cover image A Lucent Fire: New and Selected Poems

A Lucent Fire: New and Selected Poems

Patricia Spears Jones. White Pine, $17 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-935210-69-6

The past and the present collide as Jones (Painkiller) delivers a sumptuous exploration of race, class, sex, love, and history filtered through the tumultuous backdrop of American idealism. No subject is too mundane or too sprawling for Jones; she channels an array of pop-culture muses, including Etta James, Kurt Cobain, Fatboy Slim, and Mary J. Blige. Often, these figures operate as points of access, a means to broach a larger cultural issue. For example, "If I Were Rita Hayworth" is both personal meditation and a critique of Eurocentric beauty standards: "strung between living a lie/ and bearing a sickness so furious it ages me to dream of it." In "Change in Seasons or the Break-Up Sonnet VII," Jones practices a knifepoint brevity that heightens the emotional impact of "Faithful clicks on the psychic metronome." Pain itself becomes a transformative force that leaves a mortal wound, matched by the inability to abandon powerful ghosts. Jones is especially interested in the blues, from its origins to its modern-day incarnations in the lives of everyday black people. Jones's poems, written during the past two decades, vibrate with a noticeable hunger and irresistible energy, unashamed to explore the nuances of intimacy via the looming specters of pop culture and history. (Dec.)