Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Gloss - Rebecca Hazelton (University of Wisconsin Press)

Today's book of poetry:
Gloss.  Rebecca Hazelton.  University of Wisconsin Press.  Madison, Wisconsin.  2019.

Image result for gloss rebecca hazelton

Marcus Wicker calls the poems in Rebecca Hazelton's Gloss "wise, sexy, well-tuned language machines."  Now that is a line Today's book of poetry wishes we'd come up with ourselves.  

Today's book of poetry has visited Rebecca Hazelton's poetry movie before.  Back in March of 2014 Today's book of poetry was delighted to hit all you poetry monsters with a look at Hazelton's Bad Star (YesYes Books, 2013).  You can read that here:

We were convinced that Hazelton could burn when we read Bad Star, but you have to get your hands on Gloss to see what she's cooking now.  Today's book of poetry liked Hazelton's Bad Star very much but Gloss is simply at another level.  A very splendid level.  

Gloss is precise, emotionally certain and feverishly honest.  These poems are so, so tasty.  These are adult poems, the more experience the reader has the more these precious-cut diamonds will shine.

Self-Portrait As A Very Good Day

Behind dark glasses I am enormously present
                                 wading in a pool of flickering light
                     algal at the edges
                                           like a sick green dream of California

where dragonflies dip and skim
           the surface of the lightly poisoned water
                                                         some of them
                                 coupling on the fly
                      as if sex weren't already awkward

when I fuck I hardly levitate at all
                                and when I dive
                                beneath the water
         I want to be detached

                    from the searing world above but how
                                         does one stop caring

when there are so many
                     voices calling
                                 where are you where are you
                      come up there are snacks

so I swim back
                     to frozen grapes and lemonade
           to the teenaged boys strolling by
                     with fishing poles and bait

while the young girls spin
          on tire swings and scream to go faster
as if there were some shortage in the world
                     of speed or disaster


These poems work like a summer sunburn, forcing you to peel back a layer or two so that Hazelton can test her vocabulary on your tenderest skin.  Make no doubt about it, she is going after the real you - and she gets there.

Gloss comes at you from multiple directions but Hazelton is in every word, embrace, every heart rendered bleeding.  Today's book of poetry felt emotionally challenged with Hazelton's magic, we were forced to look closely at ourselves, our faults and our freedoms.  Gloss is all over the gender battle, but like most of us, our theories weaken when surrounded by lust.

Rebecca Hazelton goes there and sets that shit aflame, eloquently.  She writes about the heat of the blaze, the burn on the skin, the cold, black and wet ashes left behind.

When He Is A Woman

When he is a woman I set his hair,
                                the brown strands
                                exit the comb's teeth
                                gold, spill down his shoulders
       to a slender waist I put my hands around
                  when I want him to feel small.

                            When he is a woman I am a man
and as a man I am aware
            of how to make his breath catch as I touch
                                 one freckled breast,
            as I unbuckle
                        my buckle with a definitive air.

When he is a woman the love feels more
                                           real, his eyelashes more real, his mouth
                    like an unkissed girl's more real,
                                                   and I hold to the fiction
                               he's never known another's hand
        sliding up his thigh, not this way,
or another mouth
        speaking these words that glide up his thoughts
the way a man declares
        a land claimed, and then there's a flag.

When he is a woman
                     I feel optimistic,
                                          when he is in a dress that suits
         his small frame, when the heels
                                          he walks in put his round hips to sway,
all these things make the smoke hover
                     above my scotch
                               on the rocks.
In this, as in all things,
            I am traditional.


Today's book of poetry has been sidetracked in recent months by human business, funerals and weddings, the weight of days, and so on.  Our intention is to return to our "every other day" format of posting blogs/reviews.  Of course Today's book of poetry would like to be taller and sing like Saint Marvin Gaye.  None the less we shall be after the gang to pick up the pace.

We can promise that our enthusiasm has not swayed.  Today's book of poetry has a bookcase full of new poetry joys that we are dying to share with you poetry monsters.

Rebecca Hazelton's Gloss is the 800th blog/review in the Today's book of poetry catalogue.  Who knew?  Today's book of poetry is lucky to have Hazelton.

Self-Portrait With Your Head
Between My Legs

Glazed in sweat, I'm in the hot tropics
        of Florida,
                   where the geckos Velcro across
         the bedroom window
on fine invisible hairs,

                  where a perfunctory promise
         hangs over us like a broken chandelier
too heavy
       to dismantle.

I watch the ceiling
                     for cracks, a water stain
and try to imagine the happy
          as if I could punch my own ticket
                                just by wishing harder

but the princess sleeps and sleeps.

Say peach, say plum, say typical
                       to split the velvet nap
                                with a clumsy thumb:

so much depends on
                      the idea of breakfast in bed
                                versus the sloppy practice.


Rebecca Hazelton's Gloss is just the ticket to get Today's book of poetry back on track.  Gloss has everything you want from poetry.  If you get inside Gloss it will teach you something about yourself.  How often can Today's book of poetry claim that?

Hazelton's Gloss is as intimate as a kiss, as memorable as a crisp slap in the face.

Image result for gloss rebecca hazelton

Rebecca Hazelton

Rebecca Hazelton is the author of Fair Copy, Vow, and the chapbook Bad Star, and the coeditor of The Manifesto Project. Her poems have appeared in Boston Review, Poetry, and The New Yorker. A two-time Pushcart Prize winner, she is an assistant professor of English at North Central College.

“A masquerade ball of velvety self-portraiture and a subversive parade of cultural norms recast as light kink. This book playacts its anxieties—gender roles and group texts, suburban mansions and contractual commitments—until the violence that underpins them is spotlighted on stage.”
      —Emilia Phillips, author of Empty Clip
“Funny, irreverent, and searingly honest, Hazelton dares to explore the obligations that we have with one another and with ourselves. And who wouldn’t want to trust the speaker of these poems? In prickly, worldly, and intimate poems, Hazelton’s wit and wisdom urge us to understand beauty in our complicated lives.”
      —Oliver de la Paz, author of Post Subject: A Fable
“These poems are wise, sexy, well-tuned language machines, full of stinging humor and quick-witted swagger, interrogating the highs and lows of cohabitation and maturation. Simply put, Gloss is masterful—a knockout collection I will continue to read, teach, and learn from for years to come.”
      —Marcus Wicker, author of Silencer


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.
We here at TBOP are technically deficient and rely on our bashful Milo to fix everything.  We received notice from Google that we were using "cookies"
and that for our readers in Europe there had to be notification of the use of those "cookies.  Please be aware that TBOP may employ the use of some "cookies" (whatever they are) and you should take that into consideration.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.