A finely crafted James Kelly poem is born of knowing.  When you read a poem from “Black Ice and Fire”, you will unequivocally NOT be reading about a thing.  You will read a poem from within a thing; you will be imbibing presence from outside and all around a thing; you will be gathering all of it up in your arms and you will embrace a thing.  You cannot be mild, indifferent, cavalier.  You must give of yourself.  Engage.

James Kelly’s’ poems demand intimate participation.  You are required to join Kelly’s inner circle where you can not indulge in the superficial.  The poems are tender and brutal, generous and challenging, broad in scope but also full of small, important detail.  As reader, you are James Kelly’s neighbor, friend, family-member, and companion.  You will be asked to join with the writer/narrator in facing and grasping profound loss, cruelty, anger, evil, as you will also be invited to admire and experience the most exquisite beauty, friendship, understanding and compassion.   This is life resonant with all its incomprehensible, glorious meaning.   And, when you participate in this way, give the book all of yourself, the experience of Kelly’s artistry will be moving and relevant and deeply satisfying.  The poems are resonant and impactful both because of the polished tradecraft and because they come to us from the rich depth and breadth of total, fearless immersion.

“Black Ice and Fire” is breathtaking in its conjuring.  You cannot avoid reading it. 

Black Ice and Fire by James Ross Kelly

$15 Book + $.90 MD Tax + $5 Ship


BLOG: The Miracle of Touch and of Proprioception

The older I get the more I find I am blown away by some of the systems the human body deploys to meet the demands of our daily lives. (Especially since some of them are beginning to break down.) Last night I spent 20 minutes in our kitchen searching my wife’s back for a miniscule (to my eye mostly microscopic) hair that had been tormenting her. She was wearing a sweater she calls “Brown Wooly” which is an exquisitely warm, dense and complex, interwoven mat of hairs – essentially a pelt. How could she feel so desperately one tiny hair under all that wool? And, this morning, leaving for the studio, I inadvertently spilled a few beads of millet seed into our key drawer. In the dark, casually and easily, my fingertips found and removed each tiny sphere.

The miracle of Touch.

And then, this morning, sequestered inside of a rolling box made of glass, steel, plastic, rubber and iron (among other elements), I negotiated a massive, expertly engineered machine (which next to the human body is no more than a Legos construction) right up against the concrete curb. Wrapped up in 4 layers of clothing, including a double layer of gloves, sitting comfortably in something that is pretty close to an Anechoic Chamber, I deftly negotiated the rolling box within 1/4 of an inch of concrete that threatened to drag off some rubber.

The miracle of Proprioception.

Unbelievable. I found myself sitting in my car outside my studio in that state of awe and astonishment often reserved for much bigger displays of of overwhelming power – like a mountain or an ocean or a god.

What a way to start the day – over come by a little mysterium tremendum et fascinans.

BOOK PUBLISHED: “MUCH” by Joel Peckham

The brilliant and intense poetry in Joel Peckham’s tour-de-force, MUCH, can not fail to move us. The poems are so rich and deep with meaning that they resonate emotionally, psychologically, spiritually and even physically. The use of long lines and overflowing enjambment moves our reading along at an exhilarating pace and is done so artfully that the pure act of reading this book delivers a palpable pleasure. This book is brimming with novel use of language, but never to the detriment of feeling and understanding acutely the details of the poetic epiphanies, as well as the reverberating fulcrum at each poem’s heart. The imagery is vivid and tactile, securely situated in recollection that is at times tragic and painful and at other times joyful and ecstatic. This is such a good book. I loved it. I have read it at least a dozen times. So, grab something soothing to drink, sit back in the overstuffed chair and prepare yourself for a read that, with its insights and compassion can’t fail to transform your mood, your day and perhaps your life. The miracle of exceptional poetry.


$15 Book .90 MD Tax + $5 ship


BLOG: Formatting a Submission

Today I made the difficult decision NOT to submit a batch of poems to a publication that required me to reformat my poems to double-spacing. For me, modifying my poems with double-spacing significantly changes their impact. The primary argument for double-spacing seems to be an editorial one – double-spacing makes the writing, in particular prose writing, easier to consume. It is easier, for example, to distinguish between a period and a comma when reading double-spaced lines. I don’t believe it is the artist’s job to accommodate the editor’s job. It is not the artist’s responsibility to facilitate the job of editing for the editor. Especially when our submissions include a reading fee.

