Elizabeth Bishop & The New Yorker

These Fine Mornings

White Summer

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                              Broom Cover     


Reading Joelle Biele's masterful second book, Broom, I am ruptured into spring---alive, alive, oh, and in love with the sheer exuberance of the poems' lyric intensity. Broom is a book to fly away on, bewitched by shifting rhythms and the incantatory surge of a music rare in today's poetry. These are fast-moving poems, one perception immediately leading to a further perception. There's a marvelous nervosity to Broom, a rush radiating the high energy discharge of a whole field of gorse or broom in flower, "this morning's minion" of dazzle and shine--for the ear as well as the eye.
            —Susan Mitchell  

What is more intimate than a parent’s correspondence with a child?  In Broom Joelle Biele gives us poems that chronicle the first years of two of her children, poems equally tender and candid, secured by the rigors of their formal designs and the watchful hand and eye of the mother.  To the domestic narrative, however, Biele adds a further poetic trope, creating in Broom a kind of parental sublime.  Precarious life and the proximity of harm, or simply the million smaller terrors witnessed by any watchful parent, are part of the larger beautiful scene of the extended family unit.  Sometimes things are so fraught “we must look away”; sometimes we fall where “the tide swallows everything whole”; yet sometimes, like a “floating angel,” we may strike that particular balance, ravishing if temporary, where we “hover…weightless,” suspended in the moment of “what it is to be present while still here on earth.”  Broom is a gift that awaits Biele’s children, but it is ours to discover and relish right now.
            —David Baker  

In order to hold the slippery past in one’s hands, the poet must perform a few deft acts all at once – present facts, and then, at the very edge of fact, where what is known abandons us, the poet must shade and crosshatch the emptiness so the past firms up in the reader’s living moment. In her collection Broom, Joelle Biele achieves this delicate stance, balancing what she can know against what she can’t, and exploring what exactly of the past, through rigorous and sensitive questioning, can be made to breathe and live. Her interrogations are rich in meaning and are launched honestly and not merely rhetorically. Some tantalizing inquiries kick start poems (“Where did we think we were going, and why/were we driving against the wind . . .”) while others help to place the reader squarely at the heart of a dramatic moment (“Did we walk through town/did we park/the car, did we try to see the bay/the other way around?”). Posited against the complex nature of the past are the writer’s absolutely keen, tactile, empathic observations of children – inhabitations of children might be the best phrase, since these short interludes are written as if from within the very body of a curious child, and yet without a hint of sentimentality. In fact, avoiding nostalgia while tapping the felt nature of loss is one of  Joelle Biele’s gifts. These poems offer lushness without excess, a natural and flexible poetic line, and the felicities and sly opportunities afforded by thoughtful, crafted moments. 
            —Lia Purpura

Broadside, designed and printed by Lindsay Lusby, Literary House Press, Washington College


To order broadside:  Washington College


Vibrates with perceptive, intimate intensity.
            —Kara Peters, Tufts Magazine  

To survive, we must change and allow ourselves to be changed.  We continually become who we are, Broom beautifully asserts.
            —Anna Leahy, Sappho’s Torque

With epistolary poems written to her two young children and an array of formal enterprise (from ghazal to prose), these poems of joy and sorrow, exploration and discovery, deserve a wide readership in both English and Italian so that they can accompany us "like a compass into the far night," come una bussola lontano nella notte.
Lois Marie Harrod, Literary Mama

Biele, whether it is the three sections of sublime poetry, or her sculpted nonfiction, offers us a microscope to climb through. She’ll show us the worlds within our own world, remind us that every day transformation is occurring, life is exploding and perhaps receding too—and it’s all poetry.
            Barbara Harroun, Mom Egg Review

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