wild madder…coming March 2019 from Brick Books
Poems that stride bravely into the day-to-day, recovering the misdirected intensity at its core.
Brenda Leifso’s Wild Madder is about way-finding—through those moments in which you no longer recognize where you are. It’s about not knowing—who you are anymore, how to be in the world, how to love. It’s about what’s unspoken and about what speaks—conversation with the wild and animate world. It’s about marriage, family, motherhood—the drudgery in them and the quiet beauty.
This is lyric poetry wracked with pain, rage, and longing. In the beginning, the collection may read as though it’s been steeped in bitterness. Family can ask everything of a partner and parent and then turn around and take even more; Wild Madder feels like a note in a bottle washed up on the shores of a rough sea. But Leifso is not one to stand still or cling to darkness; in fact, we end up so far into the darkness that when she breaks through into light, it’s a conflagration of all the things that make us human.
These frank, bracingly recognizable poems will be irresistible—and cathartic—for anyone who has ever felt their life chewing them into little pieces.
“Brenda Leifso writes fearless poetry. Wild Madder turns the domestic inside out, revealing the ‘promise of thunder’ in the familiar. Hers is a generous voice, yet at the same time it is a charged one, calling us into the ‘long-toothed sun’. This is a book of fierce delights.” —Anne Simpson
What would happen if, instead of entering a world in which they are never really considered human, girls made a choice to abandon us? A response to the hopelessness of being female, Barren the Fury turns salvation myths into destruction narratives, hopelessness into rage, acquiescence into violence. Ultimately, the poems question our responses to underlying power structures - do we close the curtains and latch the door?
Brenda Leifso's first volume of poetry is a stunning debut: haunting, disturbing but resolutely beautiful. With an unflinching eye, Leifso explores the uncertainty of memory, the legacy of place, the powerful dynamics of sexuality and secrecy, and the violence inherent in family relations. Her central section, "The Theban Women," is a multi-voiced re-imagining of Euripides"s The Bacchae; this drama in verse gives voice to women long silent, and together with Leifso's more personal poems, it forms a book of exceptional power from a poet whose voice is as honest as it is beautiful.