Mike James Reviews “Erotic” by Alexis Rhone Fancher




Mike James Reviews


By Alexis Rhone Fancher


Some poets bring a very cerebral enjoyment. Think of the pleasure of watching John Ashbery’s mind work as he leaps from surprise to surprise, tossing out great lines as extravagantly as a child tossing candy from a parade float at Christmas time. A reader comes away from his work with a voyeur’s amazement akin to watching a skilled acrobat do trick after trick.

Alexis Rhone Fancher’s work offers a different enjoyment. Though her poems display tremendous skill, it’s the stand out nearness of her images and the relatability of her stories which are most striking. She writes about break ups and disappointing relatives, about first lusts and “the regret that hides outside.”

As the title suggests, this collection is broadly concerned with sex. There’s a lot of it, with men and women. The narrator seems aware of every desire and records them with vividness. Her often long titles are a lot of fun and prepare the reader for what’s ahead. For instance, the collection’s second poem is titled, “Tonight I Will Dream of Anjelica, My First Ex-Girlfriend, Who Taught Me the Rules of the Road…” The title ties into Angelica’s T-Bird and what takes place there, which is a lot. The narrator tells us, “I’ve always been driven to sin.”

She writes poems about one night stands where, “We are each bodies, hard-wired for pleasure, / destined for momentary blooming / then extinction.” And she writes poems about relationships which linger past their shelf life. She tells us, “Tonight I am ripe for forgiveness.” She tells us, “We had a history / all dead ends.”

What’s most exhilarating about this collection is the number of risks it takes. So many of these poems would not work for less talented poets. Fancher is fearless in her approach to subject and form. This collection contains prose poems and free verse. It contains litanies and Americanized haiku. Fancher reinvents them all.

One of the best poems in the collection, “White Flag”, is based on an Edward Hopper painting. Fancher adds a sensuality to the occupants of Hopper’s world. Loneliness is what can come the night after a hook up or during the weeks after a break up. She tells us “No one paints loneliness like Edward Hopper paints me, missing you, apologies on my lips.”

Thankfully, no apologies are needed for these stunning, life-filled poems.


Erotic; New & Selected by Alexis Rhone Fancher
New York Quarterly Books, 2021
Poetry, $21


About the Author: Mike James makes his home outside Nashville, Tennessee. He has published in numerous magazines, large and small, throughout the country. His 18 poetry collections include: Leftover Distances (Luchador), Parades (Alien Buddha), Jumping Drawbridges in Technicolor (Blue Horse), and Crows in the Jukebox (Bottom Dog), He has received multiple Pushcart and Best of the Net nominations.


More Reviews by Mike James:

Mike James reviews Mingo Town & Memories by Larry Smith

Mike James reviews “Dead Letter Office: Selected Poems” By Marko Pogacar

Mike James reviews Beautiful Aliens: A Steve Abbott Reader and Have You Seen This Man? The Castro Poems of Karl Tierney

Dolores Mildred Batten: “A Review of WARBLES, by Alex Z. Salinas”


Dolores Mildred Batten:

A Review of WARBLES, by Alex Z. Salinas 


The making of poetry is a painstaking process. The writer, soul bared in blood on print or papyrus pages, places their words into the cosmos of the book; the universe of the IMMENSE contained in the small, on the off chance that someone might get “it”: both the medium and the message (McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man). That is the impulse behind writing: the Promethean promise of both creation and destruction (“Mountain smoke”, 12)—in words, at once both solemn and unapologetic, that rip through your heart strings—what makes you smile, makes you angry. Makes you feel. So, if in this review, you are looking for an explication into the worlds of literary criticism and critical theorem that can be applied to Alex Z. Salinas’s words, you will not find it “hear” (read that again: this point is correctly spelled). What you will find, however, is a reviewer who is in awe, a fellow human who is in yearning, and a fellow writer who is taken aback, absorbed in Alex’s warbling work into the crevices that people do not usually dig, because “we all seek warmth / in old footsteps” (“Needles”, 19; 7:18-19); a promise buried under the rocks that people seldomly overturn.

This is the journey that author Alex Z. Salinas’ poetry collection, WARBLES, takes you on, like a Kerouac-esque trail of tears and tears (pronounced tares). It is a disjointed look inside the soul of the tortured and talented poet, and it is one that deserves our attention.

And that’s the real feat. As the poetry editor of the San Antonio Review, Alex’s job is to read, reject, and revise several authors’ words. I, too, as the essay editor of Plath Profiles, the only journal in the world specifically dedicated to the poetry and prose of Sylvia Plath, know this position well. But in that respect, I have always been of the school of thought that it is not for the editor of an academic journal, webzine, or a newspaper, for that matter, to judge another’s writing, but for the writer of the work to write, and re-write, and then write some more, or as Alex would say, “Do it. Do it every day. Every hour. Every half-hour. Every second, in your head” (“21 tips to better writing”, 55; 1: 1-2). Though you may not be taken with every poem from the writ of Alex’s hand, that is simply because, that one there—it was not meant for you. Soaking the salt of our wounds (“Salt”, 9), seeing sports as more authentic than religion (“TV religion”, 21-22), even speaking to specters in “Apparition” (14), you, the reader, are invited to eavesdrop in on his special world; take what you want, and leave the rest. Thus, Alex Z. Salinas makes a name for himself as a seasoned writer and a newcomer to the compilation poetry book scene, by breaking the boundaries of what poetry “looks like” and forcing us to confront the “warbles” which lie and lie within ourselves. Continue reading “Dolores Mildred Batten: “A Review of WARBLES, by Alex Z. Salinas””