Slide to Unlock
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About the Author
"In Slide to Unlock (Sibling Rivalry Press), Julie E. Bloemeke explores the ways in which the sometimes cold touch of technology can connect us to our deeper desires, even when it threatens to disconnect us from the people around us.
Phones provide a clever and compelling through-line, starting with the eponymous first poem: "Once, we could depend / on the corded spiral of miles, // delay ourselves with the orbit / of finger wheel...." The present, though, is faster-moving and far less certain. Smartphone screens that unlocked with the swipe of a finger only a few years ago now demand thumbprints and facial recognition to reveal their "bright trick of letters." The body itself has been turned into a key; the phone, a door to the past and future.
Divided into four sections, Slide to Unlock guides us through a speaker's personal history that is also a history of modern communication. The section "Call Waiting" moves us from the beginnings of self-awareness and sexuality into the first years of a marriage; in the poem "Scar Season" from that section, a girl with chicken pox is warned to ignore the "threat of my body / tied to itch."
The adult speaker in the final section, "Cellular," fully inhabits her body yet longs for physical and emotional intimacy. In the poem "Infidelity," the speaker addresses her husband not with an admission or accusation, but rather a frank awareness about her own family history:
[...] I came to our marriage
with flagrant truths, progeny
of ancestors openly in other beds,
ruined vows, the choice sometimes
to break, the choice sometimes to endure.
This is not the story of a marriage unraveling, but the more complicated, particular, and moving story of a woman reconciling herself to an undeniable, almost genetic, desire for self-expression; she is steeling herself for both the connection and alienation that may result from this authenticity.
The final poem, "Slide to Unlock: Blue Note," provides consolation rather than pat resolution. "Some things in me cannot be held. / I married a man that knew this and somehow // blessed my brokenness."
Bloemeke's language throughout her debut collection is both precise and dynamic, tangible and dreamlike. By finding the balance between extremes, Bloemeke thus provides the lyrical analogue of the speaker's journey, which is all the more rewarding for its complexity."
- Brent Calderwood for Kenyon Review