The View from the Body

Publication Date: March 2016



The body: deluded, distressed, its incontestable world
loose in the other world. (Pins to pull it together, props

to truss it up.) And bunkered. And drugged (hey,
hey). Opening the windows, inviting fire in-come

view the two-headed girl. Rent on a back street, two
rooms and nothing but noise-the eye-squinting, brain-

breaking din (the loud gods whoop inside her: splutter
brass horns with one mouth, shout with another: We
are not here!) So came home, I, divided and dancing
that steel-shoed dance, with instructions: Fall silent.


Renée Ashley’s stunning new book is indeed a “view from the body” but it’s a “body named / bone, named brain.” Haunted at times by the dead, by the past, by death itself, Ashley finds her most frequent specter in the self and its disturbances, which few poets since Dickinson have explored so unflinchingly. Language is the means of both exploration and transcendence: words burst into double meanings, invent themselves, and reverse our linguistic expectations, carried throughout by the musical exuberance of consonant and vowel. Taut, resonant, lyrical, edgy, these poems are, as one title has it, “Such Threads of Light As Exist in Deep Pools.”

-Martha Collins, author of Blue Front and White Papers

About the Author

© Mark Hillringhouse

Renée Ashley

Renée Ashley is the author of five volumes of poetry: Because I Am the Shore I Want to Be the Sea (Subito Book Prize, University of Colorado—Boulder); Basic Heart (X.J.Kennedy Poetry Prize, Texas Review Press); The Revisionist’s Dream; The Various Reasons of Light; and Salt (Brittingham Prize in Poetry, University of Wisconsin Press), as well as a novel, Someplace Like This, and two chapbooks, The Museum of Lost Wings and The Verbs of Desiring. A portion of her poem, “First Book of the Moon,” is included in a permanent installation by the artist Larry Kirkland in Penn Station, Manhattan, NY.  She has served as Assistant Poetry Coordinator for the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and as Poetry Editor of The Literary Review. Her new collection, The View from the Body, will be published by Black Lawrence Press in 2016. Ashley teaches poetry in the low-residency MFA in Creative Writing and creative nonfiction in the MA in Creative Writing and Literature for Educators Program at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She lives in northern New Jersey with her husband and two dogs.

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