Not Just the Fire
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About the Author
"At turns harrowing and stunningly graceful, R.B. Simon's latest collection Not Just the Fire shows us through her deft and emotionally potent lyricism and spare narratives how 'to touch the flame / while it / [is] still / burning.' With evocative diction and sensory images, these poems are gorgeous and necessary and sing the deep truths and lessons of a warrior who has returned with both the wounds and the wisdom of experience. We readers feel deep in our guts the growth and healing the speaker has undergone throughout her lifetime in these tightly woven verses. I highly recommend." -Jenn Givhan, author of Belly to the Brutal
"From love poems to her eleven-year-old self to her dead lover, from the cruel racism of children to musings about swallowing the galaxy, these poems range from whimsical to somber to an acceptance of decades of hardships that did not defeat. After muted agony, R.B. always returns us to a lover's fingertips stroking her neck, to the playfulness of children building forts, to the body as a site of scars with the promise of tenderness. Not Just the Fire is Simon's mesmerizing entry into the literary world. Her astonishing use of language is worth the price of admission alone."
-Chris Stark, author of Carnival Lights and Nickels: A Tale of Dissociation, Lambda Literary Finalist
"When we find ourselves lost in affliction, how do we find our way out? In her devastating collection, Not Just the Fire, R.B. Simon invites us into the painful world of childhood trauma, addiction & grief, of 'cobwebs thick as batwings, ' 'a rough country of ancestry.' Through powerful imagery, Simon asks us to consider 'the reason / snakes shed skin.' We meet a mother, partner, and daughter who know the pain of 'clinging / to the crumbling core / of a world...worth saving.' Here is a reckoning with complex identities and family relationships as well as a path into and out of active addiction. Ultimately, Simon conveys what may be the most important truth: that 'the heart / must be pumping / before you can bleed / for anyone, ' that to make it through the fire and out alive means that anything & everything is possible." -Joan Kwon Glass, author of Night Swim