Some of it is Muscle: a review by Mark Fischer

Some of it is muscle promo 1Some of it is Muscle
Zachary Kluckman

Reviewed by Mark Fischer

Some of it is Muscle is an exercise in strength and perseverance in the poet’s life. Kluckman carefully excises the tough parts, puts them on display in ways that, sometimes, make you confused by how beautiful the scary bits are, and, in doing so, closes old wounds with the love of family and community. The images in this collection will surprise, challenge, and titillate both brain and heart. It is apparent that the poems in this collection were chosen and placed with precision. The poet takes you on a journey from heartache to heart-heal.

I found myself re-reading certain stanzas like puzzles and being rewarded with magical webs of metaphor like tendon and sinew that capture and coalesce into images that are unique to the mind, heart and voice of Mr. Kluckman. For example in the poem The Lions of Dusk he writes “the slow blue impalas swim like neon tetras through the heat haze, windows full of fever” effectively transforming the sinister into survival.

262710_10200154892465990_1862870133_nKluckman plays well with many traditional forms in this collection too, reminding us he is a puzzle man himself. Kluckman is well known for his devotion to the poetry community. He is an organizer of the 100 Thousand Poets for Change program, the creator of the world’s first Slam Poet Laureate program, and editor of Pedestal. He is also a two-time member of the Albuquerque National Poetry Slam Team and a recipient of the Red Mountain Press National Poetry Prize. This second book of poems by southwest poet Zackary Kluckman is worth picking up. It is a book of challenges met, made beautiful, and mended. Some of it is muscle but the whole of it is love.


September: a review by Mark Fischer

poetry by Katrina K Guarascio
photography by Gina Marselle

Review by Mark Fischer


September is a book in three parts, three phases of letting go. The majority of poems in this collection speak to fleeting moments, a restlessness in the character, a yearning for something –  more realized in exquisite experience of the current moment. The words cascade down the pages in short, clean lines making effective use of crisp white space that many poets underutilized. In this effect, I feel a sense of impermanence, like snapshots taken in temporary bivouacs on a road trip through young adulthood. The never-ending summer. The last days of youth.

SeptemberThere is sadness, insight, worry, and relief sprinkled throughout this collection. Ruminating on love amid campfire smoke or the morning breeze on clean sheets, I am able to feel the conflicts and contemplations. In “Impermanence” Guarascio expertly describes internalizing the past and what it means to not let go when she writes “Like a sunburn, I know you will absorb into me and fade into memory. You cut me under the skin.”  September is full of vivid images like this that develop into a cohesive flickering film of transition. The poet is ever seeking sense out of hardships, patterns in roadkill.

The photography that accompanies this collection is superb. Images are well paired with poems. The many super close-ups speak of parts, the shapes of the body, and match the introspection of the poems. Gina Marselle has a great eye for emotion and her work is a well chosen accent to the book. Both Guarascio and Marselle are teachers in New Mexico. It is something to appreciate to discover your children’s lives are being enriched by the likes of strong artists as these women.

September is a strong collection. It’s like a dreamy short film shot on 38MM with a soothing shoegaze soundtrack playing in the background. If you were to make your crush a poetry mix-tape, Guarascio would be on it – twice. Wake me up when September ends.

Guarascio is an active member in the poetry slam scene in Albuquerque. She is responsible for establishing a poetry and spoken word community in Rio Rancho and coaching a youth poetry slam team. She is the founder of Swimming with Elephants Publications which is bringing the talents of many exceptional spoken word poets to print. Order September: traces of letting go from Amazon or Createspace.

Cunt.Bomb. a review by Mark Fischer

Cunt Bomb Cover
by Jessica Helen Lopez

Review by Mark Fischer

Cunt. Bomb., the second collection of poems by nationally recognized southwest feminist poet Jessica Helen Lopez, is a small chapbook – coming in at a thin 33 pages. The content however, is anything but. As the title may tell you, this collection of words is explosive. The nine poems are well organized and read front-to-back as a manifesto, a recipe book, a howl across mountains in the night calling all to congregate in the sacred space.

