Brenda Shaugnessy's forthcoming poetry collection reviewed at NJ.com

English Professor Brenda Shaughnessy gets a strong review of her forthcoming poetry collection, Octopus Museum, from NJ.com. 

Brenda ShaughnessyRutgers Professor's poems strike many notes

Of all genres of writing, poetry has to be the most subjective, the most deeply personal.

Certainly many memoirs reveal heartfelt confessions, but that's for the writer; it's rarely as personal for the reader.

Consider how we approach books. Non-fiction is often a need. We must know about a topic and if the book isn't well written, we muddle through clunky writing to extract facts. Fiction, though, is more of a desire, and we tend to settle into genres fairly early on, returning to sci-fi, mystery or romance.

But poetry, that's entirely its own world, and a very small one at that. Few people write it, few houses publish it and I don't know many who long to read it. I've always loved poetry, but it must speak to a place deep within your soul to keep you reading.

Shaughnessy is evocative and writes from the perspective of a mom, and from someone who either imagines or has known what it is like to be deeply hungry and very poor.

Brenda Shaughnessy, an associate professor of English at Rutgers University, has written an often-intriguing book, but it begs the question what is poetry? Is poetry whatever the writer deems it to be? Before anyone starts emailing with nasty comments, please know that I am in no way saying that poetry must rhyme, neatly fit into a specific syllable count and be as confined as a sonnet.

And so these pieces, some which feel unfinished, some which sparkle, read more like very short stories, vignettes in prose.

Shaughnessy is evocative and writes from the perspective of a mom, and from someone who either imagines or has known what it is like to be deeply hungry and very poor. There's a bit of dystopian outlook, and a fanciful take on the title's octopi.

Admittedly, I was intrigued from the very first lines. "I don't want to be surrounded by people. Or even one person. But I don't want to always be alone."