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Book Review :: Mechanical Bull by Rennie Ament

Review by Jami Macarty

The poems in Rennie Ament’s Mechanical Bull toggle between extremes, where it is “[l]earned anything has a punishing / angle. Tensions range between husbandry/slaughter, “wonder”/horror, humility/“hubris,” superluminal/“supraliminal,” human body/poetic form, “association”/“dissociation,” and a “new book”/old story of a girl on the roadside and a murderer under the trees. “Pick / your version,” reader, but understand you and the poet may be in “business together” but she has “all the capital.”

Ament’s “[p]oems are a bed of nails” and you prick “awake on their numerous tips.” The hypothesis: pleasure and pain are an “eerie glistening” on a continuum. Her poems, in turn, edulcorate and confront everyday “savagery / fallen short of its potential.” The potential for danger looms everywhere, “murder coming in” through fists or rape. “Who will do something. Like ring a bell. A good old-fashioned bell.”

Rennie Ament does something with Mechanical Bull; her poems ring bells.

Mechanical Bull by Rennie Ament. Cleveland State University Poetry Center, October 2023.

Reviewer bio: Jami Macarty is the author of The Long Now Conditions Permit, winner of the 2023 Test Site Poetry Series Prize, forthcoming fall 2024, and The Minuses (Center for Literary Publishing, 2020), winner of the 2020 New Mexico/Arizona Book Award – Poetry Arizona. Jami’s four chapbooks include The Whole Catastrophe, forthcoming summer 2024 from the Vallum Chapbook Series, and Mind of Spring (Vallum, 2017), winner of the 2017 Vallum Chapbook Award. To learn more about Jami’s writing, editing, and teaching practices visit her author website.

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