Embouchure

Emilia Phillips. Univ. of Akron, $15.95 trade paper (104p) ISBN 978-1-62922-208-0
Phillips (Empty Clip) dissects in her bracing latest the often-bewildering needs, desires, and betrayals of the body with funny and forthright emotional honesty. She assiduously reconstructs the experience of realizing she was queer in adulthood, both the confusion and the joy of knowing something is missing and then discovering what it is. “I admit I searched how to fuck a woman on the internet—/ because my truth came late as my last period,” she writes. Phillips has a unique talent for capturing the indignities of adolescence—the awkwardness of sex education, for example, but also becoming a woman and being expected to conform to new and confusing standards of behavior. In “They Called Me Unladylike,” she recalls facing derision for being a tomboy, “a presexual soft butch/ Medusa,” and unlearning the resulting shame and self-loathing in adulthood through erotic attention: “my belt’s as soft/ as a rose petal and I let her tie me up with it/ so I can’t stop her from telling me how/ beautiful, how strong, my body is with the whispers/ of her hands.” This poignant and intimate account of discovery hums with pitch-perfect humor and triumphs that hit hard. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 04/05/2021
Release date: 03/01/2021
Genre: Poetry
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