Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Book Reviews: “The Almost Sound of Snow Falling” & “Mother Russia”

“The Almost Sound of Snow Falling” largely is concerned with the notion of masculinity. “Mother Russia” recounts that journey and simultaneously explores the author's relationship to her mother and to motherhood in general.



  

In his “Considering Chapbooks: A Brief History of the Little Book,” writer Noah Eli Gordon posits that “From the 16th to the 19th century, chapbooks flourished as a locus of popular culture, religion, folklore, myth, history, poetry, and story; for many, they were the sole link connecting them to the events of the day, and, implicitly, to a sense of personal identity.”

Generally composed of 10 to 30 pages in stapled wraps, the modern chapbook may not be as ubiquitous as it once was, but these concise literary missives continue in a popular format for small publishing houses and micro-presses, particularly in the publishing of poets.

There is a misleading stillness to the poems in Robert Walicki’s The Almost Sound of Snow Falling. Walicki writes measured, thoughtful lines that give his work a feeling of surface calm, akin to that of a deep lake before the heavy winds come and shock the shoreline with crashing waves. Lines such as, “It’s like the air created by a door when it’s closing,/when another person shuts it, that one last look” suggest a peaceful scene, the mundane act of closing a door, but here it’s the riled air and that “one last look” that unsettles the reader. This is Walicki’s great achievement, the subtle ruptures in everyday occurrences that expose profound emotional depths in the blue-collar lives he explores.

“The Almost Sound of Snow Falling” largely is concerned with the notion of masculinity. Many of the finest poems here take place at work where “men gathered/in the blue denim morning,/full of coffee and rough talk” and where physical labor translates directly into human necessity, “Each 15 x 20 room we do is a cable bill, each bathroom ceiling,/a steak dinner.” The speaker of these poems confesses in “Cowboy” that, as a child, “I would practice being a man for hours,” but the social expectations of manliness never quite sit comfortably with him. Throughout this collection, Walicki asks, “But how can this be enough?” and with each poem that question creates ever larger, more devastating waves.

In July 2006, Kelly Scarff and her mother took part in a missionary trip to a Russian orphanage. Mother Russia recounts that journey and simultaneously explores Scarff’s relationship to her mother and to motherhood in general. Scarff writes, “She is over my head, behind me, inside my belly./My mother is shaking and shaking her way out/of my belly.” This contentious relationship finds focus in Scarff’s interactions with Yulia, a young orphan girl who arouses maternal feelings, “If I could reach you,/I’d give you a home,/your own bedroom, a bus stop.” Scarff follows that wistfulness with a recognition of her own limitations, “But we both know it’d be easier/to give you the moon.”
 


Photo: Shutterstock

 

Speak Up
Sept. 18/ Ann M. Martin is the creator of the bestselling series The Baby-Sitters Club, which numbers more than 300 titles (although Martin did not write all of them) and spawned a feature film and television series. Expect her also to talk about her spin-off to Betty MacDonald’s beloved Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books starring the title character’s niece Missy Piggle-Wiggle at her appearance at the Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures series. (Carnegie Library Lecture Hall, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland; 412/622-8866, pittsburghlectures.org)

Sept. 17/ The Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council provides educational programs for 4,600 adults and families every year. This includes tutoring, classes for speakers of English as a second language and high school equivalency diploma prep. Search & Sip in the Strip District is an exciting scavenger-hunt fundraising event that invites teams of two to “complete fun challenges and solve clues throughout a 2-mile portion of the Strip District.” Refreshments will be available after the competition at Bayardstown Social Club at this 21+ event. (3008 Penn Ave., Strip District; searchandsip.com
 

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Stop Using Uber and Lyft, Renting a Bike is Better

You'll save money and have an easier time hopping between neighborhoods on a Healthy Ride bicycle.

America’s “Gratest” Celebration of Cheese is Coming to Pittsburgh

Sample cheese of every rind during the American Cheese Society’s annual Festival of Cheese.

The 400-Word Review: Skyscraper

If you want "Die Hard" with half the brains but three times the building, the new Dwayne Johnson flick will do a passing job.

A Pop-Up Bar in Pittsburgh that Serves a Sober Alternative

Empath provides the vibe and social space of a bar, as well as stepped up beverage service ... without the alcohol.

Watch: 12 Questions with WTAE's Sally Wiggin

The WTAE anchor was voted Best Journalist by readers of Pittsburgh Magazine. She answers 12 random questions ranging from her most memorable vacation to who should portray her in a movie.

Tax Credit Brought Mister Rogers Flick to Pittsburgh

The granting of the credit means the majority, if not most of the movie starring Tom Hanks, will indeed be shot in the Pittsburgh area.

Compelling World Cup Worth a Periodic Embrace

The competition is as fierce as the fans are passionate and both can be appreciated without a firm grasp of the details.

