Campbell McGrath’s Picasso/Mao is a short collection of poems told from the point of view of the two historical figures, spanning seventy-five years of history. McGrath is the author of twelve collections of poetry, and has been awarded Guggenheim and MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships. He is the Philip and Patricia Frost Professor of Creative Writing at Florida International University.
Jenna Bazzell’s Homeland describes a troubled family life, beginning with a drug deal gone bad, redeemed by time and the pleasures of the natural world. Bazzell won the 2010 AWP Intro Journal Award and an Honorable Mention from the Academy of American Poets Prize for poems included in the collection.
Martin Anthony Call’s The Fermi Sea explores a near future of urban decay, nanobots and holograms against a backdrop of lost love. Call earned his MFA in Creative Writing from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 2008.
Reviews of Floodgate Poetry Series Vol. 1:
This collection of chapbooks offers the reader a startling variety. Bazzell’s Homeland is a compelling blend of narrative coherence and lyric lift. The opening poem, “Bubba Pub,” offers us the DNA of her entire chapbook: poems anchored in place and relationship. The poem describes a drug deal the speaker goes on with her mother, and a line like “the long O of a gun barrel tunnels back to the torso of a man” both shows the horror of being robbed during the interaction and “how suddenly night takes on strangeness.” It has been said that literature should either make the familiar strange or the strange familiar; Homeland does both with alacrity. The Fermi Sea, by Call, explores a distinctly 21st-century theology, one where the Holy Ghost is turned holographically into the Hologhost. And Call makes use of poetic puns throughout his chapbook, all of which are charmingly and even philosophically attractive. And, finally, in Picasso/Mao, McGrath opens up history, art, and politics to the purview of poetry. The unlikely pairing of these two figures allows for many unexpected and exciting overlaps and divergences. Campbell offers us entry into the minds of his poetic subjects in persona poems that delight with their ambition. Floodgate brings together three poets of stunning range and ability.
—Okla Elliott, author of The Cartographer’s Ink and From the Crooked Timber
In Picasso/Mao Campbell McGrath perfects the persona in a series of historical poems that span seventy-five years. While the founder of Cubism decries “the idiocy of war,” the founder of the Red Army draws an egg, failing a class in life drawing. Ample, dazzling, and elegantly crafted, these poems demonstrate a great mind enacting other great minds. Oscar Wilde once wrote, “A mask tells us more than a face.” These McGrath poems tell us much more than biography—they demonstrate cultural shifts and perception, a sophisticated and compassionate worldview, the poet’s intellect shining through.
—Denise Duhamel, author of Blowout and Queen for a Day: Selected and New Poems, and guest editor of The Best American Poetry 2013
Moved to praise Jenna Bazzell’s poems, one could say they transcend the subject of a family relationship. But what the poems really work so ardently to do is stay—rooted in their rich Southern landscape, and true to the woman they remember. Continually uncovering new angles for approaching her lyric narrative sequence, Bazzell closes each poem with such well-crafted care that, turning a page, the reader is both surprised that more could follow and drawn further into material so deeply felt it will never be finished.
—Rose McLarney, author of Its Day Being Gone, winner of the National Poetry Series award