Review: The Truant Lover


Bee hives masquerading as a mound of catacomb graves. _”Blue tits in the blossoming apple tree, gulls floating like water lilies.”_ One doesn’t have to be a poet to visualize Patterson’s poetry. These are some of the images she will haunt you with: direct and tough, lush and erect.

What Patterson leaves unsaid is just as important as what she says on the page. Many poems are in two line couplets, with a lot of empty space between the lines. Those unsaid words—the pauses, the white space—are just as important as what is being said. Patterson says her poetry can be compared to a painter who first paints an image and then changes their mind to paint it over, and somehow that original image bleeds through.

Poetry should also be political and Patterson isn’t shy to confront tough issues with strong images. In “Hive” she writes: _”Letters resemble bandages. / Bombs resemble human eggs imploding the imprint of uterine walls.”_

Love poems reveal the “you”: for the beloved as lover, the beloved as the world. Patterson places us in the bed of the lover and into the movement of the body. _”Dear She/ writes to miss you/ interrupts this ground” shares a bed with “Still our dream swells, in spite of / & just as I drove nails into that morning/ the sight of birds/ tore into memory where my heap was calling/ yours its own.”_

Winner of the Nightboat Poetry Prize, _The Truant Lover_ was judged by National Book Award winning poet Jean Valentine. In the poem “Stolen From A Branch,” Patterson shares the title line: _”As in the parable, the truant lover arrived.”_ Juliet Patterson has arrived as a credible writer with this first book of poetry. She will bring you tears, bend your branch, twist your mind.

As a Minneapolis poet, Patterson has been active in the Twin Cities literary scene for years, performing her work with fellow artists: poets, musicians, filmmakers. She gathers a few of them together for her multiple-genre book launch, set for *Thursday, March 23 at 7 pm at the Loft Literary Center* (Open Book Performance Hall, 1011 Washington Ave S, Minneapolis). There she will be joined by poets Gabrielle Civil and Ed Bok Lee, music by Wendy Lewis, and a short film by Ann Prim.

_Jules Nyquist is a poet living in Minneapolis and working on her MFA from Bennington College, VT. She interviews writers (including Juliet Patterson) for Write on Radio on KFAI and collaborates with other artists in performance. View her website at_ “”