Julie Reeser’s Newest Chapbook is a Testament to Nature and Poetry
Julie Reeser’s exquisite 2019 publication, Beak, Full of Tongue, is best described as soft petals of poetry wilting before the coming dusk. Death’s “…inevitable greeting…” is the catalyst for this collection. “The trees dance / in anticipation of our deaths,” but still, despite this repudiation, Reeser “…cried at the beauty.” It is a stark fact that humans will lose it all. This is what makes the surrounding people and world so painfully beautiful. Beak, Full of Tongue will send readers into “…racking sobs of grief / at having to give all of this up.” Reeser’s writing is so simple and so utterly sublime.
Julie Reeser’s work swells in its love for life with all its “…crags and peaks, / her wrinkling mountains…” This acceptance of the darker and lighter aspects of living allow her to provide critiques, as she does in “Break Open a Song,” which are all the more precise and important to hear.
Her poetry is akin to walking through a cloud weighted down upon the earth. Effervescent and serene, she encourages all who find themselves in the text to look up, “…to indulge, / to breathe into the ribs / of every blue moment, / spend it all.” In regards to tone and voice, Reeser is less Lauren Scharhag and more Mary Oliver, but she is quite capable at conjuring up monstrous images just like Scharhag. The skin chills as “white tongues wriggle like worms / as rimed brown and black people / drown in useless words.”
Read in the morning the lines, “You are alive / even as you lay dying. / You are alive, your rhythm unchanging,” carry the affectation of meditation. Read these same lines again in the evening and it is a call to action. One that encourages those who interact with this text to live engagingly and furiously as a brilliant act of dying.
The construction of the entire thing is also quite well done. The cover art for this chapbook, Orchid Blossoms by Martin Johnson Heade, is an excellent selection. The blushing lilac colored petals bursting against the ominous gray sky perfectly match the thematic elements of the poetry lining its pages. This is no major critique by any stretch of the imagination of the work as a whoel, but the margins on a few of the pieces seemed oddly placed.
Beak, Full of Tongue makes for a fantastic addition to any personal or public library’s poetry selection. Nature lovers will find a special kinship with these words. Julie Reeser is a strong poet as well as an artist and it is hoped that her writing will continue to flourish. Reeser previously released another chapbook in 2017 entitled, Terracotta Pomegranate. Both her titles can be ordered online or through your local bookstore.
Thank you for supporting modern poets by reading this free review. If possible, please donate what you can so these reviews may remain free. 10% of all site earnings and donations will be gifted to Lambda Literary at the end of 2019!
Interested in sponsoring a free review for a poet? Donate here!
If you’re a poet who would like a free review, click here!
Affiliate links may be present in this post, meaning, at no additional cost to you, Berry’s Poetry Book Reviews receives a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.