Saturday, February 22, 2014

Susan Yount's House on Fire

The 18 poems in Susan Yount’s chapbook House on Fire, published by Juliet Cook and Blood Pudding Press, surround the reader in a mystifying and often horrific landscape of dead animals, grisly deaths, ghost fish, red snow, catalpa trees, and a “family aflame.”

The winner of the 2014 Blood Pudding Press contest, this is an intensely personal portrait of a rural family haunted by abuse and deep turmoil. Two young girls, a mother, and a father navigate their way through life, (practice their deaths) on a fantastical farm, where “Cyclops drops splatter the concrete driveway;” mother is a gray bluebird/Toasty in a tarnished coop… sister is a chicken breast/Baked dry on a cracked glass tray….. Where she kills herself twice a day.” The language is wrought with intense, often repeated litanies and images that cuts straight to the quick, and it is fearless in its pursuit of clarity as the speaker “tries to recall the origin of her despair.”

Near the end of the book, in the poem “Ars Catastrophe” Yount writes, “Poem was not the sun but a light/ blue stock letter to anyone.” Yes, this is certainly not a book where the sun shines, but many readers will find comfort in Yount’s honesty and bravery while looking darkness straight in the eye and not blinking.

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