Review: Nibble #8

Various Authors
Poetry
28 pages
5 ½” x 8 ½” chapbook
Nibble Press
Oakland, California
Available HERE
Review originally published on 7/9/09


The joy of Nibble comes in knowing that editor Jeff Fleming is psycho about his craft and the words he chooses. He lets very few, but only the best, poems squeak by his honed radar, and the ones that pass are usually damn squeaky (… and I’m not just saying that because I have two, count ’em TWO! poems in this issue or because I adore the editor, but also …) because Nibble never fails, which is why I have two poems in this issue and adore the editor.

Nibble. just. doesn’t. fail.

My only complaint is that I wish it were longer. Every single issue I think this same thing; I always just wish each one were longer. As a concept various-author chap with the idea being all poems are 20 lines or fewer, hence the chap’s title, each issue can be a bit of a breeze-through, albeit a very decent and enjoyable breeze-through.

This issue kicks right off with me (!), can’t complain about that, with a poem that Jeff liked the first two lines of so much that he apparently made it the first in the book. I’ll go ahead and give my back a pat for that because that’s a big honor coming from him. The poems here are fairly mysterious, often just snippets of a scene or a moment, intense descriptions of a tiny second, not always complete, not always cohesive, but always vividly poetic, leaving you wanting more, poking your imagination through the ear with a cake tester.

There are many greats and many should-be-greats in this issue, as with every one that came before. The Ed Galing poem is the best I’ve read from him in a long time, which should have some weight coming from a press that published about twenty of his chapbooks. The staples are here: A. D. Winans, Normal, justin.barrett; and Father Luke’s poem is probably my favorite from him that he’s written so far, perfectly sad, touching, honest.

Some stand out gems:

From “Consumption” by Kip Knott:

[ … ]
It meant everything then,
and I would carry the evidence
with me the next day like burns.
[ … ]

From “Facsimile” by Jenifer Wills:

[ … ]
In her eyes the sun shines stubborn, casts
the shadow of a smile amidst the bronchitis cough
that persists, pulls at the hem of her skirts
as she works. Born from this sorrow,
a compression explosion, broken glass
and breakfast is served.

And my favorite of the issue, in its entirety and from an author who never fails to amaze, “Planting (for Kaya)” by Rebecca Schumejda:

As your father pushes soil over seeds,
you dig them back up.
“No,” leads to a tantrum
on top of where the summer squash will grow.
Since your father knows how much
of who we are gets planted early;
he wraps explanations
around your trembling body.
In the background, I attack weeds
suffocating roses,
the way I suspect my mother would have
under similar circumstances.

There is another gem here, as well: a poem by a high schooler with Down’s Syndrome. When you read it, the simple way it flows together, you just collapse into it. The poem fits perfectly, proving that when it comes to great words, nothing has to matter except great words; and kudos to Jeff for stepping beyond a stereotype and not airing differences or age like a CNN plug. Flows and works perfectly and makes the heart feel warm and fuzzy.

All in all, excellent issue, as always … It just ends too soon.