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there were a few sort of narrative pulses threaded in and out of this collection of poems many of the titles are similar enough that you have to imagine they weren t meant to be thought of as stories working within the story the book is not so much about vows as how we break them and though a lot of these poems have a sexual energy or are emotionally very evocative, that s not really what makes this collection great i ve read vow twice now and what keeps me coming back is that so many of th there were a few sort of narrative pulses threaded in and out of this collection of poems many of the titles are similar enough that you have to imagine they weren t meant to be thought of as stories working within the story the book is not so much about vows as how we break them and though a lot of these poems have a sexual energy or are emotionally very evocative, that s not really what makes this collection great i ve read vow twice now and what keeps me coming back is that so many of these poems are written seemingly in the aftermath of great violence i hear your final word was no we are told at the end of our introduction to elise a character who s featured in the title of half a dozen or so of these poems and immediately after we re confronted with the image of a possibly dead possibly sleeping horse lying on a beach a corpse we don t understand and have no context for and in a way that horse is a metaphor for the rest of the collection to me some of these poems are an open wound some of them are darkly funny but all of them contain some hint of the inexplicable all of them are a thing i didn t expect to see and am afraid to touch Can t get enough of these poems. Amazing stuff Hazelton has a great ear for sound, and I really enjoyed the semi narrative that ties the poems in the book together Funny in places, heartbreaking in others, whatcan you ask for from a book of poems I wish I wrote this book. Vow has a lot going for it its architecture of sliding sequence panels, like a stage set under construction, its rhetorical sophistication, its performative prosody but most of all the audaciousness with which it traipses all over John Berryman tropes, cuz really, whothan Berryman deserves a traipse I thought most of it terrific, except, perhaps, for a certain lack of the significant, the telling, detail that probing for the split psyche s weights and measuresIf I coul Vow has a lot going for it its architecture of sliding sequence panels, like a stage set under construction, its rhetorical sophistication, its performative prosody but most of all the audaciousness with which it traipses all over John Berryman tropes, cuz really, whothan Berryman deserves a traipse I thought most of it terrific, except, perhaps, for a certain lack of the significant, the telling, detail that probing for the split psyche s weights and measuresIf I couldn t be her, Hazelton writes about her narrative alter ego, sometimes referred to as Rabbit, though she can range from Chandler s Carmen Sternwood in the Chandler, of course, Carmen s a pornographic model to the rape victim of Emma Donoghue s Room, and whose several incarnations plot the suppressed account of a love affair, I d be a stranger if I couldn t be loved I couldn t haunt you like a house left open, the beds unmade, blur my edges until my face grows obscure but my perfume remains, smoky like a campsite abandoned and the rain hissing the fire to sleep this is my anger at my own fear of mercy In a passage like this the craft identifies too much with the skittish rabbit role The images come one after another No one is good enough, analysand is probing Herr narrator wants one to editorialize over, but the psycho analyst in the narrator should have remained silent The treatment of elision in the sequences, the blank spaces, the silences, need to be within the line, too As they are in Berryman In general I want to argue against Hazelton in this manner Hazelton the poet, not with any one of her flamboyant, or plucky speakers The formatting in Goodreads messes with the line breaks of the excerpts in this review, but I think it s still clear which parts are quotes from poems and which are my thoughts on the book This review was first published in 32 Poems online The voices of Rebecca Hazelton s Vow express desire so sharply that even when invoked in a conceptual or abstract way it feels like a physical, mutable thing, as in Book of Denial seeing a lover naked the first time erases the prior lover s body of any ce The formatting in Goodreads messes with the line breaks of the excerpts in this review, but I think it s still clear which parts are quotes from poems and which are my thoughts on the book This review was first published in 32 Poems online The voices of Rebecca Hazelton s Vow express desire so sharply that even when invoked in a conceptual or abstract way it feels like a physical, mutable thing, as in Book of Denial seeing a lover naked the first time erases the prior lover s body of any certainty in your mind Vow s speakers place their fears and desires in clear view They want to be understood, but also to be unique and mysterious They want to feel secure and know love to be thrilled by danger and be able to betray and to make promises, mean them and still