Things I’m Reading Thursday #24
Heather has been featured a lot here at ONS. I first came across her stuff a good three or so years ago, as a young deviantART-er, and since then she’s been a ONS Featured Poet, and I reviewed her fantastic debut chapbook, Nothing Unrequited Here, when it came out. Heather is also the author of the sold-out collection How To Make People Love You and the chapbook Facts of Combat; her work has been published in Rattle, the Columbia Review and Grasslimb, among others, and she was the winner of the New Letters Poetry Prize 2009.
So, you may have gathered that I kind of love Heather’s poetry. I’m the proud owner of all the books she’s produced to date, and I’m always excited to read anything new she publishes. But I’m going to stick my neck out and say that I think Expletive Deleted contains her best work thus far.
This is a visceral, honest, disturbing and touching book about love, anger, loss, frustration and guilt. Bell looks candidly at the themes of depression and mental illness — documenting the weird and complex places that the mind can take you, from the first twinges of anxiety right through to the decision to fire your therapist. I’m no stranger to depression, or to therapy, and so many times in Expletive Deleted I found myself thinking “yes — yes, that’s it exactly.”
“How to explain
that I spent the last two years as a mad
woman? Everyone suggests that I refer to
that time as a “personal matter”, instead
of strange, or drowned,
or tailed by men with hound faces.”
But this is not a wholly bleak collection — one of the best things about Heather’s work is the dark and self-referential humour that runs through it. Take, for example, ‘The Male Poet’, which begins with the lines:
“At first I am not sure what to name my
new dog. Collins, Eliot, Whitman? I
finally decide on Basho because of his
constant peeing on my banana
However, Heather’s greatest talent is her ability to craft an absolutely showstopping end to a poem. Time and time again these narratives leave you breathless, shocked, moved.
the situation like it is a police report:
woman’s face is a tight shiny surface of
worry. Woman’s hands keep moving over
the disappointment. Woman
says she hasn’t told the truth for years,
and we have to believe her.”
Tags: advice for young writers, deviantart, expletive deleted, featured poet 2 heather schimel, heather, heather bell, nothing unrequited here, publishing, queenhrosie, resources for young writers, Things I'm Reading Thursday, young poets