Bibliohio: Recommended Reading from the Heart-Shaped State

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

“Forgiveness Forgiveness,” Shane McCrae (Factory Hollow Press, 2014)

Why you’ll love it:

In the presence of these gorgeous, disturbing poems, there is little to do but listen and gasp. In stuttering, almost childlike cadence Shane McCrae tells us (without telling us directly) how it felt to grow up in a white family and community, with a black father who was absent. He often draws on “Little Brown Koko,” a racist children’s book from the 1940s about a black boy. McCrae lifts Koko from those pages, placing him in our dangerous world. With grace and generosity, “Forgiveness Forgiveness” grapples with abuse, racism and alienation.

See for yourself:

“A black boy is/ both more and less a part of nature/ Than every other part of nature/ And the race of the meadow is/ the meadow is American/ and white men have no race”

—from “On the White Invisibility of the Natural World”

“Fat Girl Finishing School,” Rachel Wiley (Timber Mouse Publishing, 2014)

Why you’ll love it:

A Rachel Wiley poem is both confession and anthem. Anyone who has seen her read her work aloud knows this already. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure, “Fat Girl Finishing School” is the perfect place to start. Wiley is a master of humor and camp, and elevates pop culture into poetry (Tracy Turnblad earns an ode, and OKCupid inspires haiku); however, it’s Wiley’s potent vulnerability that will hook you. These are hymns to the body, in all its fleshy, needy, bruised, and tattooed glory.

See for yourself:

The empty refrigerator in my stomach wants to know where Florida is/…and if when we get there/ we will find all of the runaway fathers/ living under dining room table forts/ sitting on thrones of unmailed birthday cards.”

—from “Conversations With My Father in a Dunk Tank”