“Elyse Fenton's searin,g intimate new collection issues many urgent challenges, including this one: “If destruction has so many names/we ought to know at least a few.” Her poems... [continued in Reviews below]”—Mary Szybist,
From intimate meditations on birthing, motherhood, and parenting in a time of war to its explorations of the frank and grave matters surrounding a life lived while a lover is off fighting a war, these lush poems of the human interior always put themselves in harm’s way, for there the poet finds the truest meanings. Sweet Insurgent, winner of the Alice Fay di Castagnola Prize, is a book of vivid and crushing lyric poems, each one landing like a mortar to the earth.
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Reviews / Endorsements
“Elyse Fenton's searin,g intimate new collection issues many urgent challenges, including this one: “If destruction has so many names/we ought to know at least a few.” Her poems remind us that naming matters, and that without it, we cannot confront the terms our participation in global or national citizenship, or even the nature of our roles in our most intimate family relationships. Fenton has the rare fortitude and heart and willingness to really absorb and grapple with news from both near and far, and with exacting intelligence and deep knowledge of history and myth. Sweet Insurgent reminds us that the difficult is not impossible. These deft, alert poems slow us down and prompt us to consider and re-imagine what it means to speak with the right “kind of restraint” even when we ache to “love with fury.” ”—Mary Szybist
“The body, across these poems, is fragile yet dangerous—with its strengths and passions, its seeming willingness to be injured. The body's perpetual warring against and for a lover, a soldier, a daughter, a heaven, a “ferocious world”—all are rendered in images as small and intimate as bone ground to sand along Omaha beach or a migraine pouring “its lash of oil into my ear.” What would the body be without its appetites?”—Natalie Diaz
“Elyse Fenton writes such musically nervous, muscular, formally adept poems. . . . These poems are alive to our historical moment, inspiring us to rethink our place in a constantly shifting political, natural, and ethical world.”—Kevin Prufer
From the Book:
Any wild thing can wound if it's scared
enough—the lesson of the fawn
in the cistern, the possum in the street.
But when reassurance opens my mouth
the lies arrive like mountain goats come
down off the ridge to lick the crystallized
salt of our piss from the rocks. What animal
stops there? The man who held three girls
captive for years lasted a few weeks in prison.
Even now, no one has invented a name
for the child carried up from the basement
in the ambulance drivers' arms.
- Winner of the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award (2013)
ELYSE FENTON is the author of the poetry collections, Clamor, winner of the 2010 University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize and Sweet Insurgent (Saturnalia 2017), winner of the Alice Fay di Castagnola Prize. Her work has been published in The New York Times, Best New Poets, American Poetry Review, Pleiades, Brain,Child, and Prairie Schooner, and has been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered and PRI’s The World.