2010 Title » Poetry
The Diminishing House
In Nicky Beer's The Diminishing House, birds are disemboweled, a father is mourned, and a basement fills with snakes. This first book of resonant lyric poetry meditates on such subjects as animals, art, and anatomy, and transforms the familiar and mundane into something strangely mythic. Beer explores the exhilaration and frustration of living in a sensuous, unstable world filled with grief and desire.
Nicky Beer is from the Long Island town of Northport, NY. She holds degrees from Yale University, the University of Houston, and the University of Missouri-Columbia. She has received a Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, a Louis Untermeyer Tuition Scholarship from the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and a Discovery/The Nation Award. She is married to the poet Brian Barker, and teaches at the University of Colorado, Denver.
Nicky Beer's scrupulous articulations make the most of diminishing things. She names the body electric and sings against our losses and erosions with uncanny verbal precision. This is a shining first book.
What a sober delight it is to read Nicky Beer's The Diminishing House, whose rooms of poems are generated in loss, but completed in joy. Even the most grievous reminder of a parent's death, a favorite song still haunting the speaker, is rendered not as renewed hurt, but as springboard to revelation. Beauty out of damage: "Song from a cut throat: / catgut, sheepgut, woodskin. // This song is what the mind can bear." The cut to gut to gut to skin reminds us of the violence underpinning the crafting of instruments, made all the more valuable because of it. Whatever darkness falls in this book, the poet is given the means and mind to transform it. As Nicky Beer brilliantly puts it: "The dark makes you a gap-goer, tether-tongued." These are unforgettable poems.
Begin with loss, subtract from it, then start asking questions. Is there a harder charge for a young poet? And yet, here it is, The Diminishing House, and, inside that house, Nicky Beer feeling her way from room to room . . . . through her impeccable eye for detail and her remarkably adaptive poetic gifts, Beer manages to awaken in her readers a great faith in the power of the imagination to transform what it touches, and to call up the only conceivable solution: "Love, come kiss me lightly / where I am yoked to a shadow that is not my own." Isn't that why poetry exists?
To purchase The Diminishing House by Nicky Beer, please contact our distributor, University Press of New England toll free at 1-800-421-1561 or by fax at 1-603-448-9729. The book is also available online at UPNE, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine retailers.
To request a copy for review, please contact the Carnegie Mellon University Press Editorial Offices at (412) 268-2861 or by email at CarnegieMellonUniversityPress@gmail.com.