When I picked up this book, I was afraid that it was published more because it was an American soldier's voice from Iraq. By that, I mean, I thought t...moreWhen I picked up this book, I was afraid that it was published more because it was an American soldier's voice from Iraq. By that, I mean, I thought that the writing may not be up to par and that it was published purely for political reasons and not because of a strong voice.
I was wrong. Brian Turner's poetry in this book is amazing. Powerful. Distraught. Disturbing. Beautiful. There is a subtlety here that I thought would be missing. Honestly, this is the best book of poetry that I have read recently and I am so glad that I accidentally ran into it in a small local bookstore. And glad that I gave it a chance.
On a more personal note, I found one line of the book to be bizarrely appropriate for me to have read. The third stanza of the poem "Cole's Guitar" begins with the line
I'm in Wyoming. I'm in New York.
While adjusting to this move from New York to Wyoming, it just struck me how odd that line would appear. I guess they are two of the most opposite places you could throw together in a line if you're talking about the U.S. And I think part of me right now is in both places.
Every once in awhile, a poet that you have never heard of comes along and punches you so hard in the jaw that you can't raise it again for a time....moreWow.
Every once in awhile, a poet that you have never heard of comes along and punches you so hard in the jaw that you can't raise it again for a time.
I found this book at a local Friends of the Library sale. I wish that I had given my money directly to the author and cannot begin to understand how someone could have parted with this volume. At the same time, I am so thankful that they did as I otherwise may not have been introduced to this wonderful, honest voice.
The verse is confessional without relying entirely on the personal. Simple without denying the complicated power of language. Direct without denying the circular nature of our lives. It is a book about the honesty of loss, not the melodrama of it.
I cannot say enough good about this surprising book and I don't want to come across as a "reviewer." I want to be honest and direct. This collection is fantastic and I hope more give it a chance.
I am willing to buy a copy for the first person who asks -- (whether I know you or not) simply because I want to support this poet and I did not purchase this book from somewhere that would affect the author at all. Just send me a message.
BEFORE AND AFTER
I mourned my husband years before we met - a pocket inside-
out, a chair pushed back from the table, fingernail
clippers right where I left them - how does the world fill
I have always been a fan of Paisley Rekdal's work when I have read it, but at the same time, I have felt that it was a little too "dense" (for lac...moreWow.
I have always been a fan of Paisley Rekdal's work when I have read it, but at the same time, I have felt that it was a little too "dense" (for lack of a better term) in its phrasing and elevated vocabulary.
In this type of poetry, (primarily focused initially with the personal - whether the personal of the narrator or not) I see a tendency for the language to go one of two ways: Either the poet hits the emotional target or the intellectual target. Poets who can walk the middle well are often hard to find.
This book doesn't just walk that line, it *owns* it. The poems are beautifully crafted, yet pack an unbelievable emotional punch. I think this collection is a quantum leap above her earlier work (which I liked already) and has elevated her to a whole new level as a poet.
Many of the poems are long (which I typically am not a fan of, but they maintained their strength so well here that it never bothered me), so I won't quote one. Instead, a few of my favorite lines in the book:
"I'm not afraid of death, I'm afraid of all the years leading up to it." (from MOTH)
"...If it's history we want then let's have it: its futile pomps and dust, its boredom, gore, and desperation, the pliant
vulnerability each suit implies and would let us enter..." (from ARMOR ON DISPLAY)
"...I know the way you fuck me now is how, later, you'll hate me..." (from THE GOKSTADT SHIP)
Overall, my list of favorite poems would in essence be a list of titles in the entire book. I love this collection and can't wait to see where she takes us with her next.
--and a p.s. of sorts: "Strawberry" is an intensely powerful way to start a collection. I don't necessarily feel that "peony" as its mirrored image ending poem is quite as strong, but that is probably my only nitpick. (less)
The poems range from the personal to the political. Some are confessional in the purest sense ("Limits"). All are...moreI fell in love with this book today.
The poems range from the personal to the political. Some are confessional in the purest sense ("Limits"). All are politically charged. She speaks of the politics of violence, the politics of gender and the intertwining of both.
The language is forceful at times, quietly academic at others.
Just a beautiful collection - full of anger and knowledge. (less)
Absolutely fantastic collection. I loved nearly every piece. A plain sort of language that often becomes something otherworldly in its insistent beauty...moreAbsolutely fantastic collection. I loved nearly every piece. A plain sort of language that often becomes something otherworldly in its insistent beauty.
And when a poet has a quote from Written On The Body in their book, I have to pay attention.
I feel a bit strange for giving out so many 5-star ratings so far....
But I absolutely loved this collection. I can't really think of a better meditati...moreI feel a bit strange for giving out so many 5-star ratings so far....
But I absolutely loved this collection. I can't really think of a better meditation on not only beauty, but love and destruction and the intertwined reasons for each. I truly recommend this one to my friends who don't typically read a lot of poetry. I think many of you would find yourselves liking it (I'm looking particularly at you, Tony and Georgette).
"Plain" language that manages to bring across a much deeper meaning. (less)