still life is a fractured carnival of language, each poem casting a pedophile in a new setting under the inspirited control of objects and expectations as the assaulted speaker of these poems is vicariously vivified and muted by animated memories of the pedophilic act. The poems are linguistically tight, prose-y, and punctuated so that the pedophile feels immediately present and inseparable from the speaker. This is the reality of trauma - time collapses. The past becomes the present so that "the windows // the plaster // the paint // the hard wood floors // the doorways // the beams beneath / above /behind everything" constrict the speaker in a room, long ago, where her body was "bright and bulbing //undercooked // tight as egg" and vulnerable to predatory behavior. While these poems draw attention to the residual effects of childhood trauma that haunt a victim throughout her adult life, they also highlight the pedophile's human bondage, revealing his own psychological entrapment. In this book, psyches are live wired, but every limb remains in its original, violated, place.
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About the Author
"Vibrations on the page, still life compresses poems of oppression and compartmentalization into an inhuman ordering that sticks needles in beetles' backs. Domestic environments expand into obstacle courses in language squared in one's mouth. Kimberly Ann Priest's still life is mesmerizing, a bedazzling, a magic act that invites us to be in danger, in tension, to be "audience [...] in the dark increasingly unconscious of an aisle leading to the exit of the room or the center of the stage."
- Petra Kuppers, author of Gut Botany
"In still life, Priest's stark and stunning voice illustrates how trauma "reshapes the face of the clock." This collection makes eye contact with monstrosity through a "lifting and cutting away" of darkness, where the speaker can count and catalog the "forgery of what others have actually already done" through close examination. still life is a portrait of a "veritable charmer with sharp claws and teeth." Yet it "cannot decide how long/ it will stand at the windowsill and study the view," as it questions the cost of observation. With rich juxtaposition between the ordinary and unspeakable, the reader feels haunted and entranced, stuck in the "dark increasingly unconscious of an aisle leading to the exit of the room." Hold tight, this collection will take you on a journey, as it leans into the underbelly of "where the smoke becomes insightful."
- Kelly Grace Thomas, author of Boat Burned
It was Terrance Hayes who coined the phrase "wind in a box," a metaphor meaning white noise and soil, slap and blues, housed in a harness of body, harness of grief. And such can be affirmed in Kimberly Ann Priest's lyrically poignant collection, still life. These poems are tight spirals. They are houses of trauma that will burn, but before they burn, be reckoned with honey and tenderness--the match her last finale. The searing truth in these poems is simple: heal. You can be made whole. But don't confuse that truth for amicable droll. Priest's speaker is calculating and concise. She's the master of her domain. The weaver. She writes, "if it is remarkable//it is the marginal line between white bread and wheat//how the distance is measured in grains//how to move a grain over has no effect on the general composition//but to move it with ease demonstrates inclination toward platitude." A piercing, unforgettable book!"
- Luke Johnson, author of : boys