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Unmentionables: Poems
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Unmentionables: Poems

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  174 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
With elegant wordplay and her usual subversive wit, Beth Ann Fennelly explores the "unmentionable"—not only what is considered too bold but also what can't be said because words are insufficient. In sections of short narratives, she questions our everyday human foibles. Three longer sequences display her admirable reach and fierce intelligence: One, "The Kudzu Chronicles," ...more
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published April 17th 2008 by W. W. Norton Company (first published April 7th 2008)
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Melissa
Jan 26, 2015 rated it liked it
So this is more narrative, more conventional poetry than what I usually read, and refreshing because of that. Some images, and especially the friendly-fierce voice of the poet, stick with me. Much skill in the writing, though I am sort of allergic to some of the forms used: the sestina, the Q&A. So many totally nailed endings that still manage to surprise.

from The Kudzu Chronicles

"Listen, kin and stranger,
when I go to the field and lie down,
let my stone be a native stone.
Let the deer come at
...more
Amy Marie
Feb 24, 2010 rated it it was ok
There's something unattractive of this book's assertion that it has these conversations with things "unmentionable." The collection sets an unfortunately high bar for itself which is cannot fulfill. Its themes were not particularly scandalizing, interesting, or controversial. If anything, they are astoundingly typical (which is not necessarily a weakness; if the book did not make this lofty assertion about itself, it may have been much more interesting)
Craig
Jul 16, 2009 rated it it was ok
I typically like Fennelly as a poet and there are several great poems in this collection ("Of Two Minds" and "When Did You Know You Wanted to be a Writer?" are my favorites).

That said, this collection almost feels like Addonizio-lite to me in a way. I know that sounds harsh, but this collection never seems to truly find its own voice and seems to be tring to imitate at times...
Nadine Jones
Sep 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
This collection really blew me away. I had never heard of Beth Ann Fennelly before, I don't even know what inspired me to write down her name as a poet I wanted to read, but I did, and boy am I glad I did! These poems start out so quiet, so mundane, but each and every time they sneak up and grab me by the throat.

Cow Tipping

I think I did it three, four times, at least --- sneak out, ride
with some boys in a truck to a farm, hop the fence with our flashlights
and Coors while the small frogs fled th
...more
Lisa
Sep 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Beth Ann Fennelly writes the kind of poetry I wish I could write--semi-confessional, but with a careful eye on the world at large. I've enjoyed (in this collection, and in Tender Hooks) her poems about motherhood, and she has a way with a turn of phrase. In this collection, "First Warm Day in a College Town" showcases young male joggers as a sign of spring: "here they are, the boys without shirts,/ how fleet of foot, how cute their buns, I have made it/ again, it is spring" and then complicates ...more
Chris
Sep 15, 2016 added it
I really wanted to like this collection. I mean, I really did.

I bought the book based on another of Fennelly's poems, one that I adored, and had high hopes for this collection

At first, it did not disappoint. For the first half of the collection, I was all in. Fennelly's humor is on-point, her word choice is impeccable, and I felt like I understood what she wanted me to.

