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The Art of Shutting Up by Fern Angel Beattie

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These are powerful poems of love, and loss and sex and regret, wrapped up in a tidal wave of confessional.  Beattie’s close and honest portrayals of relationships real and imagined evoke Frank O’Hara’s busy city streets pressed with flesh.  As she writes in her preface, throughout her days she  “cannot separate myself from this desire” – and what a ride it takes us on.  Her art of shutting up is one that takes instead to the written page, and in Bellow’s phrase, demands we become a ‘compulsory witness’.

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