Craig Finlay, in his debut poetry collection, The Very Small Mammoths of Wrangel Island, moves through Africa, the Middle East, and the American Midwest in his surreal poems that blend history, philosophy, and myth with personal narrative. He tells us about polar bears with poison livers, the evolution of miniature mammoths, Neanderthals who “created art,” fugitive slaves who were the first colonial settlers in North America, the development of chlorine gas as a weapon, and other bits of history threaded into poetry. The most moving poems are more personal. His narrator smokes and drinks to excess and struggles with sobriety. He tries to make amends: “l’m ready for you to tell me all the ways I hurt you. And by that I mean, I’m ready to sit and really listen. I won’t distract you with stories. Like how the color blue doesn’t appear anywhere in the Bible.”
Karol Nielsen is the author of two memoirs and two poetry chapbooks. Her first memoir was shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing in nonfiction. Her poetry collection was a finalist for the Colorado Prize for Poetry.