Bitter in the Belly

Poems that check into grief like Jonah into his whale.

The past grabs back / what it lets us handle

Bitter in the Belly reckons with suicide’s wreckage. After John Emil Vincent’s best friend descends into depression and hangs himself, fluency and acuity lose their lustre.

Vincent sorts through and tries to arrange cosmologies, eloquence, narrative, insight, only to find fatal limitations. He tries to trick tragedy into revealing itself by means of costume, comedy, thought experiment, theatre of the absurd, and Punch and Judy. The poems progress steadily from the erotic and mythic to the lapidary and biblical, relentlessly constructing images, finding any way to bring the world into the light – what there is of light, when the light is on.

In his most personal book, Vincent moves from stark innocence through awful events and losses, to something like acceptance without wisdom – Jonah spit back onto the sand with little to report but that he’s home.

Bitter in the Belly

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McGill-Queen's University Press

$17.95

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