Robinson's ambition in Rumor is enormous--to understand the problem of violence, to understand how power subjugates bodies and souls and turns them to use. In the world these poems inhabit, language itself is a violent power tool, a buzzsaw, precise, ruthless, and often wrong. Yet language's instability allows Robinson to turn it on itself to question categories such as gender. Through brooding, bloody, clearwater analysis, through delicate, brutally uncertain self-questioning, Robinson's poems create a frictive warmth that's not comfortable, but rousing. --Catherine Wagner
Elizabeth Robinson has long been probing the interplay of the personal with the abstract or, as she has put it, "the brick floor from which the/ kingdom of God extends/ or could extend." In Rumor, the poet-victim (whom "grief evicts" from herself) tries to take on the persona of perpetrator as if it were a sanctuary from which to explore and understand the violence: "she lies a divided pronoun /. . . / knife slicing through softened self/. . . / She/ crouches over/ herself, a difficult/ situation." The poems worry at boundaries between subject/object, male/female/ transgender, but most of all between "abstract" violence and the physical ("the teacher/ flayed by removal from/ the student"). This process of incarnation, of word made flesh is frightening, nauseating, but must be faced: "we cough up words made of flesh/ and eat them anew." Here "I myself/ had no face, but took/ to smiling" and "wrapped my hand around my incomprehension." Rumor is fascinating, daunting, complex. Its exploration remains open, does not pretend to find answers, but instead offers memorable words: "How firmly the answer closes its eyes." --Rosmarie Waldrop
ELIZABETH ROBINSON is the author of multiple collections of poetry, including the National Poetry Series winner, Pure Descent, and the Fence Modern Poets Prize winner, Apprehend. Her poetry has appeared in such anthologies as American Hybrid, The Norton Anthology of Postmodern American Poetry, and The Best American Poetry of 2002. She works as the homeless navigator for Boulder Municipal Court and teaches at Lighthouse Writers' Workshop.
About the Author
Elizabeth Robinson is the author of several books of poetry, including ON GHOSTS (Solid Objects, 2013), COUNTERPART (Ahsahta Press, 2012), THREE NOVELS (Omnidawn, 2011), ALSO KNOW AS (Apogee Press, 2009), THE ORPHAN & ITS RELATIONS (Fence Books, 2008), INAUDIBLE TRUMPETERS (Harbor Mountain Press, 2008), UNDER THAT SILKY ROOF (Burning Deck Press, 2006), and APPREHEND, the 2003 winner of the Fence Modern Poets Prize. She has also received grants from the Fund for Poetry, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and the Boomerang Foundation. Educated at Bard College, Brown University, and the Pacific School of Religion, Robinson has most recently served as the Hugo Fellow at the University of Montana.