cover image The Book of Goodbyes

The Book of Goodbyes

Jillian Weise. BOA Editions, LTD (Consortium, dist.), $16 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-938160-14-1

“Peace makes awful poetry” writes Weise in her second collection, in which goodbyes “begin long before you hear them/ and gain speed.” Split into two main sections—or acts—with Intermission in between and Curtain Call at the end, this is a smart and savvy ode to absences—of a lover, of a self, and of a part of the self, literal and figurative. Weise, an amputee, writes brilliantly about being marked as a “disabled poet;” in “Café Loop,” a dialectic between strangers, she writes, “I knew her/ from FSU, back before she was disabled.// I mean she was disabled but she didn’t/ write like it.” Big Logos, Weise’s name for her paramour figure, is “Li Po sometimes/ and Catullus others,” making cameos in varying stages of departure: “The thing about him is// he keeps being the thing. You could never/ count on him. I did.” Intermission’s whimsical, hip fables star anthropomorphic finches, and the Curtain Call’s “Elegy for Zahra Baker”—a philosophical tract on absence, presence, and pain—brilliantly examines the case of a missing person, a young girl with a missing leg. Throughout, Weise’s masterfully balanced voice transforms even unique intricacies of her experience into a way to relate to—not alienate—the reader. This is a brilliant book ultimately about connection. (Sept.)