Twerk by Latasha N. Nevada Diggs


Genre: Poetry
Format: Paperback
Published by Belladonna*

I read Digg’s poetry in the anthology The &NOW AWARDS 3: The Best Innovative Writingand decided to make a list in my review of it of the authors I liked. For some reason, Diggs was the one I liked the most of everyone. The anthology was focused on experimental literature, so of course her poem, daggering kanji was quite eccentric. But what caught my heart was the fact that she was a polyglot. The only language that I am somewhat familiar with, that she had written in, was Spanish. I didn’t understand most of it, but I’m pretty sure that wasn’t what Diggs was expecting.

“dummy check dummy                  worth check check
dummy check                     my name check check dummy dummy
dummy check dummy            lavender lollipop dummy dummy check check
dummy check                            dumby dumb dumb dah…

from have you forgotten any personal property?

Twerk is a really odd work. The poetry didn’t have a consistent rhyme, but it did have a tempo. The spaces in between the words and paragraphs, the formatting of the stanzas, the whole structuring of Twerk  is a tribute and it contains the soul and rhythmic repetition of hip hop.

“k’k’kkrill       k’k’kk’kosher          k’k’kolohe        k’k’kk’kinkajou
       k’k’ku’ulala          k’k’ku’ulala           k’k’ku’ulala        k’k’ku’ulala
k’k’kunan        k’k’kk’kinky          k’kk’karma        k’k’kosdu
       k’k’ku’ulala          k’k’ku’ulala            k’k’ku’ulala        k’k’ku’ulala”

from daggering kanji.

Diggs writes in maybe over 5 languages. Sometimes she translates it, sometimes she doesn’t, leaving some words as sort of like the various puzzle pieces of her poems. That was the beauty for a lot of the poems, some of them didn’t really make much sense, meaning that you couldn’t really understand what it meant because she spoke in various tongues, maybe someone across the globe would understand. The beauty was the ambiguousness and the wonder.
            Poetry is more than the language of metaphors and similes, more than spats of imagery. The words themselves are poetry. They form that form minimalist scenes, compared to fiction where most of the time you’re supposed to paint a whole canvas. They are the linguistic portraits that come in a variety of forms, within the words and the structure that surrounds them. Diggs  has a more surrealist approach to her poetry, it is never emotive, instead it focuses on a structural and musical beauty, with various foreign languages and stanzas switching in different positions and dialects without warning and somehow still flowing coherently to make a linear poem.

“Good lord, you make my eyeliner sweat pika twins. 
Peep this joint, I ain’t feeling your vibe easy breezy.
No shogun coming from your tongue.
                          Mista Popo, mista Tom,
                                     you queasy.
Where’s your flying rug, homie?
Yama-uba bored, my agents gonna reward nada.
I shuffleboard smoochies in the land of the rising sun’s cosplay papa.

from mista popo™ hollas @ jynx 

There’s a lot of pop culture references throughout Twerk, such as 90s anime like Dragon Ball Z in the poems mista popo™ hollas @ jynx and who you callin’ a jynx? (after mista popo) the Japanese subculture called ganguro, and hip-hop hits from the 90s and early 2000s, one of the songs is titled “damn right      it’s betta than yours,” which is possibly a  reference to Kelis’ “Milkshake.” And the poem, (Boo Yaa) contains lyrics from the song “RID is coming” by a hip-hop called Boo Yaa T.R.I.B.E. After the last poem of the collection there is a section dedicated to explaining what languages some of the words belonged to and what stanzas or lines were appropriated. A lot of the poems in Twerk contain the words of about sections of websites, TV shows articles, and other people’s songs and poetry. It is if she did a collage poetry of her favorite songs, TV shows, and research ventures by  copying and pasting in Microsoft Word.

            Twerk is a brilliant work that pays tribute to the ever evolving world of technology and Black American culture. With the choppy writing and even the book design, Diggs poetry could be at times, glitchy and spasmodic. The front cover is somewhat reminiscent of  retro mod fashion, echoing Austin Powers to anybody who wasn’t born during that time but is familiar with parodies of that time. The collection contains a sort of fascination that echoes the kungfu frenzy generation. It is an avant-garde tongue twisting tribute of the world’s many people’s including the languages of indigenous peoples, reminding everyone that English isn’t the only way to speak in poetry.  
Rating: 5/5

Creep House: Horror Stories by Andersen Prunty


Genre: Horror, Surrealism, Bizarro
Format: E-book
Published by Grindhouse Press

Mr. Prunty is that writer that I would be scared to meet in real life. That sounds a little mean, but it’s my true feelings. (Did I write this before?) I read his The Warm Glow of Happy Homes months ago. I don’t remember exactly when, but I enjoyed it. It was a novella, it was short, gory, and thrilling. Now here’s a short story collection. It’s completely different. 

