cover image Take This Stallion

Take This Stallion

Anaïs Duplan. Brooklyn Arts (SPD, dist.), $16 trade paper (76p) ISBN 978-1-936767-45-8

In her debut collection, Duplan, a curator and visual artist, draws from a seemingly bottomless well of staccato rambles to reveal the workings of an intricate and dynamic mind. Duplan provokes her readers’ sense of logic to open up their unconscious selves. In snapshot vignettes, she explores apathy, depression (how it repels others and devours the self), sexism and the male gaze, what it means to be lovable, how happiness blossoms through perseverance (“Water/ whatever agrees to stay alive”), the fear of self-actualizing too late (“stricken as the bird/ who sees finally itself/ reflected in the careful/ accident of a bramble-knot”), and childhood neglect (“There are animals/ dying every minute, waiting, even after their deaths,/ to be adopted”), among other subjects. Duplan tactfully manages to stir the comical and casual into poems about pain, crippling emotional uncertainty, substance abuse, and death. She also deftly manipulates punctuation, turning questions into statements to alter their gravitational pull and often insinuating that one knows the answers. To ask is to avoid the painful confirmation: “Do you ever look for bodies on the water/ or do you prefer to have fun with friends.” Duplan stirs the banal into a melting pot of the bizarre and morbid, creating an enticing concoction for those with eclectic palates. (June)