The Optimist Shelters in Place by Kimberly Ann Priest
Small Harbor Publishing, April 2022
While The Optimist Shelters in Place by Kimberly Ann Priest isn’t so brand new, we continue to help spotlight titles that may have been overlooked during the pandemic years, which is no irony intended on this particular title. Priest is the author of several other collections: Slaughter the One Bird (Sundress 2021), finalist for the American Best Book Award, as well as the chapbooks Parrot Flower (Glass 2021), Still Life (PANK 2020), and White Goat Black Sheep (Finishing Line Press 2018). Each poem in this newest book plays on the title, starting with “The Optimist,” which adds a weighted perspective as they reflect on the poet’s time during the shutdown. There are some humorous titles that I’m sure many readers will relate to, such as “The Optimist Takes a Personality Test,” “…Spends a Lot of Time on Pinterest,” “…Tries a New Recipe for BBQ Chicken,” “…Doesn’t Wash Her Hair,” but also some that will draw the reader in with their more allusive considerations, “…Imagines What It Would be Like if Her Daughter Were Actually Dead,” “…Remembers What is Needed to Feel Essential,” and the great closing poem, “…Sleeps Through the Night.” Priest is an associate poetry editor for the Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry and Assistant Professor at Michigan State University. Find her work at kimberlyannpriest.com.