“Put flowers in my mouth:” Why Lemonworld

Lemonworld is a song by the sad boy band you may either love or hate, The National.

The National is great for a lot of things like drinking in the rain or crying alone. (I’m in the love camp.)

In in interview at The Quietus with frontman and lead vocalist Matt Berninger, he says “A Lemonworld is an invented, sexy, weird place where you can escape from New York. I had some image of it being a big beautiful, maybe semi-decrepit house…where these two sexy sisters who wear bathing suits all the time and drink a lot…”

Personally I don’t know that my own idea of a sexy good time would always involve bathing suits, but this song was written by a hetero cis-man.

I wanted to start reviewing books because I keep a spreadsheet of the books I read. As a voracious reader (and a writer) I wish I was writing more about everything I read; it isn’t always enough to make notes in the margins and re-shelf. Often times I recommend books to people knowing for sure that I loved this or that essay anthology, but, no I can’t remember specifically why, or if there was a theme, or which authors works were even included, because its been six months and in reading time that’s ten years and 100 books ago. I want to take the time to write about what it is I have just read and processed and lived through via books, so I can better remember them, learn from them, share them.

There are so many Book clubs, and while brilliant in their ability to succeed amongst so many individuals with busy schedules and lives, they feel a little out of reach for someone with a food industry work schedule who frequently questions the day of the week.

Hence, Lemonworld, a blog.

“Lay me on the table, put flowers in my mouth/ And we can say that we invented a summer lovin’ torture party.”

Is the song not illustrative of the intersections between consuming and creating art itself? An invitation to get weird and create something all our own? We can pick up a book and enter a desirable new world that’s sexy and weird and maybe is the best thing that ever happened to us, or if we are so inclined, we can write ourselves to that place, too. And then, anything can happen, and that’s sexy, people.

“In some ways it’s very similar to ‘Fake Empire’, where you can’t deal with the reality of what’s really going on, so let’s just pretend that the world’s full of bluebirds and ice skating.” A Lemonworld is your imagination’s attempts at escape!

(Photo/gif: Spongebob saying “imagination” while stretching a rainbow between his palms.)

imagination

My hope here is to review both prose and poetry and even the inbetweens, especially work from smaller presses and publishers, and debut authors.

Check out my profile if you’d like to request a review.

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and the tweet-town: @lilyblackburn93

 

*Sources:

The Quietus Features Interview: http://thequietus.com/articles/04024-the-national-interview-high-violet-bon-iver-sufjan-stevens

The National: “Lemonworld,” High Violet

Poetry: Motherhood & Myth in THIS BEING DONE by Stephanie L. Harper

What happens when we read time into everything? In This Being Done, time echoes ancient. Thematically, I wondered if ideas for many of these poems were inspired by “How to Take An Amazing Photo of A Solar Eclipse,” being a witness to growth as a parent whose child is diagnosed with autism: “Trust in his gift of seeing every moment in terms of geological time—/ of constantly holding the cycles of mountains/ rising up and eroding away in his mind’s eye… ” From elegy to epitaph, the threads that weave this book together are perspectives on motherhood and femininity seen through both a modern and mythologic lens; in place of sentiment or a conclusion we are given a raging dragon. Harper places the reader in a space that is reaching in all directions of time, hyper-aware of past enacting on the present, on our bodies.

There is a playfulness in Harper’s work even as her poems tackle serious subject matter. Play is one of the less frequent themes I come across in poetry. The notion of silliness often feels like a forgotten subject; poets want to tackle “bigger things,” despite the need for play in our own busy lives. One poem gives voice to the family dog while another dramatizes paparazzi hovering near a crime scene calling it “Anatomy of a Fustercluck.” “Instead” is a humorous failure to list the things one might do instead, should the speaker stop being a poet.

This book covers a lot of ground in a variety of forms. The complexity of experiences is focused on the body, and less seen through a societal lens. Many of the poems speak to one another, rather than provide a multi-faceted take on one over-arching subject. While not all the poems are silly in tone, nor do they only occupy a strictly metaphorical space. In particular, the poem “Brave” details trauma, a speaker’s rape by their soccer coach, calling into the present those inevitable repercussions we face as women who are expected to suck up our feelings and couch them in our silence. There is a strong tension built between what is seen and unseen; the private versus the illusion of safety in public. “…though you make sure/ only to be in public places with him,/ in plain sight of your teammates parents…/ People are watching, but they only see the things that have no need/ for invisibility…” “Brave” was such a powerful poem because of it’s frankness. The take-away is, a victim never feels brave. It says, how about we check our language?

In “Lupercalia,” Harper continuously addresses the power and strength of femininity and motherhood met by the glaring hypocrisy of how that strength is oppressed; this pre-roman festival of sex and sacrifice celebrating fertility is rooted in the punishment of a woman who broke her vow of celibacy. The nod to Roman mythology gives the poem a mystical quality; the “we” “reaching/ for our bloodline of lost/ infidel selves   still bound/ to the night’s crystalline tenors.” This searching, reaching through time, being lost to wind up at discovery—echoes throughout the text.

I also had to laugh (the dark, sad kind) at the the predictability of Lupercalia’s being eventual erasure via Valentine’s Day. No more sex-charged celebration of the she-wolf; even the vaguely similar Mother’s Day is couched in sentimentality and idealized versions of what a mother should look like. Where is today’s Lupercalia? The celebration of motherhood’s instinctual ferocity?

A mix of academic and down-to-earth, This Being Done asks the reader to engage with intersections of motherhood, femininity and the myths that connect us. The collection provides a series of resistances, to abuse, to silence; celebrating birth and the body’s resiliency.

“This poem is my body/ embryonic   translucent/ distended with new hope.”

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Photo: book plus coffee on my dirty old desk. too small to see: cat hair, dust.