Editor and publisher Michelle Halket showcases work from ten poets in [Dis]Connected: Poems & Stories of Connection and Otherwise Volume 2. Each of the ten poets submitted three poems, which are interspersed between short stories from the same writers. Halket chose a specific order, then asked that the short stories reference a line or two in the poem just before them. She uses this as just one way to illustrate connection and disconnection, the collection’s main themes. It’s an interesting conceit and challenge to the writers.
There are breakups, deaths, disappearances, and families in crisis. These stories are definitely not about unicorns and rainbows, which serves to make them more powerful. And the authors each bring a unique perspective to these themes. Halo, for example, has supernatural aspects, and Strangers Tomorrow is a more science fiction take. And others, like What the Wild Gave Me, are just plain real-life difficulties.
The poetry selections are both modern poetry and prose poetry. Most of them ache with longing, rather than offering hope.
Most of the stories truly drew me into their milieu, with compelling premises. In The Fourth Saturday, Alicia Cook crafts a fine story about the death of a family member with addiction. Raquel Franco writes emotionally in Get Up about teenager Reese, who loses her mother’s attention and care because of addiction, if not losing her physical presence.
Family relationship realities continue with two other mother and child focused entries. They offer different slants on a universal topic. Whether it’s a child in Make Choices a Bit Crooked or a teen in Beyond the Tree Line, these stories engage the parent-child connection effectively.
I also appreciated the stories of romantic relationships lost and found, especially Stay with Me, set in fictional Willowdale, Colorado from Courtney Peppernell. The themes of mourning and morning are strong here. Plus, it has a twist that caught me unaware. I’m not much for love triangle stories, but K.Y. Robinson’s entry, Ghosted, is well-drawn and engaging.
Komal Kapoor offers Wrapped in Distance, a story of sibling connections, as well as the connection between homeland and new home cultures. Priya and her brother have different takes on being second-generation Indian immigrants. The conflicts this creates between them, and with their parents is palpable in this brief story.
I recommend these short stories and poems. They will tweak your heart and engage your brain. It’s definitely a well done contemporary collection.
Many thanks to NetGalley, the authors, and Michelle Halket of Central Avenue Publishing for the opportunity to read a digital ARC of this collection, in exchange for my honest review.