Begin with a Failed Body


Title Details

Pages: 88

Trim size: 5.500in x 8.500in



Pub Date: 09/15/2017

ISBN: 9-780-8203-5120-9

List Price: $19.95

Begin with a Failed Body


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  • Description
  • Reviews
This collection of poems begins rooted in the landscape of the U.S. South as it voices singular lives carved out of immediate and historical trauma. While these poems dwell in the body, often meditating on its frailty and desire, they also question the weight that literary, historical, and religious icons are expected to bear. Within the vast scope of this volume, the poems arc from a pig farmer’s funeral to Georges de la Tour’s paintings and Toni Morrison’s Beloved. With an ear tuned to the lift and lilt of speech, they wring song from sorrow and plant in every dirge a seed of jubilation. Rich in clarity and decisive in her attention to image, Natalie J. Graham writes resonant, lush poetry.
Graham’s intellectual tentacles are long, and her imagination is generous. She is constantly searching for something to pull into the body, to feed the body. Her verse is terse, marked by technical compaction, and yet it is simultaneously grandly encompassing and voracious in its interests. In her we have a poet acutely sensitive to the ways of the body, its betrayals, its pleasures, and its unknowable selves. She is an exciting new voice, but this claim of ‘newness’ seems almost trite, as there is nothing ‘new’—at least not in the sense we might apply it to a novice’s work—about the authority, wisdom, and daring we find in these poems.

—Kwame Dawes

Poems that speak both to the richness and ruin of history and teem with all that is earthy and corporeal.

—Julia Bouwsma, Poetry Northwest

About the Author/Editor

NATALIE GRAHAM is an associate professor of African American studies at California State University, Fullerton.