break them These conflicting desires play out in Love Poem for What Is When you reach out your hand and try to wheedlesomeone else s to hold it, that s lovedominating you There s no word for loving than you should, just the feeling of excess and Love Poem for What Wasn t if I couldn t be loved I couldn t haunt you like a house left open, the beds unmade,blur my edges until my face grows obscure but my perfume remainsIn the first passage, the speaker views love as something external, a force that shapes decisions and outcomes something that requires the individual In the second, love is depicted as an internal force, something whose presence or absence forms a part of one s identity indeed, the face blurs away without its influence something needed by the individual.Three sequences make up half of the collection and provide us insight into three of Hazelton s writing modes the Book of poems, a series of lyrical meditations often on abstract concepts the fabular Fox and Rabbit poems about a anthropomorphic relationship between the two creatures and the Elise poems in which the character appears as Marie Antoinette, an android at a Japanese tech festival, or simply as herself Although sequences can come off as forced, gimmicky, or as filler, these cycles pull the reader in with their unexpected subject matter and hook like syntactical rhythms Additionally, they provide universally significant reckonings with identity, violence, desire, and memory, which run just below the surface of the collection.Vow s Fox and Rabbit poems derive much of their strength from the complications of its characters relationship, which are embodied in these two animal lovers whom Hazelton has drawn in a fashion that exaggerates the animal aspect while still making them remarkably human like Fox and Rabbit watch movies and squabble about small things they are passive aggressive This is nice, isn t it I like these seats How far back we sit But, true to their animal instincts, they hunt and kill one another Elsewhere, their behavior becomes difficult to define as distinctly animal or humanit s your vulgar I like bestthe way you show your nape the way your ankle has no shame and you bare your legsyou bare your teeth in a smile that seems everyone s property.The bared parts say animal, but the bodies require clothes to be decent The post Edenic shame of nakedness insists a human point of view The intersection of these two worlds presents itself most clearly with Fox and Rabbit, but the theme echoes throughout the book For example, in Book of Mercy, the goddess Artemis transforms the hunter Actaeon into a stag His dogs turn on him, unaware the beast is their master Even the original mistake that led him to her blurs the human with the animal tracking what he thought was a hare, and found a woman instead Here, Hazelton reveals love as comprised of aggression, jealousy, vulnerability, self protection, and both lies and truths Threats cloak themselves in jokes Later we ll play the game where I hunt you down and kill you I m kidding, immediately followed by When you talk over the dialogue I can pretend you re the lead The lovers speak as if afraid of becoming bored Excitement, even love, manifests as danger In Fox Undresses Rabbit the act of betrayal functions as a sexual catalyst your mouth, which I d like to slip a finger in, which I d like to see mouthing the words you promised or at least your collarbonessaid such things to me, led me further afield than I have ever been, far beyond the safe confines of the measured and mapped backyardLike the Fox and Rabbit sequence, the Elise poems form a narrative, but this sequence in comparison seems incomplete even though the individual poems succeed on their own merit Whereas the Books work as a library of lyrics with the occasional thematic or imagistic thread linking them and the Fox and Rabbit poems punctuate moments in that relationship s narrative, Elise as a series lacks a clear construction that would serve to build something from the disparate parts The titular character seems to be a fallen starlet whose presence as a ghost haunts the speaker, but the reasons why she appears to inhabit other figures or identities is unclear.With some poems in this sequence, only the title directly identifies Elise abstracted from their titles those poems would not lose any of their potency Elise as Android at the Japan Culture Hyperculture Festival stands out among the sequence In the poem, Vow s focus on expectation, and the desire to have that expectation met, come into view The poem takes the point of view of the ultra realistic android on display at the festival The audience asks the android questions to ascertain how humanlike it is, assuming the android will falter and fail this test When the android surprises them I m witty, I m a lovely hostess, I even tell a joke about robots and chickens , the expectations they hold are not aligned with what they perceive, and so they react aggressively The audience s questions rapidly change to achieve the desired outcome Where do you see yourself in five years Why does the mother spider eat her babies What s prettier a girl with a fresh bruise or a bucket of water The android neither recognizes any of the violence suggested in the statement nor can it answer the questions, which allows