CuntBomb Promo 1Nine facets of womanhood, from the feisty young grade school feminist to the embodiment of the Goddess Diana, this is the jewel at the center through which Lopez explores identity. Understanding the worship, celebration and exaltation of the feminine in every form appears to be the intent. The poet is embracing her sense of self and exploring her duty to teach self-love to women around the globe.

In this endeavor Lopez is quite successful. The images she conjures are strong and timely. In “Diana the Huntress,” she explores the horrifying murders of women in Mexico and the lone vigilante who fights back on long lonely bus rides as she writes, ”I fear no moon, Lady of Wild Creatures, La Cazadora worshiped by the womanly workers of Juarez.” There are no apologies here, no concessions, and that is what speaks most to the fidelity of this collection.


Jessica Helen Lopez is a member of the Macondo Foundation created by Sandra Cisneros, as well as a Chicana/o Poetics instructor at the University of New Mexico, a two-time Women of the World Poetry Slam Albuquerque City Champion and member of several city teams representing her home town at the National Poetry Slam. Her voice is singular, both sharp and sweet. Like every good storyteller you walk away from her performances both nurtured and haunted. This dichotomy comes through in this collection. One of the “30 Poets in their 30’s to Watch” according to MUZZLE magazine, Jessica Helen Lopez is well on her way to assuming her place along the front lines with the likes of fellow Chicana poets Cisneros, Ana Castillo, and Demetria Martinez. As far as “little black books” go – this is the one to choose.

Pick up a copy of Cunt.Bomb. on or CreateSpace.

Catching Calliope Book Release

Greetings and Salutations!

Catching Calliope FlyerYou are cordially invited to attend the book release for Swimming with Elephants Publications First Anthology: Catching Calliope Winter 2014.

Catching Calliope is a compilation of poetry from members and supporters of the Rio Rancho Youth Poetry Community.

During the March 8th edition of The Second Saturday Slam at Cafe Bella Coffee in Rio Rancho, you can pick up a copy for only $10. You can also get your copy on Amazon or CreateSpace if you will miss the evening festivities.

All proceeds from sales go to the Rio Rancho Youth Poetry Community.

Our goal is to sell 30 books at the release party to be able to pay for the New Mexico State Slam competition in May.

All contributors are entitled to a free copy which can also be picked up at that time.

We are fundraising in order to take the Sandstorm Slam Team to state, as well as other regional slams during the summer months, and ideally earn enough so we can register as an official non-profit.


Now Available: my verse, by Katrina K Guarascio & Shawna Cory

CoverA new collection of poetry and photography by Shawna Cory and Katrina K Guarascio, entitled my verse, has been released from Swimming with Elephants Publications.

Find this new collection on Amazon or CreateSpace

Learn more about this unique collaboration of art and verse by reading an except from the foreword, penned by Swimming with Elephants Publication author Jessica Helen Lopez.

An except from the forward:

When one woman creates we know this as spell casting.  When one or more of these female titans get together with the intent to produce art we call this act of goddess: splitting cells.  Lord help us all if they begin to shed clothes, vulnerabilities, secrets, traumas, and metaphors that bounce like agitated atoms.  This is the naked truth shook loose from words and physical form. This is poet Katrina K Guarascio and photographer Shawna Cory when they decided to comingle and author a book. 

my verse smallNow they say two women together cannot produce life, that zygote cannot be created without the gamete being fertilized by the sperm. They say fertilization is impossible without the ovum and the spermatozoa.  However, I dare any reader to peruse these pages and not feel that a milagro has taken place.  The whole world quaked when Katrina coupled with the indubitable photographer Shawna to birth the photopoetic collection that is, my verse.  Okay, maybe not the whole world, but I swear to you I felt tremors beneath my feet the first time I opened up the first drafts of the document on my laptop. The book itself is a more than adequate balance between written imagery and the image. The poems take the reader on a sojourn into the topography of modern womanhood and the photos serve to fill in the flesh of the land.  This is important work and it should be seen by all.  I have high hopes that it will.