“The feeling of contentment would always be followed by the world crumbling beneath her feet.”

I wonder if Prunty is a huge fan of old horror movies. Because while reading this, I played the soundtracks, did the jump scare effects whenever my eyes came across the violence, and the innocent little girl voices. “Hey? What is that?” *Gets murdered.*

But like a lot of people stated, the stories were wrapped up a bit too fast. “Oh hey! Look I killed someone! Oh no someone punched me. But I survived. And I walked home like nothing happened. The end.” Just kidding that didn’t actually happen. But I can probably say the longer short stories were better. 

“The only mystery they had left her with was the mystery of who they were and what they were like. She didn’t expect them to be anything but mystery.”

And as much as I liked the first few short stories, it took a grand fall towards the end for me. I’m not sure if it was because I got tired of it or I was just getting really grossed out by it. Yeah, I said it. I got grossed out by a bizzaro book. The pedophilia, the fornication, the sacks of blood, it was just a little too much. There’s horror and grossness, but this reminded me of those people who have weird fascinations with snuff films and watching people die with pleasure. I guess, I just wasn’t in the mood for this one. I didn’t expect this to be this gross though.

“Really, it was nothing. Just a bad dream. Just a nightmare. And everybody knows nightmares end when we open our eyes.”

I guess I was too wimpy for this one. But I was reading this in the middle of the night and I cringed so bad at the last two stories. But eventually I got used to it and was like “meh,” for the rest. I did get some weird dreams though. 

Rating: 2.5/5

Crooked Roads by Alec Cizak (ADVANCED READER’S COPY)

Pages: 106
Genre: Noir
Format: E-book
Published by All Due Respect Books
This was sent to me in exchange for an honest review

All Due Respect has been publishing noir and hitting the genre repeatedly until it bleeds and smiles at them with crooked teeth. Yeah, really hard. They’re busting up the Kindle tops with pride.This collection consisted of mostly lower middle class or poor people getting into super difficult situations or ending in death or embarrassment. Of course, since it is noir, those people have committed crimes or are in a situation where one takes place.

“The creak of your car door slices into your ears and carves canyons in your bones. Did you think the girl at the Kwik Trip would look at you twice?”

But crime, cusses, and bloodshed isn’t the only thing in this story collection. Foolish love, wasted love, missed opportunities, and regrets plague the backgrounds of each story. There is immorality in the air, but somewhere in there is a little speck of humanity floating around, it probably landed in your ear drum or in your throat and you coughed it out. What I meant was that it’s a little hard to see.

Noir is kind of a weird genre and I noticed that while reading this collection. It’s a type of literature that works sort of like a thriller, where the reader is absorbed into a world filled with deviances and it makes them sweat and jitter, but it also has a human condition or “literary fiction,” aspect where the character measures their misfortunes with their fortunate moments, and then decide on whether or not everything is as bad as they thought it was. (Along with my lack grammar rules on this blog.)

“Well, Nikki, truth be told, this really isn’t your country. We tolerate you, when we don’t need the entertainment you provide, we send you back home or lay you down with the worms.”

Religion is also thrown in here too, much like Jake Hinkson’s The Deepening Shade. In the noir world, religion always seems to be that one huge conflict that just leaves everything shredded in five different shapes. Most of those shapes are guilty hypocrites. It dedicates what is right and wrong over and over in the ears to make a hypnosis that turns quite hypnotic, until it wears off, making a rabid beast. I’m talking about the story, “A Moral Majority,” where a priest gets an abortion for a young pregnant lover. He didn’t really commit violence, but he in a sense did, because he killed off life and betrayed all of the commandments of his church. 

“He closed his eyes and imagined himself a giant, stomping across the Minnesota countryside, cracking the Earth with every step.”

Crooked Roads is a collection of confessing all of the crimes people dream up in their heads of doing, but never actually do it. Instead, they project the fantasy in Grand Theft Auto. And if they ever do, they buckle down or get a whip to the behind. It has its humor here and there, due to some characters being sort of pathetic, but at the same, in their foolishness and unfortunate circumstances, you learn to empathize. Go outside or watch the news and then try to picture every detail, understand the deviance and motive of these crimes. The collection manages to entertain but also give that warm feeling (I sound like a masochist,) of knowing and experiencing something. Because noir is not just thrills and gunshots, well most of it kind of is from what I’ve seen so far, but Crooked Roads contained both the trope of noir, that I’ve seen so far, but also the “literary,” qualities. It contains the observations of people falling into deep holes of either “Whoa, you messed up big time, I kind of feel bad for you, here’s a bit of mercy” or “Dude, you’re such a jerk, so now here’s your flip.”