At the Raw Art Review we do not require you to reformat your submissions. In fact, we want to see them exactly as you devised them.

Mirabai Prize for Poetry Contest Results



BOOK PUBLISHED: “Dented Brown Fedora” by Gary Beaumier

The poems in Gary Beaumier’s elegant book, Dented Brown Fedora, are enlivened by specters. But, Dented Brown Fedora is seldom a book of terror. It is a book of resonating and quietly ecstatic love. While there is haunting and loss, sometimes painful and powerful sorrow, the poems are fundamentally a celebration. The language and imagery are so refined and artful that even the most difficult memories and retrospections sing out with the kind of optimism that only Fine Art can manage to deliver. The poems in Dented Brown Fedora have achieved a kind of superb, elevated alchemy. They convert everything – all of the poet’s experience, whether joyful or melancholy – into beauty. As readers, as seekers, we will be led deep into each thing by these poems. In there, within this book, within each poem, at the poetic heart of an experience or a place or a person, somehow we find what we have been longing for.

Dented Brown Fedora



BOOK PUBLISHED: “Ragpicking Ezekiel’s Bones” by Pamela Sumners

UnCollected Press and The Raw Art review presents the rich and powerful poetry of Pamela Sumners. The poems of Ragpicking Ezekiel’s Bones are a thrilling experience of how many unique and exceptional ways a poem can be built by a poet who artfully applies the full spectrum of literary tools at her disposal. No two poems are alike. Every poem is replete with complex ideas and adroitly applied forms. Pamela Sumners is an expert with all the literary tools. The reader who immerses herself/himself in these poems is bound to find finely wrought poems that, often leave you shaken, dumbfounded and wondering just what has happened. Sure, go ahead and sit yourself down in your favorite overstuffed chair in front of the fire. Take a slug of your coffee or tea. But try not to get comfortable – and definitely avoid getting complacent. You will need all your wits and skills for this book. You will not be disappointed. This is a read like no other. See what William Slaughter has to say below:

All the world’s a poem for Pamela Sumners. In Ragpicking Ezekiel’s Bones, she practices what might be called “the poetics of inclusion.” How to get everything in . . .is the challenge she sets for herself, and Ragpicking is all the proof I require that she is way more than up to that challenge. Sumners’ work is “immodest,” in the highest and best sense of the word, and ambitious, an increasingly rare virtue in an age of small poems. She writes “large” poems, poems that “contain multitudes.” She manages, somehow, to get all manner of folks into them, and all her “folk” have stories to tell, stories motivated by desire, by “urgency and longing”—the same motivation that readers should bring to her book. The reward for such readers of Ragpicking Ezekiel’s Bones will be memorable, even indelible, lines and whole poems that will not let you leave them, that will stay with you and stay with you, all your life.”

—William Slaughter, editor of Mudlark: An Electronic Journal of Poetry & Poetics and author of The Politics of My Heart and Untold Stories

Ragpicking Ezekiel’s Bones



BOOK PUBLISHED: “Metazoan Variations” by Mike Bendzela

My Bendzela’s exquisite book of “evolutionary fables and other emblematic tales” is now available for sale here on The Raw Art Review website. This is a graceful and elegant, beautifully crafted book that is unlike anything we have published before at UnCollected Press. The book will satisfy your scientific as well as your artistic mind. It penetrates into understanding itself where science and art become one. The intimate lives of fauna (and flora), wild and domestic, sentient and perhaps not, immediate and born in past epochs, are revealed to us. The result is a series of vignettes and epiphanies that can be poignant, devastating, elating but are always acutely fascinating. This is a book that is the product of the writer’s compassion for living things – compassion in the truest sense of the word – compassion that is empathy to the point of losing self to the other. Mike has done the exceptional. He has made all of his characters, even the least of them, real and meaningful to us. You must read this book!

Metazoan Variations

$15 BOOK + .90 MD SALES TAX + $5 SHIP