Paperback: 81 pages
Publisher: Able Muse Press (2012)
Price:$17.95 ($9.95 e-book)
Reviewed by Ann E. Michael
The female body appears often in art and poetry as subject, image, and metaphor; yet in her book This Bed Our Bodies Shaped, April Lindner reminds us that each woman’s body is inhabited by a human being with a unique perspective and set of experiences. Often, a viewpoint shift occurs within these short, lyrical poems as it occurs within the woman’s consciousness: an artist’s model who hardly recognizes herself in the students’ sketches, a young woman whose red dress and high heels garner attention from men she hadn’t wanted to attract. Lindner traces a constellation of events here—childhood quarrels, divorce, birth, adolescent sexual awakenings in boys and girls—the “stuff” of a contemporary life in the United States. Her scope extends further, however. The body, particularly the woman’s body, anchors poems of place, evokes both Frida Kahlo and St. Theresa. In “She,” a suicide bomber straps explosives under her breasts, willing to shatter her wholeness for a purpose the poem’s speaker both wants to learn and wants to stop. The use of the sonnet form, with its “constraints,” for this searching poem demonstrates that Lindner can construct the perfect poetic frame for the poem’s subject content.
Over and over, Lindner’s work features solid understanding of formal strategies and the aesthetic appeal of musicality in poems. In addition to sonnets, a villanelle, rhymed couplet stanzas, and the rhythm of metered lines underscore her attentive descriptions of a recognizable quirky world. Her imaginative approach is incisive, vivid, and sometimes funny, as in the poem “Waiting,” set in a doctor’s main office. The poem captures the speculative mood and restlessness of a creative mind forced to idle. Lindner appreciates the dark humor of irony, and employs it well. A riff on memento mori states, “The skeleton’s a drone/and best ignored;’” in “Our Lady of Perpetual Help,” the sooty ruin of a burned-out church is “a dead incisor in a weary smile.” The poem “Red Dress” turns the speaker into an only slightly less naïve Red Riding Hood; a rebellious pre-teen boy who momentarily returns to the little kid who says he loves his mom “now sounds like an appeal/for future misdemeanors.” That’s a truthful irony, and an honest admission of something many weary parents feel.
If you happen to be a middle-class, middle-aged woman, you will relate to the subjects in April Lindner’s collection; but do not dismiss it if you don’t fit this demographic. All serious readers of poetry will see This Bed Our Bodies Shaped as a stellar example of how good poetry succeeds on many levels. Rich imagery and startling but appropriate use of language—Lindner is masterful at subtle and effective alliteration—make these poems a pleasure to read. The cultural connotations and metaphors elicited by the body are academically interesting, but Lindner’s work focuses on what readers most understand: human relationships to one another, to the physical world, to the bodies we use as we share with one another intimately. Through these poems, she also addresses our desire to stay in the world and, while we can, in our flesh.
The Poetry of April Lindner in The Fox Chase Review: 2010 AW
Poet, essayist, librettist, and educator Ann E. Michael is Writing Coordinator at DeSales University. Her work has been published in many journals, including Poem, Natural Bridge, Ninth Letter, Runes, Diner, Sentence, Slant, ISLE, The Writer’s Chronicle, Schuylkill Valley Journal of the Arts and others, as well as in numerous literary anthologies. She is a past recipient of a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship in Poetry. Her chapbooks include More than Shelter, The Minor Fauna, Small Things Rise & Go, and The Capable Heart. Her full-length collection, Water-Rites, is now available from Brick Road Poetry Press.