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What Is This Thing Called Love

4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  679 ratings  ·  61 reviews
From lines about a love that dizzies up the brain's back room to haunting fragments beckoning death and decline in a suffering world, Kim Addonizio articulates the way that our connections - to the world, to self, and to others - endure and help make us whole.
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published January 8th 2004 by W. W. Norton & Company
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Allison Floyd
Apr 25, 2008 Allison Floyd rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: The reluctantly poetic; word nerds
What is this thing called poetry? As a recovering poet, I've devoted no small amount of thought to this subject. The best answer I can give you is tinfoil in the microwave. That's poetry. Unfortunately, most poetry reads more like saran wrap in the refrigerator. Which is why it was such a pleasure to happen upon this collection. While it doesn't quite approach the level of a full-blown kitchen disaster, certainly there are sparks. And it's always nice to find a soul as morbid as I am (see "31-Ye ...more
Reading Kim Addonizio is sort of like reading a slutty, less dorky Billy Collins. By that I mean this: It's enjoyable, even sometimes touching, but in the way that hearing from your slightly obnoxious drunk cousin can be entertaining. You get tired of them.

Most of these poems are fun, sometimes even funny, and there is a certain charm of her ability to write about things that most people would simply refuse to turn into a poem; for instance, the crappy computer game "Bugdom" turned out to be whi
I was using Barnes & Noble as a library and coffee bar again today. I picked up this book which is Addonizio's fourth book of poems and was surprised to find another paradelle there.

She has a paradelle ("Ever After") in the anthology The Paradelle. I also have a poem in that anthology, but I didn't know she had written any others. If you're not familiar with the form, here's part of Billy Collins' introduction to that collection:

A few years ago, I wrote a poem that I titled "Paradelle for S
Now I know it's going to sound weird to those of you who heard me rant about gratuitous sexual comments thrown into poetry that I actually enjoyed this book, which contains poems that have quite a bit of sexual energy charged into nearly every one. Before I even get to the text, I think I need to explain why it works here.

I think the reason is that since the language of the poetry is that of a sexual nature--this is a set of poems that have a lot to say about sex and relationships--the sexual re
Deana Mcbee
I really liked this book because it was really deep and she had a sentimental feeling in her choose of words. As i read the book more and more i got more into it and i ended up reading the whole book in 2 favorite part was the first chapter because it talks about her relationship with a guy, and the way she talks about love is amazing. and im glad i read this book and want to read another book by her.
Addonizio's poems are raw, passionate and painful. She doesn't hold back for anyone. She doesn't care about what makes you uncomfortable or what makes you look a little deeper than you wanted to within yourself. And there were times when I felt these ways, but I loved every single second of it.

What Is This Thing Called Love: Poems is divided into five sections, each hitting on a different type of love. Though not every poem resonates, the majority had an effect similar to feeling as though my s
Mike Jensen
Addonizio writes amazing poetry about sex because the sex is so real. She has sex the way that I do, perhaps opening with a kiss which results in the not to be denied surge of my body in the direction of another's body no matter where you are of if you should. It is the mental part that is the most convincing, the things you think as you begin the kiss and the things you think when your lover is dressing.

Thing is, while Addinizio clearly understands this and can accurately portray it in compell
I heard of Ms. Addonizio by trawling through the mystical land known as livejournal. I remember it was a post about treating yourself and I saw her name mentioned. I really liked that post. I hadn't read any of her work but I bought two of her books of poetry.

Recently I've begun my own craft of poetry writing. I had to decided between two poetry writing books by her. I didn't have enough money for the other one at that time so I bought Ordinary Genius.

Short story: it's a boss book.

Yesterday I
William Redd
I had the good fortune of meeting Kim Addonizio when she visited UNCW for a reading. I was a Film Studies student at the time, minoring in Creative Writing, so her reading was an extra credit event for one of my classes. Of course, even if it hadn't been, I would have gone. I was interested in her work after our professor read us one of her poems.

This collection is so good. It includes some of my favorite modern poems, like "This Poem Wants To Be A Rock and Roll Song So Bad," "Blues for Robert J
Kaylee Poplawski
What Is This Thing Called Love

Addonizio, Kim.
W.W. Norton & Company Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10110
Copyright 2004

“What Is This Thing Called Love” by Kim Addonizio is radiant collection of poems. This is Addonizio’s fourth book of poems; each poem is solely based on love, sex, or death and the aging process. I found Addonzio’s love poems quite amusing and it was easy to engage oneself into the poem. Some poems were quite shocking in the sense of the vivid description, but as I soon
What is This Thing Called Love, poems by Kim Addonizio. W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 2004.

Kim Addonizio is a fantastic poet. This book absolutely portrays her talent. What is This Thing Called Love is a collection of poems for young adults – I’d recommend 18+ as some poems could be too mature for younger individuals – divided into five sections. The first two sections are very clear: the first is about love and the second about death and aging. The final three sections are a mixture of
Kim Addonizio’s poems in, What is This Thing Called Love, surprised me. I actually liked them. I was first exposed to her poems in my creative writing workshop. I did not really think much of them. I thought that they were leaning toward a feminist “I am woman hear me roar” type thing. These poems were not like that. These poems were erotic. This poems confronted the author’s feminine eroticism. For example, Stolen Moments, had me on completely devoted to every word. I got a split second in to h ...more
Another great collection of poems by Kim Addonizio. It has more than the usual number of very successful poems. Certainly not family reading but wonderfully human meditations on love, sex, and aging. Great imagery and passion.

