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Emergency Brake

4.42  ·  Rating details ·  120 ratings  ·  23 reviews
2015 Wrolstad Contemporary Poetry Series selection

"Ruth Madievsky's first collection is an announcement like a bomb going off, like a super wave coming to swallow us up! For my part I am thrilled to be taken away by such energetic, funny, and heartbreaking work. This is a new voice made of sunlight, knives, emergencies, heat, honesty, bottles of vodka, and a tanker full of
Paperback, 80 pages
Published February 14th 2016 by Tavern Books
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Average rating 4.42  · 
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 ·  120 ratings  ·  23 reviews

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Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
In the words of Jami Attenberg: "Please forgive me while I give my own book five stars but if one does not believe their own book deserves five stars then why bother writing." I published "Emergency Brake" 4 years ago and still feel proud to share it. Thanks to all who have read, shared, and taught my poems <3 ...more
Alex Johnson
Mar 05, 2020 marked it as dnf
It's a matter of personal preference: I don't love the "scattershot" poems that wind from topic to topic and don't seem to land everywhere. No thanks. ...more
John Taylor
May 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
What a stunning collection. Haunting and light, humorous and cutting. The kind of poems that rattle around in your skull long after you shelve the book.
Mar 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Unstable relationships, disaffection with a modern (urban) lifestyle, and mortality: those seem to be the primary focus of EMERGENCY BRAKE. Madievsky plumbs her themes fiercely, and the poems delivered resonated with me across almost the entirety of the collection--a rarity for poetry collections I've read. There are probably a variety of reasons for my reaction, not all of which I understand, but if I had to guess it would be because of her restrained style: It's prose poetry that finds the mid ...more
May 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
A voice that lodges in the head. Metaphors stacked and stacked. No object too insignificant to be compared to the tension of this life. A fresh nest of images. I've been following Madievsky's journal publications for the last year and it was a thrill to see this first book live up to their energy. ...more
A.M. O'Malley
Apr 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
a rich and enthralling read! LOVED this.
Christy Baker
Aug 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Emergency Brake is a hard book to rate as it felt inconsistent to me. I loved the originality of metaphors used; it is, in truth, one of the most original and unusual books of poetry I've read in a long time in terms of its' turns of phrasing and play of words, drawing heavily on the author's immersion into the medical research field of study. At times, some of the poems shined with a brilliant stream of word pictures while others just felt a bit of a jumble of words that didn't quite fit and go ...more
Jun 24, 2019 added it
Shelves: poetry
"In Los Angeles, someone's replaced
all the oxygen with surgical grade stainless steel,
someone's tagged all the freeway overpasses
and I can't tell if they wrote HELEN
or HELP. Everyone I love is trying
to shine me like a flashlight,
everyone I love is telling me
to say ahh. In my backyard, forty ants
are sharing a slice of watermelon,
and I don't know why that makes me feel
lonely, why I wish I was their size
and with them, fighting for the juiciest piece
with everyone I love
or just letting them have it."
Patricia Murphy
Jan 27, 2020 added it
Shelves: poetry

So many poems here use fascinating imagery to build a house of existential pain. I truly appreciate the communication of this pain. I wish I got a better understanding of where the pain comes from.

people turn back into objects

If I throw enough lamps will you come.

When I open, I want to be the umbrella
not the pocket knife.

Something inside me
scattering like deer.

sing your aria, little man.

all my life
I've been a charley horse in the thigh of some god.
Jan 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
Will revisit when I’m a more mature poetry reader ~ a lotta oh I get it I get I get it nope I don’t get it

@jen if you go premed and write poetry this is what I envision

But thank you Ms. G for lending me this, hopefully I’ll read something this year worth lending back

Some favorites (maybe the few I felt confidently cognizant??):
BRIDGE, SHADOW, HAND (for those 3 lines)

Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Madievsky's poems take a gritty, urban landscape (both literal and figurative) and imbue it with beauty without sanitizing pain and brokenness. While the poems are carefully crafted, they come across as voice-driven, immediate, as if you've popped into the page to listen to a friend recounting her experiences, slicing them open for you, plumbing them for meaning. It's all very ugly beautiful. ...more
Mal Duffy
Mar 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Wonderful collection. Ruth has a flawless ear and self awareness that allows her to observe and undermine herself at the same time, while displaying a wide sense of humor. Made me rethink relationships. Highly recommended.
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It would be hard to find a finer debut. Madievsky's work is striking and powerful. ...more
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, poetry
new favorite xo
Megan Alyse
Sep 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mfa
Raw and fucking real. And I don’t say raw in the way hipsters who read Bukowski say “raw”. I mean, this girl writes from her guts.
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: accessible
If I could give this book a hundred stars, I would.
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, poetry
The way she looks at the world in these poems is so unique and so enchanting.
Jeremy Reed
Apr 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Hands down one of my favorite books of the last few years. After my first read, the voice and language stuck with me so much I decided to read it again within the week.
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
tears and love
Vincent Scarpa
Oct 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
I purchased this collection after falling in love with Madievsky's poem "Electrons" on poem-a-day ( and it delivers the goods that poem promised. I especially appreciate the way Madievsky manipulates the language of medicine and pharmaceuticals, mining that jargon to render something exquisite and precise and new.

“I spend most days hoping for release
and not knowing from what.”- “Mountain”
Nov 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
At first glance, this is a type of collection I'd shrug at and then walk away from, but the more I think about it, the more it sticks and the more I enjoy it. The true barrage of images thrown at the reader might seem odd at first, but it builds momentum and strength as the collection carries on, and it helps to demonstrate the anxiety and fear within these situations. Beyond just the surface level of these poems, this collection is truly unsettling - but in the best of ways. ...more
Anatoly Molotkov
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"When I remember the past as burglary,
I think the body is a door, and what is a door
But a crime scene waiting to happen,
The way a needle waits to happen to a vein."

In her imaginative collection, Ruth Madievsky utilizes the imagery of everyday - dirty, charged, sometimes mundane - to develop her own brand of body-centered ontology.
Nov 03, 2016 marked it as to-read
Shelves: giveaways, poetry
I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. It is autographed.
rated it really liked it
Mar 30, 2017
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Dec 14, 2017
living in  .Rock  Hll  SC for a
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May 05, 2016
Jacob Kimmel
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Apr 10, 2020
rated it it was amazing
Apr 12, 2016
Jenay Ross
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Mar 24, 2020
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Sep 22, 2019
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Ruth Madievsky is the author of a poetry collection, "Emergency Brake" (Tavern Books, 2016), which was selected for the 2015 Wrolstad Contemporary Poetry Series. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Tin House, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, The American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. She is originally from Moldova and lives in Boston, where she works as an HIV and oncology pharmacist. ...more

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