Bibliohio: Recommended Reading from the Heart-Shaped State

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

“The Small Blades Hurt,” Erica Dawson (Measure Press, 2014)

Why you’ll love it:

While reading Erica Dawson’s new book of poems, “The Small Blades Hurt,” over and over again I thought: wow/sheesh/damn. Though Dawson is a master of meter, rhyme and sound, what makes her work so powerful is that it’s full of fire and feeling (the form serves as fuel). The book asks questions of control and claim. What is our ancestry, and what song is our anthem, and how do nations wipe away their sins and grief, and aren’t NASA’s missions to the moon romantic and Otis Redding-worthy?

See for yourself:

“The rhythm will/Not get you. No. No dollar, dollar bill,// Y’all. It is not electric. Throw the rice./ Snuff out the unity candle. Let ice/ Sculptures crack like the streets of Baltimore.”

—from “Jungle Fever Epithalamium”

“My One Square Inch of Alaska,” Sharon Short (Plume, 2013)

Why you’ll love it:

Nostalgic, charming and character-driven, “My One Square Inch of Alaska” is the perfect book to accompany the winding down of summer. Set in Groverton, Ohio, in 1953, this novel focuses on 17-year-old Donna Lane, and her complicated relationship with her family (a troubled single father and her younger brother). Sharon Short has created a likable, independent heroine — Donna longs to leave her small town and study fashion design, but feels responsible for taking care of her brother. This book is “Pretty in Pink” meets “The Incredible Journey,” and is a pleasure to read.

See for yourself:

“I put my pencil to the paper, let my mind go a little blank, just like I did when I sketched clothing ideas, let my hand start moving, expecting happy to show up, somehow, on my page. But my lines came out as thick, dark, angry slashes, forming the outline of a dog.”

—from page 139