The harsh lines and sentence fragments in Schroeder's
hard-to-forget debut create collisions between the libidinal
and the numinous: "Struggling to get out / from under
the hood of the world," the poet compares her unsatisfied
desire to "Sailboats asleep in their slips," declaring
"I love you the way the ground loves the flame." Those
phrases may begin to show the seriousness with which these
taut poems take their goals: compressed yet raw, alert
to the weights of words yet focused on emotion so strong
it bends language all out of shape. Pre-Socratic philosophers,
Jungian psychoanalysis, the heart-on-sleeve feel of Spanish
modernism, and memories of loneliness in St. Louis all
contribute to these always brief, always intense, and yet
satisfyingly various pages, one about sex, another about
a circus, another about a car ride on Interstate 5, another
about a self-destructive friend: "What does it feel
like to be in the rain of fire / Pull the veil of leaves
over your face & sleep inside the burlap sack." Schroeder
ought to appeal to readers who like Franz Wright, though
she does not share Wright's recourse to doctrinal religion.
Instead, she looks within her troubled self.
The Sleep Hotel is a breathtaking debut. Elliptical,
elegant, and gestural, these poems exhibit an intellectual
and a passionate discretion that consistently surprise
and delight. Always lyrically inventive, Amy Schroeder
has done nothing less than provide us with a new, ultra-contemporary
poetic music for the meditations of the imagination and
--David St. John
As Virginia Woolf says about art, "It all depends at
what depth you take the option." Amy Schroeder, poem
after poem, takes it at a great and clear depth. There
isn't a wasted breath in this book: everyone will find
their favorite poems; I particularly admire "The Bone
Room" and "How Wide. How Red. How Canopy." But every
single poem here wakes us up with its odd, wise truth.
Amy Newlove Schroeder's perfect title for her debut
volume, The Sleep Hotel, is a guiding metaphor.
These poems rise from the other side of the mirror, from
dream establishment we check into and out of each night.
These poems rise from the startling, uninhibited speech
below consciousness, then are boldly crafted, as dream
logic lifts into wide-awake fire. These are passionate,
radically beautiful poems, heartbreak hotel in somatic
heaven: so inventive and freshly expressive they hand
us, as if dropped from the famously extended hand of
John Keats, the key to pure wonder.
Her mother misusing the word elegiac;
her father calling himself stupid—
She runs a tongue over her teeth, thinking
anchorite, cenobite, bite down—
The dog on the lawn, humping his pillow.
The back yard: eugenias and junipers,
browning fescue. Avocados,
azaleas dying in-to-out,
eight star sky.
Flower arranging—a large spiky blue flower
no one knew the name of, looked like a peacock,
The house, the house, the house.
John the Baptist ate bugs, she says
to no one in particular.
Locusts, I think.
She was one of, and her sister beside,
giggling in and out. Breathing.
Someone slips on the mossy bricks. Someone laughs.
Someone blows out the candles, turns on the Jacuzzi,
models the new clothes. Someone covers her mouth.
Way back then, when we used to fight,
at least then we...
Dessert. Desert. Be certain.
Copyright c 2010 by Amy Newlove Schroeder. May
not be reproduced without permission.