Her Book

Lisa Williams wrote an incredibly sensitive and thoughtful review of Her book in The Rumpus. A favorite paragraph from the review:

An alternate archive that is vibrant and inclusive rather than “thin” and “permanent,” Éireann Lorsung’s Her Book records the poet’s journey towards making, from a tangle of personal, historical, and artistic material, a voice of her own. At the same time, Lorsung’s is not a self-centered project. Within the poems, and through their homages to other women, Lorsung writes toward a community, sharing her creativity, experience, and attention. She does all of this in mostly short, lyrically intense, accessible poems that meet us instantly on the page, while unfolding more over multiple readings—her own “gentle apocalypse.”

Charlotte Bhakskar wrote a deeply touching review of my second collection, Her book, in ZyzzyvaA few quotations:

Her book (Milkweed; 76 pages), the latest poetry collection from Éireann Lorsung, is a surprising and eloquent look into a highly physical, sensuous world. In particular, Lorsung is concerned with the delineation of the (female) self as it relates to its surroundings, both natural and constructed. Through many small moments that are exactingly crystalized, she builds a powerful, wider vision of a woman’s life.

Lorsung’s voice is uniquely suited to interpreting Smith’s work. For one, her imagery grounds itself heavily in the physical, in ways both recognizable and startling, allowing us to reimagine Smith’s art on the page.

Together, these lines begin a discourse that will continue through the book—a discourse touching on modern womanhood, on bodies “speaking” their own physical language, and on archives and the ways one’s physical surroundings can act as part of this language.

Lorsung is particularly concerned with underscoring the small pleasures and victories that come from inhabiting flesh [and]  in the tangibility of everyday objects, especially feminine-coded objects such as dresses, gardening tools, or knitting.

If Lorsung is attending to small, potentially frivolous things in her poems, such as “stocks of flower seed [...] pressed leaves, books of poems, tea in packets [...] paper birds and animals with pin joints,” it is with a deliberate knowingness (though certainly not irony—Lorsung never devalues the domestic or the comforting). Lorsung’s assured and careful cataloguing of these “most secret things” is more than mere color. In “Single-page drawing,” from Lorsung’s final poem cycle, “Reconstruction,” her speaker declares, “the mark of my hand is a hand-shaped print. / Listen! I’m making these things to show you I was / here. The outline of my hand. My body. My dresses.” Each of these personal moments, then, collide and link to form a compelling picture of a felt presence.