In her debut collection The Beaded Curtain, Megan O’Reilly Green takes on the big questions. Whether pondering remnants of the Holocaust, the soul’s dimensions: Is it bigger than a bread box? Can you freeze it?, or an existential moment watching a boy comb a river for fish, this bold, inquisitive poet pays unflagging attention to the world’s everyday beauty and decay. The result is a collection of poetry that delivers the goods, line after standout line. — Michelle Bitting, author of Good Friday Kiss

What most grips me about Megan O’Reilly Green’s poetry is how unobtrusive Green is as poet. Even in her more personal poems she brings to mind Emerson’s “Transparent Eyeball,” which, to this reader, is a refreshing and delightful thing, particularly in a world where everyone seems to be parading their first person so stridently, aggressively, and unnecessarily. Instead of “follow me,” Green’s poetry is more “come and see,” and speaks to us as though through a beaded curtain, leaving many of life’s uncertainties uncertain, but always complicated and confronted in the proper places and ways. If you find yourself, as I do, wondering occasionally about the last time you were spoken to crucially, this collection will provide an excellent answer, and the answer will be more resounding after each reading. — Erik Campbell, author of Arguments for Stillness

Elizabeth Rees was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and received her B.A. from Wesleyan University (CT), and M.A. from Boston University, where she received a full fellowship and teaching fellowship. Her first chapbook, Balancing China, won the Sow’s Ear Press national contest, and was published in the spring of 1999. A second chapbook, Hard Characters, was published by March Street Press in the fall of 2002. Her first full-length collection of poems, Returning from Egypt has been a finalist in several national contests, including at Carnegie Mellon University Press and Ohio State University Press.

Elizabeth has published over 250 poems in such journals as: Agni, Kenyon Review, Partisan Review, River Styx, Northwest Review, Mid-American Review, and New England Review. She was a 1990 recipient of a Washington D.C. Commission for the Arts grant in Poetry and received a fellowship in poetry from the Montgomery County Council for the Arts (MD) in 1997. In 2002, she won two local contests, The first was from the Arlington County Arts Council (VA) “Moving Words” contest in which one of her poems appeared on buses in northern Virginia. The second was from the Montgomery County Arts Council (MD) “Artists’ Benches” contest in which three of her poems were engraved on benches in downtown Bethesda, Maryland. Her poem “Dig” won first prize in SWINK’s 2005 national contest and the poem “People of the Word,” won second prize in the Ann Stanford contest.

For 15 years, Elizabeth Rees has taught creative writing and literature full-time at universities including the U.S. Naval Academy, Johns Hopkins University’s graduate program in Washington, D.C., Howard University, Macalester College, Boston University and Boston College. Currently, she works as a Poet-in-the-Schools for the Maryland State Arts Council, teaches at The Writer’s Center and in the New Directions Psychoanalytic Writing Program in Washington, D.C., and serves as a writing consultant to PBS/Scholastic.

Alice Pettway’s Barbed Wire and Bedclothes explores the familiar and finds it all akimbo and sharp-elbowed. A daughter confronts her mother, conjuring her own fetal anger: “could you feel the pulse of my resentment?” and cringes at her mother’s “every glance, a confirmation of failure.” Love itself is a “struggle” here, “flint-sharp.” Even the body is at war with itself, menaced by mastectomy, threatening dissolution. And yet the rough-and-tumble of real life is rewarded by the knowledge that “those who have treasured / their battles and blunders / will never do battle alone.” These poems are terse, precise, evocative, and sensuous; to anyone grown timid or lazy or comfortable, they send a challenge: “cut the barbed wire now and chance the landmines.” — Philip Appleman

There are a lot of good things to say about the poems of Alice Pettway. Probably what sets them apart more than any other virtue is the subtle but insistent sense of irony they convey—one of the rarest and most valuable aspects of any art, but especially of poetry. — Miller Williams

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