"Perillo's poetic persona is funny, tough, bold, smart, and righteous. A spellbinding storyteller and a poet who makes the demands of the form seem as natural as a handshake."—Booklist
"The poems [are] taut, lucid, lyric, filled with complex emotional reflection while avoiding the usual difficulties of highbrow poetry."—The New York Times Book Review
MacArthur Genius Award winner Lucia Perillo is a fearless poet who, with characteristic humor and incisive irony, confronts the failings and wonder of nature, particularly the frail and resilient human body. This generous collection draws upon five previous volumes, including books selected as a New York Times "100 Notable Books of the Year" and as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
From "Again, the Body":
When you spend many hours alone in a room
you have more than the usual chances to disgust yourself—
this is the problem of the body, not that it is mortal
but that it is mortifying. When we were young they taught us
do not touch it, but who can keep from touching it,
from scratching off the juicy scab?...
Lucia Perillo graduated from McGill University in Montreal with a major in wildlife management, and subsequently worked for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. She completed her MA in English at Syracuse University, and has published eight books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. She was a MacArthur Fellow and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She lives in Olympia, Washington.
With this volume that spans more than 20 years and six poetry collections, Perillo (On the Spectrum of Possible Deaths), a poet, fiction writer, and MacArthur Fellow, exhibits her range and depth in exquisite yet unfussy poems. She writes skillfully of urban, suburban, and wild environments, but she's nearly unparalleled when addressing the "meat cage," and its pain and mortality. Perillo's poems move against the backdrop of her own struggle with multiple sclerosis: "If I sleep on my belly, pinning it down,/ my breasts start puling like baby pigs/ trapped under their slab of torpid mother." Yet these vivacious poems reveal humor, sexuality, and a sharp sense of images and turns of phrase. Her 4-page narrative poem, "Limits," may be one of the most graphic and vulnerable poems about death in the genre, but Perillo's later poems move away from dense text and rich narrative, opening up into shorter pieces, and the kind of long, airy, and sprawling single-line stanzas found in her magnetic poem "The Rape of Blanche DuBois." Few writers capture the beautiful and the sordid as well as Perillo, and this marvelous collection is full of "those black moments that contained both the ardor and the horror, and the wonder at their having been simultaneously created."