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Chelsey Clammer’s Circadian equally delights the analyst and the poet in me. Clammer’s book is a lyric essay collection that draws on disciplines as diverse as biology, linguistics, genealogy, and nomenclature and combines them in unexpected ways to reevaluate her world and her place in it. Continue Reading

Half-Alive, Full of Ghosts

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Her poems spread from the taproot of mental illness and the female psyche, generating a surrealist space of glass teeth, pink crinoline, and bus tickets to nowhere, in which the manic is constantly in conversation with the muse. This relationship changes shape throughout the collection, shifting from the complexities of the mother-daughter dynamic, to the brutality of abuser to abused, to the gentle reflections of lover to beloved. Continue Reading

Taking Pleasure in Perversity

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We all have that friend. The one who tells wild stories beginning on a farm in Iowa and ending inside of the penthouse suite at The Bellagio. Those stories that shock, that titillate, that excite us, and for a reason we cannot fathom, those from which we take a great deal of pleasure. Jean Lorrain’s 1897 French novel Monsieur de Bougrelon—recently translated into English in 2016 by Eva Richter—is the story of that friend, though perhaps a darker and more perverse version of him. Continue Reading

Gore, Grit, Gristle, Bone

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In the darkest fairy and folk tales, there is the hollow sound of wood chopping to comfort abandoned children. There’s a wolf waiting in forest shadows for a red hood. There’s an intricately carved box meant to hold a girl’s insides, but a pig heart glistens in its stead, warm and leaking. In Julia Bouwsma’s debut poetry collection, Work by Bloodlight, readers will find the hungry children, the predators, the pig heart steaming in its own reek, and precious little comfort. Continue Reading

Between Creator and Creature

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What surprised me about these poems was finding out that part of Babbage’s impulse to quantify was to know the unknowable, “to calculate the probability that the dead will rise again,” how he might recapture those he lost: “Come back, he whispers, but the world he returns to remains flush / with the unwished for: the fading back of the lover turned to dust . . . ” Continue Reading