by Celia Bland
Foreword by Jane Cooper
This poet writes like a woman with a mission. Her collection resounds with an honesty that is at once brutal and determined. Soft Box speaks for itself and does not speak softly. Celia Bland writes like a woman possessed and the result is bewitching. —Foreword Magazine 2005
This account of coming of age, marrying, giving birth is different from any other that I have read: It is violently original. Sometimes raw and tough, sometimes startling in their beauty and sense of necessity, these poems, which read like swift, migratory chapters, are wildly gifted. —Jean Valentine
Celia Bland makes of her poems a new world, newly opened to us. She strikes us where we live, in poems to which nothing human is alien: eternal delight, mental action, moral integrity. Love of true speech, the minded boy, the embodied memory drives her forward to discover the whole person undenied. She is doing the work our language needs. —Marie Ponsot
She possesses a thrilling sense of the erotics of everyday things; her deft particulars fetch us. She resists the pallid entitlements of relationship stuff, and keeps her lyrics rueful reminders that each person, despite kinfolk and connections, is radically alone in the world of desire and shortcoming. Sometimes gloriously alone, as she feels her way through her own complexities: vigilant, detailed, intellectually joyous. —Robert Kelly
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
CELIA BLAND is the author of thirteen books for young readers, including the historical novel, The Conspiracy of the Secret Nine, which was a finalist for the Heckin Award for Children’s Fiction. Her poetry has been collected in anthologies published by Persea and Faber & Faber, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She is a contributing editor to The New York Public Library Desk Reference, and has published articles in Poets & Writers, Forbes Best of the Web, Art & Antiques and other magazines. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley and is Director of College Writing at Bard College.
Misconceptions of Childhood
My father was a sidewise Jack, always in profile, a
hand on his rod.
His pack was a Destroyer, said my mother,
where he played ping-pong on the deck, two fingers flat
on his spade.
I saw his photo: a big-bellied dick in a tailor-made sailor
“Bye-Bye!” he waved, and out I sprang, strong enough
to shove all the drawers shut.
My teeth took root. White stalagmites, their stems sunk inward
and rotted. Biting strawberries, they sheared unripe
heads from luscious tips.
The leaves caused a rash.
My mouth’s toes, St. Theresa, grind with your hips
when you close your eyes. Sex is sacred, you say.
Leaving me, to prove it.