3-Minute Book Review: Amy Beeder on Lauren Camp
Three-Minute Review: Amy Beeder on Lauren Camp’s One Hundred Hungers (Tupelo Press, 2016)
What should you eat while reading this?
Dates, candied apricots, olives…but I’m cheating, because this book is full of food: brown boiled eggs, m’hasha, lamb, liver, “banquets of meatballs, platters of rice…tables stacked with a surfeit of buttery hope.” For the family at the heart of this book, food and its rituals are links to a Bagdad fled decades ago. It’s both a comfort and a reminder of exile, especially for the father, who “dines on his languages: garlic and lemon.”
If I had to pick one thing, though, I’d say a pomegranate: rich, maze-like, complex in structure but broken down into simple, jeweled bits–each with a bitter-sweet pip at its center.
If this book were an object in an antique store
it would be a lantern screen, intricately carved or made of different colors of glass. Something that transforms and distills its source, that plays with shadows:
Let’s pretend you tell me what happened.
How you lived in the city two streets from the river
Let’s suppose you begin speaking, and you speak
Until all the courtyards and terraces
Of Bagdad tumble from your mouth.
If this book were a musical instrument,
it would be something with strings, I think, because of the range of emotions in these poems: sometimes even in a single poem. Also because I’m fascinated by how the many strands and fragments in the book make such a cohesive whole. A violin, then, or a cello–or better, “the slanting wail of the oud.”
Amy Beeder‘s third book And So Wax Was Made & Also Honey will be out from Tupelo Press in 2020.