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Black Box

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  128 ratings  ·  18 reviews

“Belieu’s poems use a vernacular of their own to suggest a noir world of erotic innuendo and red lights waiting to be run.”—Neon

Black Box is a raw, intense book, fueled by a devastating infidelity. With her marriage shattered, Erin Belieu sifts the wreckage for the black box, the record of disaster. Propelled by a blistering and clarifying rage, she composed at fever pitc
Paperback, 80 pages
Published October 1st 2006 by Copper Canyon Press
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(showing 1-30 of 232)
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Nov 11, 2007 jeff rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: poems
erin belieu has always been mordant and funny and seriously fucked-up, and now has put out a book that focuses her strangeness on one thing--her ex-husband (who i never thought she should have married(he always struck me as a douchebag)). but more to the point, the book is like getting kicked repeatedly while listening to AC/DC or the Stooges going full-blast in the background. Check out th vitriol in the book's centerpiece, "The Red Dress I Wear to Your Funeral." Damn.
This collection of poems delves into deep emotional territory with grace and unexpectedly beautiful language. From the first poem to the last, there are seldom a sentence without revelation, without a twist of phrase that lends itself to novel understanding of a subject as old as relationships and jilted love.

For example: from the opening poem, "Of the Poet's Youth," Belieu is able to simultaneously wax nostalgic while effortlessly dropping a line like: "Don't the best characters know better /
Grandiose bellicosity is the predominant intonation of Erin Belieu's dithyrambic Black Box, a book of masked rants on the themes of betrayal, outrage, and silence. The carefully constructed ethos of this volume of dramatic monologues responds to infidelity, though ultimately it's silent about whose infidelity tore a hole in the now lost relationship; and what, precisely, has been lost? Outrage can't fill the hole. Most of what we will get, then, of the antagonist, is that he has moved on; perhap ...more
Allison Floyd
I'd give four stars to the best of these poems and two to the rest, which is unfair and rather silly--is there anything more hopelessly subjective than a person's response to poetry? What can I say....The back of the book promises poems that are visceral, raw, and violent; while it certainly delivers at points, I suppose it just wasn't as high voltage as I was hoping for. Which isn't to say that these poems aren't skillfully executed--they absolutely are. I guess I just keep looking for a replic ...more
After reading some of the previous reviews I’m asking myself, “Isn’t the point of reading poetry more to ask what it tells you about yourself as the reader, than it is about trying to puzzle out what it tells you about the writer?” What? Is goodreads the In Touch magazine of the poetry world? This book isn’t a tell-all auto biography, it is an art work – and a damned good one at that.

I can’t argue that any work of art that has this much vitriol and this much intensity did not in all likelihood s
Miss Michael
With Black Box, Erin Belieu examines the life and death of romantic relationships in a way that is at once raw and sensual. The title lends itself to the harsh and varied honesty contained within. The phrase black box invokes the black box of aerospace, an uncompromising record of doomed events. Belieu's collection of poems shares this function. While they are tainted with her bias, as they should be, being her poems, she spares no one with her work. I'm not a poetry person, but these poems, the ...more
Diann Blakely
I've known Belieu's work since a triolet I read during my Boston years, but this alternately blistering, funny, regretful, and loving--Belieu is a mother of an at-the-time small boy--account of a broken marriage is not to be missed. To name only one of the collection's numerous strengths, there's a wonderful counterpoint between the most venerable poetic rhythms and the slangy cadences of contemporary speech that reminds me of the way that the blues can be heard beneath--and around, and within-- ...more
Heather June Gibbons
Dec 17, 2008 Heather June Gibbons rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Shappi
What a totally bad-ass, searing book. Talk about a strong voice-- wow. A couple of the sections in the long poem "In the Red Dress I Wear to Your Funeral" dragged for me, but overall, this is the kind of raw power I feel is missing in the bulk of contemporary American poetry. Here's the ending to "Liar's Karma," a full-throttle, full-on f*ck you poem in near-heroic couplets:

Consider this our permanent address,

in stunted rooms where fear barely scrapes up the mortgage
and envy ties a hangman's fu
The last poem in this collection makes it. It read like an Aimee Mann album. (Belieu was listening to Bachelor No. 2 when she wrote this collection...) Loved the violence, the emotion and the release that came with it. This collection has energy without forsaking the craft. If I had to relive my undergrad years the only thing I would have to take with me is this book. It would be my guide.
I'm not a huge fan of modern poetry, but this collection is pretty incredible, in particular "The Red Dress I Wear to your Funeral."

I am a borscht-belt comedienne
working the audience from behind
your headstone.
I shimmy onstage between Pam
& Her Magic Organ and
the gigantic poodle act.
Your coffin is a tough room.

How incredible is that???
Jan 26, 2008 Tony rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
She's a remarkable poet, true heir to Sexton and Plath, not only because of the confessional nature of the poems but also because she uses their techniques of relentless metaphorizing, invective, performative speech, blending in monster-movie and fairy tale references, etc., and the result is stunning. One of my fave poetry reads for the year.
Mark Ballinger
Powerful, raw, emotional, but still tricky and engaging. Lovely stuff.
i really love the way erin belieu uses familiar and comfortable images to unnerving effect in her poetry. she pushes past convention and really examines -- or holds up for her reader's examination -- so many things that are taken for granted. challenging, but rewarding.
Jul 27, 2007 Sarah rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: bitter divorcees
Shelves: poetry
I love me some Erin Belieu, but this one took a little longer to get going than her previous two books. Still quite good if you can stomach her portraits of her toddler son and asshole exhusband.
I'll be honest, I didn't finish it. Technically it was quite good, but I became bored very quickly with it. I'm sure this has more to do with my taste than the author's skill.
Lyrically the same poet, but a hard departure from her earlier work: falling and loving the skinned knees type of poetry.
Nov 27, 2013 h rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry, 2013
this is one of those books full of poems that i would love to be able to write. funny, insightful, playful, honest.
Love it. Just love it.
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Associate Professor, MFA The Ohio State University (1992), MA Boston University (1995), specializes in poetry. Her first book, Infanta, was selected by Hayden Carruth for the National Poetry Series and was named one of the ten best books of 1995 by Library Journal, Washington Post Book World, and the National Book Critics' Circle. Her second collection, One Above and One Below, won the Ohioana Awa ...more
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