Salt Body Shimmer by Aricka Foreman. YesYes Books, 2020

“There are all kinds/ of intimate violence” Aricka Foreman writes in Salt Body Shimmer, the title found in one of her poems, “Consent Is A Labyrinth Of Yes.” Such a title threads together the body and the quotidian with the magic of the sea, till the two are inseparable: “when men/ ask me for water I know they mean my pussy” (70). She does not over-simplify water to equate it with healing, and instead complicates traditional European symbols, such as water, with a anticolonial history by invoking other Yoruba deities such as Yemaya and Oshun.

Foreman ushers us into this…

How many have heard of the Azores Islands? I hadn’t, until a few months ago when my partner, Y, asked if I’d travel there with his parents. The descriptions were enticing — they’re a group of islands off the coast of Portugal and yet to be bombarded by tourists. There are plenty of outdoor activities, and (importantly) nice winter weather. I quickly agreed and we spent the next few months clicking through websites, making plans to hike on four of the islands. Then, a week before our trip, a neighborhood two miles from our home in NY became the epicenter…

Lindsay Lerman, a writer and translator, holds a PhD in Philosophy. Her book, I’m From Nowhere, is an investigation of grief and relationships, impermanence, and the construction and loss of identity. The reader follows Claire as she is unmoored by her husband’s death. She beings to explore who was and who she may be, and how to move forward in the world without him.

I’m From Nowhere, by Lindsay Lerman. Clash Book, 2019. Poetry.

Genevieve Pfeiffer: The reader feels Claire’s loneliness and desperation. Yet, we are also acutely aware that she has depended on John. Claire doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere — she doesn’t feel comfortable around women, and…

I have heard of a state called New Jersey. I have seen signs for NJ, but as a New Yorker I’ve had a superiority complex that’s limited me from the wonders of my neighboring state—an uneasy realization since I grew up in the Rust Belt.

I’ve heard of the Delaware Water Gap, and I’ve heard it’s beautiful to kayak. When I’ve thought of NJ, I’m sorry to say, I’ve thought of hiking overused trails too close to New York City. Of dry, dusty, packed-down dirt speckled with wrappers and water bottles, and sparse, spindly bushes that must be just as…

Prey, by Jeanann Verlee. Black Lawrence Press, 2018. Poetry.

Genevieve Pfeiffer: You write about violence, and pain. One poem, in particular, “A Good Life” stayed with me so that I had to come back to it over and over again. Emotions, experiences, healing — these things can be cyclical and we will come up against certain pains over and over in life. This poem does a heartbreaking job of showing the reader a life haunted, not entirely shaped but influenced by, an act of violence that occurred when the character was a child. …

I recently taught Beyonce’s Lemonade. It was a fabulous class, and the students, as well as the head of my department, really enjoyed it. I made a transcript of the poetry and lyrics in the music video, and if you want you can check it out below.

If you need a little refresher in Lemonade and how it relates to our current political world, try watching it again. She samples Malcolm X, brings in the mothers of victims of police brutality, signifies BLM, dresses as a Yoruban goddess as well as a Black Panther, tilts her head toward Katrina victims…

Sexting Ghosts, by Joanna C. Valente. Unknown Press, 2018. 114pp, poetry.

Genevieve Pfeiffer: In Sexting Ghosts, you explore and interrogate form — particularly the use of negative space and the use of punctuation. How do you see poetic form as a way to representation and a restructuring of daily life?

Joanna C. Valente: Everything exists in a form, humans, animals, poems, movies, music, etc. Nothing is formless, so I really think about ways poems are brought to life but their form, which is a canvas of sorts. What isn’t said is just as important as what is said, which is definitely why I use a lot of negative space in poems…

In case you missed it, I wrote an article (and another) on herbal birth control. I’m a bit obsessed. So, it was little surprise when I came across an abortifacient the other day in a local food co-op because it’s become a daily habit to notice birth control in unseeming places. But this time it was not what I think of as a kitchen herb used for cooking, it was Pennyroyal essential oil.

If you didn’t just cringe, maybe you should have. I was slightly shocked: there were at least seven vials and a tester that must have been recently…

Before I dive into the herbal history I promised, I’ll explain some practices specific to herbalism, list a few of the plant’s I’ve looked into, and expand on what they may be used for.

One plant may be known by multiple names, depending on the time period and the region. Though we think of plants as stationary (true, they don’t have legs), they are really quite peripatetic.

We forget that plants have been around longer than humans, and they’ve branched out from where they originate, so that there are multiple species throughout the globe.

Angelica is one of these species.

Image taken from Pixabay

Photo of a Cyrenaic coin with image of silphium. Credit Wikimedia commons

I have a fixation with plants — the reaching arch of deciduous tree limbs in winter, glazed with fresh snow; the way moss smells like running water. In spring I welcome the fresh shoots of mugwort in ditches, the underside of each new leaf shimmering. I measure the length of summer by the rise of speckled tiger lilies in the dry season. We have used plants in every step of every civilization, from clothing to medicine to recreation to heat. They are a part of us, whether or not we’re watching them.

Herbs are at the heart of much of…


Writer. Poet. Herbalist.

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