Praise for The Acute Avian Heart
The poems in The Acute Avian Heart present to the reader a searing, yet conversational look at the inside of a fine poetic mind—one sharp & ready for the world & all of its bounty of nuance. It takes an astute & careful poet to create a landscape that not only holds many truths but also enacts the co-existence of said truths using form, song, units of sound. & perhaps the most startling & poignant aspect of this collection is that it does not shy away from harsh realities, but rather, invites the reader into them, shows facets softened with wisdom & praise, shot through with love. Not the kind of love we like to reduce to one or two probabilities, but an infinite love, a nearly-ecstatic love: “It tastes like/genuine affection—not even love, but sweet:/a still, low lake.” This collection is a brilliant one, from an emerging poet at the start of a supersonic career.
–July Westhale, author of Trailer Trash, Via Negativa, Occasionally Accurate Science, & Quantifiable Data
Those familiar with Joey’s work will know their seamless ability to marry nature with the self (with friends with death with hope), and those new to their work will appreciate the vulnerability and preciseness of their words. Each piece in this collection is like a feather on the heart of the reader, a lightness that weighs the soul slowly, warmly. The Acute Avian Heart is a masterful collection made up of the delicateness of a bird’s bone and the sharp, ruthless edge of a talon ready to tear. A must-read from one of Massachusetts’ most talented poets.
–Kolleen Carney Hoepfner author, Your Hand Has Fixed the Firmament; A Live Thing, Clinging with Many Teeth
In an original, organic style, this collection charts a poet discovering they would like to survive. It’s a discovery that comes about both through the tussle for self-acceptance and through cherishing companions, lost and found, with an almost unbearable tenderness. Vulnerable and knowing, “The Acute Avian Heart” is an exhilarating debut.
–J.D. Scrimgeour, author of Themes for English B, Lifting the Turtle, & Spin Moves.
The grand motif throughout this stunning debut is what Yeats called “a terrible beauty,” and Gould undergoes transformations—grief, loss, gender, love, sex—in that dangerous place where the human and the terrifyingly endangered non-human worlds overlap. “The Acute Avian Heart” is a brutal multitude of new, ancient voices, a feast before which Gould examines the guts of their past and present like a haruspex, searching for the precise configurations to carry grief into a celebration, an impossibility of doors, a world behind each. Gould is the future songbird, “the robin’s antimatter aloof eye,” through which, for once, the future looks good.
–Sam Witt, author of Little Domesday Clock.
Read Sample Poems from The Acute Avian HeartSample Poems from The Acute Avian Heart by Joey Gould
STUDY: MOM ON ONE OF THE LAST FINE DAYS OF FALL
Mom looks small in the yard
with her tall thin rake sweeping
up the trees as they crumple
& I help her bag the stricken
giants’ guts. The day is chill—
as crisp as a glass of wine, nearly
bitter like anything savory—
so we’re locking up the world
for winter & then
there are boxes, always
more boxes of his stuff
to give or file or toss,
but at least she can be outside
that mess for a while longer,
trading the extinguished light
for the waning reds & oranges
of fall. Raking as a tribute—
collecting deaths, making them
Excruciating reflection of the sun
on the water & you, staring
at an oblique tree after a trill—
the sea never mattered. Your friend
last night said the coast was the only
reason she could stand as she stood
under a tree smoking, & you looked
behind her at a grafted branch
braced & tied to a driftwood splint
as if it could heal
or maybe since it never will.
You aren’t listening.
Listening never mattered, only
standing under a broken limb
as she talked about some boy.
Somehow you all manage to be friends
though she used to get blitzed
& kiss you. Never sober.
You love her. You love veeries.
The bird illuminating the tree,
the bug folding & pressing until if:
if wind conditions, if travel plans,
the weather cooperating just right.
Then the veery bolts over the sound,
unimpressive to look at, sure,
but tugging long after you lose sight.