Simonds’s Warsaw Bikini reads like a journey into the “the artificial field of feel/ where every cell is a different explanation,/ each nook an anxiety to quell.” In Simonds’s newest collection, she combines sardonic desperation with an attention to movement and rhythm that is reminiscent of Plath’s later work. In Warsaw, Simonds creates an anxious relationship with her reader that blends the curious fallibility of the body with a violent, if not traumatic, passage through a culture that asks her reader to remain impenetrable. Simonds perpetuates a sometimes warm, sometimes distant approach to the female voice that questions the limits of desire without falling into the trap of becoming just another damsel in distress. In this manner, Simonds allows her speaker to move seamlessly between being a “boo-hoo Jew,” remembering the “the noose [she] once was,” and a poet “writing [her] bike in circles around this poem to prove that [she] persist[s].”
As a “don’t come here to relax” kind of city, Sandra Simond’s title Warsaw Bikini is as alluring as it is fitting. Simonds compels you to swim, snag, and twist through poems that marry dense lines with fragments that feel more like snapshots than anything else. At times the lines themselves are virtually stripped down, forcing the reader to believe in a world that always tells the truth. A candor based on a language that can “piss lemonade everyday/ so that the sky will sing.” Simonds consistently fractures the division of the beautiful and the profane, demonstrating that the poetic space should be a conflation of opposites, a textual breed of “minotaurs” and “hermaphrodites.” As Simonds states on her blog “Sandra Simonds Swims and Swims,” in poetry there “is a certain value in clarity or in making some point even if it is immediately negated. And who honestly believes that water is tasteless? I’ve always been able to taste minerals.” Simonds’s preoccupation with a kind of textual fidelity is what makes the shift from dense, prose-like poems to sparse, image-based poems even more intriguing. As a poetic “architect,” Simonds must “build her love from scratch” in order to fully dismantle preconceptions about what “grounded” or “realistic” poetry is supposed to read like. In short, Warsaw Bikini disturbsits reader so seductively that it is impossible resist.
This issue of Puerto del Sol also features new work by Monica de la Torre, Jenny Boully, Susan Briante, Joanna Scott, Blake Butler, and many others. It's enough to make ya wanna subscribe (so we just did)!
Also, the first few tweakjobs inspired by Warsaw Bikini have come in. More on this as the week slides by--but see below if you missed the announcement.