All You Do Is Perceive

Joy Katz. Four Way (UPNE, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-935536-35-2
“Happiness is on me like a scratch in a car door,” writes Katz in her second full-length collection. Hovering between delight and danger, the poems exist in a place where “the ambulance dazzles like a cocktail ring” and a “little holocaust kicks the kitchen chair.” With her buoyant tone, Katz heartily welcomes the reader: “Are you going to sit there? Coincidently I am also going to sit there. Can you see out of my eyeholes? Are you comfortable?” Katz’s poems muse over people on the F train, entertain violent fantasies toward a visiting poet, and other everyday thoughts and occurrences. There is joy in the poems and a linguistic playfulness underscored by the wide-eyed fears unique to a new mother and her child. “Mother’s Love,” a nine-part poem that anchors the collection, is inspired by a friend who said that taking heroin felt like “mother’s love.” The poem explores the all-consuming experience of a new mother from a fever-pitch of perception: “We are addicts, an old boyfriend would say/ This is not that. But it is/ I am helpless/ My hair fills with sparks.” Mixing ecstasy with terror, the mother worries about her ability to protect her child, to keep “the woundable face of a boy” safe from the many dangers he’ll encounter. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/23/2013
Release date: 10/01/2013
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