Before Fire: Divorce Poems

Before Fire 2

About the Book:

Each poem in this collection is a stepping stone in a swollen, stormy river, to the other side where a new wholeness awaits. They are rendered through the center of the fire with a sense of trust that fireburns away the unnecessary, to the necessary self. From the title poem, “Before Fire”- “the wolf-god in the sky had control of fire./those who control firecontrol life. it’s that powerful a thing./woman seduced him and hid it in her vagina,/the hidden pocket like a kangaroo pouch, and this gained us domain./we call it sex and it serves us well.” I’m betting that Ms. Batts has the key to the fire/power pouch, as these poems claim their own domain- BRAVA! —Alma Luz Villanueva, author of Song of the Golden Scorpion, Soft Chaos, Vida, Desire, Planet with Mother, May I? and others

Allie Marini Batts is a poet whose work grabs you by the throat with fervor and demands to be heard. There is a strong sense of duality here: At turns mournful and reveling, Before Fire is a collection of an awful and necessary beauty, and Batts’ language entices the reader just as it horrifies. Don’t try to turn away – It is dirty work, this. —Margaret Bashaar, author of Stationed Near the Gateway and editor of Hyacinth Girl Press

Allie Marini Batts’ Before Fire: Divorce Poems is a steel-girded elegy that instructs, “I have taught you well / how to leave me.” Batts’ speaker masterfully mourns and acts; she is the voice of the put upon wife but also the wanderer who knows her secret freedoms. In these embodied words, littered with domestic menageries such as “wings fluttering like sheaves of unpaid bills,” it is explicit that divorce has given more than it has taken. Separation brings about Batts’ stunning linguistic transparency in stanzas like, “The house smells of smoke / and spilled drinks, your loud stories / and my lonely heart.” Before Fire is an exquisite dissection of femininity and feminism, a blue flame that simultaneously combusts and illuminates our definition of “wife.” —Sandra Marchetti, author of Confluence and The Canopy

Allie Marini Batts’ Before Fire is a raw, darkly beautiful exploration of loss, of grief, and of love unsung, now dead. The tension builds as each poem explores the intricate ways Batts “divorces us head from body” as readers, and travels the path of divorce as we are moving among the worlds of bakers and sailors, of travelers and gods. Always we are in the realm of the poet, with words that charm and surprise, and phrases that slam into the gut and leave no breath.  I felt a deep connection to each poem, saw echoes of my own divorce and things I’d both lost and gained, and ultimately moved from feeling the hopeless frustration of trying to preserve marriage to the power in the ultimate release – the seduction and the re-growth – Before Fire.—Jennifer Stein, poet & assistant editor, ELJ Publications

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