Small Fires Press is an independently owned and operated press, run by Friedrich Kerksieck in Memphis, Tennessee.
In this touching and often dark collection of poems, writers Emily Kendal Frey and Zachary Schomburg demonstrate an authentic chemistry. This marks the third time the pair have collaborated (Team Sad from Cinematheque and OK, Goodnight from Future Tense Books), and they’ve hit a now finely tuned pace. As the writing of poetry is traditionally a solitary act, it’s hard to imagine how these writers managed the ambitious task of collaborating. Occasionally ill-chosen words or inherently different voices seem inevitable. Yet neither occur in this well-formed chapbook. In one poem, “Night,” there is an almost eerie sense of the writers commenting on the collaborative process: “there is this language/ when I hear/ that sounds like Russian/ but is you saying/ here is a sail/ in English.” The poems also deal with the encroaching urbanization of nature, with images of a blue heron landing on a parking lot or an escalator fading away into sand. Many of the 17 poems in this collection could stand on their own and together they blend beautifully with rich staccato-like verses. The language is clear and concise, complementing wonderful imagery, such as in “The Space Between Burned Out Suns,” where they write of “a ferris wheel, between my legs,” or in “Little Handle” of “my hummingbird handle, ribs of what I know.” In the end, this small, roughly four-by-five inch package of poems feels more notebook than chapbook and, with titles such as “At Mom’s House,” the poems convey that fragmented, intimate quality. (R.D. Shaw)
Emily Kendal Frey and Zachary Schomburg, 44 pgs, Small Fires Press, smallfirespress.com, $50