The Pact by Jennifer Militello
In her newest collection, award-winning poet and memoirist Jennifer Militello confronts obsession, intimacy, and abuse. Through love poems inspired by such disparate spaces as a British art museum and the reptile house of a local zoo, comparing a romantic affair to the religious cult at Jonestown and a mother’s role to a Congolese power figure bristling with nails, The Pact offers an indictment against affection and a portent against zeal. This book places pleasure alongside pain, even as it delivers Militello’s trademark talent for innovation and ritualization of the strange.
“What a beautiful book of songs, pacts, spells, love poems, chants, pledges, odes! Such lyric abandon here, and also such deep lyric knowledge. Knowledge of what? you might ask. Of how bodies can ‘lengthen in rain’ and how an hour might become ‘a moth-eaten stain.’ ‘I keep my binoculars focused on / the past fi eld,’ this poet says, ‘something might arrive / to coax the present fi eld from its ghost.’ This kind of coaxing is most welcome. It isn’t the knowledge of past or foreknowledge. No. It is the lyric knowledge. To achieve it, one must go sideways, speak in tongues. ‘I promise you fraud,’ Militello tell us. But then, if a reader is lucky enough to find a poet as talented as Jennifer Militello, one might as well use her own words, and, opening the book, say: ‘I promise to let you / brainwash me.’ Why? Because this is, indeed, a beautiful book.” —Ilya Kaminsky
“Militello’s language… is largely an exquisite example of the modern gothic: shadowy, beset by menacing weather and violent feelings, and positively bewitching.” —Publishers Weekly
“Militello’s poems… illuminate and mystify.” —The Rumpus
“Militello makes order out of chaos sentence after sounding sentence, and succeeds in helping us at least try to understand human frailties.” —Booklist
“Jennifer Militello is one of the finest poets of her generation, an immensely original poet who has enriched American literature since her first book.” —Charles Simic