“Laressa Dickey’s Syncopations continues the thematic explorations of her earlier work—family, memory, the American South—but displays a depth and richness all its own. In “Two Holed Mouth,” Dickey challenges readers to “hold space for your own I; otherwise someone fills it.” This collection makes plenty of such space, demonstrating that Dickey isn’t just an accomplished lyric poet and aphorist; she is “a graduate of persistence and traditional courtesies,” qualities she combines in ways unique to her work. These poems show readers what can be gained once these courtesies are no longer necessary and persistence has paid off. Readers are treated to a poet in full command of her art who is willing to share the benefits of her hard-won knowledge, making this a truly essential collection.”
—Matt Duffus, author of Swapping Purples for Yellows
From Josie Sigler Sibara’s review: “By turns gritty and lush, Laressa Dickey’s Twang destroys any notion of precise opposites to show us how the animacy of existence renders everything altered by everything else. Subject and object are at times beautifully obscured so that the acted-upon becomes the actor. Once you think you’ve got ahold of an image, expect a surprise—Twang takes what feels like it could belong to you, could fit in the palm of your hand, and explodes it, makes it too enormous to hold. In this way, you feel held, instead, even as you also tumble and plunge deeper in the service of more knowing. You may start in the ephemeral and find yourself in the colloquial. Lightning may crumble and dogs may bark with their fists. While Dickey paints a stunning portrait of a southern family subsisting on tobacco, she also insists on cutting that painting into strings and building an instrument on which to play her insistent, shocking song—a melody for the harmony of the man who invented Twang. It’s a honey-coated howl.” —Josie Sigler Sibara, author of living must bury and The Galaxie and Other Rides
ROAM: poems (2016). From Shearsman Books. Order here. Or here.
From Jane Lewty: “I don’t know how to say what kind of foreigners we were.” So ends a poem in Laressa Dickey’s luminous new collection that reconfigures itself in six sections, each one with its own impulse but always circling back to the irreconcilable tension between migration and stasis. When does the act of relocating become oppressive through its continual movement, and inevitable fatigue? Can true freedom lie within the parameters of belonging in a certain space? The poems of Roam range from the micro to the macro in their scope; small intricacies of memory are set against, and within, the traversing of vast topographical expanse. Fleeting yet potent images (“patients on stone tables made of dust;” “Trees made of maps with distended stomachs”) amass to give the impression of a chorus, envicing generations of flight, the process of flight, and “homing”. Fragmentation becomes cumulative, but, as ever in Dickey’s poetry, the lone articulation rises up to speak for the whole, the “one person slipping over the Atlantic,” who describes in exquisite and achingly beautiful lines the ever-alert state of escape versus sanctuary, the vigilance of a mind that constantly navigates and sustains the “body full of space.” Responding to our world where borders are contentious and the migrant encounters a ceaseless battle against prejudice alongside their fractured lives, Roam puts forward the notion that when building a fire, smoke will blow back into a house. Something will always be left behind, to linger and settle, even though it may visibly disperse. “All the traces of people waiting throughout time/footprints mark the way::/:: they are erasable/what is left/what is left/what is left/they go.”
Bottomland (2014) from Shearsman Books. Ordering information here.
From Wang Ping: “Laressa Dickey is a shape-shifter of sounds and images and spirits. In the maze of Bottomland, meanings are taken apart, rebirthed with new forces, burnt into new worlds. No one can walk out of this maze untouched.” –Wang Ping, Author of The Magic Whip and The Last Communist Virgin.