Favorite stories in the collection:

A Moral Majority

Little People

American Chivalry 

No Hard Feelings

Columbas Day

Rating: 4/5

Interview with Jennifer Stevenson

Well, hello there everyone! The writer interviews are back with Jennifer Stevenson, who wrote the book of poetry, The Journey to Peace. If you want to read some nice, heartfelt poetry, then say hello to this book. (I decided to leave out the numbers and the overabundance of pictures I did in the previous interviews because I’m pretty sure it created a lot of clutter.)

What do you think is the best in the process of writing? Just going through with it, slamming keys, getting everything down, or reading and editing?

To be completely honest with you, I have done multiple variations of all of the above.  I only say that because it is a process of elimination to see what works best for you.  I get a thought an idea in my head then I figure out what type I am trying to work and then I just write.  This is a free flowing process.  I tend to do this on a daily or weekly basis.  Sometimes actually most times the body of work isn’t finished but later I go back and edit.  I add or finish and fine tune my work.
Who is your writer crush?

I have several writer crushes.  Poets: Louise Gluck, Nikki Giovanni, Maya Angelou and Pablo Neruda.  Fiction Writers: John Green, Jhumpta Lahiri and Stacy Hawkins Adams.
Do you have a soundtrack when you write? if so, what albums or artists? If silence, where’s your comfy writing spot?

I don’t have a soundtrack when I write.  I like silence…not necessarily silence, but I like nature sounds or natural sounds.  I hear kids playing outside, birds chirping, someone cutting their grass etc.  Those sounds just are feel good sounds to me.  I like to write upstairs in my house.  I’m not really sure why because I write in my journal then type it up later so I could write just about anywhere.
What is that one book you read over and over, or read portions of? That one book you will save from a fire?

I read Loving Donovan by Bernice McFadden almost every year either in its entirety or just Chapter one.  It is about a lost love.  I think it is so important to nurture and appreciate what we have when we have it so we don’t have to create situations in our lives that make us feel like this.
Who’s that one writer(s) you wish everyone would shut up about?

E L James.  I read 50 Shades of Grey.  I actually read both parts for a book club.  I wasn’t impressed…it wasn’t shocking or anything.  I definitely don’t see the feminist ties some people were trying to allude to.  I didn’t see the movie and don’t plan on watching it either.
What book to movie adaptation disappointed you greatly?

Harry Potter.  I love love the books, but I guess so much was left out in the movie version and the imagery was just not what I pictured.
What book(s) is on your current reading list? (It could be on or in your Goodreads, on your night table, book bag, purse, etc.)

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah at work, Pretty Girls in The VIP by Daaimah S. Poole in the car on CD and at home Aimless Love by Billy Collins.
What was the worst thing you have ever written?

I’m my own worst critic so that is a hard question.  For me a body of work is bad when the message I’m trying to convey isn’t received in the manner in which I intended or hoped it would be.  I have several pieces of work that meet that criteria.  My challenge is to go back and to re-work them to the point where I can share them and be happy with the feedback.
When working on whatever writing project you’re on, do you focus on a schedule of words counts, pages, or just finishing that one chapter? For example, I’ve read that most writers would just write 1,000 words a day.

I give myself concise deadlines.  I work best that way.  I need a rough draft by such and such a time.  I need to do a first edit by this time and then I need final revisions by this date.  I make a timeline.  My first book took me about 8 years to put together off and on of course.  The next book will be released much sooner.
What’s that one book you wish you wrote? There was a guy, I don’t remember his name, but I heard somebody talking about him, who rewrote F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, every word. Just so he could feel what it is to write a hit novel.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
How long have you been writing?

 I have been writing for a little over 20 years.  I got a poetry assignment in the 4th grade and I have loved to write ever since.
What do you prefer in reading and writing? A character driven or plot driven story?

I identify most with characters.  I like to read stories where characters drive the plot.
Do you write during the day or night?

I write mostly during the day.  I am no night owl by any stretch of the imagination.
Have you self-published or traditionally published a book (small press or Big Four publishers) or are you in the process of doing that? If so what’s it about? If you haven’t published anything, but was published in a literary magazine or anthology, talk about that.

