Spectacle

Lauren Goodwin Slaughter


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“As Eudora Welty says, you will read Spectacle quickly at first with “a sweet devouring” but then you will want to read it again. The poems will comfort but also push you, repeatedly, and in a good way, out of your comfort zones.” – Virginia Bell, writing in RHINO
 
“I love the poems in Spectacle by Lauren Slaughter. For the work they do and the speed they move and the light they shine. I love the world these poems make and so I love this awful world a little better, and I think that’s the sort of radical empathy that poems create: they enliven, they sing, they see. Slaughter writes at one point of “this elegant dark theory, / the starry hunger” and I can’t think of a better, truer invocation of love and life and the spells that hold us between them. Go read this book now.”—Paul Guest, author of Because Everything Is Terrible  
 
“Spectacle starts with the eye—the dead moth’s eyespot, the photographer’s eye behind the lens, the anxious eye of the mother watching through a door, who tries, impossibly, to translate the “ghost forest” of grief through which her children must move. But what’s so powerful about Lauren Slaughter’s poems is how the lens widens: “the throb of knowing, always, / what comes next—” poetry’s urgent power to improve our collective vision, to help us see the larger, fraught family of our humanity and its shared losses. Knowing deeply the invisibility that comes with motherhood, womanhood, and otherhood of many kinds, Slaughter refuses to let the edges of her poems’ sight blur, and, in the space beyond ekphrasis, where real life is captured, she “reach[es] / for some / right word.” I, as her ardent reader, am better for it.”—Jenny Molberg, author of Refusal  
 
“Threaded throughout this stunning collection are ekphrastic poems responding to Rineke Dijkstra’s photographs. And like Dijkstra, Lauren Slaughter is concerned with what appearances try to conceal—the complicated emotions that lurk around everyday activities from celebrating an aging parent’s birthday to navigating a store’s clothing rack. Moving seamlessly between moments of quiet joy and sudden heartache, these finely chiseled poems rise from the page to provide comfort with their vulnerability, lyrical surprise, and wisdom. If there was ever a book that spoke to this era, it is this one.”—Charlotte Pence, author of Code
 
In Spectacle, Lauren Goodwin Slaughter's second full-length collection, the poet deepens her commitment to the enduring and eternal subjects of womanhood, motherhood, and family, and deftly considers how those devotions intersect in ways joyful, mysterious, and cruel within personal and political landscapes. Slaughter’s poems seek out and explore authentic, raw humanity, at times employing the gaze of Dutch photographer and artist, Rineke Dijkstra—several of whose photographic portraits are included in the collection alongside ekphrastic poems—as a lens to view what Dijkstra calls the "uninhibited moment.” When artistic eye meets the fierceness of subject, the result is poetry deeply rooted in its lyricism and empathy, grounded in its depth of emotion, and unflinching in its alertness to the poet's beloveds and world.  

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