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Pink by Sylvie Baumgartel

Source: Publisher
Paperback, 62 pgs.
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Pink by Sylvie Baumgartel is startlingly does not have a pink cover. In fact, it has a gray cover, which perfectly mirrors the gray in the relationships explored — mother-daughter, father-daughter, narrator-art, changes in climate, and more.

The collection opens with “The Washing” in which mothers and daughters wash together — a mother who washes secrets — and it is compared to the “washing” of the Sistine Chapel, in which fig leaves are removed to expose genitals and the windows to the soul are lost. It makes you think about what we wash away when the secrets are cleansed or kept hidden — how awful can the truth be?

We move later in the collection to “Pregnancy” (pg. 9) in which the narrator feels numb but everything is out of sorts as the “Blood that feeds my/Part parasite,/Part god, baby boy.//” is a far cry from how it is portrayed in art. The narrator says, “I wonder if what paintings/Really want is to reproduce./A baby of their own.// With many paintings made famous by men, perhaps the narrator is right because those painters are unable to do so naturally.

The collections call on the color of femininity, love, and kindness stands in juxtaposition to the nearly clinical precision with which Baumgartel examines relationships and art. She even explores the abuse suffered by boys at the hands of priests who believed “they could get away with it/Because the boys couldn’t hear each other/Scream.//” (from “The Mission Bell”, pg. 11-2).

Pink by Sylvie Baumgartel is a stunning poet with stark imagery in each poem that will force readers to reorient themselves and rethink the world around them. Between the grotesque and the use of color, she creates a world in which the narrator needs to break through the morass and the societal norms to be born again.

RATING: Quatrain

Mailbox Monday #603

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what we received:

Pink by Sylvie Baumgartel for review.

A sharp, visceral new collection of poetry that touches on art, history, sex, bodies, language, and the color pink

The sack of Rome,
The siege of Florence.
The lights twinkle pink in Fiesole.
Pink furls, pink buds.
Wet pink veiny hearts in spring.
Pink can mean so many things.

Sylvie Baumgartel’s Pink moves from the shadow of the Ponte Vecchio to a mission church in Santa Fe, from Daily Mail reports to a photograph of a girl from Tierra del Fuego, from a grandmother’s advice (“Don’t go to Smith and don’t get fat”) to legs wrapped around “a man who calls me cake.”

Baumgartel, a poet of fierce, intimate, wry language, delivers a second collection about art, history, violence, bodies, fear, pain, reckoning, and transcendence. The poems travel back to the historical, linguistic, and emotional sources of things while surging forward with a stirring momentum, creating a whirlwind of birth and destruction.

What did you receive?