cover image Hot with the Bad Things

Hot with the Bad Things

Lucia LoTempio. Alice James, $16.95 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-1-948579-09-4

“Hiding behind the poem is always another poem. And in that one, less blood,” LoTempio posits at the beginning of her investigative debut that questions love, abuse, and memory with a light but deadly-serious touch. Set largely in an upstate New York college town where lives overlap and stories travel quickly, LoTempio’s poems enact a candid confessionalism as they address her rapist, a woman murdered by a lover, gendered violence, and the public reactions to these events. The nuanced lyric speaker speaks in short prosaic sections, while lineated poems communicate fractured distress. Other short poems repurpose social media posts, and invented epistolaries read like dispatches from a town forever changed by violence. Throughout, the poet remains self-aware and considers the suffering of others: “As if I can play this mirror game. As if she could light through me. As if I am at the quiet swirling center”; “In the bad dream I’m not her but I am watching./ In the bad dream why am I watching.” LoTempio poignantly and directly relays her experiences of trauma, providing an affecting example of how to write about violence, witness, and memory. (May)