Review of The Best of Poetry Hickory


by Pris Campbell


The Best of Poetry Hickory Anthology


From my distant perch in Florida, I’ve long been convinced that something in the Carolina water breeds especially good poets. This anthology, packed with well-written, spell-binding poems, more than confirms my suspicions. These poems speak in an engaging voice to the reader rather than announcing ‘look at how good I am” by way of contrived metaphors or other poetic devices inserted simply for the sake of having them there. These poems are good. It’s not necessary for them to preen or crow to let us know it.


I like to read poems I can relate to, poems that move me, poems that give me a way of seeing the familiar in a new light. This book did all of that in spades.


I could easily quote lines from every poem but space allows only a few. Those chosen were a difficult call but they give an idea of the range of themes covered in the anthology.


Robert Abbate asks in “Ecce Homo”:


What would Jesus do

once he could be lured

to the place of the fractured

pistol-whipped skull

and once, in the freezing air

he could be lashed to a barbed

wire fence outside Laramie


Maureen Sherbondy continues the theme in a different way in “Praying at Coffee Shops in the South”:


What are those public interludes with God?

Two men at Starbucks holding hands

bent over in prayer leaning into the invisible


Tony Ricciardell brings us back home as he speaks to his now helpless father in “Sins of My Father”:


If I spoke to your mother the way you speak to your wife you would have crippled me, wouldn’t you? If I called your mother bitch or whore, if I curled curses at her the way you hurled curses at my mother, you would have kicked me down the stairs, wouldn’t you?



Malaika King Albrecht’s poem, “The Riddle Song” brings tears as she writes of her father singing “I gave my love a cherry’ as he massages her mother’s useless limbs, hoping her mother is able to hear him, hoping she is looking at him as he sings.


Ted Pope views family from the other direction in “Bright Child” as he watches his daughter move swiftly from infant to adulthood:


….bright child holy child child of all my hope and reverence I

saw her coming down 4th St again today and today would not

be like any other day oh no today I’m going to follow her to

see where she goes to get that glowing external primal essence…


And Joseph Bathanti offers a bawdier view of the South in “Peaches”:


On a roadhouse bathroom wall

in the peach town of Gaffney, South Carolina

a woman’s body laminates itself

across the face of a condom machine


These poems are jewels. If I could I would string them around my neck so I could reach up and feel their glow whenever I liked. Needless to say, I highly recommend this book.



The Best of Poetry Hickory is available at Taste Full Beans Coffee House or from Scott Owens ( for just $5 — All proceeds to Taste Full Beans in gratitude for hosting Poetry Hickory for four years.  A reading from the anthology will take place on September 13, 5:30, at Taste Full Beans, and will feature 27 of the poets selected for the anthology.


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