An Amateur Review of Sunfish, by Shelby Eileen

First published on Patreon on 14th June
I follow Shelby on twitter (@briseisbooks), and I really enjoyed her first collection Soft in the Middle so when she put out a call for anyone who wants an ARC, naturally I said yes.
I’m not a poetry reviewer and, despite writing so much of it myself, I know precious little about what makes one poem good or bad. But I do know that Sunfish is good.
It’s easy to read in that none of the poems punch you in the face (unlike Donika Kelly’s amazing collection Bestiary) but this is a good thing. It’s gentle, patient, meets you where you’re at rather than forcing to look.
When I’m reading Sunfish it’s not like talking to a friend, because I don’t know Shelby like that and it’s much too honest a book for that kind of presumed familiarity. It’s not like a conversation, because there is nothing for me to say back to her. This collection feels like sitting on a bench in an empty park in early spring and listening to a stranger talk. It feels like a moment of unearned intimacy that reminds you how important it is for humans to connect. It feels a little uncomfortable, because Shelby is all but a stranger and there’s nothing for you to say, because I’m sorry doesn’t ring true. It feels like understanding how she feels, but having no words for but that’s OK, because the only words needed are hers anyway.
Sunfish feels like silence. It’s the reminder that silence, loneliness and powerlessness aren’t the same thing. That not everything requires a response and sometimes you just need to listen. Sunfish makes you want to listen.
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Mercury with MoonPark Review

In the middle of last year I submitted a prose-poem to MoonPark Review. It was rejected. After picking myself up and dusting off my bruised ego, I noted that my rejection included an offer to submit again in future. So I logged that away and knew that when I had a better piece of short prose I would submit.

Then, late last year I wrote a story/poem/monologue called Mercury. I took it to a workshop where it was torn apart by the facilitator. After once again picking myself up and dusting off my bruised ego, I used the critique I got to almost completely rewrite it.

I submitted the new and improved Mercury.

It was accepted for their summer issue.

I highly recommend going back through prior issues too. There’s some good stuff there.

Thank you Mary Lynn and Lesley for giving me the encouragement I needed to submit a second time and for publishing this piece.

Find Mercury Here

Lipstick Stains with Djed Press

Sometimes you forget to read the submission guidelines properly. That will almost always result in that poem you so lovingly crafted being immediately deleted because editors simply don’t have that kind of time. But. once in a blue moon it can work in your favour.

Djed Press is an online magazine publishing creative work by PoC in Australia. I didn’t notice the “Australia” bit when I was submitting so I crafted my bio and cover letter, selected my pieces and sent them off.

Thankfully, their editor Hella was not only patient enough to read my pieces, but kind enough to publish me.

You can find Lipstick Stains here.

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/MazHedgehogPoet

This is really exciting!
I did a poll on twitter a few weeks ago and since there seemed to be a little bit of interest, I have decided to make some of my poems available to buy as PDFs on Etsy.
Currently there are just 3 booklets listed at less than £1.40 each. Expect more over the coming months.
All my Patrons get 20% off, if you need extra incentive to get signed up
Thank you so much for all of your support and I look forward to making more of my poetry accessible to people outside of open mics.

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