Saturday, July 24, 2021

Review of The Collection Plate by Kendra Allen

Cholla Needles’ editorial focus reads simply “Tight work that will leave a scar on the reader,” and any fan of tight work and its scars will want to wrap themselves in the pages of Kendra Allen’s The Collection Plate. Allen has already made a name for herself in the literary world with her award-winning book of essays When You Learn The Alphabet in 2018, but her words come alive in a different way in The Collection Plate. This new collection explores race and religion, sex and liberation from the fresh perspective of a young but experienced writer.

Many of Allen’s poems are inspired by her upbringing in Texas, such as “Practical life skills,” which details the memory of a fishing trip with her father. The descriptions feel nostalgic—“ We pull up to the dock with three picnic chairs as crickets chirp”— but there’s something darker simmering beneath the surface. Take the final stanza:

In dark matter water and wonder what it would be like to live away from

A cliff then You catch a blowfish and bang its head up against the concrete

On top of the dock we watch it die You didn’t have to kill it

You throw it in an empty cooler we continue hooking I share all your names.

“You didn’t have to kill it” has a satisfying sting, and that feeling is echoed throughout the collection. Each poem is dressed in layers of nostalgia, darkness, and resilience. This is especially apparent in the poems with religious overtones, such as “Sermon notes” and the five “Our Father’s house,” poems. In each of these, she criticizes the expectations Christianity thrusts onto its followers. “Most calvaries have dead people” highlights this theme of unwilling martyrdom, where Allen writes:


like Our Father

when he gives me his issues

places them in my spine lets me,

sew skin into skin without thread

and tells me to walk

to a city where i am given something more

than a man

whose obligation is to no one, not even

the Blood


As with the rest of her work, “Most calvaries have dead people” covers a lot of ground. Allen isn’t just questioning organized religion, she’s calling out the forced martyrdom of women, daughters, and BIPOC members of society, and she drives this point home with the poem’s final line, something between a question and an accusation: “how could you let me spill all over town”.

The Collection Plate is a glimpse into the future of poetry where, unbound by restrictions of form, the poet’s message is free to flourish, just as Allen’s has. She knows how to make every word work for her, and each line of each poem could stand on its own; fresh, raw, and ready to leave a scar.  

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Kate H. Koch writes poetry, flash fiction, and screenplays. Her work has appeared in Cholla Needles, Bombfire, Club Plum & other journals. Follow her at

Monday, July 12, 2021

Beate Sigriddaughter - CN Zoom Party 43!

What makes prose poetry poetry?

Beate Sigriddaughter reads from her new prose poetry book, Kaleidoscope, talks about  prose poetry, and shares some of her traditional poetry to supply a compare and contrast for us. Beate Sigriddaughter is the editor of Writing In A Woman's Voice. Recorded July 11, 2021 for Cholla Needles Zoom Party 43.

Beate Sigriddaughter - Intro

Beate reads Three Poems from Kaleidoscope

Why prose poetry for this project?

Beate reads two lyric poems
from Xanthippe and Her Friends

the difference between poetry and prose

Three more poems from Kaleidoscope

prose poetry and flash fiction

Beate closes with two poems

Click directly on book you're interested in =:-)

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Review of Tramping Solo by Fred Rosenblum

Tramping Solo by Fred Rosenblum
Fomite Press, 108 Pages

Tramping Solo tells the story of a war vet being released from the military in the insane year of 1969, when popular culture everywhere was against the military. Interestingly, Fred Rosenblum is able to manage these experiences without attempting to moralize or teach. As a writer, he prefers to simply paint a picture and allow the reader to feel the experience of one man through language. 

His images present strongly without the use of common jargon, i.e. ‘flashbacks' and ‘ptsd’: silver satanic angels with their ravaging Phantom strikes, to this very day still strafe me. Events are presented clearly and without comment or prejudice: The city snarled and bored its fangs when I came out into the street with my honorable discharge and my purple fucking heart — to be wrestled to the ground on the San Diego downtown sidewalk concrete pavement. . . or encrypted words/mantras seeping out/from the soft sponge of earth.

The story follows the vet through his travels along the Pacific Coast. The voice of the poet comes through clearly with specifically chosen imagery denoting a sense of place: a placid evening's radiant veil of embers appearing to respire on the lighted bluffs above Monterey Bay. We follow him through several years of physical duress and psychic turmoil: Unable to acquire a prosthetic psyche in Seventy-two, my pathetic character came unglued and I ramped-up my tolerance for goofballs and booze. 

Nature provides the release for both yet and reader during important transitions: the mating call of a horned owl growling at silhouettes framed on the face of a vanishing moon. . .

Also by Fred Rosenblum: Vietnumb, 2018: Fomite Press


Thursday, July 1, 2021

July Issue Released! Cholla Needles 55 =:-)


Cover Art by Comstock

The creative words within are from:

Iwuagwu Ikechukwu
Heather Morgan
James Marvelle
Toti O’Brien
Roger D. Anderson
Dora Kaskali
Kent Wilson
Dave Maresh
Greg Wyss
Bill Ratner
Jonathan B. Ferrini
Dave Benson