Dearest Creature

Dearest Creature

5.0 2
by Amy Gerstler
     
 

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A surreal new collection from an acclaimed poet

Hallucinogenic plants chant in chorus. A thoughtful dog grants an interview. A caterpillar offers life advice. Amy Gerstler’s newest collection of poetry, Dearest Creature, marries fact and fiction in a menagerie of dramatic monologues, twisted love poems, and epistolary pleadings. Drawing on sources as

Overview

A surreal new collection from an acclaimed poet

Hallucinogenic plants chant in chorus. A thoughtful dog grants an interview. A caterpillar offers life advice. Amy Gerstler’s newest collection of poetry, Dearest Creature, marries fact and fiction in a menagerie of dramatic monologues, twisted love poems, and epistolary pleadings. Drawing on sources as disparate as Lewis Carroll and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, as well as abnormal psychology, etiquette, and archaeology texts, these darkly imaginative poems probe what it means to be a sentient, temporary, flesh-and-blood beast, to be hopelessly, vividly creaturely.

Editorial Reviews

David Kirby
Look, a poem either sends you a bill or writes you a check. You can use up too much of your intellectual and emotional capital, not to mention your good will, and come away feeling had. Or you can pat your billfold and say, "Hey, this baby just got a little fatter"…As grave as they are amusing and always bittersweet, these poems pay up again and again. Dearest Creature is an A.T.M.—the letters standing, in this case, for "artistic thrill machine." In Amy Gerstler I trust.
—The New York Times
Library Journal
The persona charging through these poems by National Book Critics Circle Award winner Gerstler (Bitter Angel) is a real toughie—"fiery, impossible, untamable," intent from childhood on being different ("Complaints are already filtering in"), ready to knock back a drink, declaring to an absent lover, "I lie vividly awake." The energy, the rebelliousness nearly steams off the page; our speaker recalls the female deity of one poem, "her scent/ tinged with carnivorous whiffs of blood." The voices here go beyond the human: a dog explains the canine passion for rolling in muck ("To transfer ghost cloak of invisibility, silly"), a black taffeta dress and a little pink number chat cattily in the closet, and a tumbler advises, "After all you've/ been through, what you need is vodka, pronto." Even the closing elegies are forthright: "Fear not the tarnish and diminishments of age/ …as you creak, leak, and freak/ your way to the grave." VERDICT A smart and irreverent look at life as protean, pulsating, and a challenge to be met. Occasionally, the poems read like chopped-up prose, but the poet saves all with her wicked, witty ways. For all poetry lovers.—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780143116356
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/29/2009
Series:
Poets, Penguin Series
Edition description:
Original
Pages:
96
Sales rank:
1,028,824
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Amy Gerstler is a writer of fiction, poetry, and journalism whose work has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, including the Paris Review and Best American Poetry. Her 1990 book Bitter Angel won the National Book Critics Circle Award. Previous titles from Penguin are Crown of Weeds, 1997, and Nerve Storm, 1993.

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Dearest Creature 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DonGoodman More than 1 year ago
If you're looking for knot snarls of intricate language or depths of dark thoughts, some dank tarn of Auber, go read somebody else...and yet. DEAREST CREATURE is delightful rather than oppressive, a gazelle rather than a mastodon. Frivolous at times. And yet...Yet there is something sinister about this poet. A sweet young thing with a stilleto up her sleeve. A touch of Chas. Addams cartoon in some of her stuff. True, the page-and-a-half title poem could be made into a chick-flik: "Why don't you/ write? Why make me beg? Are you even/ reading these letters?" And then the memory of making love in "the rusted-out chassis" of an abandoned car they'd found "while hiking in the middle of nowhere." A tangerine tree covered with hummingbirds. A girl who lies "VIVIDLY awake. Waiting." And yet, a poet who writes FOR MY NIECE SIDNEY, AGE SIX : "Did you know that boiling to death/ was once a common punishment/in England and parts of Europe?/ It's true." The rest of that poem describes Amy Gerstler's day which begins with her reading from a 1910 Encyclopedia Britannica, one of five sets she owns. She goes to describe (and admire) niece Sydney as one who pitches fits, is sent to the principal's office, howls like a wolf, has "the undomesticated smell/of open rebellion", sits twenty feet from everyone else, "reading aloud/gripping your book like the steering wheel/of a race car you're learning to drive." From here the poem wanders to Martin Luther nailing up his list of demands, raises questions about grace, and then back to the boiling of Margaret Davy in 1542 wondering how she went about poisoning her employer, the crime for which she was boiled. She ends the poem with "a fumbling word of encouragement, a cockeyed letter/of welcome to the hallowed ranks of the nerds/nailed up nowhere, and never sent, this written kiss." You remember seeing a play about an aunt like this. You wish you'd had one. Her ADVICE FROM A CATERPILLAR is precious: "Chew your way into a new world./Munch leaves. Molt. Rest. Molt/ again. Self-reinvention is EVERYTHING./ Spin many nests. Cultivate stinging/bristles. Don't get sentimental/about your discarded skins." Amy Gerstler has poems telling how to wear hats, one in which Mrs. Monster writes her memoirs, and finally the Chas. Addams touch: ON THE FATAL CONSEQUENCES OF GOING HOME WITH THE WRONG MAN FROM THE CHICAGO WORLD'S FAIR 1893. Her poems don't rhyme. They just ring.