I decided to self-publish through CreateSpace because it gave me the most freedom, it was simple and it had very good reviews.  For my first book I wanted to be involved in each fact of putting the book together.  I wanted to choose the cover, pick the arrangement of poetry as well as to edit my work. The process of marketing has been an undertaking but I’m so excited.  I have had so much support from my followers on Google and Twitter it has been amazing!  I also had a very successful Book Launch Party where I sold a good number of books.  The word is getting out there now as a result of my physical event and I also have a feature event coming up in June and in July I will be selling my book at the Harlem Book Fair.  I want to start working on my next book in June.  I plan to self-publish all my books.  I’m not sure how many I will write but I am off to an excellent start.


Liebster Award


I decided to do this. It’s a little too late though. I don’t think I’m going to have any new book reviews anytime soon, so I will just post a little post here and there to keep it alive. I’ve been pretty darn busy and reading at a very slow pace. I don’t even think I will complete my Goodreads Reading Challenge. Yeah, I know, quality over quantity, but I would like to finish unread books that I currently own. Now here’s the real point of this post, Julianne from Outlandishlit nominated me for this award. Thank you! Sorry for doing this so late. (I’m so lazy I copied and pasted everything, so this will all look weird when I post this.) EDIT: Never mind, I fixed it.

The Rules
  1. Make sure you thank and link back the person who nominated you.
  2. List 11 facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions put forward by whoever nominated you.
  4. Ask 11 new questions to 9 bloggers. (They must have less than 200 followers on Bloglovin’ or their preferred method. You cannot re-nominate the blog that nominated you.)
  5. Go to their blog and inform them that they have been nominated!

11 Facts About Me

1. I’m going to be a Sociology major. I’m not very interesting. I might do Library Science/Information Science as a Masters. (I heard people do Biology and then do their Masters in Library Science.) If not I will end up doing something else.

2. I’ve learned Spanish throughout most of my life. I’ve forgotten and wish to learn again. I learned Basic I and II Mandarin. I’m now learning American Sign Language.

3. I’m 5’2 or 5’3. I don’t know my own height. That’s how wonderful I am.

4. I’ve written two reviews that were published online. This one and This one. I’ve also had my reviews blurbed on CCLaP. (The second one I did under a pen name because family members don’t know I do this book reviewing thing.)

5. I’m going to publish a zine very soon. I hope to make lots of zines. And I have a crazy dream, I want to start a small press one day.

6. I yap a lot online but outside I’m pretty quiet and stick to myself.

7. I get allergies very easy. It hasn’t happened much recently, but I used to wake up blowing my nose with tears coming out of my eyes every morning.

8. I’m a New Yorker. Born in Brooklyn, but like a lot of them, I ended up moving and living in suburbia as a Sophomore in high school. 

9. I’m trying to gain back my graphic design skills, but I still stink at it.

10. I’m very fond of folk, neo-classical, and ambient music. One day I’m listening to Grindcore, the next day I’m listening to piano.

11. I never read Harry Potter and I don’t feel like finishing Game of Thrones. 

Questions she asked me

1. Do you write in books?
No, but I recently started underlining sentences I like and bending the pages. Yep, I got over my obsession with not dog earing my pages.

2. What two genres would you say represent your life?
Magical realism or surrealism, the dreams I get are wild. Literary fiction or Coming of Age, because I’m still growing and discovering myself.

3. How do you feel about ARCs?
I don’t mind them, it’s cool to read and review books before everyone else does.  But the only thing I don’t like, this mostly has to do with electronic ARCs, is that they are riddled in typos and the formatting is bad. 

4. Would you take your ex back if they asked really really nicely? Can I call them and tell you what you said? JK: What’s your least favorite animal?
My least favorite animal is this crap or any creepy crawler of the ocean.

5. What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read?
Oh my god, I can’t remember. The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks? Maybe, The Vines by Christopher Rice?

6. What song was most recently stuck in your head?
uuuh, this weird song. Gyroscope by Boards of Canada.

7. Do you listen to podcasts? Which ones?
I used to listen to Other People and I heard one episode of read poetry and eventually die. 

8. Do you feel a heavy sense of regret settling across all of your life and the choices you’ve made? KIDDING, who’s your ~*~celebrity crush~*~? 
Hmmmm, Hmmmmm, HMMMM, Ezra Miller and honestly I really don’t know. Jordan Gavaris and Tatiana Maslany from Orphan Black.

