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Hold Tight

  • Image: Image
  • Book Type: Poetry
  • by: Jeni Olin
  • Date Published: May 2010
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934909140
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 106pp
  • Price: $18.00
  • Review by: Sarah Rehmer

From the Morton Salt Girl to straight bois, the fever dream of Jeni Olin’s second full collection of poetry, Hold Tight: The Truck Darling Poems draws the reader into the solitary world of the personal: the private space where the ruminations and raw anxieties that dominate the human mind cavort. In this manner Olin explores identity and connection with an astute, pain-allied beauty in four sections of short poems.

The first and third sections of Hold Tight, “So Cold You Could Fence With Your Nipples” and “The Pill Book,” play with the weariness that stems from the self’s solitary separation from its more accessible visual form and the puzzle of human existence. In “Lamictal” Olin writes:

I felt my body take a leaf of absence –
the real “me” having absconded into a Swiss
waterfall, as glossy as the family silver or
a glimpse of Ibiza on which I sailed along
in a dream.

In “Mere Food Tubes Living in Isolation,” she explores the disconnect between the public and the private with lines like, “I am always reassuring people I am / not who I say I am.”

The second and fourth sections of poetry, “Sans Visa Sans Culottes” and “Like a Lake Touching 4 States But Not Getting Any Of Them Wet,” keep the previous philosophical subjects in mind while focusing in more acutely on the characters of the “you.” With a stark honesty Olin explores the unique insecurities and irrational forces that control one’s ability for human connection. In “Pillow Talk” Olin writes:

As an insomniac compulsively flips a pillow
to cool the cheek, I turn you over again & again
& again in my mind when I need the cold side
of the said affair to rail against
“the ruinous work of nostalgia.”

In “Teens of Daring, Cut the Tungsten Lights” the controlling hesitation that comes with the vulnerability of self-disclosure exists in lines likes like, “Anything I swear to you is an alibi / for something true.”

Whether it’s through “Ukrainian Roulette,” or cryogenics as “the study of tears at icy altitudes,” Hold Tight combines hilarious wit seamlessly with a cutting sadness, making the work both more surreal and accessible. Olin’s masterful use of iconic song titles, brand names, etc., further creates the perfect portrait of contemporary life, where one struggles to define the self while thrust toward living at an “elusive base-level reality.”

Hold Tight: The Truck Darling Poems is a strikingly open and gripping collection, and through it Olin has succeeded in comforting at least this one “soul-sick adult.”

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Review Posted on August 31, 2010

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