Fearful Beloved

Khadijah Queen. Argos (SPD, dist.), $16 trade paper (116p) ISBN 978-1-938247-20-0
"Let godliness and beastliness crash/ together" urges poet and playwright Queen (Black Peculiar) as she confronts chameleonic forms of fear in this potent collection. She braids several long and formally varied sequences throughout the book, each with its own distinct approach. A series of epistolary poems titled "Dear Fear" offers an exposition on fear in aesthetic terms, as much as philosophical or psychological ones: "your spectrality exists your infinite veer." Many of these letters investigate the moments when the emotion eclipses or overtakes the self—"A fan of entropy & encroachment, you exist in the nonparticipatory gleam." At the same time, the formal dynamic of the epistle casts the speaker as separate from the object of her address, positioning her to question and undermine fear's power. Other poems convey moments of horror, vulnerability, and despair in piercing lyric terms, as when wailing is described as "the taste of letting go a stolen ingot/ melted down into the essence of a bleached sea—waves/ louder than the night itself." Queen looks closely at moments of contact among violence, beauty, and seduction without glorifying them. It is through such a nuanced and courageous lyric inquiry that fear becomes the entity against which Queen can "sharpen the leaden blade of her voice." (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 03/07/2016
Release date: 12/01/2015
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