the audience to relax, having balanced what they expect and what they observe They smile back, tight, satisfied, having forced the speaker to conform to their expectations This echoes the Fox and Rabbit poems the display of violence as control and understanding as a kind of control , although this poem also brings up an added layer of societal norms to consider, that of the in group controlling the fate of those outside positions of power Given the appearance of something that s known to be untrue, or a ruse in this case, the presentation of a robot as equivalent in some way to a human being the audience deems it appropriate to forcefully excavate the object of suspicion in order to reveal what s really inside.A similar action appears in Fox Dresses Rabbit when I cut off your head I feel better,when my hands are inside you it s warm,what you hid from meThese recurring themes woven throughout Vow gently tug the reader back and forth between narratives each subsequent poem returns to someplace new but familiar, which encourages reflection on past poems and investigation of the recurring motifs Unfolding the poems to find them unique but interlocking can be a very satisfying process for a reader willing to spend time weighing the works.Individual animals,than Fox and Rabbit, are ingrained in the collection, sometimes existing for half of an image the cats unseen but present as the speaker of First Husband takes your clothes that smelled like her and stuffed them in the litter box or as the focus of a poem s contemplation, as in Not Here to Buy the Leopard Another foolish purchase, as foolishas the way I attempt to assign personhood to the stuffedsnow leopard in the fancy furniture store on my way home,the store that believes in the beauty of tiny chandeliersand taxidermy eyes in a shadowbox The snow leopardmight not even be a snow leopard, its face stretched,as if they had a leopard skin but onlya styrofoam puma core in stock.Hazelton employs images both lush and stark, and her precise word choice makes moments appeal to multiple senses simultaneously into these dreams I have where you are always disrobing,you drop one kimono, another, and I never find the heavy breast my hand was meant to cup, justsurface,summer.Hazelton has proven herself to be capable of muchthan just a dazzling image from a detail oriented standpoint, her lines break with considerable poise and the poems sway with a rhythmic energy Here there is skin and the sleep that fills it, hair and the hands that part it Every sentence in Vow seems important to the whole Few words go to waste The recurring threads throughout the book are cohesive and connected The careful attention given by the poet to the language and themes is readily apparent much exists below the surface of these poems, a direct result of that tending.One means by which Hazelton shows off her craft and economy of language is in her use of puns and homonyms, which effectively pull double duty they appear to be consciously planted by the poet to signal key words and moments important to the book as a whole, but they also serve as an effective pivot from where the reader s expectation sits initially to where the poet wants it to be, the movement of which is telling of the collection s themes What a reader might assume will follow in a poem titled Fox Dresses Rabbit after encountering Fox Undresses Rabbit isn t exactly the case Rather, the dress refers to field dressing as Fox disembowels Rabbit When the homonyms bare and bear are placed so close together bare your strap and bearmy weight, which is fever the themes of vulnerability and violence, desire, and the conflation of human and animal that run through the collection all converge, and thus the voices of previous poems echo By the close of Vow there is a sense of chorus among the pieces of the collection, that the poems are all singing the same song but in their own distinct way, their various compositions, voices, and moments telling their own tale while also contributing to a story bigger than the sum of their verses Rebecca Hazelton is a sharptongued poet with a voice that is beautiful with a hint of dark humor The characters that make up this poignant collection invade your heart in the most unexpected way, working against themselves to make you love the speaker behind these poems evenThis poetry collection is truly a breathtaking triumph of verse It was in this collection that I found my new favorite poem and line There is nothing in the world that will love youthan the space you take up. A very fine book of poetry, clever, insightful, confessional, satirical I would recommend Hazelton to lovers of contemporary poetry She rewards close reading. Wow, Vow an awesome book. `Free Epub ⇲ Vow ↡ Poetry If you your charismatic, beautifully erotic self had died young, your ghost would count itself fortunate to have lived, loved, and flamed out in the company of the wildly imaginative author of VOW But it s not just ghosts who find themselves envisioned, en fabled, sometimes horrifically, in these poems An ex husband, ex lovers, and dear friends also populate these questioning, often darkly humorous lyrics Like them, the future unsettles you because you have taken vows, too, and broken them Take heart, you hold in your hands the poetic manual for how to proceed