by Emily Skaja
Graywolf Publishing | 2019 | poetry
In Brute, Emily Skaja’s first full-length collection of poetry out now with Graywolf, the speaker of the poems delves into her past and shares intimate details of an abusive relationship. The speaker explores the connection between sex, violence, and gender while weaving together elements of the natural world. As the collection transitions from section to section, we witness the speaker growing and becoming further and further removed from the relationship. Skate takes us on a journey of hopelessness, blame, and the feeling of finally coming out on the other end. “There comes a point when you have to hold the man responsible for what he did,” Skaja writes. “I have decided it’s degrading to say I let him.” The speaker beautifully comes to the realization that it was never her fault, pointing to the cycle of abuse. From here, the collection leaves readers hopeful: “We’re almost a whole shadow now from far away.”
The City of Folding Faces
by Jayinee Basu
Lanternfish Press / 2019 / fiction
What would it mean to live life in a constant state of astonishment? This is the question that drives Jayinee Basu’s debut novella The City of Folding Faces, out now from Philadelphia’s Lanternfish Press. Drawing from the rich and detail-oriented world of hard science fiction, Basu describes a near-future world where science is dominated by study of the Ruga, a new class of citizenry made up of people experiencing dimensional dysphoria after playing Roulette, a “game” that allows them to experience a million lifetimes at once. Once you check off the usual sci-fi boxes—a secretive research facility called the Casino, body modification surgery, a commentary about the commodification of daily experience reminiscent of Philip K. Dick’s Ubik—the novel reveals itself for what it truly is: a story about how we communicate (or can’t) with the person we love the most. Basu’s ability to simultaneously inhabit the languages of technological advancement, scientific research, and poetic soliloquy in The City of Folding Faces is transporting, as when describing how Mara sees herself in her post-Roulette reflection: “a globular tube of automatic behaviors punctuated by nodes of decisions glowing like endlessly reflective jewels.” I’m astonished by the beauty of it.
Honey Surviving Oil
by Chan Plett
Self-published / 2016 / poetry
“I’m an opportunistic voyeur,” Chan Plett says in a poem called “Voyeur,” “so that I might take something I don’t own / just for a moment.” Honey Surviving Oil is alone with you, dripping with this sentiment. The climate of each poem is so vivid and rich in texture that you become rushed with seasons that do not belong to you. But Plett wants you to join them in their reverie, to touch what they have touched, and feel comfortable in doing so. Every single tide, quiver, bedroom, and breath that they romance over is a gift to their readers of a home away from home when you need it most. “I was once the honey / Now, I am the oil that must survive.”
“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 the editors at firstname.lastname@example.org.