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Woman Drinking Absinthe by Katherine E. Young

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 72 pgs.
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Woman Drinking Absinthe by Katherine E. Young is a visceral collection that explores female sexuality through fantastical elements and realistic situations from a woman chained to a bear to a woman dealing with the phantom limb of heartbreak. Young has crafted an emotional roller coaster that is both visually unsettling in places and emotionally scathing. Readers will become voyeurs as the musician plays his muse in “Interval,” imagining the notes one body can play. But at other times, readers will be thrust into the comfort and pleasure of a balanced relationship and a oneness in “Euclidean Geometry.”

If There Is a Hell (pg. 27)

it resembles this street in shadow, this street
and this streetlamp, where you and I cling
Soul Food (pg. 44-45)

That first time when you hit me,
I marveled at the crack

your hand made as it struck
flat against my face.

I should have known right then:
we were headed straight

Young doesn’t just plunge readers into relationships in motion, but those that are over, on the side, breaking apart, and being observed from the outside (like “Calculus”). Nothing is taboo in this collection. In “Place of Peace,” Young reminds us “All my life’s been lived in shadow, pattern/pieced by someone else: daughter, mother//lover. Whore. …” and “So many battles are accidental.” (pg.49-55)

Woman Drinking Absinthe by Katherine E. Young leaves us with the question of what do you do when the wildness is within us? How do we let it free to feel the wholeness of ourselves without causing deep grief and a sense of loss? Is it all just illusory? Young leaves us with a bunch of existential questions, but her language will haunt us, causing us to return to her poems again and again.

RATING: Cinquain

Check out her panel discussion with Kim Addonizio, Sandra Beasley, and moderator Reuben Jackson at the virtual Gaithersburg Book Festival 2021:

Comments

  1. Ooh, this one sounds really good! Thanks for putting it on my radar.

  2. This really does sound haunting. And intense. Excellent review!

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