Poetry Review: Before the Big Bang Makes A Sound

by Carolynn Kingyens

Publisher: Kelsay Books
ISBN: 978-1-950462-69-8

In a stunning debut Before the Big Bang Makes a Sound, Carolynn Kingyens unravels a modern day dialogue between those things we savor and those things we despise in ourselves. The collection of poetry is all at once a still life to understanding the complexity of the past and present woven in lyrical phrases, vivid moments of tactile emotion. This collection feels like snapshots across a postmodern canvas capturing a woven vision of the world that shapes a new paradigm and then builds around new ideas and visions. From lost memories to moments on the train – the poetry shifts and moves across texture, thought, and social construct like a serenade begging the world to slow down. There is something sweet, something new, and something truthful in places not expected. 



In the poem The Abyss, it demonstrates the dynamics of her language to that of leaving the reader in the desire of the moment. The poem starts with a woman who sparks Nietzsche’s warning: And when you gaze long / into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you. The poem then takes its time meandering away from this vision of warning and foreboding and into moments of stunning clarity and interconnectedness. 

In New York, 
we have salves, oils, 
candles and trinkets – 
a cure-all for bad vibes, 
the evil eye, 
generational curses. 

And then develops into instances that are pulling back from the abyss and into the web of interconnections. Kingyens has mastered the balance between imposing a vision of the world and seeing it acted out unexpected ways. 

Today, I will meditate 
on Muhammad – 
the kind bodega owner 
who calls Lucy, 
his sweet tabby, 
up from the dark cellar, 
where she’s been sleeping
or killing, 
so my daughters
can pet her;
so my daughters 
can smile. 

Kingyens builds tension with thoughtful and tactile visions of a world that is constantly in flux, dancing on the edge of kind bodega owner, a cat, those happy daughters. The passage of time is measured in the opening of this poem with the “Once on the A-train,” marking the past. “Today, I will meditate” marks the present moment in time. And then towards the end of the poem, we have time pushing out in a hopeful vision, away from the void with “Tomorrow I will open my eyes …” This arc of time across this verses are a striking compass of time and methodology that moves the reader away from the void into a new hope – a “new morning.” 

I will turn and marvel 
at your eclipsed soul-body
still sleeping”

This collection is rich with thought provoking ideas that pry into the complex modern way of life, while bearing credence to the unseen shifting of time, memories, passion, and uncertainty. This kind of poetry makes it possible to live in a complicated and harried life, and still believe in the metaphysical vision of the world. Kingyens has created a poetic serenade that pulls us away from what seems random and apathetic, and draws us into poetic compassion and understanding. Before the Big Bang Makes a Sound is a stunning vision of our haphazard lives, pulled back from the abyss by lyrical vision, irony, faith, and the desire to connect.   — December 2019


Available through the publisher and Amazon.com

Pride of Eden by Taylor Brown / Book Review

What happens when environmental activism and the passion of a group of outsiders come together? Taylor Brown explores this idea in his book Pride of Eden, as we move closer and closer to the cataclysm that is our natural disaster. It is clear that not only is this a political and social issue, but is now finding its way into fiction. And no one is better suited to take on this task then Taylor Brown and his visionary style that merges melodious prose with the stark reality of our natural calamity. This novel examines the extremes of protecting apex predators and the people who live on the edge to save them. Wrought in stunning vision of the natural world and the tainted reality that has oppressed the great animals that are now prey to poachers, land development, the black market, and hunting fanatics. 

Anse Caulfield is a retired racehorse jockey and Vietnam veteran who rescues exotic big cats, elephants, and other animals to bring them to his wildlife sanctuary Little Eden on the Georgia coast. When his prized lion escapes and meets a tragic end, Anse becomes obsessed with filling the void in his life. He is joined by other outcasts and animal activists. Malaya, a former solider who spent time in Africa hunting poachers, comes to the sanctuary with a vision of helping Anse fulfill his dream. A few others join the team, a veterinarian and a falcon expert spend time in this strangely idyllic and sometimes frightening world. Among the great lions, ancient crocodiles and other exotic animals, it is clear that the sanctuary is the only place for these souls to comprehend what is happening and what they can do for these animals. Each of these well developed characters has a primordial sense of the world that they are trying to restore. They see the world through the eyes of their rescued animals. For some it is means taking care of these rare and exotic creatures. For some, it is a more extreme vision. As this team begin to rescue animals, it is clear that they are moving into dangerous territory. 

Taylor Brown has created a visionary sense of a decaying natural world where the apex predators have been cast into sideshows and trinkets for collectors. This band of outsiders, with no place to go but to sanctuary are the vanguard of something lost in a culture that has turned its back on the natural world. Brown uses language to slip between the reality of teeth and claw – to a lost past where the natural apex creatures were mythical apparitions that are all but gone. Moving Brown’s tension filled prose to mythical vistas, this book is very hard to put down. As we herald in an era of environmental extremism, this novel speaks to the men and women who are on the front lines willing to save these beautiful and dangerous animals at any cost. To pull this off Brown has created memorable and deeply moving characters.
Brown’s previous novel, Gods of Howl Mountain remains one of my personal top picks last year. Pride of Eden is another epic novel that draws you into the fears and hopes of people living on the edge of the world. Once again Brown proves that this is a great place to tell compelling and visionary stories. 

Pride of Eden: A Novel
Taylor Brown
St. Martin’s Publishing Group
288 Pages
ISBN 9781250203816
Available March 2020

Review for Gods of Howl Mountain


Ron Samul is an award winning author and educator. His novel The Staff is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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