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Forest Primeval

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  191 ratings  ·  21 reviews
"Another Anti-Pastoral," the opening poem of Forest Primeval, confesses that sometimes "words fail." With a "bleat in [her] throat," the poet identifies with the voiceless and wild things in the composed, imposed peace of the Romantic poets with whom she is in dialogue. Vievee Francis’s poems engage many of the same concerns as her poetic predecessors—faith in a secular age, the ci ...more
Paperback, 104 pages
Published November 30th 2015 by Triquarterly
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Average rating 4.32  · 
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 ·  191 ratings  ·  21 reviews

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Most reviews of Forest Primeval will probably focus on the many poems herein that are based on fairytales, reimaginings of Snow White and Bluebeard and Circe and incubus myths and the like filtered through a totally unique sensibility, raw and queasy and horror-filled yet also wiry and potent (e.g.: "Overcome / with curiosity, my fear was your blue beard / between my legs-- / a nightmare I couldn't shake, / and now must receive, the feather of it, / each hair's nightly collapse against my own / webbing"). A kind ...more
Sep 21, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

An absolutely beautiful collection--a little bit about growing up, being a woman, and folklore, faith, and fairytales. Highly recommend.
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a wild collection of poems and the opening poem, “Another Antipastoral,” gives the reader a good idea of how the poetic speaker describes herself throughout the rest of the book: “Don’t you see? I am shedding my skins. I am a paper hive, / a wolf spider, / the creeping ivy, the ache of a birch, a heifer, a doe” (3). One of the most prominent themes is reflection on how she does not conform to idealized white beauty standards. The subsequent pursuit of love is a rocky road, in poems like ...more
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
These poems are take-my-breath-away gorgeous. Far ranging, surprising in turn of phrase and direction, carefully and originally structured, I could reach each poem again and again and find something new each time. There are poems inspired by myth, by fairy tales, by the blues, by love, by wounds of heart, body and soul. Howlin' Wolf prowls these pages. From a distance he howls through each word: a low growl, fangs bared, the plaintive wail of a harmonica. This is urgent, important work, so worth ...more
Aug 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, poetry
I've been eager to read this since it was published, and ended up playing nearly a year of lost book bingo with the library to get it. I think I came in with some expectations as a result of the wait, which I try never to have with poetry.

Francis is a talented poet, very raw in her presentation; that I wasn't expecting the poems in this volume in no way took from their power. I felt like I was on a back porch, listening to a friend work through their problems, drinking whiskey from a jelly jar;
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read this once, slowly, and then again, only a little faster - it's a collection rich with song, folklore, fairy tale, myth, magic, and a clear kinship with the natural world that isn't forced or overly clever, merely felt and lived and described in a voice you can hear breathing next to you. Poems like "Taking It" and "Skinned" took my breath away, illuminating family history in a way that put me there. "Cake Baby" and "Wolf" surprised with their humor and inventiveness. And her handling of o ...more
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent book. I checked this one out from the library, and have decided that Vievee Francis' antipastoral (as she names it) is going to be purchased and given it's own place on my shelve. Complex, prickly, fearless, luscious. This book needs to be read and re-read.
Here's a link to the Poetry Foundation's entry on Francis:
Jude Brigley
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I particularly liked this collection. Two of my favourites were 'A song of the ridge' and 'All kinds of howl in''. I love the structures of some of these such as the listing of 'Happy?' and the 'given' structure of 'Altruism.. These poems reverberate in the mind and snatches come back at odd moments.
Keith Taylor
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Most recent book by this very important poet. Vievee F. puts herself in places where she needs to transform to find a new comfort. Complex but rewarding poems. The language in these poems will make you shiver at its beauty. See a short review I did for The Ann Arbor Observer here
Eli Brooke
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
gorgeously lyrical, if more than a little disturbing. lots of reworkings of fairy tales made even darker & more psychologically complicated than the originals.
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Vievee Francis is here to fuck you up magnificently & afterward you will thank her.
Jun 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
vibrant and wonderful
Lisa Ladd
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book of poetry is one to be savored, and read, again and again. Each poem left me wanting to stop and ponder, before turning to the next one.
Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
These poems speak to the deep connection we have with place.
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Sensual, dark, a howl from a dangerous fairy-tale forest. I read this all in one sitting.
Mar 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
"Forest Primeval" is an exquisite collection of poems from Vievee Francis. The work deals with topics ranging from despair to faith to folk-lore and love and so forth (to tired to get deeper here). Her writing is dark and often conjures up disturbing images from everyday life, making the quotidian frightening and fascinating. It is hard not to read this collection at least twice. I wish I could give this volume the review it deserves but, perhaps later, just wanted to express the impression it l ...more
May 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, poetry
an intriguing balancing act.
Laura Villareal
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Vievee Francis is author of Horse in the Dark (2012), winner of the Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in various journals and anthologies, including Best American Poetry 2010 and Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry. She was the recipient of the 2009 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and the 2010 Kresge Artist Fellowship. A Cav ...more
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