You are born and it is to a black life
Full of abuse and strange things . . .
In her brazen second collection, Dorothea Lasky cries out beyond prophecy and confession, through to an even more powerful empathy. On the verge of becoming pure substance and sensation, Black Life is emotion recollected not in tranquility, but in radically affirming intensity.
I leave and I am a black life . . .
And I want to
Be what you made me to be
Dorothea Lasky is the author of three collections of poetry. Educated at the University of Massachusetts, Washington University, and Harvard University, she currently teaches at Columbia University.
|Product dimensions:||10.04(w) x 6.40(h) x 0.29(d)|
About the Author
Dorothea Lasky is the author of Thunderbird (Wave Books, 2012), Black Life (Wave Books, 2010), and AWE (Wave Books, 2007). She is also the author of six chapbooks: Matter: A Picturebook (Argos Books, 2012), The Blue Teratorn (Yes Yes Books, 2012), Poetry is Not a Project (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010), Tourmaline (Transmission Press, 2008), The Hatmaker’s Wife (2006), Art (H_NGM_N Press, 2005), and Alphabets and Portraits (Anchorite Press, 2004). Born in St. Louis in 1978, her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Boston Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Gulf Coast, The Laurel Review, MAKE magazine, Phoebe, Poets & Writers Magazine, The New Yorker, Tin House, The Paris Review , and 6x6 , among other places. She is a graduate of the MFA program for Poets and Writers at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and also has been educated at Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, and Washington University. She has taught poetry at New York University, Wesleyan University, Columbia University, Fashion Institute of Technology, Heath Elementary School, and Munroe Center for the Arts and has done educational research at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, the Philadelphia Zoo, and Project Zero.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Dorothea Lasky's new book, Black Life, brims with the chaos of real life and real people fighting to express themselves when shiny and happy words aren't sufficient. A unifying component of the poems is frequent references to her father's battle with dementia, and sprinkled among these are tiny images, made all the more terrifying for their brevity: helpless rest home patients with bald baby heads being beaten by staff. Fire as both purifier and destroyer also makes appearances in unexpected contexts. Talking about life, she twists around the state of health into the dimensions of inner and outer well-being, with the two often in fierce juxtaposition. She muses on Emily Dickinson's muse, on anorexia, and refers to pop culture as freely as old boyfriends and husbands. Her voice alters from that of a hyperactive teen to a stalker to an overly-kind ghost. In all of it, she is seldom quiet or sedate. In frequent references to poetry, she contrasts the kinds of poetry that exist: pretty and intangible or ugly and real. Therein, she makes it appear that it would be worse to be ignored than blasphemed, and that flowery prose often hides an uncertain intent. From "I Am a Politician", I am a politician Just watch: I will be very nice to you But when I turn around I will write the creepiest poems about you that Have ever been written. Or worse yet, I will write nothing about you at all And will instead Write about the water cascading endlessly in the ocean Full of flowers and lovers at their very best... She doesn't hide from revealing insecurity, such that her poems often appear inspired by it. In "I Just Feel So Bad", she expresses both loneliness as well as the concept of needing pain in order to function, trying to understand what she has to give and what she can take when thinking "nice" thoughts doesn't work. Her answer is in the final phrases: I have no home No bread I am destitute But inside me Is a little voice That must speak It gets louder when you listen "ARS Poetica" has a kinesthetic energy to it, almost as if it's the adverbs that matter most...being whatever needs being, but in a big way. There is a romantic abandon in me always I want to feel the dread for others I only feel it through song Only through song am I able to sum up so many words into a few Like when he said I am no good I am no good Goodness is not the point anymore Holding on to things Now that's the point The collection is varied and intense. Being about a decade older than Lasky, there were mental moments when I wanted to tell her to relax a bit and slow down. To realize that not all problems will be resolved as quickly as we'd like, but that it's okay to wait them out. The vivid descriptions and staccato action at times felt like it was too edgy to get close to, like the wild person at the party who gets the attention and the laughs but who is terrifying to be alone with for more than a moment.