Title: Brute: Poems

Writer: Emily Skaja

Publishing House: Graywolf Press

Date of Publication: April 2nd 2019

Rating: 5 stars

‘’I am sewn into a dress. On Broad Street, ravens

Lurk on the Divine Lorraine Hotel.’’

A striking front cover depiction Gleipnir and Fenrir by Walton Ford is a telling dark introduction to this poetry collection by Emily Skaja, the winner of the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets.

A woman acquires multiple identities to overcome the pain of a broken relationship. She leaves the lover role behind and becomes a warrior and a witch, set to overcome violence, treason, expectations. She has to transform herself, to resist the vultures and the crows, the reminders of sexuality and death. Sleep paralysis, open wounds, cries, and silence.

‘’Soldier for a lost cause, brute,

 mute woman

written out of my own story, I’ve

 been trying

to cast a searchlight over swamp-

 woods & parasitic ash

back to my beginning, that


kite-wisp clouded by gun salutes

& blackbirds

tearing out from under the


all these fine August morning so


so gold-ringed by heat maze &

where is that witch-girl

unafraid of anything, flea-

spangled little yard rat, runt

of no litter, queen, girl who

wouldn’t let a boy hit her,

girl refusing to be It in tag,

pulling that fox hide

heavy around her like a flag? Let

me look at her

Tell her on my honour, I will set

 the wedding dress on fire

when I’m good & ready or she can

bury me in it.’’

                                         ‘’Brute Strength’’

One Comment

  1. Michael says:

    Nice review! Graywolf publishes such interesting poetry.

    Liked by 1 person

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