Traci Brimhall. Copper Canyon, , $16 ISBN 978-1-55659-517-2
Heartache begets mysticism and mythmaking in this spellbinding collection of narrative verse from Brimhall (Our Lady of the Ruins) about miracles, curses, and the stories people tell to come to terms with their experiences. Brimhall’s amalgamation of poetry and theater tells a family’s mysterious past through a motley and impassioned cast of narrators—including a chorus of wandering girls all named Maria—possessed of contradictory feelings and stories about God, each other, and the truth of their history. Amid the chorus, one Maria assures that “Miracles arrive/ whether they are welcome or not,” while another counters that they “stop or they never happened/ at all.” Inspired by pastoral and scriptural styles, Brimhall utilizes baroque metaphors to emphasize the primal hunger that drives desire and destruction: “I’ll pull stingers from your chest if you’ll clean the blood/ from under my nails. If romance is a ballad, we are its authors/ and its victims and finished in four minutes.” Brimhall’s Amazonian landscape teems with flora and fauna, yet feels forlorn; she graciously enlivens the heady atmosphere with her wit: “Jesus makes it to the stage but forgets his lines,” she writes. Brimhall sums up her work in the title poem: “If only the past would have me now that I have/ its answers—its griefs and inheritances.” (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/16/2017
Release date: 11/14/2017
Genre: Fiction
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