“Change is the only constant,” Chelsea Stickle writes in “Worship What Keeps You Alive”, the first flash fiction piece of her chapbook. This quote perfectly encapsulates Everything’s Changing, where nothing’s as it seems. The world has changed and the possibilities are endless in Stickle’s book, but one thing is as prevalent in this book as it is in society, and that’s the struggles of women and girls. Stickle uses absurdities throughout the book to tell stories, depicting women attempting to navigate a world that doesn’t like nor respect them. The problems women face are often overlooked, but Stickle reimagines these problems and tells them in a way that’ll have readers begging for more.
“We may know the sacred; we may not impart it.”
George Choundas tosses this penetrating sentence seventy-five pages into his collection of essays, Until All You See is Sky. It’s one of the many turns of phrase that will make the reader pause and reflect. This in itself is not so shocking—good writing should, at the bare minimum, have an impact on the reader. What sets Choundas apart from the others, in my opinion, is context. Where this shrewd pronouncement is more befitting a spiritual revelation or a hard-learned life lesson, Choundas has gifted this deep and affecting statement to… baked goods.
Dale Cottingham’s collection, Midwest Hymns, reads as a meditation on a man’s journey through life’s myriad challenges, and healing through becoming one with nature and its cycles. Cottingham’s muse is the family and land that raised him, and each of these poems act as a patchwork in making an overall warm and nostalgic reading experience.
Most of us are familiar with the concept of the seven deadly sins: gluttony, envy, wrath, lust, sloth, to name a few. Alice Kaltman embraces these sins—along with their virtuous counterparts—in her short story collection, Almost Deadly, Almost Good. She personifies the sins in her complex characters while exploring an equal number of virtues. Her stories depict the tragedies and triumphs of human nature. Characters embodying gluttony, envy, and wrath seem to be in a constant state of inner conflict and turmoil while those who practice kindness, humility, and patience have better outcomes.
“For all the mutts.”
Dela Torre, the most recent chapbook from poet and essayist Dani Putney, opens with this dedication. Simple and effective, they give no other preface before diving into 20-some pages of raw, emotional poetry where they break down their own mixed-race heritage, the history of their parents, and tear into colonialism with sharpened teeth. While Dela Torre runs rife with various themes about identity and family, there is one through-line that can be felt in each and every one of these poems— anger.