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Book Review :: Only Insistence by James Lindsay

Review by Jami Macarty

In James Lindsay’s Only Insistence a new father to a son is in the throes of “involuntary / reflection” on his relationship with his parents: “What is authority / but anxiety.” The authority within Lindsay’s poems is a “witness” both “apprehensive” and “evasive.” He can tell readers his “mother died, but “can’t speak / as to why.” And, he confesses he doesn’t “know how to talk / about [his] biological father.” That’s personal, “the way life is personal” “and made up / of a terrifying sharpness.”

Sometimes it is easier “to describe the lake: … / the things that float on it / and the things that drown in it that make it what it is.” What is it? It is “the tiny histories that seed memory.”

Memory is both repetition and insistence, “wringing image to solid personal fact.” Here, “as he expresses himself // brutally but beautifully / in how honestly / he carries on,” Lindsay ensures “the Reader and writer / Have [the] kind of relationship” in which “language worked / / Because it was promised.”

Only Insistence by James Lindsay. Goose Lane Editions, September 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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