Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Wolf Doctors - Sara Woods (Artifice Books/Curbside Splendor)

Today's book of poetry:
Wolf Doctors.  Sara Woods.  Artifice Books, an imprint of Curbside Splendor Publishing.  Chicago, Illinois.  2014.

Today's book of poetry flat out loves Sara Woods' Wolf Doctors.  

If you are anything like the staff here at Today's book of poetry you spent almost all of your time reading poetry.  Every type of poem.  So, when someone comes along and Wolf Doctors you, it is always going to be a surprise.

Sara Woods masterfully uses her cynical wit like a whip in a cage full of lions.  The speed of sound reality we all live in  is quickly snapped to attention by the stinging end of her report.

Close-up Photo Of Flowers With

touching your hair is a slow death /
single parent families and holding
tighter / tighter. keep your chin up
ballerina. wasting time we are wast-
ing / time, you made me coffee and I
appreciate that, glow-worm, dressed
for the weather, holding, / in my
swimsuit i will dive in the ocean / i
will swim in the waves / like a con-
gress of wolf doctors / scrubbing
themselves down.


There are no instructions with Sara Woods' marvelous Wolf Doctors but seat-belts should be required. Woods has the ability to turn on a dime, dance on the head of pin.  These poems are deadly serious and inhumanly hilarious at the same time.

One of the things about this wildly inventive collection that sticks with the reader is that Woods renders the impossible so real.  She makes improbably connections, absurdly astute connections that simply open new doors of perception.  Sara would have the attention of Aldous, Jim Morrison too.


Christopher wanted to live in a mountain stream in the
winter. He wanted to push his fingers into the mud and
watch the salmon spawning. He currently lived above a
taqueria on Halsted. Sometimes at night he would open
his bathroom window and stand in the shower with the
nozzle on all the way cold and feel the wind and the water
trickling down over him and look out at the people mill-
ing up and down the street and pretend. He was a bear.
He was going to eat them.


These poems kick you in the kilter.  At every turn Woods turns just that much more and leaves your feet searching for purchase.  You know the feeling of being on a flight of stairs of irregular height, where one step is too high or too low, and you are momentarily suspended in a new disbelief.  Woods does this to the reader all the time.  Once she has you on shaky ground she plays around with your firmament.

There are moments of joy in Wolf Doctors, they happen all the time, peppered into the text with a Master Chef's touch -- but mostly it is the polite unease the Wolf Doctor prescribes.  Woods' has invented new ways to see the world and is ready to poke you in the eye if necessary.

The Opposite Of Killing 1000 People

i am going to sneak into 1000 homes
& leave 1000 bath & body works gift baskets.

replace the tile in 1000 bathrooms
while the owners are on 1000 vacations.

i will slip 1000 winning lotto
tickets under 1000 doors

& sneak all daily essential vitamins &
minerals into 1000 blueberry oatmeals.

watch me do 40000 covert chores
& send 20000 anonymous, gushing

letters to 1000 people's bosses.
they won't know what hit them.

then i will expand my purview:
all of america you are next!

i will pay your netflix bills &
cat-sit when you didn't ask me to!

you will wake up to a gleaming
freshly waxed car & the realization

that your folgers can has been filled with real
columbian-grown, hand-roasted beans!

then much, much later, while you sleep,
maybe in late autumn when there

is no sound but the rustling
of the trees' last golden leaves,

i will come whisper in your ear,
you are as good as the opposite of dead.


Another straw poll at the office read this morning.  Milo broke his vow of silence and is now demanding he be called "Wolf Doctor".  At the same time he has taken to snarling while checking our pulses on demand.  Kathryn, our new intern, is insisting we call her Kat and has affirmed that she "WILL NOT BE GIVING THIS BOOK BACK".  Everyone in the office was charmed by Kat and Woods, myself included.

Utterly charmed, enchanted, entertained.  How often does that happen?

Sara Woods

. . .

Sara Woods lives in Portland. She is the author of nine chapbooks, most recentlyWarm Morning (The New Megaphone). Her poetry and collaborations have been published in magazines like Diagram, The Denver Quarterly, Gulf Coast, Guernica, PANK, Barrelhouse, Dusie, Sixth Finch, and Columbia Poetry Review.

"You know when you're reading a book and you recall a strange moment from childhood, one hiding in you you hadn't looked at in years? You were at the grocery store with your mother, browsing produce under the cold fluorescents, staring at prices, when you, your mom, everyone else in there felt a tug, from nowhere, and another, and were snagged into the quickening of time and flung into each other, into shelves, through walls, flying out into the sunlight; glad, together, wearing the names of pets... This is Wolf Doctors, and it is a true joy."
     —Donald Dunbar, author of Eyelid Lick

"Sara Woods is a writer of the moment. Her words are alive; each piece masterfully straddles the line between prose and poetry. I dare your heart not to race faster and faster with each turning page. And when you're done reading this book, you can use it to prop up your gaping jaw."  
     —Lindsay Hunter, author of Ugly Girl and Don't Kiss Me

"Sara Woods is a jewel hotel when it comes to the impossible account of the individual thrill. Give her a sentence, and she'll build a monument made out of dissolvable grocery lists. Give her a word, and she'll make it adventurous and personal. No, listen to me! I'm not just a traffic cop! Sara Woods knows what it means to witness your own wilderness."
     —Carrie Lorig, author of NODS

"Sara Woods pulls off good tricks in these prose-y poemish things, like when she addresses the people who aren't reading them, or when she calls one a writing prompt and then tells you it's a poem, or when a poem is sponsored by Red Bull. But what sends me reeling is what a great writer she is. With all the oddities and uncanny ideas, this book would be strange indeed—if it wasn't so impeccably composed, so cohesive in the way it's arranged, and in how everything bounces off each other, how it all makes sense of what's senseless. Wolf Doctors is an easy book to be enthusiastic about."
     —Adam Robinson, author of Adam Robison And Other Poems



Poems cited here are assumed to be under copyright by the poet and/or publisher.  They are shown here for publicity and review purposes.  For any other kind of re-use of these poems, please contact the listed publishers for permission.

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