cover image Further Problems with Pleasure

Further Problems with Pleasure

Sandra Simonds. Univ. of Akron, $14.95 trade paper (72p) ISBN 978-1-62922-059-8

Death is never far away in the saturated Gothic atmosphere of this latest darkly irreverent collection from Simonds (Steal It Back). In Simonds’s poems there is a frequent parallel between bodily want and a kind of spiritual crisis: “Devout as I am the devouring’s/ stronger.” Though many of the book’s poems take place in versions of the South, the book’s middle section, “Baudelaire Variations,” feels like a fantastical or cinematic catalog of destruction inhabited by a character who seems to be part devil and part companion. The book’s title repeats, refrain-like, in a series of poems where problems pile and threaten to turn at a moment’s notice: “The problem with pleasure/ is that you need more and more of it to force it to/ be more measurable and before you know it, it flips/ to torture.” These poems unfurl with profane observations competing for attention with declarative assertions on the absurdities of love and literature and 21st-century living. Simonds possesses an aptitude for metaphor, and her speakers self-govern even when the world grows murky or difficult: “Some people call it self-destructiveness/ but I call it love, statelessness,/ the anarchy of a flood of flowers.” As “the stage set/ of the Anthropocene gets all shot up like a gas station,” Simonds reports the damage amid the ruins. (Feb.)