Poems of desire, romantic poems, poems written for a beloved other—they are often overlooked in contemporary literature, arriving from a genre once heralded as a necessary thematic excursion for any poet worthy of the title, though having since been, through ubiquity, relegated to a lower tier, as if appetites and passions were finally outed as passé, the banal concerns of a different era. Yet here is Erika Jo Brown’s incredible debut, inhabiting the same unsafe places explored by Catullus, Bishop, Millay, Stevens, O’Hara—not light verse, but whimsical and mysterious, quixotic, fearful, ecstatic. This is what love breeds, what it encapsulates but cannot seem to hold: an uncertainty that makes living worth it.
by Erika Jo Brown
Pub Date: December 2014
In love poems that re-imagine a luxuriant tradition that goes back to The Song of Songs, Erika Jo Brown displays a captivating intelligence, a generous—and often fierce and ambivalent—sensibility, and a formidable verbal gift that calls to mind Berryman. Every line sparkles with life, wit, and humor. To the beloved (the reader) she offers what poets have always offered in their endeavor to express love: as much of the world as can fit into a poem—which is a lot!
The shih tzu of these poems jumps up. It licks your face and barks in your ear and asks to make a home with you. It rolls with waggy ecstasy. It responds to sounds that no one else can hear. It’s a little engine of love, and there’s a rhythm to its run.
B.J. Love at Heavy Feather Review:
“Like a whipped cream cheese, Brown realizes that poems needn’t be dense to be delightful. Her poems echo those of Elizabeth Bishop (sometimes quite literally, as a highlight of the book is a poem called, “Crusoe in Love”) and Frank O’Hara; lines that are supremely engineered while also appearing to be lyrically dashed off.”
Daniel Rzicznek at The Literary Review:
“Brown has wisely chosen to use her strategies of inspiration and arrangement in a way that remains flexibly organic, and the resulting poems are buoyant and memorable. The whole book brims with variety, a quality unified by the poet’s reliance on soundplay, and on anticipating (and thwarting) the expectations of her readership.”
Click above for a PDF download of excerpts from I’m Your Huckleberry by Erika Jo Brown.