Amanda Lamarche

Amanda Lamarche's first collection of poetry is a witty and accessible interrogation of language and its limitations. The collection's introductory poem, "The Splint That Keeps the Heart Still," is followed by four sections.

Part 1 ("Book of Fears") lists fears that at first appear ordinary. The first poem in this section is not simply titled "Fear of Dying," a very common fear, but "Fear of Dying to the Wrong Song," a fear that is a little more out of the ordinary and also a tongue-in-cheek gesture on the poet's part. The same sense of unexpectedness applies to "Fear of Being Asked to Dance." Instead of the expected performance anxiety, the fear is actually that of "the true starting position"-the beginning of relationships. Lamarche also includes in this section a couple of unusual fears such as the "Fear of Buttons" and the "Fear of Doorknobs."

Part 2 ("Tracks from the Mouth") encompasses unique perspectives of the body and of place. "The Dresser" highlights the speaker's originality: "Still, even after years, I had to feel / my way around it each night. It was like passing / another woman in the dark, the knowledge of / thick white curves, the smell of finish, the possibility/of openings."

Part 3 ("A Tree Falls in the Woods") on the surface consists of instructions and advice about tree felling. However, upon closer inspection, the poem is also about relationships and roots. The poem tellingly ends, "I said, What about trees? / And other living things, he said."

In Part 4 ("The Clicheist"), Lamarche explores and explodes cliches by providing refreshing contexts. She plays extensively with line breaks and layout, resulting in visual gaps that also emphasize potential gaps in meaning. A highlight of this section is "Sleep the Sleep of the Just," a poem in which the word "just" takes on a double meaning.

Reviewer: Lydia Forssander-Song