Juliet Cook, Soft Foam. Columbus, OH: Blood Pudding Press, 2010. Poetry. 16 poems. No ISBN.
Before you read this review, I need you to go purchase this chapbook. Immediately. I'll wait. Okay. I am going to go ahead and assume you did as you were instructed, and now I'll tell you why. From the very first poem, "Semi-Extraneous Consort," I knew I was going to adore this chapbook. I think, sometimes, that Juliet (or at least the persona Juliet writes in) and I have some of the same neurosis. I feel like she gets me and all the fucked up little things that go through my head. Much of this chapbook is a meditation on life and death - particularly that of the speaker's husband's previous wife, who, it is revealed in the chapbook, has died. I, too, am my husband's second wife, and while his previous wife is not dead (and is a lovely person - I don't wish such things upon her in the least), when we first got together it felt different from him just having ex girlfriends. I feel like Juliet has an acute understanding of this and paints this relationship that her speaker has with her husband's dead first wife in such a painfully beautiful way that I couldn't put the chapbook down. I had some serious "goddamn! I want to write like this!" moments while reading Soft Foam. All the poems were, as I've now come to expect from Juliet, a treat to read aloud as well. Add in some creepy/lovely sea creatures, and you have my favorite chapbook I've read so far this year, hands down.
Review by Margaret Bashaar, co-host of The TypewriterGirls, editor of the anthology Make It So, and most recently the author of Barefoot and Listening (Tilt Press, 2009)
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