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Imaginary Vessels

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  111 ratings  ·  16 reviews
"Compelling, appealing, cinematic . . . Rekdal refreshes the meaning and the image of being displaced in this world." —The Boston Globe

"Rekdal's work deeply satisfies, for it witnesses and wonders over the necessary struggles of human awareness and being." —Rain Taxi

"In acknowledging the disappointing facts of our existence and singing her way into its amazement, she has
Paperback, 110 pages
Published November 8th 2016 by Copper Canyon Press
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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 ·  111 ratings  ·  16 reviews

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Simeon Berry
Micro-blurb: a lascivious apology tied in a Möbius strip with memento mori.
Aaron Cance
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It occasionally becomes necessary to step back from the unadulterated pleasures of the actual reading of poetry to pause to take into consideration just what it is that makes good poetry good. Whether this takes place in a classroom, an online chat, or a backyard discussion with a couple friends over some good wine, I default, almost without exception, to the philosophy of poetry provided by William Wordsworth in his 1800 preface to Lyrical Ballads because very few of the arguments made about ...more
B. Mason
The ambition of this collection didn't strike me until three-quarters of the way through the text. Rekdal's fourth section of the book, "Shooting the Skulls: A Wartime Devotional," is a fascinating blend of the inspiration of excavation, bringing memory into conversation with the imagined voices of catalogued but nameless bones. Her second part, "Go West," too, shows an impressive display of poetic form and capturing a diversity of perspectives on Mae West. "Imaginary Vessels" brings to light ...more
Emily Shearer
Oct 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
Maybe it's because I've had enough of persona poems, be they Mae West, heroines of Greek tragedy, my own, maybe it's because the photos of the unearthed skulls were more interesting than the poems about them, maybe because the devotional at ground zero wasn't raw enough, maybe because Paisley herself wasn't nice enough when I met her at a cocktail hour, but these poems did not "deeply satisfy" me as they did the reviewers over at Rain Taxi. Here's the one star though, and god, is it a beaut.

Steven Peck
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite poetry books and one I will return to often. The poems are gorgeously crafted, insightful, and a delight to read. They range from being fun to profound. The mediations on a collection of skulls excavated from an insane asylum (with photos of the skulls on which each mediation is based) were eerie and beautiful, provoking a complex reaction in me that played with memory and and thoughts on my place and duration in the world. The entire work is original and engaging. ...more
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I would have given this collection 5 stars based on the Mae West section alone ("Mae knows wit's a waste on those who think a woman is a sink of mind.") Or the section of poems based on photos of skulls found on the grounds of the Colorado Mental Health Institute. But there's plenty more beyond those. One of my favorite collections in years.
Apr 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Rekdal is very much the cerebral poet (rather than a more visceral/emotional one), which, for me, at times makes it hard to connect. However, she is so smart, and her topics, her gaze, cover such a wide an interesting range, that it will be worth your effort to seek this volume out and spend some time with it.
Jul 24, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 - read as part of Booktube-a-thon. This completes my challenges for read a book in one day, read a book entirely outside and read a book you bought because of the cover. It is also my second book I've finished for this read-a-thon.

My favorite line was: "don't be a noodle." Mini rtc
Sep 24, 2017 rated it liked it
A lovely poetry book. As an anthropologist I found the photographic essays and attached poetry a beautiful and soulful way of reestablishing connection with the bones we see as shells of once-life.
Patricia Murphy
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
My favorite is the "Devotional" on page 85.
Alina Hansen
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
amazing poetry!!! so concise and finely chiseled pieces. each poem is so sharp it could cut a hole in your memory forever after reading.
Jul 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Kate Savage
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Exquisite, delicate creations.

I especially loved the one with empathy for oysters. Obviously.
Jan 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My review in Artists of Utah 15-Bytes
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this collection, though I must say that I preferred her last couple of books more.

That really just comes down to taste in subject matter, I think. Her recent books have felt more personal while this one is a bit more clinical and distant.

Still amazing poetry as always.
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
The skull devotionals alone are worth the price of admission.
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Rekdal grew up in Seattle, Washington, the daughter of a Chinese American mother and a Norwegian father. She earned a BA from the University of Washington, an MA from the University of Toronto Centre for Medieval Studies, and an MFA from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is the author of the poetry collections A Crash of Rhinos (2000), Six Girls Without Pants (2002), and The Invention of ...more