This is a small book with a big message: save the planet before it is too late. Each small, well- wrought poem, beseeches the reader to consider that it is not enough to understand species are being made extinct, climate change is real, the environment is being fouled: “While it is still possible/ to choose to not look/ it is impossible to continue/ to not see.” Alas in the age of Trump, where the secretaries of all the agencies that oversee these problems are chosen specifically to exacerbate these disasters for the good of all corporate kind. To Neuberg’s lasting credit, she refuses to give up. These poem are not mere diatribes or polemical dissertations, but a barely suppressed cry for reason and common sense, tightly written and of the highest artistic merit. When it comes to planets, there is no Option B.
Review of 'the elephants are asking' by Linda Lerner in Issue 6 of Home Planet News Online at http://homeplanetnews.org/AOnLine.html?fbclid=IwAR2BPyxmtLy-X1J7Nv0LGYy-s0Dx0FleNgHVvLzmLFLqwzI8TJhHMS_AUMo
by Karen Neuberg Glass Lyre Press LLC, 2018 P.O. Box 2693 Glenview, IL 60025 on line at www.GlassLyre Press.com, Trade Paperback, 24 pp. $12.00.
Karen Neuberg can “choose not to look” but it’s “impossible (for her) “not to see” what is happening to our planet. And, because of how exquisitely crafted these poems are, with an economy of strong language, she makes us see, and more than that, want to do something about the situation. Moving from a philosophical calm to an enraged outburst --“Now. Dammit!..” The time for “complacency” and “Weeping “is long past.
Neuberg never falls into the easy trap of over explaining; she edges close enough to what the elephants cannot ask to what the reader cannot avoid doing. And, in case we still haven’t gotten the point, lists eleven facts leading to “Thousands killed, millions displaced by storm-caused floods around the globe/ overturning tranquility,” (“Climate Lag Time”) building to the slow nuclear catastrophe seen in: “Perpetuity:” “Whoever remains will hear the stories…”
Her desperation to do something to halt what is happening reaches its strongest emotional pitch in, “If all I have is a teaspoon” to repeatedly fill with water to put out a fire, she’ll do it, to “(Help) the greening to return.”
With the use of the “I—we” in Call to” she is speaking both as herself, and us when she suggests that we must get beyond just coping. Even as she tries to persuade us, Neuberg suspects that we are already there. Now, we just have to, “Dammit” do something.
We can start by getting this book in which what is being said, and the poets use of language and metaphor coalesce to produce an unforgettable collection of poems.
Mini Review of ‘the elephants are asking’ by Alison Ross in Clockwise Cat, Issue 40.
Eco-conscious poetry often employs a tone that is blatantly in-your-face, ironically blunting an otherwise dire supplication. It seems the more urgent the message, the less alarmist the tone needs to be in order to hold captive our hearts and minds. Or, at least that’s what I’ve learned from reading Karen Neuberg’s slender tome of verse in which she entreats, in euphonious tones, for us to shuffle off our complacency and stand as sentinels of our ever-eroding natural environment. After all, “weeping is not sufficient.” The most quietly indignant poem in the collection, “Perpetuity,” in which radiated water poisons the planet, censures humanity with the elegantly damning lines, “the fish have not been told/Nor the birds warned.” Elsewhere in “Old Game,” children of the future invoke an incantation about creatures lost so callously to a ravaged climate. This is how you do eco-conscious poetry: you startle with understated language and implore with imagery that compels even the most lethargic to answer the elephants’ pleas with loving and active affirmation.
To read this and other reviews as well as excellent writing and art, go to
I am so honored to be included in Poetrybay's "19 for '19: Big Voices From Places Small and Large" with a mini-review:
KAREN NEUBERG, THE ELEPHANTS ARE ASKING
In the most delicate of voices, with beautiful imagery, the question is asked --
why are we ignoring climate change? Are we just too numb? Too otherwise
entertained? Too unaffected directly? Why are we not, at least, looking
at the problem? Poem after poem in this chapbook holds up a different
facet of this question. And this is not a preachy speaker, but rather
a member of humankind trying to understand our collective behavior.
This is an effective and necessary chapbook as the question grows
more urgent day by hurricane and wildfire day. This is a chapbook
you will not soon forget. (Francine Witte)