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Lucky Fish Paperback – January 15, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Nezhukumatathil's fourth book is fascinated with the small mechanisms of being, whether natural, personal, or imagined. Everything from eating eels in the Ozark mountains to the history of red dye finds a rich life in her poems. At times her lush settings and small stories are reminiscent of fairy tales ("The frog who wanted to see the sea was mostly disappointed"), while at others Nezhukumatathil (At the Drive-In Volcano) speaks with resonance and fierceness: "The center of my hands boiled/ with blossoms when we made a family. I would never flee that garden. I swear to/ you here and now: If I ever go missing, know that I am trying to come home." Even as the poems jump from the Philippines to India to New York, they still take their time, stopping to notice that "there is no mystery on water/ greater than the absence of rust," and to draw small but wonderful parallels: "I loved you dark & late. The crocus have found ways to push up & say this/ too." (Jan.)
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"A farmer is devoured by a flower in one of the many beguiling poems of Lucky Fish. That is the sensation I often had reading this wonderful new collection...Rooted in the terrains of culture, place, and parenthood, and buoyed by inventive language that is joyous and sincere,...How wonderful to watch a writer who was already among the best young poets get even better!" -- Terrance Hayes
"Aimee Nezhukumatathil's latest poems are again far-reaching in geographic scope and linguistic imagination....These are sensual dreamscapes of allegory and fable, but with a righteous bite and the razor sting of perception. Lucky Fish is alive with the poet writing well and passionately in a world she cares deeply about." -- Dorianne Laux
"...new words, used together in original ways, new perspectives wound around each other -- once, twice, three times -- in enlightening combinations, and new music, new sounds, new rhythms presented in a clear, searching, and engaging voice. Aimee Nezhukumatathil's poems create a captivating world of culture, family, and the earth." -- Pattiann Rogers --Advance Praise for Lucky Fish
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From the most everyday experiences to reflections onher world travel, Aimee "Nez" is worth reading again and again.
Sometimes the poetry can be airy and almost magical -- fables and lush takes on nature. Other times, the poetry is grounded -- anchoring memories with specific and surprising details ("When I was twelve, I lived / on the grounds of mental asylum" she begins one poem; in another about her time spent as her college Mascot, she writes that she worked herself "into a lather of sweat for a field / of angry young men").
And still other times, the poems bubble, glittering with humor, such as a found poem consisting of lines from emails she received from high school students studying her work alongside Walt Whitman's -- "I think I like Walt Whitman / better than you, but don't take offense -- you are very good too!" reads an excerpt.
The book is organized in three sections, and the relationship Nezhukumatathil builds with the reader over the first two sections makes that final section -- Lucky Penny, about the pregnancy and eventual birth of her first child -- so wonderfully intimate & joyful. It is a jolt of hope shot straight into your veins.
Nezhukumatathil is a curious, playful, yet unshakeably focused poet, and "Lucky Fish" is a triumph of a book, very much alive, aware and living in our world. Huzzah!