9. What was the best part of your day today?
When I got a package of books I ordered. MW by Osamu Tezuka, Mira Corpora by Jeff Jackson, TwERK by Latasha N. Nevada Diggs. (That last book’s title is actually typed like that. I just realized I’ve typed it wrong in other places.)

10. What’s your favorite thing to do when it’s warm out?
I like to take walks.

11. Since it’s pseudo-St. Patrick’s Day today, what’s your favorite drink? (alcoholic or non-acoholic if you don’t live that wasted college student life)

My favorite is Snapple and Ice teas. I also like Coffee and sometimes drink decaffeinated coffee in the late afternoon.

And well this was a lot more fun than expect. But I have no idea who to tag with this. So I think I will just leave it like the evil human being I am. 

The Louisville Problem by C.S. DeWildt


Pages: 58
Genre: Noir, Novella, Southern Literature
Format: E-book
Published by Bartleby Snopes Press

C.S. Wildt is one of All Due Respect’s authors, his book, Love You to a Pulp, was published not too long ago and here is a novella by him. It’s short and not so sweet, more like salty. And the story is straight and simple, it’s about a guy, who’s sleeping in bed with his boss’ daughter and wife after he decided to kill him one day, that is making plans on escaping the town. 

“Where I come from a man asks you to meet him alone at midnight, you know you aren’t getting what you’re promised. How you going to believe the man that robbed you blind? Huh?”

It’s quite short and so far, for what I’ve read for noir, this is nothing new. It’s not particularly bad, but it’s nothing that has blown my mind. I knew what was going to happen, the main character was going to end up not really getting exactly what he wants. Some little twist was going to happen and there was going to be a lot of blood shed. 

However once again that doesn’t mean it is not something to enjoy. The prose subtly contains that quirky bounce of Southern talk and the same morbid beauty of disgusting humanity that is usually in these noir novels. Humans who are stinky and vile. They like apple pie though, but that sweet taste in the belly won’t make much of a difference. 

Rating: 3/5

All Men Are Liars by Alberto Manguel


Pages: 206
Genre: Spanish Literature (Argentina), Literary Fiction
Format: Paperback
Published by Riverhead Books

It’s been a long while since I’ve read something in its physical form. And honestly, I’m glad I’m back because I miss it a lot. This book came from a Bookoutlet order from over a year ago and it’s some of the shortest books that I have in my unread pile. But I kept picking it up and putting it down for some reason. During those times, I guess I just wasn’t in the mood for it. This novel is a bit hard to get into, but once you get comfortable with it, you will freaking love it. I took this novel with me during a trip to New York to attend a bridal shower. It was totally worth it, it was hard to let go after twenty pages or so, or maybe because I was just bored of listening to my music. 

“It’s strange how, during a dictatorship, words become infected by politics, lose their nobility, and start to lie about themselves. The tongue is a sly little muscle, and goes wherever it likes. The nose, on the other hand, is like a loyal dog.”

The novel is all about one guy, Alejandro Bevilacqua, he was a South American writer that was found murdered. One of the main characters, Terradillos, I don’t remember his first name, interviews some people that happen to know this guy, in order to write an autobiography of the elusive writer. Does this all sound familiar? (Psst, The Savage Detectives

“I know that we are all fools in love, that we let ourselves create plausible ghosts in place of our loved ones. Or rather, we create a ghost which enters the solid person we see in front of us, inhabiting him, looking back at us from behind his eyes.”

That’s basically the whole novel. Terradillos interviews some people or reads the letters of other people who knew him. There’s also a narrative of somebody who was around during the time of Bevilacque’s murder, he was actually the cause of it. But I guess I can rule his death as an accident. I don’t really have much to say since lately I have been writing these blog posts a little too late. But Manguel is a fairly popular writer and there is nothing wrong with short reviews, so I guess I can let this one go. 

“Those deaths that take place out there in the world, those hundreds of thousands of deaths that swamp us every day – they’re insubstantial in their vast anonymity.”

All Men Are Liars gets its title from a quote of a psalm, you find out in the first page of the book. The title is quite fitting for the plot. Each part or chapter of the novel is a different perspective and each perspective tells a different story of who Bevilacqua is. And what makes this interesting is that nobody, including the interviewer and the reader, has absolutely no idea if whether or not any of these stories are true. Everybody including the elusive writer is a liar. And that’s what’s so great about this novel, how it shows that everyone you know has a weird, twisted vision of who you are. How your existence can tell more than one story, hundreds more than you realize. 

Rating: 5/5