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The Bones Below Paperback – 1 Mar 2010
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DeMulder possesses the most important quality a young writer can have, a unique voice. That voice exploded onto the national poetry scene. Sierra uses subtlety and tension the way photographers use angle. She will eat your heart out with a spoon. -Karen Finneyfrock, "Ceremony for the Choking Ghost"
, DeMulder is intensely personal. - Huffington Post
...violently passionate and sweet, deftly moving between the two modes. - The Lamron, New Journal of SUNY Geneseo
...DeMulder is intensely personal. - Huffington Post
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Ask me, what light through
Yonder window breaks?
It will be your f****** face.
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Wave your arms like your chest is a runway
She is the plane you are crashing."
The Bones Below is that unique combination of desperation and optimism that is often lacking in contemporary poetry. While DeMulder's cohorts are lambasted for being self-indulgent and unfocused, DeMulder can deftly balance her anger with wit, her melancholy with wordplay, and her sincerity with nothing.
O, Economy (Part 1) is a poem that reads simply:
"Today, I plan on stealing from the grocery store
and washing my laundry by hand in the bathtub."
She can be biting and self-consciously childish with her open letter "To the Woman Hitting on My Boyfriend" which promises,
"Now, I'm a feminist so I avoid
using the B-word in the spirit of sisterhood
But sister, just because I'm a feminist
doesn't mean I won't cut a bitch."
But poems like "Cycle of Abuse," "Talking to God" and "Sawdust" are raw, lyrical, explanations of events that don't bestow much blame but just deal with reality in the aftermath. There's not an ounce of pettiness. And Sierra knows how to write the s*** out of a love poem. "When the Apocalypse Comes," is an avowal of love that would make anyone blush:
"I will crawl to you across the curdling parking lot of a city
lick your body new again like my tongue
is God's hand trying to erase and recreate the earth."
There's no way to get through this book without gasping in recognition. In the way that everyone makes jokes about their pain, about their loneliness, about their self-doubt, DeMulder makes them and knows that it's an avoidance. Her self-protective laughter is something she's in on and she embraces it. The poems that drop that facade are all the more beautiful for that acknowledgment.
Read this book. It feels just like Sierra' "Ode to Carbonation":
"you taste like what I imagine
swallowing radio wires
feels like: all sparks and pop
music in my throat."
Sierra has a way of rounding up every heartache, triumph, doubt, worry, fear, etc that races around your heart each day and night and neatly pins them to each page. What you're left with is a mirror that reflects you more precisely than any shiny glass ever could.
Don't be surprised if you end up buying more of her books and other books from this publisher (as they have many great writers). Or if you stay up all night watching videos of her performing her pieces to live audiences. It's a rare experience to feel understood. It's even rarer to be able to own that experience in a neatly bound little book. :)
a lower middle class background. I don't say "once-broken" to imply that she is necessarily
whole again or somehow healed. Rather, the brokenness occurred long ago, and it is apparent
that hers is a voice that has come to terms with it, accepted it as a part of her. It's made a home
right alongside her hopefulness that causes poems like "Misplacing Their Ring Fingers" and
"For My Exes" to [insert physical euphemism for inducing emotional responses here].
When DeMulder isn't tugging at your heart (see, it was better when I just left the brackets), she's
inciting anger and shredding ideas of patriarchy that have been embedded into American culture.
Exploring motherhood and love through "Mrs. Dahmer" shows her ability to move beyond the
personal narrative that oscillates through her other poems.
The Bones Below is the kind of first book that may very well terrify young poets, bristling with
a well-articulated sincerity that the millennial generation has shown they are eager to pay a
It has been inspirational for me to find a poet that I truly respect so I can continue to pique my interest in my own poetry and grow. Before finding Sierra, I was most attracted to the works of Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath. I anticipate spending a whole lot more time with Sierra's works than I had with some of the greats. If you are a fan of either of those artists or just love good poetry, I would highly recommend picking up both of her books (New Shoes On a Dead Horse and The Bones Below). You will not be disappointed. I truly believe that anyone can find something to appreciate in her works.
This book is how you answer these people. It's amazing modern poetry that resonates with what we're all living today. Demulder is not afraid of getting personal, but even then her words will not be lost on you. If you're planning to buy 'The Bones Below', you probably have watched her spoken word poetry on the Internet. Then you should know this book has a value of its own and certainly does not fall short of her performances.
Anyway, it's amazing and sticks with you a long way down the road. It's so soothing you don't even resent the few typos (and I'm the kind of guy who resents typos). It's so chilling it makes you want to write. Oh, and it's also a beautiful object! So: Buy. It. Now.