melissa christine goodrum
something sweet & filled with blood
Published April 15 2019
In her second poetry collection, something sweet & filled with blood, melissa christine goodrum demonstrates a growing talent. Drawing from her experience in a musical family, a deep well of feeling, and expansive knowledge of art and art history, she presents subjects ranging from Elizabeth Boott Duveneck and Susan Apthop, their true selves hidden—she might say jailed—on museum walls, to the works of artists Ronald Lokett, Manet, Degas, and Kehinde Wiley. Through a variety of poetic forms, goodrum shakes up convention by imagining the inner lives and thoughts of these subjects through the lens of current day politics and issues of race and gender identity. The lively imagery throughout this new collection is fresh and inspiring.
Praise for something sweet & filled with blood
melissa christine goodrum’s poems are taut, burgeoning beams of ancestors, wriggling onto the page with totems of sound—history surrounding each page.
—Tyehimba Jess, author of leadbelly and Olio, winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry
However we interpret these enigmatic and sometimes excruciatingly painful poems, they are brilliant and beautiful. melissa christine goodrum’s something sweet & filled with blood is a new moment in language, wonderful in and of itself, and a harbinger of great things to come.
—Sapphire, best-selling novelist and poet, author of Push, The Kid, and American Dreams
Another exquisite tool that goodrum uses to capture a scene is color…something sweet and filled with blood is a great example of a collection in which the poetry is composed with the techniques of a painter…. The colors that goodrum paints with are so vivid they allow you to feel (rather than understand) something about a distant scene. “A woman burns red ripples/through the bed,” and “I have no purple,/no red rhythm,/only this slow,/grey,” and “a pale green horse/with too many eyes” are some examples of the palette goodrum draws from.
When violent imagery is added to the mix, these scenes become nightmarish. In the book, “the Cheshire’s head/is stapled to the wall” and “they have burned the witch/& she is still intact/so they will cut off her/nipples.” These nightmarish scenes expose the vulnerability in all of us. And at their best, the poems themselves become opportunities to examine the myriad emotional, social, and political vulnerabilities that all of us are swept up in.
—Benjamin Schmitt, At the Inkwell
…Like stepping into a gallery of haunting, distinct, and, at times, disjointed images that correlate with wild leaps of imagination. The figures presented, be it a woman wrapped in cow skin, or a Cheshire’s head stapled to a wall, are not easily forgotten and will linger with the reader long after the final page.
—Brian Fanelli, Pedestal Magazine
These poems seem to have subjects in which activity in a visual field arrives, as if overheard, or more precisely, overlooked—the poet does not subjugate what is seen, but in describing participates. And by this interlocution, melissa christine goodrum’s something sweet & filled with blood asserts a presence of richness in which vision, however construed, is a necessity.
—Ammiel Alcalay, recipient of the 2017 Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award
In ekphrastic poems that join word and image with the uncanny, melissa christine goodrum assembles a gallery of poem portraits—the girl, the gal, the young woman, and the wobbly bride. Corralled into stanzas or dispersed depending on their position in a cycle of transformation, the poems trace the colors and adumbrations of the female psyche. In this gallery, we read a distaff life of coronations and blood and near escapes in evocative images that work on our emotions from the outside in.
—-Erica Hunt, poet, essayist, and scholar of experimental poetry and poetics
melissa christine goodrum’s experiences include Guest Editor of Other Rooms Press’ first print anthology: The Or Panthology (Ocellus Reseau), Co-Editor of The Brooklyn Review, Designer/Publisher/Editor of Cave Canem’s “Writing Down the Music” and “Letters to the Future,” Co-President of the Cambridge Poetry Awards, Administrative Director of Bowery Arts & Science, and recipient of a Zora Neale Hurston Award from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University. Thanks to an NEH stipend in 2016, she studied the works of the political philosopher Hannah Arendt. The result was a collaborative multi-media eruption at the John Natsoulas Gallery, A Political Lacunae: Verb-ing Violence into the Visual.
Her poetry can be found in journals and anthologies including New York Quarterly, The Torch, The Tiny, Rhapsoidia, Transmission, Cusp, Urgent Bards, The Bowery Women Poems, Like Light: 25 Years of Poetry & Prose, Suitcase of Chrysanthemums (great weather for MEDIA, 2018), and in the chapbook a harpy flies down (Other Rooms Press). A first collection of melissa’s poetry, definitions uprising, is available from NYQ Books.
melissa christine goodrum, something sweet & filled with blood
Publication date April 15th 2019
Cover artist: Jaime Karol