Jeff Goldblum Day is Causing a Stir in the ’Burgh

Local venues will be celebrating the native actor Friday with Goldblum-themed merchandise and events.

Willow Restaurant in the North Hills Lands a New Chef

Aaron Allen comes to Willow by way of 2-star Daniel in New York City. Plus, Greta Harmon joins the staff of the Ohio Township hideaway as the restaurant's new bar manager.

Pittsburgh Developer Offers Location for Riverfront Swings

A developer in the South Side may fulfill KDKA anchor Ken Rice’s wish for shaded benches along the city’s riverfronts.

Head to the North Hills for Two Blooming Garden Tours

The Wexford Garden and Pond Tour and the Southern Butler County Garden Club tour both take place this weekend.

I Do, Now Let’s Have Some BBQ

A five-course meal doesn’t fit with every wedding. These laid-back couples opted for casual — and delicious — cuisine perfect for their outdoor and barn receptions.

Expert Opinions on How HQ2 Could Change Pittsburgh

From jobs to housing to technology, six areas which would be impacted if Amazon chose Pittsburgh for its HQ2.

The 400-Word Review: The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter

The Netflix exclusive Josh Brolin flick is pleasant enough, but light on laughs.

The 400-Word Review: The First Purge

The prequel to the horror series has plenty to say. It's just no good at saying it.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


America’s “Gratest” Celebration of Cheese is Coming to Pittsburgh

America’s “Gratest” Celebration of Cheese is Coming to Pittsburgh

Sample cheese of every rind during the American Cheese Society’s annual Festival of Cheese.

Comments

Watch: 12 Questions with WTAE's Sally Wiggin

Watch: 12 Questions with WTAE's Sally Wiggin

The WTAE anchor was voted Best Journalist by readers of Pittsburgh Magazine. She answers 12 random questions ranging from her most memorable vacation to who should portray her in a movie.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
A Pop-Up Bar in Pittsburgh that Serves a Sober Alternative

A Pop-Up Bar in Pittsburgh that Serves a Sober Alternative

Empath provides the vibe and social space of a bar, as well as stepped up beverage service ... without the alcohol.

Comments

Willow Restaurant in the North Hills Lands a New Chef

Willow Restaurant in the North Hills Lands a New Chef

Aaron Allen comes to Willow by way of 2-star Daniel in New York City. Plus, Greta Harmon joins the staff of the Ohio Township hideaway as the restaurant's new bar manager.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Six Underrated Kennywood Rides You Need to Try Again

Six Underrated Kennywood Rides You Need to Try Again

Leave enough time in your next visit to Kennywood to revisit some old favorites and these underrated gems.

Comments

The Five Best Spots to Get Pittsburgh-Themed Merchandise

The Five Best Spots to Get Pittsburgh-Themed Merchandise

Looking to show off your Pittsburgh love? Get your favorite city printed on basically anything at these local shops.

Comments


Stop Using Uber and Lyft, Renting a Bike is Better

Stop Using Uber and Lyft, Renting a Bike is Better

You'll save money and have an easier time hopping between neighborhoods on a Healthy Ride bicycle.

Comments

Five Essential July Events in Pittsburgh

Five Essential July Events in Pittsburgh

Parking-lot punk, polished Potter and other July attractions.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Compelling World Cup Worth a Periodic Embrace

Compelling World Cup Worth a Periodic Embrace

The competition is as fierce as the fans are passionate and both can be appreciated without a firm grasp of the details.

Comments

Pirates Can Be Show Stoppers if They Follow Brault's Lead

Pirates Can Be Show Stoppers if They Follow Brault's Lead

A Broadway musical about the life and times of the Pittsburgh Pirates? The idea might not be as farfetched as you think.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: Skyscraper

The 400-Word Review: Skyscraper

If you want "Die Hard" with half the brains but three times the building, the new Dwayne Johnson flick will do a passing job.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter

The 400-Word Review: The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter

The Netflix exclusive Josh Brolin flick is pleasant enough, but light on laughs.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
I Do, Now Let’s Have Some BBQ

I Do, Now Let’s Have Some BBQ

A five-course meal doesn’t fit with every wedding. These laid-back couples opted for casual — and delicious — cuisine perfect for their outdoor and barn receptions.

Comments

Want Unique Wedding Photos? Track Down the Furries

Want Unique Wedding Photos? Track Down the Furries

Anthrocon returns this weekend for its 22nd annual convention. Here’s the story of one local couple who took advantage of the fact their wedding coincided with the annual gathering.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Head to the North Hills for Two Blooming Garden Tours

Head to the North Hills for Two Blooming Garden Tours

The Wexford Garden and Pond Tour and the Southern Butler County Garden Club tour both take place this weekend.

Comments

Cocktails in the Garden: How to Plant a Happy Hour

Cocktails in the Garden: How to Plant a Happy Hour

Plant and grow the ingredients you need to make a fresh summer drink.

Comments