cover image Fort Not

Fort Not

Emily Skillings. The Song Cave, $17.95 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-0-9967786-9-5

Poet and dancer Skillings beckons readers down a rabbit hole of lush sensory and imaginative experiences in her fabulously eccentric, hypnotic, and hypervigilant debut. Through the iridescent kaleidoscope of her mind’s eye, she methodically explores her personal “Encyclopedia of World Mythology-sized feelings” with refreshing candor. Skillings makes frequent literary and visual art references without being obscure or pretentious. Recurring themes include cosmic spontaneity, liberation, cooperation, contrarianism, and labor. One of Skillings’s greatest charms is her saucy, nonchalant feminist discontent; in one poem, she analyzes the boredom expressed by Roman heroine Lucretia as portrayed in various paintings of her stabbing herself, as if the knife was a “casual reminder/ between her tits that life is suffering,/ and a certain quota of daily blood/ is needed for a decant into that ancient/ ceremonial chalice of feminine shame.” Skillings also employs bold metaphors, as when she uses war strategy as a means to teach sexual communication: “The first thing to know about running across the battlefield is that if she’s not relaxed, she’s not going to enjoy it.” Trained in dance, Skillings is particularly attuned to motion and physicality in space, and her attention to white space, repetition, and unconventional syntax result in perceptive, precise poems marked by intriguing subtleties. (Oct.)