POETRY

Our Lady of Not Asking Why

New Issues: Western Michigan Univ. Apr. 2017. 78p. ISBN 9781936970483. pap. $16. POETRY
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Kampa opens her New Issues Poetry Prize winner with a pummeling, propulsive description of the heart, "not its four chambers, high-beamed atriums" but as "spooked-horse," "runaway," and nakedly hopeful. That sensibility, that sense of life defined by want, carries throughout this accomplished volume, which veers between intimate, sometimes awkward scenes of family and childhood and hot, difficult, desperately desired and disappointing love. As she explains, "The tent/ his bones made—pitched/ above me—was mostly/ just that. Quick-stitched distance," and while later she declares, "How little/ love is. How worth everything," one feels immediately how ripped up she can feel. Emotion matters on every level here. The knifing of several horses leaves her wondering "what pain is for…./ I mean its afterache: My sister's face/ as she's legged up to the saddle. Her woundedness/ imagining theirs."
VERDICT Kampa's urge to feel, to will herself into others' being, is a gift that will carry her far.

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