During May and June, No Tells is featuring "Recommended Summer Reading" selections by No Tell contributors.
Elizabeth Bradfield's recommendations:
Sight Map by Brian Teare (University of California Press, 2009)
Queerness and lust are woven into the interior language, which for some reason never becomes just clever, but keeps coming back to the real and the consequences of the real. I admire that tremendously. This book is earthy as well as heady. It’s romantic as well as modern. It's formally innovative without ever feeling tricky. Interesting. Compelling. Yes.
Azores by David Yezzi (Swallow Press/Ohio University Press, 2008)
What a beautiful book... redolent of Larkin, of Thom Gunn. That fierce eye, fierce and formal control. Yezzi paints himself in a bad light --self-centered, a bit cruel. Of course it makes for compelling reading. The sequence the book is named for “Azores,” is a gorgeous sequence of sonnet-likes.
Bucolics by Maurice Manning (Harcourt, 2007)
The original and compelling and entire vision of this book just sucked me in. 70 poems all in one voice, all spoken by a farmer to "Boss" (God). No punctuation, the sense of it made by the rhythms. And it works. This person talking about weather, plants, animals, addressing Boss intimately and crankily and reverently is amazing.
Slave Moth by Thalias Moss (Persea Books, 2004)
The plot: the book recounts the inner life of Varl, a slave, over what seems to be a few months. Slave to a strange master who likes to have “oddities” (an albino slave, a dwarf, a literate woman (Varl's mother) who teaches the neighboring slaves to read.), Varl herself is an oddity for her independent spirit and her literary-ness. The poems' central concern: the nature of freedom, of slavery. Moss moves into complicated territory, into taboos and moral uncertainties.
Ornithologies by Joshua Poteat (Anhinga Press, 2006)
What a pleasure to discover, at the end of the book, a whimsical index of bird references. Whimsical and accurate, I should say. Poteat reaches wide, casting to art, memory, landscape for anchors to his emotional poems.
The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart by Gabrielle Calvocoressi (Presea Books, 2005)
This book is strong and tightly-written. Formally conservative. Subject-wise... woah. Especially “Adult Movie” -- sexuality and industrial collapse and the violence of growing up. It’s all there.
Eva-Mary by Linda McCarriston (TriQuarterly Books, 1991)
Eva-Mary is brutal and direct, yet delicately wrought. The poems move down the page without any visual trickery, letting the extruded words do their work. There is nothing unnecessary in the poems here, nothing gratuitous, and the poems work to reach beyond the specifics of one life to reach out to the other many unspoken lives that must recognize what’s in here.
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Elizabeth Bradfield is the author of Interpretive Work (Arktoi Books, 2008), which won the Audre Lorde Prize and is a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. Her poems have been published in The Atlantic Monthly, Poetry, Orion, and No Tell Motel. She is the founder and editor of the grassroots-distributed and guerilla-art-inspired Broadsided Press. Bradfield’s second collection Approaching Ice, will be published this winter by Persea Books. A Wallace Stegner Fellow, she works as a naturalist.