Some favorite poems: "First Kiss," "Muse," "Death Poem," "And Then I Woke Up," "The Work," "Washing," "It," "Knowledge," "The Way of the World," "Dear Sir or Madam," "Bad Girl," "Body and Soul," "Dear Reader," and even "Fuck."

Some bits:

"Sometimes the body
gets so quiet
it ca
Ryan Steele
“what is this thing called love” by Kim Addonizio.
W. W. Norton & Company Inc., New York, 2004.

Love seems so simple through poetry.

Kim Addonizio explores some of the largest subjects encountered in life, all through short, visceral poems that aren’t afraid to be blunt, abrasive, and sometimes brutally honest. Summarizing a poetry collection is never an easy task, but Kim Addonizio kept her subject matter universal enough so that everyone can relate, addressing things such as: death, love,
Kim Addonizio captures a few themes in her collection of poem “What is this thing called love?” Most of Addonizio’s poems center on her feelings regarding death and love. The author speaks of the two in a matter that describes them using a bit of dark humor. The collection of poems is broken up into five sections. I’ve taken note that what theme each section focuses on: Section one is about love and sex; Section two takes a look at death; The third section dabbles in life, love, death and misery ...more
Elizabeth Buckeye
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kim Addonizio is one of my favorite contemporary poets and her work speaks to me without much effort needed to figure it out. This is not to say that Ms. Addonizio’s craft is elemental; it simply comes across as effortless. She has forsaken the stigma imbued on “confessional” poetry from the current literary world and unabashedly plays with readers’ insatiable need to figure out what is “real” and what is “imagined” in her work. If this boldness grips you, as it does me, then there’s not a more ...more
totally accessible and entertaining. she writes about sex and death, you know, the biggies. but her approach is refreshing and totally sincere. i loved a lot of the individual poems, "kissing" and "romance" -- and with titles like this, the poems have to be strong. i like her ease with form. and the line in one poem -- i don't have it in front of me -- something about the man who drank rainwater out of the hollow of my neck... floored me. i read that and thought that i would have written 3-5 lin ...more
Sarah Lyn
Kim Addonizio is excellent. Her poetry is tough, biting, sentimental, and sexy, often all at once. I dogeared many of these pages.
This isn't a perfect book - there are ups and downs, and things that almost work but then don't, and things that she kind of gets away with because she's a poetry rockstar that a younger poet might not get away with. But the stuff that's solid is really solid, and man can she rock a last line. And she's writing about things that matter to me in her Kim Addonizio way that I can't help but love. Keep writing it, Kim, I'll keep reading.

Standout poems: 31-Year-Old Lover, Dead Girls, Cat Poem, The Wo
Jessica Merrill
Definitely a brilliant, cohesive collection. Would recommend to everyone!
Robert Beveridge
Marguerite Marceau Henderson, Small Plates: Appetizers As Meals (Gibbs Smith, 2006)

An intriguing idea for a cookbook, this; appetizer-style recipes quirked into meal form. I'm not sure it's entirely successful, concept-wise; too many of these seem more like scaled-down entrees than scaled-up appetizers, which makes me wonder how it differs from your basic cookbook. But the recipes themselves are solid, so I can't be all that hard on it. Pick it up from the library and give it a look before decid
Jonathan Wichmann
Sexy, dark, and fascinating! Brilliant images and such a charming voice.
This book is a great read!
Jennifer Dunn
"Like a car wreck in a silk dress"
Like Anne Sexton and Sharon Olds, Kim Addonizio digs into sex, heartbreak, and grief. This was a darker collection than I expected, being that most of my experience with her have been some sexy and fun pieces. Addonizio's not as brutal as Olds, but she doesn't flinch away from violence either.

Best Poems
"Stolen Moments"
"You Don't Know What Love Is"
"Dead Girls"
"Round Midnight"
"This Poem Is In Recovery"
I'm hesistant to call any kind of poetry collection "negative" because, in a certain sense, all good poetry is in some way "negative." In the case of What is This Thing, it sort of applies, although a better word would be bitterness. Bitterness towards the way women's bodies are perceived in old age. Bitterness towards loneliness. Bitterness towards lovers. Bitterness towards this thing people call "love."
Decidedly pedestrian, decidedly vulgar, which can be interesting, if one can pull them off.

There's a reason not a lot of people succeed in writing sex, drugs, and alcohol. The illogic is just difficult to pin down, without being either mundane or esoteric. And for these poems, it’s the former: they're predictable. Essentially, they’re TV stuff. And who doesn’t already have too much of that.
John J
Kim Addonizio’s work is stunning – beautiful, brutal and brilliant - no apologies for life lived: lessons learned, plenty.

Kim’s work is crafted and shaped with such detail and daring - what she says and shares, the truths that she reveals, without hesitation or the too common side glance and softening of voice – what she says is needed and necessary - as sharp as it is splendid.

Addonizio became my favorite poet after I read just three of her works. It is very rare but I actually get to say that "What is This Thing Called Love" changed my life... my poetic life that is. Her work is so real world but nonetheless maintains a depth of poetic quality that is astonishing. I have never seen anything like it and in my mind, she is by far one of the best modern poets.
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I'm the author of five poetry collections including Tell Me, A National Book Award Finalist. My latest is Lucifer at the Starlite, from W.W. Norton. And SFA Press is about to release My Black Angel,a book of blues poems with woodcuts by Charles D. Jones (Oct 2014).

My collection of stories, The Palace of Illusions, is just out from Counterpoint/Soft Skull (September 2014).

I've also authored two ins
More about Kim Addonizio...
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“Love's merciless, the way it travels in and keeps emitting light.” 12 likes
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