But as I've found with many poetry collections, they start to loose me as the go on, the poems becoming more abstract, more abou
...more
James Murphy
Jun 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
These are more difficult poems than those I'd read in the earlier volume of Fennelly's, Tender Hooks. Reading, I kept reining in my impatience by reminding myself the earlier volume was about motherhood and her daughter, Claire, while the heart of Unmentionables is a 13-poem cycle about kudzu. Wonderful stuff, but...kudzu? Poems about something as dull yet persistently hardy as kudzu do demonstrate her skills and strengths, and it helps place her in the heart of the South. And show that there's ...more
Sarah
Sep 30, 2009 rated it it was ok
Poetry makes me feel stupid. And I'm an English major who used to teach high school students poetry. But, out of this book of poetry, I connected with about 5 poems. The others I didn't care for. But, maybe that's just how poetry works. But I can't read an entire book of poetry and say that I liked it. At least I never have before. And I can't after reading this one either. I liked a few of these poems, although most of them tend to be about a mom looking back on her life and discussing her chil ...more
Hannah Jo Parker
Sep 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Hannah Jo by: Sherman Alexie's web site
Oh my goodness. I can't believe how good these poems are. I read them over and over. I'm too predictable, I know, because my favorite poem -- "Because People Ask What My Daughter Will Think of My Poems When She's 16" -- is written in the voice of a mother to a daughter, but god it's beautiful. I have read it aloud to people, savoring the way the words roll around in my mouth and the detailed images that arise from so few, carefully chosen words. I love this book.
Ann Keller
Aug 09, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
Beth Ann Fennelly delves into what we consider unmentionable. At times coarse, my favorite poems in this book were verses about a French Impressionist painter, which harkened back to a more elegant age. The language in this section was more than tolerable and hints at the true artistry of the poet. It is a shame that the rest of the poetry collection was not written in a similar manner. Replete with off color language and sexual innuendo. Definitely not for the younger set.
Kaite Stover
This is one of the best collections of poetry I have read in years. Funny, insightful, thought-provoking, witty, snarky, sly, sexy, yearning. She has taken every emotion I have ever experienced, some I haven't felt in years, and placed them on a page. I will be searching out her other collections. Suitable for teens and book groups.
Jonas
Nov 16, 2010 added it
Incredible, never read any of her work before, but having read the complete ode to Kudzu as well as a few others in the collection that hooked me good, I'm going back for more of this contemporary southern poet.
Christine
Oct 09, 2015 rated it really liked it

Favorite poems:

First Warm Day in a College Town
Because People Ask What My Daughter Will Think of My Poems When She is 16.
Not Knowing What He Is Missing
Of Two Minds
When Did You Know You Wanted to Be A Writer.
Mallory
I got this book a couple years ago when the author gave a reading. Not only did she sign it, but she reccomended one of the poems featured upon learning my name. That poem, along with the Berthe Moirset poems, is one of my favorites.
Kevin
Jul 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: southern-lit, poetry
Beth Ann is a wild woman. In this, her third collection of poems, she lets loose with cow tipping, dirty dancing, and letting her mind wander slowly over the taut bodies of the track team. In one section she even goes spastic with affection for John Berryman. It's quite a show.
Betsy
Jun 11, 2008 rated it liked it
I liked some of the poems more than others and probably liked the Kudzu Chronicles the best of all of them. I think the collection will resonate most strongly with women in their 20s-30s who are struggling with motherhood/career/having time to oneself issues.
David Schaafsma
Feb 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Fennelly now lives in Mississippi but hails from Chicago. She is bold and terrific and funny and surprising. I am reading all of her stuff, definitely.
Cheryl
Oct 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Actual Rating: 3.7 of 5 thorns
Kathy
Aug 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Unmentionables...like the thoughts that ramble through your mind & grow, but are never given voice. Thank you Beth Ann Fennelly for your voice.
Sarah
Nov 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
I don't usually read poetry, but I really, really enjoyed this collection and will look for other books by Fennelly.
Deja
Aug 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I was particularly impressed by the longer poems. And I'm very rarely impressed by long poems, so that's saying something.
Dkaufman
Aug 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
very enjoyable, vivid contemporary poetry, relatable.
Carla Criscuolo
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Charlotte Pence
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Jul 28, 2008
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Beth Ann Fennelly is the author of Tender Hooks: Poems and Great with Child: Letters to a Young Mother . A professor of English at the University of Mississippi, Fennelly lives with her husband and children in Oxford, Mississippi.
More about Beth Ann Fennelly...
“She reads his poems gratefully in her small Mississippi town. It's an undramatic life, yet these past months she seems to have found the intensity he yearns for, This also sounds like bragging, though she doesn't mean it to. If she could, she'd let him bear her secret. She'd let all great men bear it, for s few hours. Then, when she too it back, they'd remember how it feels to be inhabited.” 2 likes
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