Poetry, Reviews

Review: Atkinson, Mean

jacket imageLos Angeles Times book review editor David L. Ulin has written an approving review of Colette Labouff Atkinson’s new book of poems, Mean, for last Sunday’s edition of the paper. Remarking on what Ulin calls the “exquisite tension” between intimacy and distance in Labouff’s work Ulin writes:

[The] 43 vignettes [in Mean] add up to an emotional autobiography. In the title piece, Atkinson describes her husband’s former wife, a stripper. “He traded her in for me,” she writes. “To people I don’t know, I say she was a dancer. I watch them, puzzled, wonder how anyone could not love a ballerina. And you have to question a guy like that: trading in a sweet stripper for me.”
The irony is that we are people she doesn’t know, but this is part of the book’s exquisite tension. Again and again, Atkinson reveals intimacies in an offhand way. “Gain” describes her great-uncle, a columnist for the ILWU Warehouse News, who “[b]etween the lines, be wise—organize—”composes a fairy tale about a pony made of gold. “For God’s Sake, Get Out” recalls “The Amityville Horror,” then morphs into a meditation on how houses can be haunted by disappointment and loss.

Read the review on the LA Times website.