I Am Not Ariel

iamnotarielFrom straw in the crotch to beating back wild dogs, urgent sex on the hoods of cars to freckles like a woman’s skin’s sky, Barnes’s poetry is always real, always present, and ready, half the time, to remind you of the sort of Eros and Thanatos combinations that make his words both so dangerous and so virile. Transgressive, bold, this poet’s viewpoint is that of a durable man in an unforgiving landscape, presenting both the “cynicism and suspicion of the proletariat” in some turns–and the gratifying necessity of sating a man’s animal needs in others. Barnes can be as eloquent about poetic settings as Whitman but as carnally drawn to women’s flesh as any hot-blooded American male. There is an aggression in these poems, the sense of a strong man prone to temptation and diversion, this at contrast with the old women depicted shelling peas, bittersweet parenting notes on the subject of raising children, and an intense romanticism and sensitivity that flits out only in the rare moments when the reader is ready to be seduced. In short, Barnes can take you anywhere with this book—and his lines are so elegantly sculpted that they contribute to the sense of urgency his narratives create, present and corporeal—like the scent of new-fallen blood or the vivacious clutch of a mesmerizing, confident, marauding hand. –Heather Fowler, editor of Corium

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