cover image Let’s All Die Happy

Let’s All Die Happy

Erin Adair-Hodges. Univ. of Pittsburgh, $15.95 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-0-8229-6514-5

Uncertainty, disappointment, and patriarchy pervade a landscape of lost dreams and unexpected realities in Adair-Hodges’s gloriously sardonic debut, winner of the 2016 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize. In this collection, a person does not habituate to loneliness but instead becomes “a scientist inventing/ new ways to be lonely”; aging feels “like a bouquet of Mondays,// the alarm going off though we just fell/ asleep”; and looming despair inspires one to go for runs “not for health or happiness but// to prepare for the apocalypse.” In addition to being grimly humorous, Adair-Hodges can cast undiluted darkness upon subjects as she deems fit, such as her rendering of the male gaze as an omniscient demon (“I’m being pressed/ against a mirror so hard I can’t see/ myself, just the dark center of my eye/ pulling me in like I’m being unborn”) and her innate desire for redemption: “Imagine this poem is my hand/ opening. Imagine this the grenade in your chest:/ pin in my teeth. I want you to hurt/ and I want to know about it.” It’s a gritty and bewitching collection that revels in its vulnerability; Adair-Hodges incisively translates visceral emotions into tangible imagery while remaining emotionally fluid and preserving the integrity of her sorrow. [em](Nov.) [/em]