From the moment of a marriage’s heated inception to its period of luminous crowding and onward into distance and darkness, Bonnie Arning’s Escape Velocity asks if it’s possible to exist outside the only universe we’ve ever known. In modes both lyric and narrative, we are given a peephole into the height and decline of a marriage that begins beneath the moving lights of Las Vegas, Nevada, and traverses the devastating terrain of gambling, miscarriage, infidelity, and violence.
Arning gives voice to divergent aspects of love and violence through her use of math problems, erasures, dictionary entries, structured stanzas, and sprawling free verse. This multiplicity of forms comes together to explore everything from pop culture references of domestic violence to cultural notions of victims and victimhood. However dark, collectively these poems tell a love story—an acceptance of our capability to love those who hurt us, but also the love-of-self required to slowly and steadily reach "the velocity to be everleaving."
In the tradition of Eavan Boland and Louise Glück, Arning wrestles down and examines the terrible without flinching. We journey with her, engrossed by each difficult truth: a precipice near which we are both terrified to stand and transfixed by its unnerving insistence on beauty.