The Fix

Lisa Wells. Univ. of Iowa, $19.95 trade paper (70p) ISBN 978-1-60938-547-7
Wells, a 2017 Iowa Poetry Prize winner, tests the limits of any fix that religion, drugs, sex, or art might offer in order to “endure this/ apparatus.” Skillfully drawing on high art and pop culture, Wells tracks the development of self that comes with “Every day/ learning how little I know.” She displays a remarkable sense of syntax and rhythm, as when her speaker relates her own conception: “his hands that gripped/ the hips that dropped// the egg that met/ the fish that struck// the match in me// I’m burning.” Throughout, sex offers a set of complex satisfactions while also being the site of abuse, power, and trauma. The speaker’s intense homoerotic exchanges allow for pleasure and agency: “I hoisted her bare ass/ to the titanium shelf/ and nudged apart her knees.” Under duress, the speaker prays to a god—“god of the refried cigarette/ the No-Doz overdose”—who “could not spare me the fingers/ of fatherless boys.” But the speaker turns to such secular schema as object relations to orient the “me// of little faith; little/ lamb; locust/ on which the gentle Baptist dined.” Line by line, Wells delivers a brilliant, taut, terrifying debut that renders the parts of the inner and outer world for which there is no real cure. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/19/2018
Release date: 04/01/2018
Book - 978-1-60938-548-4
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