These nimble poems grapple with what it means to belong to a body, a family, a country. With rigor and dark wit, Carroll conjures the exhilarating terror of moving through one’s life with nothing but “flesh holding / back disaster.”
Here is a miraculous poet made of music. She writes what the world needs to hear—what I needed to hear. She takes on our greatest mysteries and inheritances: love, desire, loss, family, activism, art, justice— and every poem changes the air we breathe. This debut reworks the mind as it breaks the heart with its beauty. To be fully alive, in the face of devastation, grief, and longing, a poet must make a song that could be eternal. Willa Carroll is fearless in the face of that challenge. Her music deserves to be sung everywhere—in the church of our earth, in the peace between lovers, in the halls of our learning, in the quiet places of illness and death and mourning. Hers is an art of perpetuity, and she is a genius whose words I hold my breath to hear more clearly.
As we speak or sing, the tongue dances in a hot wet auditorium momentarily lit. Half public, half private, this book maps the body in lingual movements that accrete and erupt out of stasis, striking choral resonances, transmuting personal/local histories, straddling the elegant and the repugnant. Here is a force to be reckoned with, a memorable debut.
-- Timothy Liu