Blackbird Whitetail Redhand is a book of chaos, transformation, and all the little possibilities tangled beneath the night clover. It is a simultaneously tumultuous and quiet narrative of bodily autonomy and the sacrifices needed to achieve it. These are poems rattled with the snapping of bear traps and the sharp, tangy bite of an ax kissing the trunk of a tree. Lusby leaves you asking: is she the sweet flesh of the fruit or the sharp teeth? Listen for cloven feet over the thicket. If you catch sight of her, marvel at her mottled heart. Be careful not to make a sound, “she’ll move like scattershot” if you do. (Porkbelly Press, 2018)
Lindsay Lusby is the author of the poetry collection Catechesis: a postpastoral (The University of Utah Press, 2019), winner of the Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize, judged by Kimiko Hahn. She is also the author of two chapbooks, Blackbird Whitetail Redhand (Porkbelly Press, 2018) and Imago (dancing girl press, 2014), and the winner of the 2015 Fairy Tale Review Poetry Contest. Her poems have appeared most recently in Gulf Coast, The Cincinnati Review, Passages North, The Account, and North Dakota Quarterly. Her visual poems have appeared in Dream Pop Press and Duende. She is a Senior Poetry Reader for Cherry Tree and she edits poems at Tell Tell Poetry.
Fairy-tale reader friends, I am crazy for the barbed music of these poems. Each piece is feels weighted, whole, lyrically hewn like the girl without hands in "Interlude," who goes headfirst, "by the skin of her teeth,/ by the point of her chin,// sharpening as she runs."
I love the use of white space and ink on the page, the careful repetition of sound and the shape of stanzas and breaks in the lines. The shape of the entire sequence is potent too, organic, as it moves and gathers force through the tales the poems tell, of the girl who gave birth to an apple, and the girl with no hands and, yes, the girl with cloven feet:
Give chase and she moves like scattershot, constellates over marsh:
a smile studded as a belt, the flint-strike of tooth on light.
These poems lushly capture the dangers of and to a girl's body in this dense and familiar fairy tale world. What a haunting, and hauntingly designed, collection. The chapbook itself has a gorgeous cover and binding. The poems are visceral, singing, and dark.