As in some paranoic dream, in Cati Porter's powerful debut collection, "everything's a sign"--the scrabble tiles spelling out clandestine family tensions, the glazed eyes of porcelain lobsterware revealing her craftsman grandfather, the dictionary definitions of "mum" defining cycles of sexual violence and enforced silence. Through E-Bay ads for an inflatable church, labels stuck to her preschool son's jeans, instructions for preconception gender selection, and childhood games, Porter names herself into the world with lyrical irony in poem after hilariously tragic poem. Follow her through the "bourbon-hinged jangling dancing open door" seven floors up to visit the kitchen of the soul. There are madwomen in that attic, but the booze is good, and they really know how to cook. --Tony Barnstone
In Seven Floors Up you will find a complicated and gifted poet, Cati Porter, whose art is filled not only with heart and mind--but also with the body in its varied and rich incarnations. Here's a poet speaking as wife, lover, mother, daughter, woman, artist and thinker, whose grateful, and still often rueful, poems remind us that it's in our messy everyday entanglements, in our obligations and aspirations, amidst our fears and demons that we forge meaning. But don't be fooled. Although these are the poems of a young wife and mother Porter has range. She can write "Marriage as a Board Game" and "Elegy for My Mothers (Who Are Not Dead)", and then give us a sharp and insightful poem about an inflatable church available for purchase on eBay. She can write "In My Hand a Photograph Of Where He Is Not" with its compressed picture of loss and shock and then use a children's game ("Mother May I") to document the changing of the generational guard. Porter even turns her wry eye on the opportunities science provides--don't miss "Oogenesis, Or 'Welcome to the Vagina!'." Reading this book, is like being at a party when a truly smart and funny person walks through the door. "Thank goodness she's here," you think, "Now we'll have some fun." --Deborah Bogen
This necessary book comes to us straight from "the kitchen of the soul," where the details of daily life--a sick dog's diet, an inflatable church up for bidding on eBay--are transformed from the domestic into the mythic. Cati Porter's fascination with language and deeply-felt passion are seasoned with a welcome humor that makes this book a joy to read. Admirable in its range--whether pantoum, sestina, abecedarium, or deft free verse--and penetrating in its wisdom, Seven Floors Up is a collection to be treasured. --Beth Ann Fennelly
About the Author
Cati Porter is founder and editor-in-chief of Poemeleon: A Journal of Poetry (www.poemeleon.org) and associate editor (poetry) for Babel Fruit (www.babelfruit.org), and is the author of a chapbook of prose poems, small fruit songs (Pudding House Publications, 2008).