cover image Having Been an Accomplice

Having Been an Accomplice

Laura Cronk. Persea (Norton, dist.), $15 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-0-89255-413-3

“Instead of not speaking,” writes Cronk in her debut, “I want to speak.” Here, speaking is meant as insurrection against injustice—whether in matters of love or war—wherever interiority is pitted against an unconquerable exterior: “Like praying, I thought that what I did inside meant something.” The first of the book’s two sections speaks out about a troubled love—where “distraction took on spiritual proportions”—and surpasses conventional renderings of heartache to describe a relationship’s absurd premises and motions: “We were mad to be in contact with each other./ Now we are in contact with each other.” Most ambitious is the second, title section, where poems in the voice of a warmonger’s wife explore how anyone might be accessory to hegemony: “Though he fought/ there were no marks on his body,/ there were none on mine.” Governed largely by free association, these minutes of one character’s interiority contain a roughness, as White House tapes might: “Not Leftist. More Painless. More hidden, more lawless. By that I mean I have no law degree. I’m a woman cooking.” If in these monologues-in-verse music is sometimes sacrificed for irony, Cronk’s project to “blow up the Law with Language” still breaks through—and with this debut, she’s surely lit a fuse. (June)