Essays & Reviews
When Michel Legrand Dies, The Rumpus, July 2019.
Did Not Shave Our Legs for This: A Conversation with Kristin Sanders’ Cuntry in Ten Line Dances, Fanzine, December 2018.
When I met Sanders again in 2018 in Paris, France, when she came to do her Trelex writing residency, we chatted more about her collection—its beginnings, its gutty gestation, its climax. Its anti-climax.
Sanders still has questions about her book. Moving to another country gives you perspective. You look across this “pond,” eyes transfixed with terror one moment, tenderness the next. You try to peel off some plastic-wrapper that’s been keeping you new, fresh, unable to see. You step out of the commercial.
You think about how the yucky feelings you had inside your home country were related to its own machine of violence and scandal. You think about how rape culture is still raping, how shame evacuates the female body from being allowed any space, respected for any of its knowledge and intuition. You search things online, and you know already but you confirm for yourself how profitable the porn industry is, nearly 100 billion dollars per year, and you think of all the bodies and all the fetishes being sold online, being written into perversion’s profit, and you think of how intimacy for almost everyone everywhere now is spliced between the flesh of self and the finger that clicks, taps, types, swipes, zooms.
Review of Dot Devota's The Division of Labor, DIAGRAM, February 2017.
In The Division of Labor, sentences often go unresolved; the transitions stay incomplete. Devota's collection indulges in the turbulence of non-narrative, and even if, as poetry readers, we've lost interest in having one, we feel acutely the receding shoreline. Turning the pages, I couldn't help hearing Adrienne Rich's lines from Tonight No Poetry Will Serve—"noun is choking / verb disgraced goes on doing." Yet, in Devota's world, language admits a completing amorality. No longer stuck in the binary of double-edged swords, words smash, beyond the limp-bodied patriarchy.
Review of Sara Deniz Akant's Babette, The Rupture, February 2017.
Akant's collection cuts us up, cuts itself up. No part of it is interested in tidy imagery, in you reaching the final page warm in awareness of what you have read. No. In reading this book, I said to a few friends, I don't know if I can write about it because I don't know if I get it. Yet, the mysteries that hang in this book's shadowy turns are what invite me back. As a reader, I can have fun. The ambiguity allows me to project, to feel like Babette, or any of these creatures, whose "silence / still spots through the dune." I think we might all know the feeling of these voids, as if we are, too, stuck in "this start-up," a puzzle world of electronics, degradation, where each thing we know is merely a figment, where we're sure we're evolving, but what into? We are Babette, we've existed before, but we can make nothing of a beginning or a now. Akant boldly writes of this confused space, which is both rich and bankrupt. And it is when near Babette, in the desert fog of this self-corrupting world, that Akant's speaker makes one of her great declarations:
now it is time
for the absolute absence of any event.
there are nests of clumsy language there are
'hazards to Babette.'
A Million Tenses of Womanhood: A Review of Lilah Hegnauer's Pantry, The Iowa Review, April 2016.
Indeed, Pantry depends on the reader recognizing what kind of hungers are here in this special closet of womanhood where all objects are designed to delight, to provide, to please and profess a kind of plenty. Yet, it is here, too, where Hegnauer intends to show a kind of depravity. Like the speaker of Sexton’s “Her Kind,” we feel a woman simultaneously embracing and rejecting a heritage. To step out of the kitchen means to lose a history, to kill a connection to the female line, but to stay, boxed in by butter dish and bread box, is itself a throw to the lion’s den.
Passionately Discontent: A Review of John Gery's Have at You Now!, Xavier Review, January 2015.
A World Just Outside of Tangibility: A Review of Lauren Berry's The Lifting Dress, The Iowa Review, April 2013.
Indeed, Berry does imbue her poems with a certain kind of precociousness. In “Our Inherited Radio,” Just-Bled Girl listens to the radio under a “thin white tent, [her] own bedsheet,” where she hears the story of a girl refugee, Phalia, being asked by a soldier “How can I not lift your dress?” Despite the youthful picture of a girl under a make-shift fort, the poem confronts the idea of a young woman experiencing empathy. And yet, Berry, though portraying a woman of growing strength and opinions, does not do away with all of her damage. At poem’s end, the Just-Bled Girl, still caught in the wheeling stages of feminism, asks, “Does she [Phalia] think, / when she’s awake, that she’s pretty?”
Stuck Between Grief and a Hard Place: A Review of Ashley Butler's Dear Sound of Footstep, Buried Letter Press, March 2012.
Fleet Foxes, Howlin' Wolf, August 28, 2008. Offbeat Magazine. November 2008.
Tom Waits, Saenger Theatre, Mobile, Alabama, July, 2, 2008. Offbeat Magazine. August 2008.
Todd Sickafoose: A Review of Tiny Resistors. Offbeat Magazine. July 2008.