Hi friends! Thanks so much for your patience during this break. It was so nice having some time to read for fun, and catch a breath after a busy semester. I’m very excited to jump back into poetry reviews, and I’m in great company with Crawlspace by Nikki Wallschlaeger. Before I start though, I wanted to inform my readers that NPP is going to start doing bi-monthly reviews, rather than the weekly reviews I’ve been doing. The reviews will still post on Sunday, but writing them twice a month rather than four times a month will give me a chance to focus more on interviews. After today’s review of Crawlspace by Wallschlaeger, I’ll be posting the next one on Sunday, June 18. So, reviews will always be posted on the first Sunday of the month, and the penultimate Sunday of the month. Thanks for your understanding during this transition.
During the blog’s break, I spent some time with Crawlspace, which was just released by Bloof Books this past May. Bloof Books consistently publishes some of my favorite work, and Wallschlaeger’s book is no different. As with The Sonnets by Sandra Simonds (also published by Bloof Books), Crawlspace is written as a collection of 14-line poems that call back to the sonnet form. Each poem (55 total) acts as a disruption of the status quo. Our speaker occupies the spaces that oppress people of color, specifically women, and then attempts to rattle these territories through a series of poems that challenge and disturb. Within these poems, rules are established, albeit ironically: “You can only play with squirt guns / in the backyard never the front yard” (sonnet 29, lines 10-11). The language is surprising, and the poems oftentimes interrupt themselves, revealing a level of chaos within the speaker’s mind and the text.
The irony in many of the poems is exaggerated to expose the hatefulness of white supremacy. A few of the poems take place on the beach, where our speaker writes, “I got so much sun long ago that / I’m permanently black the sun gave / me protection from the sun and you / say I am not good JESUS will save me” (62). Each poem is layered with satire, confessional lines such as “I’ve been exhausted my entire life // I hate telling you / how I really feel” (24), and empowerment: “I keep my blackgirl magic protected protected” (48). I loved the mix of humor and juxtaposed images throughout Crawlspace, and I really admire the careful use of sarcasm throughout the collection.
Buy Crawlspace here.
*As part of my goal to promote small presses, here is some information about Bloof Books: Bloof Books is a collective poetry press based in Central New Jersey, publishing perfect-bound paperbacks as well as limited-edition handmade books and chapbooks. Our perfect-bound books are available on our site, at select bookstores, and via online retailers.*