New books: The Inquisition Yours

April portends many spring things: daffodils, precipitation, bunny rabbits. One peed on me yesterday.

April is also a month for book launches! And it’s poetry month!

Ergo, writings on new books. Behold!

I have been reading many of the new books of poetry in the past several weeks, and many of these were much too usual, lyric, narrative and expected for my tastes. However, Jen Currin’s third book of poetry, The Inquisition Yours, subverts the expected lyrical tropes with what one might call a surrealist lyric, in a way that touches on emotion and ‘meaning’ but that remains entirely within the world of language and its turns.

The Inquisition Yours is a pastiche of magic, magicians, absurdity, family members, animals, god with a little g, a fair bit of bread, a sense of play and a sense of seriousness. At times quirky but never cute, sentences/sentence fragments are set out carefully, with space between to consider each one. The shifts are subtle, and pronouns are important.

“Two o’clock and it was coffee
ordered. My home
of flour and water.

When I was tired of him
I set his things outside the door.

This was called divorce.

He made a hundred clay boats
for his murdered father.

Borrowed a book from god’s shelf.

Mischief of the holy city, whitest pig.
Only half my persona.”

There is a small p politic here too; recognitions of war and terrorism, feminist assertions, multiple and unreliable narrators, interrogations of language.

A poem titled “Patriarch” ends thusly:

“Spellcheck changes reality to realist.

The pathetic hope with which you approach all things.

An author dies & is more present in our lives.

Your text, a funeral dress.

Pack up the poem, boyhood of innocent greed.

In his introduction, in smoking jacket & cigarette:

The poet, he…

The critic, he…

The reader, he…

He he he he he

I’m laughing.”

This is but a brief preview, and certainly not a complete analysis, but you can download a section of The Inquisition Yours from Coach House and read more for yourself.


Nikki Reimer will never, ever, ever write about the cherry blossom haiku contest.

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