Stop Wanting

Lizzie Harris. Cleveland State Univ. Poetry Center, $15.95 trade paper (60p) ISBN 978-0-9860257-6-1
The poems in this swift debut coalesce around childhood trauma and its reverberations, revealing a voice as direct as it is deft, as unflinching as it is intimate. "I want to say what happened/ but am suspicious of stories," her opening poem declares, "I want this// to be a stranger's soft tissue/ sun-shrunk to a pebble." And it is from this desire to render experience for which there seems to be no adequate mode of expression that the collection draws its energy. Under such pressure, Harris reminds readers of the elemental power of metaphor to convey meaning beyond the limits of reason, explication, or even the speaker's own knowledge: "For years, that night sparkles/ like the shell of a mussel/ the easy memory of love... I'm ready to know, but/ the shell won't open./ It hangs like the eyelid of a stone." Through extreme lyric compression, images of the American desert, domestic spaces, and the wounded, resilient body become charged, configuring and reconfiguring the difficult narratives they carry. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 06/02/2014
Release date: 04/01/2014
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