Currently Reading: Juliana Spahr's That Winter the Wolf Came

THIS is why I love Juliana Spahr:

"It might be that there is nothing to epiphany if it does not hint at the moment of sweaty relation larger than the intimate. For what is epiphanic song if it doesn’t spill out and over the many that are pulled from intimacies by oil’s circulations? The truckers, the sailors and deckhands, the assembly line workers, those who maintain the pipelines, those who drive support in the caravans that escort the tankers, the fertilizers, the thousands of interlocking plastic parts, the workers who move two hundred miles and live in a dorm near a factory, alone, those on the ships who spend fifty weeks circulating with the oil unable to talk to each other because of no shared language and so are left only with two weeks in each year where they can experience tongue in meaningful conversation. A life that is only circulations."    (from “Transitory, Momentary”)


Spahr’s poetry exposes those moments of “sweaty relation” we may not be aware of, or even those we are aware of, but may never think to think about. As in Spahr’s previous collections, the poems in That Winter the Wolf Came chart the entangled relationships and interconnections among and between all: including birds, oil, corporate greed, food, bays, oceans, our bodies, and other nonhuman living and nonliving entities.

from “Tradition”:

Later I pass the breast cup to not really me,
a breast cup filled with sound insulation panels and imitation wood
            with a little nectar and sweetness. 
And not really me drinks it and then complains a little,

rebuking me, for my cakes of nuts and raisins
are cakes of extraction of crude petroleum and natural gas,

for my apples are filled with televisions and windshield wiper blades.


© Juliana Spahr, That Winter the Wolf Came, Commune Editions, 2015

Currently Reading: Brandi George's Gog

With lyrical intensity, Brandi George invites the reader into a Midwestern countryside filled with violence and possession, weakness and strength, a world reminiscent of Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina. And just like Allison’s protagonist, the first-person speaker of Gog is boiling inside as she becomes a fury that refuses self-pity: 

from “The Shadow of My Black Dress”:

  I’ll travel back in time, Mother,
         hold your hand when
                  the giant lobster hovers
          over your bed, clicking its pincers.
  But I’m not sorry. I wore your wedding dress
to a séance, which was not really
            speaking with the dead, but dancing
 on your antique table. I haven’t slept since you
          called an exorcist for me. Just
   so you know: if that man you brought
                   home from the bar takes
off his hat, I’ll load my rifle. And Angel
        of Death: blow me.         


from “Why the Working Class Won’t Save Us”:

… Bitch, ice queen, feminazi. Every woman
in my family has been raped. My belated protection:
petrifaction, the tree’s innermost ring drained
of sap, black lipstick and necklace-dagger…

© Brandi George, Gog, Black Lawrence Press, 2015