Instructions, Abject & Fuming (Crab Orchard Series in Poetry) (Paperback)
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In this inventive collection, Julianna Baggott invites readers to reconsider basic assumptions about language, faith, motherhood, and love. With a sharply honed voice featuring parentheticals that often comment on and sometimes undercut what has come before, these poems whirl through contemporary America, engaging with topics as diverse and timely as Russian mail-order brides, Internet bullying, and school shootings.
Alongside her cultural commentary, the speaker frankly confronts love and sex, as well as the beauty and brutality of having children. Still other poems reflect questions and considerations of faith: the speaker ponders St. Thomas in a pet store and imagines Jesus explaining to God how it feels to have a body.
Baggott’s use of obsolete Old English words subverts common language and creates new ways of interrogating the world around us. There is heartache on these pages, but Baggott also offers humor, such as a complaint about a lover’s eating habits or an extended discourse on a baby’s rattle. Baggott’s latest proves to be a rollicking book sui generis.
About the Author
Julianna Baggott is the author of over twenty books, three of which are collections of poetry—This Country of Mothers, Compulsions of Silkworms and Bees, and Lizzie Borden in Love. Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, Poetry, Agni, and the Southern Review, and been read on NPR’s Talk of the Nation. She teaches in the Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts and holds the Jenks Chair of Contemporary American Letters at the College of the Holy Cross.
“Julianna Baggott has always been a poet of inventiveness and sly self-appraisal, and these qualities are abundantly evident in her new collection, which is her best thus far. One almost has to go back to the Metaphysical and Cavalier poets to experience her sassy admixture of erotic and spiritual ardor, and her crackling formal dexterity—a skill that is never merely dutiful, never willing to settle for the easy tour de force. During an era of lukewarm and tepid poetry, Baggott offers poems that sizzle—and sear.”—David Wojahn, author of World Tree
“For years, I’ve looked to Julianna Baggott’s writing as a map to help navigate the crisscrossed highways of the human heart. But in this deliciously weird and extraordinary collection of poems, Baggott outdoes her distinguished self—creating a world where ‘the crawfish could outgrow the glass jars’ and where ‘an arm alone dies then tingles back.’ How I loved returning again and again to these wise poems, which underscore the electric and buoyant bodies that, on our best days, we all try to inhabit."—Aimee Nezhukumatathil, author of Lucky Fish