from THE ARROW
By Lauren Ireland
Today’s poems are from The Arrow, published by Coconut Books, copyright © 2014 by Lauren Ireland, and appear here today with permission from the poet.
The Arrow: “It took almost a lifetime’s worth of emotions to read Lauren Ireland’s THE ARROW. She says Time eats at the edges of things so we hear her say other things, too, I am hating you from very far away and I am a grownup/flying right into the mouth of fear. This book is fraught with emotional emergencies, sometimes reckless, almost a little demented as one has to be when one faces who and what and where and how we are. Lucky for Ireland there are friends to whom many of these poems are dedicated who accompany her as she’s permanently lost in this very very mysterious flight we all share.” —Dara Wier
Lauren Ireland grew up in southern Maryland and coastal Virginia. She is a graduate of the MFA program for Poets and Writers at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and an editor at Lungfull! Magazine. Lauren is the author of Dear Lil Wayne (Magic Helicopter Press, 2014) and two chapbooks, Sorry It’s So Small (Factory Hollow Press, 2011) and Olga & Fritz (Mondo Bummer Press, 2011). She co-curated The Reading at Chrystie Street in New York. Currently, she lives in Seattle with her husband and her husband’s cat.
Editor’s Note: As I read Lauren Ireland’s The Arrow I pushed against the book’s air of flippancy, its self-preservation in the guise of farce and self-deprecation, its false oaths of apathy. These are, as Naomi Shihab Nye would say, “the armor [the book] put[s] on to pretend [it has] a purpose in the world.” But this book does not need to pretend. It wears its armor as a tricked out husk around its fervent vulnerability. The poems within its pages are the bloodlettings of a twisted, tortured, and exceedingly human mind.
The Arrow is full of moments of lyric beauty and stunning, brutal clarity interwoven with equal portions of heaviness and frivolity that make for quite the witches’ brew. There is something unsettling about this book. Something that does not sit well. A wound or scab that begs to be healed yet must be picked at. I was often uncomfortable reading it, yet I could not put it down. I was drawn to the beauty and put off by the grotesque, and I believe this was meant to be the author’s poetic commentary on life. Life—like this book—is full of debauchery and death, fear and imagination, the mundane and the absurd. Love is inextricably linked with hate. There is a thin line between reality, waking dreams, and nightmares. This book is labyrinthine, in both the literal sense and the David Bowie sense of the word.
While it is easier to take some poems in the book more seriously than others, this, too, is an artistic reflection of the human life. As a work of art, however, I felt myself anchored throughout my journey by very deliberate artistic choices. Wickedly smart and poignant titles. Moments of lyric clarity that took my breath away. And a healthy dose of killer end-lines, which I am always a sucker for. “Now I am a grownup flying right into the mouth of fear,” “Now… I am running / from the nighttime wolves / in the forest that never was,” and that crushing Orphic echo, “Oh / I am exiled / my friend / this once / don’t turn.”