I Drink To Our Ruined House
Deep breath to begin the sexual pause. A patient grasp on the sentence. Trees let go. They have to. Lean in. As wishbones do. Intact on the windowsill. Wings in our teeth. Breast to breast. We will marry in burnt swaddling clothes. Let it be known in the city of our distraction. In debt like the moon. The phone’s celestial ringing. The piano hushed. Polishing the paragraph of bone. Over breakfasts of blood pastries. We shower in dust. Tune of red ants. If we sleep through the war and wake to find no one.
Jen Currin’s acclaimed debut collection, The Sleep of Four Cities, announced the arrival of a fully formed, arresting new talent, and the poems in her new collection, Hagiography, see her trademark wordplay and entirely contemporary take on the surrealist image moving into new territory. These poems push life’s barely hidden strangeness into the light, and present thought as a bright, emotionally complex event. In Hagiography, mind and sense and the world they move through are interwoven to create a mysterious, familiar, vexing and continuously fascinating human drama.
There are no saints in Hagiography, but there are many curious characters looking for spiritual truth. Hagiography is populated by seekers: ghosts, spiders, sisters, pilgrims, children, tigers, therapists, witches, grandfathers and birds. Hagiography starts with death and ends with birth. In between, life after life.
“In the word-magic-space of contemporary poetics, a saint is simply a member of the faithful. Hagiography, the study of saints’ lives, must be the discourse of the details of that faith. Jen Currin’s Hagiography imagines such details playing themselves out in a network of erotic and physiological impulses, a “hairy vision.” Currin’s language is not so much surreal as it is devoted to the strangeness of what really happens to bodies and selves in the world. In a sense, then, this book is a conversion narrative, too: it is a story of how we believe language can change and how we believe change can speak.”
“Jen Currin’s Hagiography is a delight for the reader’s heart and mind– hagios, meaning ‘sacred’ plus graphein, ‘to write.’ One lovely poem after another guides us through what holds us like a light.”