Is it possible for poetry to be simultaneously raw and elegant, direct and oblique, hurtful and consoling? Yes, says Dear Delinquent, Ann Townsend's incandescent new collection. "My heart presses my ribcage like an octagon fist," she writes, taking on the persona of both betrayed and betrayer. Through poems that masterfully recall the styles of Sylvia Plath or Philip Larkin, Townsend convinces us that, even if its most destructive forms, love is the driving force behind all behavior.
Publisher: Sarabande Books, Incorporated
Number of pages: 72
Weight: 136 g
Dimensions: 213 x 140 x 10 mm
Finalist for the Heartland Booksellers Award
Finalist for the Ohioana Book Award, Readers' Choice Winner for Poetry
The New York Times, "New & Noteworthy"
"[S]harp, spare, quick-moving poems."
"With elegant language and turbulent feeling, this collection tracks the course of desire."
-The New York Times
"The title of Ann Townsend's playful, melancholic third collection, Dear Delinquent, is taken from the pet name Edna St. Vincent Millay deployed when writing to one of her many lovers, in this case Salomon de Selva. Perhaps "pet name" seems too playful a term for a sobriquet as sobering as "delinquent," but Townsend's collection, like much of Millay's, is rife with tension between levity and destruction. . . . Life is pain, yes, but life is also a romp, a sex comedy set to the tune of female poets who have come before. Millay's is not the only voice Townsend invokes here, opening the collection with a poem inspired by medieval poet Beatriz de Dia, later including lines from French poet Louise Labe. Townsend is inviting her reader into a long and polyvocal history of devotion and excess, a sensual advance and retreat. . . . Springtime blooms in Townsend's stanzas, and she invites us to lie in the grass with her for a while, to favor the scent of honeysuckle over the faint whiff of rot that always comes with it."
-Jess Smith, Kenyon Review Online
"Ann Townsend has borrowed her title, Dear Delinquent, from Edna St. Vincent Millay's method of addressing her lover, Salomon de la Selva. The lyric eroticism in this book, however, is Townsend's alone, a volume of allowed and disallowed passions, a painfully precise investigation of love, probed, categorized, and dissected by Townsend's disciplined, sharply delicate lyric stylus."
-Laverne Frith, New York Journal of Books
"'Dear Delinquent' was Edna St Vincent Millay's address to her lover, and Townsend's newest collection-by turns erotic and elegiac-continues in Millay's passionate lyric tradition. Full of the sensual delights, Townsend explores the (sometimes uneasy) ways in which heartache lives alongside pleasure. A child's joyful maturation alleviates the tragedy of a lost child, the powerful undertow of sex supersedes the hurt of infidelity. Like the mare who 'only knows the present tense,' we rally, 'testing with [our] teeth' the flimsy boxes that attempt to hold us."
"Ann Townsend's latest poetry collection, Dear Delinquent, is such a smart and moving book. The poems have a tender, contrary, emotional and intellectual discipline-silvery and cool in their precise, elegant surfaces, but full of pathos, too, and thrumming with an erotic shiver throughout. In a world of chatty, slack-lined poems, Townsend is able to conjure truths with masterful restraint. This is one of the best books of poetry I've read in years."
"Elegance. What is it? It's beauty so sharp it cuts. Thus, the phrasal energy of Ann Townsend's Dear Delinquent, a book driven by the messiest of human experiences: desire. Making of the heart an infidel, turning illicit lovers into 'butterflies self-immolating/on the compost heap.' These are poems of brutal honesty and incredibly fluid linguistic movement: take for example 'Doll,' where the lover writes to his wife with the speaker in the room: 'Nothing happening/here, he says, / smiling. /And Nothing/steps forward, /into his arms.' The stiletto twists a little in the gut."