deftly converging authenticity and craft, the poems collected here are each simultaneously blade and hand-woven lace. So awestruck by greathouse’s sorcery of language, I audibly gasped at least once upon each page. Let this book unbolt you.

—Jeanann Verlee, author of prey, Said the Manic to the Muse and Racing Hummingbirds

BLOODMUCK by Linette Reeman

Linette Reeman's BLOODMUCK is, simultaneously, the sunset roadtrip silence after everyone loses their voice screaming to the music & a lesson in a very specific earth-shattering loneliness. These poems scream, demand your gaze, shatter it, and feed the pieces back to you off a bloodied platter. Intertwining past & present, Reeman speaks across time in a manner that is unfathomably & inescapably timeless. Here is resurrection, of bodies living & dead; here, the grief itself breathes, as Reeman forces readers to not only confront conversations they run from, but reminds them of the price of their abandonment. Here, even the police state & gods are held accountable for their massacre; Reeman writes, "o, god of fast music and neck muscles, show me a queer intimacy that does not end in a dawn that dreads the bruises it will expose." You are not meant to escape these poems (unscathed).

—George Abraham, author of the specimen’s apology

Yellow City by Ellena Savage

"In Yellow City, Ellena Savage's mind translates the memory of violence into astonishingly brilliant language. She perfectly articulates the creeping feeling that one's life is irreversible in a way that, prior to reading, I felt language may be incapable of capturing. This made me sure that she was either a genius, or a witch, or my dream coupling of the two." 

 —Rita Bullwinkel, author of Belly Up

Spells for Black Wizards by Candace Williams

The right spell demands precision. The poems in Spells for Black Wizards are precisely that: a bond between poetry and the mathematical; an alchemical alliance that names memory as a tuning signal in a country laced with the past. The city as a site for the interrogation of values, memos to damaging relationships, citation and altar: "I cannot bear witness for ancestors whose griot were massacred and ink deemed criminal. I dwell upon their broken vertebrae and mouth a gentle tribute."

—Nikki Wallschlaeger, author of Crawlspace

Teaches of Peaches by Diane Exavier

An elegy wrapped in an anti-elegy. It resists category and traditional form with a formidable nod toward hybrid. But unlike many hybrid collections, which work to show us idea through form and its faceted subversions, Teaches of Peaches presents form through idea and an idea's subversion to fact. We feel the heat of autobiography's grief chasm, but then Exavier encourages us to fall through that grief chasm with her.

—Natalie Eilbert

Alien Pink by Spencer Williams

Alien Pink sets out with a set of fundamental questions about representation, its capacities, it’s violences, its limits: "How does one begin to write" about trans life and death, asks Spencer Williams, "without / reducing them to symbol"? Her answer, I think, is to eschew closure and beautiful surfaces, to instead enter 'the gash' and train her attention on surreal and alien forms—curdled, clotted, lawless, crusted, pocked. Though things here are very strange, what Williams’ writing gives us, ultimately, is a kind of realism, a dutiful rendering of what it feels like to inhabit trauma, transformation, alienation, a doubled-over self "made to overflow."

—Cameron Awkward-Rich, author of Sympathetic Little Monster

al youm by George Abraham

George Abraham’s al youm engages my brain and my heart in ways both relentless and tender. These poems do such exciting things with form—they are simultaneously ancient and futuristic, considering old hurts and old histories while constantly reimagining what is possible in terms of what a poem can do—visually, syntactically, emotionally— on the page. However, their technical skill comes in no way at the expense of their pulsing, living heart—these poems hurt, and bloom, and I will never, ever stop thinking about them.

—Safia Elhillo, author of The January Children

Grievances by Roberto Montes

"My name is Roberto Montes," begins Grievances, "And I am BACK." Such self-conscious references are part of Roberto's resistance in this highly anticipated poetry chapbook. Part of merging with any community is merging too with the failures of community—and Roberto Montes is a poet of conviction and accountability, aware of artifice the way he is also aware of his presence in the New York Poetry world. All of these things bleed. Through careful elucidations, we are offered the many apertures through which Roberto Montes can—and must—become himself. Roberto reminds us that we are stuck spinning in a wheel of our own making, even when we revolt against the spinning of that wheel. To revolt is to acknowledge this machine is still there waiting for us to boycott. As his lyrics urge us through these trappings, there is comfort in identifying the cog—as such an effort as naming our futility is one way to configure a new way to survive.

—Natalie Eilbert

Arcade Seventeen by Megan Giddings

Whether it involves sex dreams with a centaur, talking chives, a brotherly love for brie cheese, or a heron’s wings that whomp and flash like cop cars, these stories ignite in us small ineffable furies we can’t bear to extinguish. Giddings’ writing, sprouted from a dark lyricism, wraps its cool tendrils around our sense of narrative and gifts us kaleidoscopic vision even as it reminds us of the dim glow reality casts just behind its artifice.

—Natalie Eilbert

Hungry Ghosts by Soleil Ho

The three essays comprising Hungry Ghosts by Soleil Ho shake the motherboards of our system, forcing us to not only see the trappings of Western culture, but also the lead of the bars, the cage that satisfies a certain invisible hunger. Ho is a writer of exceptional strength, marking the world in which we live with clear score lines—she asks us whether the material of our thickly painted culture can bend both ways; she asks us to look into the void of personal history and give us something beyond grief and the performance of consumption. Hungry Ghosts is an exceptional debut. It will change your perception of pop culture, the body’s safety, and ’90s girl power.

—Natalie Eilbert

Selfless by Zoe Dzunko

Turn the pages of Selfless and you'll find yourself grimacing at the systems of body. More pointedly, the ways culture and society have failed to lighten the load on the body-ness of women's bodies. Ergo we are set up to fail as we lighten. Zoe Dzunko is a poet of magnificent range, one who can brutalize prosody with a couplet exchange like Selfless' opening poem "The Impossible, III": "The time you fucked / my face it felt like a feather."

—Natalie Eilbert

In the Gun Cabinet by Mike Lala

In the Gun Cabinet is a multimedia poem by Mike Lala that blends oppositions with a mastery of language and trouble. The chapbook-length eponymous poem is theatrical in its starkness, pantomiming a danger that has ended and replays on loop. Here, memory is an indictment. Violence and whim walk the long path toward and away from place. Place is home or it is militant. One wears the uniform of birth or else the uniform of a soldier or else the uniform of a body, cock out and sentenced to wreckage.

—Natalie Eilbert