Temper

Winner of the AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry & the Kate Tufts Discovery Award

Restraint and abandon ride side-by-side

“Restraint and abandon ride side-by-side through these fiercely distilled poems-again and again they bear reluctant witness to the shadows hovering around the edges of every moment. Temper starts with an evocation of a mystery-an empty train station, the words of a last phone call, a sister’s body beside the tracks. Move closer. I want to tell you a story, the poet murmurs alluringly, as if to implicate us in the crime. A beautiful unease suffuses these poems-they make me aware I’m alive, and certain of nothing. A stunning debut.” – Nick Flynn

Beth Bachmann's Temper is an unforgettable first book

“Beth Bachmann’s Temper is an unforgettable first book. Embodied in a poetry that quakes with sorrow one moment and is steely with forensic detail the next–the drainage gate… the tearing/of a pleated skirt- Temper‘s account of a murder encompasses the polarities of flesh and spirit, love and horror. The drama of this horrifying event, however, is not what is most compelling about Temper. What is most compelling is the way Beth Bachmann presides over the drama with a courage and restraint which manifest themselves as the beauty of these poems.” – Lynn Emanuel

Tempered by silence and grappling for meaning

“Tempered by silence and grappling for meaning beyond story, beyond what is spoken or known, these poems recall absences everywhere – the losses by which we are plagued, what we must endure.” – Natasha Trethewey

Bachmann works the charged margins of the mythic imagination...
“In its clarity of voice-stark, startling and objective-and in its ability to transmit the literal and psychological violence and danger of experience, Temper reminds me of Louise Gluck’s debut volume, First Born. Like Gluck, Beth Bachmann works the charged margins of the mythic imagination, but with a terrifying difference. For Bachmann, myth is also fact. Temperis a marvelous, compelling and disquieting addition to contemporary poetry.” – Michael Collier
Formidable...mind-boggling...absolutely tonic...

“formidable…mind-boggling…absolutely tonic…when George Herbert wrote about temper he meant that process by which metals are beaten and burned and subjected to dire extremity so as to gain their supple resilience and serviceable strength. That is the work these poems do.” – Linda Gregerson, Kate Tufts Award judge

Metamorphosis, resonance, transformation, the alchemy of art.
“metamorphosis, resonance, transformation, the alchemy of art. Bachmann is able-by a few simple, direct gestures…to connect her personal grief and tragedy to the whole tradition of English (and Western) verse and to the poetic impulse itself to make beauty out of sorrow.” – A.E. Stallings, Poetry
A violent, eroticized version of heaven...
“a violent, eroticized version of heaven… it is elegy itself-part lamentation, part consolation-whose mouth is bloodied” – Shara Lessley, West Branch
A language of fact and unflinching gaze trained on ruin
“elegy is tested in these immaculate lyrics that derive their power not from nostalgic portraits of the lost beloved, nor of innocence lost, but rather from a language of fact and unflinching gaze trained on ruin… If, in the 20th century, the elegy was, in the words of Yeats, an act of reconciling “this life, this death,” Bachmann’s elegies pick up where that task leaves off… the question at stake in this work is what, exactly, are the limits of the human animal” – Beth Marzoni, Poet Lore
Boundaries of blood, love, belief, and brutality blur...
“boundaries of blood, love, belief, and brutality blur…The grief in Temper is raw, relentless, and unadornedis elegy itself-part lamentation, part consolation-whose mouth is bloodied” – Lisa Russ Spaar, On the Seawall
Eerily calm and anything but bloodless. Tough and impressive
“eerily calm and anything but bloodless. Tough and impressive” – Dorine Jennette, The Georgia Review
The faint hint of heat, not the bottle of Tabasco.
“Bachmann’s poems grabbed me because of their violence-was I just looking for it?-but it was a violence which was often implied, a sense of foreboding, a mood often just beneath the surface, rather than Wertmuller’s horrifying image of a family of ten being gunned down in a mass grave. And it’s not that I don’t like Wertmuller’s films-I do. I guess this particular evening I just wanted the striptease, not the naked body; the faint hint of heat, not the bottle of Tabasco” – D.A. Powell @ harriet the poetry foundation blog
Reading Beth Bachmann's poems is a little like having sex in a graveyard.
“Reading Beth Bachmann’s poems is a little like having sex in a graveyard. In one sense, there is no location where having sex could be more wrong…But I can’t think of any other act that might honor death more than one which allows you to forget about it completely. Her language has this kind of oppositional tension, respecting movement and the stillness that comes before and after” – Sommer Browning, Multifarious Array
Quirky, fresh, linguistically flippant...
“quirky, fresh, linguistically flippant, syntactically idiosyncratic, and emotionally uncompromising” – James Hoch, Black Warrior Review
Is beauty what one thinks of when one thinks of a weapon?
“Is “beauty” what one thinks of when one thinks of a weapon?” – Charles Rammelkamp, Heavy Bear

Beth

Currently at work on a book of poems about peace called Cease, Beth Bachmann teaches in the MFA program at Vanderbilt University. More

Do Not Rise

A book about war, memory, and PTSD. Pitt Poetry Series, coming 2015

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