The Night Could Go In Either Direction is, as the subtitle states, a conversation; a conversation between speakers, Kim Addonizio and Brittany Perham both contributing to this conversation on facing pages of this twenty-five page chapbook covered in lux pink paper that shimmers slightly in natural light. I have never read Perham, but Addonizio’s poems, quickly recognizable, are reminiscent of her collection What is This Thing Called Love. Perham’s prose poems contribute a raw symmetry to this tale of love gone wrong while Addonizio is so Addonizio, saying things that only Addonizio can say in that very Addonizio way.
The “beginning” of the story shores up the end, the last poem (Perham) culminating with:
Fuck the snowy winters,
fuck the system, fuck me. Who knew whether this was going to
continue. Neither of us cared who’d started with whom. We’d tell
no one we fucked in the bar bathroom while no band played; we
agreed in advance, innocently. It began.
Addonizio meets Berham’s energy throughout the book with lines like, “I have delivered up my clit / to be disarticulated” (“The End of It”). And in “The Easy Way to Stop Drinking”:
I listen. My tiny hind wings are frozen.
The book says I’m in prison
Even though I think I’m at Martuni’s
in the back room, at the piano bar,
watching a girl with mullet hair
butcher “Killing me Softly,”
which was never a great song anyway.
Again in “Here,” “(a)fter it ended badly it got so much better / which took a while but of course but still / he grew so tender & I so grateful / which maybe tells you something about how it was. . . .”
What I love most about this manuscript is that it represents the voices of two poets who wrote their poems separately then brought them together to create one cohesive work of art. The poems marry beautifully, seamlessly; as Perham says in the interview at the back of the book, “(t)here’s a certain remove, a holding back, and yet at the same time, there’s this incredible sense of vulnerability and confession.” She continues, addressing Addonizio, “You know, the way our poems ended up interacting in this project is fascinating to me. We wrote them independently, but when we put them in relation to each other, they created this third thing.”
A “third thing.” This book is a third thing, a conversation between two poets that takes a separate character of its own; as all the manuscripts in this series do. There are several other Conversation & a Conversation chapbooks produced by Slapering Hol Press, each of which features a seasoned artist and an emerging artist, and each of which are also listed at the back of this book. If you love this Conversation, you may want to grab another! I am personally impressed with the concept as a whole because it allows readers to experience the poetry community through both artistic interaction and short interviews. For the most part, unlike other genres and media today, the poetry community is still tight-knit, personal, and grassroots. The Night Could Go in Either Direction, and this series as a whole, provide readers with a glimpse into that community.