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Massachusetts Reviews: Bells for Whitman’s Captain

- By Marsha Bryant

What’s an elegy for Abraham Lincoln doing in a 12-ounce beer bottle? The third Walt Whitman tribute in Bell’s Leaves of Grass Series reinvents the poet’s preferred beer style as a confluence of American Black Ale and India Pale Lager. Bringing roasty malts and Michigan hops to lager’s crispness, Bell’s Brewery labels O Captain! My Captain! a Black India-Style Pale Lager. Even with this mouthful of attributes, its mouthfeel is light. This beer isn’t as dark and opaque as a stout, but the head is...


Massachusetts Reviews: : A Partisan Review

- By Jim HIcks

Houses from Another Street by Michael Thurston, Leveller's Press, 2019.

I have a confession to make, one that will likely get me in trouble. Come to think of it, the water I’m walking into here is even hotter than it normally would be. As it happens, our most senior fiction editor is a noted author of a genre I now confess I’ve never understood: YA fiction. To make matters worse: I was even tempted, when writing this last line, to say “so-called YA fiction,” thus revealing my stupidity as well as ignorance, since the genre I hereby confess to not understanding is also one of the few for which a market actually exists in our...


Mad Max in Ukraine

- By Borja Lasheras

Translated from Spanish by James Badcock

The hall is packed as people wait expectantly for the arrival of the bard. We snaffle a couple of free seats, surrounded by the young and not so young who pay us no mind as they gaze intently at the black curtain. This theatre was once one of the Jewish centres of Chernivtsi, a cosmopolitan cultural capital in western Ukraine, part of northern Bukovina, and a city which annually hosts the Meridian Czernowitz International Literary Festival. After a little while, Serhiy Zhadan, described by Marci Shore as “the Bard of eastern Ukraine,” appears alongside two guitarists to a rapturous welcome from the crowd.

With his sharp features, dressed all in black with half-mast trousers and a sweatshirt, his hair shaved to a...


Massachusetts Reviews: Spectra

- By Robert Manaster

Spectra: Poems by Ashley Toliver (Coffee House Press, 2019)

"Kinesis," the first poem in Ashley Toliver's powerful first book Spectra, frames the collection's primary strength: that of movement through trauma and the emotionally dark places in the female self, where one can be "plumbing / a violent kinesis. "This movement takes place via Toliver's poetic form and her charged poetic language. While near the collection's beginning, the female speaker's husband in "Long Division" is waiting for "a woman / to crawl out of / herself," by the collection's last poem, the speaker sees herself "in the last pew / of the lit horizon / in the wide-open field of the...

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