“Things We Couldn’t Say” Is a Powerful Book about Embracing Love and Letting Go

Latonya Pennington reviews Jay Coles’s THINGS WE COULDN’T SAY, whose authentic first-person narrator, Gio, explores the complexities of navigating trauma, life, and love as a Black, bisexual high school student.

“Tristan Strong Keeps Punching” Burns Bright and High

Latonya Pennington reviews the final book in the Tristan Strong trilogy, where the world of Alke collides with the real world, and protagonist Tristan learns how to integrate Black grief, Black joy, and his own anger.

“Getting By” Is a Thoughtful Story about Attraction and Personal Growth

Latonya Pennington reviews “Getting By” by Jaire Sims, a thoughtful Own Voices coming-of-age novel about attraction and personal growth from the perspective of an autistic gay teenage Black male protagonist.

“Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now” Is a Dark Story of Family, Trauma, and Resilience

Latonya Pennington reviews Dana L. Davis’s “Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now.”

The Afro YA

The Afro YA promotes black young adult authors and YA books with black characters, especially those that influence reviewer Latonya Pennington, an aspiring YA author who believes that black YA readers need diverse books, creators, and stories so that they don’t have to search for their experiences like she did.

Makers on Making

Makers on Making features printmakers, writers, knitters, crafters, painters, photographers, textile artists, and anyone else involved in art. These pieces delve into the psychology of making, the lessons we learn from success and (often more usefully) failure, and what it is to be a human authentically and emotionally involved as a maker in our world.

The Clash of the Titans: Beading, Art, and Incarceration

Writer Michael J. Moore on the power of art in incarceration.

National Poetry Month

National Poetry Month 2021

Amanda Gorman inspired many on January 20th, with her inaugural poem “The Hill We Climb.” With her words, her performance and presence, and her radiance, she invoked past orators and poets, referenced the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, and looked toward a collective future: “Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed / a nation that isn’t broken / but simply unfinished.” In his inauguration eve COVID memorial, President Biden said, “To heal, we must remember.”

2020 was a hell of a year. People have experienced traumas collective and personal; we have deepened our intimacies with each other, felt the divides deepen between ourselves and family, and learned new concepts like skin hunger and edging sorrow. For some of us, art has seen us through – for some of us, art has not been enough. Poetry cannot pay the rent or cover the groceries. A beautifully wrought line isn’t the same as holding someone’s hand or finger combing their hair. No words can make up for the systemic and structural negation of humanity or dignity or justice. But maybe, just maybe, opening spaces for language and imagery can let us see each other again – imagine proximity, touch, a held breath, inhabiting each other’s personal space limned with possibility.
At Brain Mill Press’s pop-up magazine for National Poetry Month, we’ll be sharing posts from poets & creatives that speak to the above theme, as well as inviting entries for our fee-free contest organized around the theme of Poetry as Remembering/Reckoning.

National Poetry Month Contest Winner 2021: Avalon Felice Lee

C. Kubasta shares Avalon Felice Lee’s “Gershwin & Sons” as the winner of our 2021 National Poetry Month contest, with shortlist poems by Sara Maher, Angelita Hampton, Mallika Khan, Deborah Pless, and Laya Reddy.

Appreciating the Process: Art Therapy, Poetry, and Grief

Alyssa Gruett shares insights into her process with art therapy, poetry, and grief.

2021 Editors’ Choice Poems: Week 4

Poetry selections from the final week of our 2021 National Poetry Month contest

Sentinel Species: Animals as Witnesses and Warnings

Chase Dimock on “sentinel species,” poetry, & our relationship with the natural environment.

Skein to Skein

Charles Valle on poetry, parenthood, and grieving in the era of late-stage capitalism.

2021 Editors’ Choice Poems: Week 3

Poetry selections from the third week of our 2021 National Poetry Month contest

National Poetry Month Spotlight: Novels in Verse

For National Poetry Month, Latonya Pennington recommends five YA verse novels by Black authors.

2021 Editors’ Choice Poems: Week 2

Poetry selections from the second week of our 2021 National Poetry Month contest

Disgusted & Enthralled & In Love: A Review of Louder Birds by Angela Voras-Hills

C. Kubasta reviews Angela Voras-Hills’s LOUDER BIRDS, a poetry collection that engages ideas of home, the corporeal, life, and loss.

Terrible Awful Beauty

Angela Voras-Hills writes about motherhood, anxiety, and consumerism, in verse and essay.