by Elena Karina Byrne
Omnidawn, 2021
Paper: 978-1-63243-095-3
Library of Congress Classification PS3602.Y76I3 2021
Dewey Decimal Classification 811.6

Lyrical narrative poetry that responds to works of art.
Elena Karina Byrne’s fourth collection of poems offers what she describes as an homage to her art-immersed upbringing with poems that challenge perception as they create a dialogue between the speaker and sixty-six artists. Lyrical narratives unfold with psychological urgency and candor as they re-encounter each artist’s unique oeuvre. The poems are as political as they are personal, mapping out the author’s emotional, spatial, and gender orientations within the confines of our visual culture.
Longing and loss prevail in If This Makes You Nervous, always leading the reader on winding paths that return to the bodily while balancing beauty and terror and what is seen and what remains invisible. If This Makes You Nervous is a devotional look at shifting identity that begins in a preteen’s memory, moves through history’s collective body, and ends with what is “connected and accounted for” in the imagination’s relativistic measure of time.

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