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Critical reviews of  books by author Michael Simms.
Angele Ellis reviews poetry collections by Michael Simms and George Looney for Asheville Poetry Review

Asheville Poetry Review


In Simms’s “Pupa (a meditation on becoming)” from Strange Meadowlark, the life of a butterfly from caterpillar to a being with “translucent wings / ... in a flittering arc” also evokes a child—here, the speaker’s daughter—as well as his aging but still changing self.

Let the wonders of location and dislocation transport you in these new books by George Looney and Michael Simms.

Wally Swist reviews Bicycles of the Gods for Your Impossible Voice

Your Impossible Voice Review


Michael Simms’s great American novel offers lessons and not just escapism. It substantiates the dream that all people are created equal, whatever the color or creed, that hope is not only eternal but also that the Second Coming can offset any Apocalypse—if we are willing to pay a price that is worthy of our freedom and an integrally righteous way of living our lives.

John Samuel Tieman reviews Bicycles of the Gods for Live Encounters

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Bicycles Of The Gods is an apocalyptic saga that is always riveting, always thought provoking, and alternately funny and sad. It is refreshing to read a novel that, while satiric, takes seriously spiritual journey.   One of the truly surprising parts of the novel is that, while religion is satirized, it is never disrespected.   It’s a real accomplishment.

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Michael T. Young reviews Strange Meadowlark for Compulsive Reader

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Anne Lamott said, “good writing is about telling the truth.” Michael Simm’s poetry is about just such truth telling. It sings but sings with the kind of honesty one finds in Hayden Carruth, that deep digging to get to the heart of a matter, highly personal moments yielding universal insight. Strange Meadowlark is Michael Simm’s fourth full-length collection, and it radiates like concentric rings from existential concerns to teleological ones, from personal to public. 

Angele Ellis reviews Strange Meadowlark for Cultural Daily

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Perhaps it is only in moments of transcendence—whether through art, nature, or love—that we truly live and appreciate the value of living. In Strange Meadowlark, Michael Simms wrestles with the paradoxes of existence, and reaffirms that the struggle is worthwhile.

Mike Vargo reviews The Green Mage for Cultural Daily

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The Green Mage does deliver the things that discerning readers look for in fantasy stories. There are cool invented rituals, such as a wedding ceremony unlike any this writer has seen. Equally cool is the scientific explanation of how a dragon breathes fire. (Mini-spoiler: it’s like lighting a fart. The dragon summons a methane-laden belch and ignites it by clicking her teeth.) There are also scenes that mimic actual modern history, except with key details changed. A young man who slipped into petty crime is surrounded by a circle of his neighbors, who subject him to a public treatment that looks eerily like the denunciation sessions practiced in China during the Cultural Revolution. But instead of shaming the fellow, people shower him with praise and love. Features like these are prized in fantasy because they invite us to envision how life could be, as opposed to the same old same old. They’re nicely rendered throughout The Green Mage.

Bill O'Driscoll reviews Bicycles of the Gods for WESA Pittsburgh's NPR Station

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Simms still expresses hope for humanity, and so does “Bicycles of the Gods.” While he doesn’t consider himself conventionally religious, he does think we’d do well to follow some core teachings of Jesus, as they are laid out in his novel.

Kristofer Collins reviews Bicycles of the Gods for Pittsburgh Post Gazette

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Simms has created a wild, syncretic ride refashioning old stories in a contemporary light. Will Jesse succeed? Will the world end? Spoilers: As the poet George Herbert wrote, “”But Love and Grace took Glory by the hand / and built a braver palace than before.”

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Angele Ellis reviews Bicycles of the Gods for Cultural Daily

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Bicycles of the Gods achieves a roaring finale—no more spoilers will be given here—in which the borders of Earth and the afterlife come down, brave and inevitable sacrifices are made, and much that has been hidden is revealed. Readers, buckle yourselves in for a wild ride.

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Jose Padua reviews Nightjar for Coal Hill Review

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"Nightjar gives you that sense of showing up at the back door, unannounced, unheralded, and exhibiting all the signs of having gone through a rough journey—a journey that might not be quite over yet. It’s a journey that got there not by consulting a hundred maps and reading every Yelp review or by leaving the GPS on and having some robotic voice tell you when to turn left, when to go straight ahead, and when to stop. It’s a journey that found its way by being true to its own unique vision."

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Alexandra Umlas reviews American Ash for Cultural Daily

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“Simms focuses attention on the material of the world and then surprises the reader with the power of what that focus, honed by a gift for words and experience, can do. Every poem gave me something to recognize, something to grapple with, some magic that made me see the world in a new way."

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Gerry LaFemina reviews American Ash for Coal Hill Review

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"This is a wonderfully human book. Flawed and triumphant.”

Kris Collins Reviews 10 Great Books by Pittsburgh Authors

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“The poems gently insist we can be greater than our worst impulses… and therein lies the magic of the book. By confronting the darkness, Simms enacts a restoration of the light.”

Anthony Frame reviews The Autumn House Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry for Weave Magazine

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"Any anthology trying to cover all of contemporary American poetry will, by definition, fail. The American poetry landscape is vast and multitudinous. This is, perhaps, why so many anthologies choose to focus on a specific type of poet or subject. But The Autumn House Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry succeeds as well as any anthology can, limited as it is by its 384 pages and the aesthetic preferences of its three editors. “Poetry,” Michael Simms writes in his introduction, “captures the essence of what it is to be alive at a particular time and place.” If this is the goal of the poem, it is also the goal of the poetry anthology, which Autumn House Press has reached."

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