Brittingham Prize in Poetry
Synopses & Reviews
The Mouths of Grazing Things
is an unflinching, lyrical meditation on nature's forced exodus from the human, and the forms of longing, estrangement, magnetism, and self-otherness that ensue.
Arrestingly tender and fiercely protective of where nature lurks in and out of us still, Boyden translates for a new landscape where a brain in a jar is anchored by an apple, a fly-tying fisherman finds love songs to fish scattered among the barber's sweepings, and the players at "the most dangerous playground in the world" prepare for anything with one fist clenched and the other full of sugar. In poems built to survive an unsafe journey, this book delivers the now-beyond, the almost-was, the near-forgotten, and the just-in-time.
I dedicate this fly to the fish
of the fallen river. It is a poem
of hook and shank and feather.
It sinks like a bone, casts
like the logic of knives.
The song of my own hair, it is
how I call them from their stones.
— excerpt from "The Fly Tier's Monomania
"In a clear, muscular language loaded with precise revealing metaphor, Jennifer Boyden delivers a world. These are poems of a mature poet deeply engaged with her environment, demonstrating again and again the power of language to surprise and delight in moments of true insight." Sam Hamill
The poems in this book inhabit a world uneasily familiar and promising, but from the distance of a few possibilities into the future. In this collection of sharp, hallucinatory, and often darkly humorous poems, a lost man wanders among the towns of people who can't remember what they named the children, how to find each other's porches, or whether their buildings are still intact. That's why they need the person with the loupe. Among the poems where doorknobs emit the daily news, stone angels fall from the sky, and the floating world's harvest is whatever swims too close, the person with the loupe steadfastly verifies only what can be measured, while the lost man is witness to the unquantifiable and the limitless. And throughout, precise and observant language leads us expertly into the gorgeous, precarious wilderness of The Declarable Future.
Part fairy tale, part gothic ballad, Wait chronicles in poems the year before a young girl’s marriage.
In a small town under a spell, a child bride prays for the sheriff’s gun. Iron under a bed stops a nightmare. The carousel artist can carve only birds. Part fairy tale and part gothic ballad, Wait spans a single year: the year before a young woman’s marriage. Someone is always watching—from the warehouse, from the woods. And on the outskirts of town, someone new is waiting.
About the Author
Jennifer Boyden, a Minnesota native, lives in Washington State and teaches literature and writing. Her poetry has appeared in journals such as the Paris Review, Ploughshares, Cimarron Review, and the Mid-American Review. Boyden's awards include the PEN Northwest writing residency and a Washington State Artist Trust Grant. This is her first full-length collection.
Table of Contents
All the Animals Are Birds
Letter after Dismemberment
After the Party
Rabbit of the World
The Ripper's Bride
The Interpreter Tries to Blend In
The Ladder Tree
The Red Thread
Scissors, Hammer, Hoof Pick, Awl