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Book Review :: A Rupture in the Interiors by Valerie Witte

Guest Post by Jami Macarty

In A Rupture in the Interiors, Valerie Witte casts the “fugitive / dye” of her artistic attention on the manufacture of silk and the ruptures of skin, weaving an intricate and polyphonic textual fabric by blending the “intermittent hues” of her voice with the vocal registers and narrative threads from reference sources, such as the dictionary, a manual for growing silk, and a natural history of skin.

The multihued and multisensory poems bring to the fore the connections between the “fabrication” of silk and the “stratification” of skin and how each implies gender. For instance, marketing and advertising would have women desire silk clothing for its qualities of being like a second skin and would have them buy skincare products that promise skin like silk. As weavers “transfer the silk / to bobbins from skeins,” they tell the secret history of women’s work and high-risk labor in clothing manufacture. At the level of diction, the two monosyllabic words “silk” and “skin” share three of the same letters and a slant rhyme. These resonating qualities between the two words suggest the relationship between the skin-deep exterior and the penetrating interior central to the nine sequences that Witte has woven in her lyric, associative, innovative, and feminist second full-length collection.

As the title suggests, what makes itself felt and seen from the inside out, particularly as it pertains to the skin, forms the interior inquiry of the collection. The poems contemplate the phenomenon and vulnerabilities of skin, skin sensitivities and permeabilities, and how skin protects and maps a life, particularly that of a woman in a society that prizes female perfection. Such a beauty standard denies the systemic eventuality that “what lies dormant for years | suddenly reappears.” In the end, skin’s hair, “redness,” “capillaries,” “bumps,” “wrinkles” and other “impressions” form “bodies of evidence,” “tissue of stories unfolding.”

Witte’s poems, “assembled / [by] a recruitment of parts,” turn as “a woman’s wheel turned… / never failing,” “treating the wounded” in “a bewilderment / process / called / reckoning,” making A Rupture in the Interiors a moving and permeating read.

A Rupture in the Interiors by Valerie Witte. Airlie Press, 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.

New Book :: Keşke

Keşke by Jennifer A. Reimer book cover image

Keşke by Jennifer A. Reimer
Airlie Press, October 2022

Wistful memory, future longing, and nostalgia for unrealized possibilities, Jennifer Reimer’s Keşke joins the ancient and the modern to the intense lyric experience of self-discovery. Watery scenes rewrite Homeric myth with a feminist eye while verses unfold inner worlds with tangible sensuality. Experimental yet measured, Keşke is shaped by forgotten caves, ancient ruins, wave-battered ships, and the ragged angularity of the Mediterranean coast. Evoking desire for what is absent, Keşke traverses the slipping movement of time and attachment, hope and impossibility, with a clear eye and a passionate hunger for where and what we might have been.

To discover more great books from small, independent, and university presses, visit the NewPages Guide to Publishers as well as the New Books category on our blog. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to stay up to date!

New Book :: Animal Afterlife

Animal Afterlife by Jaya Stenquist book cover image

Animal Afterlife by Jaya Stenquist
Airlie Press, September 2022

The voices of near-extinct animals create troubled echoes in Jaya Stenquist’s debut collection, Animal Afterlife, winner of The Airlie Prize 2021. In fragmented reincarnations, these poems reach for the limits of humanity, the boundaries of species, and the laws of embodiment. Here, sensations become the mechanism for insight. With lithe lyric power, Stenquist builds a world of impossibilities, a language for the binturong, the eyeless spider, the siren of Canosa, and wild ponies of England; communications and intermingling with the human that can never be preserved, only imagined. As the Earth continues to change during its Sixth Great Extinction, Animal Afterlife creates an archive of spellbinding ghosts.

To discover more great books from small, independent, and university presses, visit the NewPages Guide to Publishers as well as the New Books category on our blog. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to stay up to date!