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How They Fell
Annie Boutelle

2014 • 92 pp. 6 x 9 1/4"
Poetry / Poetry - Women Authors

$16.00 Paperback, 978-1-933880-44-0

“A fiery intelligence, at times a fury, empower this remarkable book. After invoking the ancient sibyl, the poems, as if crossing a stony threshold, enter... [continued in Reviews below]”—Eleanor Wilner,

Through tender emotions and horrific events, How They Fell’s ironic point of view leads readers to re-imagine both historical and mythological events

In How They Fell, Boutelle’s poems combine fantasy and reality in a far-reaching series of contexts: a Scottish girlhood, Adam and Eve’s experiences when they are expelled from the Garden, the love between a man and a woman, and horrific events in both Scotland and London. The point of view of the poems is often personal and vulnerable, but there is a strong humorous strain, as in the description of the Pope’s toothpaste and Her Majesty’s hairdresser. The work is eclectic beyond description, but hangs together by the common thread of emotions experienced.

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Reviews / Endorsements

“A fiery intelligence, at times a fury, empower this remarkable book. After invoking the ancient sibyl, the poems, as if crossing a stony threshold, enter a communal space, the voice deepening into another register—one resonant with an older world, in touch with what is feral in us, where the erotic and the demonic meet, “and the weight falling, and lightness rising, and pain/and honey mixed—”. These are beautiful, fearless poems, their language equal to the most fearsome occasions.”—Eleanor Wilner

“From first to last, How They Fell is a stunning collection; Boutelle’s is a voice the reader trusts—the music unfolding syllable by syllable, the craft impeccable, and the poems bold, wise, sensual. There’s vision here, and love for the world that was, and the world that is—the poet asking the reader to contemplate “who / we might have been, or who dreamed / us up... / and who / were we, and what might not be left?” She reminds us “how silly / to think the mask could hold. / But sweet—let’s not discount / the sweetness.” How They Fell is a book to savor, to celebrate to come back to over and over.”—Carol Potter

“How They Fell reminds us that as soon as we are born we are plummeting toward a mortal end. This book, however, brims with an artistic exhilaration and vitality to our bewildering losses and regret-filled sorrows. . . .Annie Boutelle thrills us with a nuanced and profoundly self-reliant exploration of an idea from which we so often avert our eyes: that death is, as Stevens wrote, the mother of beauty.”—Fred Marchant, author of The Looking House

From the Book:

And she knew what she wanted, more than food or drink
or comfort, his thick finger.

The tiny dance steps it took on the stage of her body.

The scrims that dissolved in its presence, sudden wild
vistas, precipice and sandstone gorge.

She felt contempt for her need, the way it groveled before
him, puppy with a wet pink tongue.

The contempt as heavy as the need.

She carried them both on her back.

ANNIE BOUTELLE, born and raised in Scotland, was educated at the University of St. Andrews and New York University. She teaches in the English Department at Smith College, where she founded the Poetry Center. She lives with her husband in western Massachusetts.

Sat, 2 Dec 2017 12:12:42 -0500