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

Avail­able from Ama­zon.