cover image Dear Delinquent

Dear Delinquent

Ann Townsend. Sarabande, $15.95 (80p) ISBN 978-1-946448-34-7

Cofounder of Vida, an organization that supports women in the literary arts, Townsend’s third book opens with a take on medieval French troubadour Beatriz de Dia’s “How excessively I love,” which is directed at a lover who is not her husband. Many of these poems consider the erotic space of illicit desire. The title poem, “Dear Delinquent”—titled after Edna St. Vincent Millay’s favored salutation to her lover—plays with the conventions of courtly love in a contemporary space: “Dear disaster, he said to me,/ tossing my shirt across the room.” Several of the poem’s speakers are involved with married men, allowing for the uneasy titillation of seduction and betrayal, often via long-distance phone sex: “in the dark business of failed// connection. Busy, it said,/ being married to someone else.” But interspersed amid these hot, somewhat disturbing vignettes are poignant glimpses of a different sort of love, in which parents share a knowledge of what’s passed: the remembered ache of a child’s inept musical recital or the body’s frailty. These are sharp, spare, quick-moving poems—imagistic, but not as musical as one might expect, given the author’s fixation with chanson. (May)