Peach Picks: Things to Read This Week

by / Mar. 29, 2017 12am EST


Last week at Peach we published two photographs, entitled Beautiful With the Lights On and Vogue, by Penn State photography student Elise Derstine. Both photographs were composed with multiple exposures, adding a rich texture to the multifold layers of their meaning. In Beautiful With the Lights On, the eye follows the lines in the brick pattern and is immediately drawn to the artifacts in the corner of the room. Only later do we notice a semblance of spray-painted text on wood—a poem brought into the physical world, becoming object, that is, becoming public, subject now to weathering and erosion. Derstine has a knack for playing with light and lines in a gritty approach to beauty and decay.

Yesterday, we featured three short pieces from Eric Amling’s book of poems, From the Author’s Private Collection (Birds, LLC, 2015). The poems, from a section called “Rare and Special Interests,” showcase a cool and aloof tone as they navigate apprehension, indifference, and vice. In short and taut lines, the speaker is both witness and subject to his indifference; Amling writes, “I came out of the dust / Looking like this / So I don’t know / What’s your story.” Throughout the pieces, Amling’s quick turns of phrase keep the reader slightly off guard, making the speaker’s apprehension contagious. For more, come hear Eric read at our Spring EPISODE this Sunday at Sugar City.


Soft Focus
by Sarah Jean Grimm

Metatron Press, 56 pages (poetry)


Last week’s release of Sarah Jean Grimm’s debut collection of poetry, Soft Focus, has been greatly anticipated ever since it won the Metatron Prize in 2016. In Soft Focus, Grimm, who is herself a founding editor of Powder Keg Magazine and a publicist at Penguin Random House, finds poetry in the shimmering and bloodied magic of being alive in today’s world, and casts a soft, cutting eye at everything from celebrity and consumerism to green lawns and GMOs. At the heart of each poem lies dissatisfaction; in “Shapewear,” Grimm writes, “Who decides what the body absorbs / Versus what it reflects / And how are our bodies not / The most boring thing about us / By now.” Grimm’s words are fortified with a skepticism that has been softened by cautious hopefulness. In the age of detox diets and sea level rising, there is, at least, the IUD. Sarah Jean Grimm will headline our Spring EPISODE this Sunday at Sugar City.

“Peach Picks” is a column of literary news and recommendations written by the editors of Peach Mag, an online literary magazine based in Buffalo, New York. For inquiries, contact Rachelle at