The Imaginary Age by Leanna Petronella

Leanna Petronella’s The Imaginary Age, winner of the 2018 Pleiades Press Editors Prize for Poetry, is an unwaveringly confident debut collection and an exciting contribution to contemporary poetry. This collection does not invite us to look with the poet but insists, as Petronella addresses the female body and female relationships with rare candor and emotional resonance. This collection is remarkable in its lyrical precision as well as its unique command of narrative, which together reveal a storyteller whose power is speaking aloud what has been deemed unspeakable. Her stories are of loss, yet Petronella refuses to romanticize grief, choosing instead to highlight the many guises and contours of grief’s ugliness. Petronella’s speakers are therefore appropriate in their disgust, their suspicion of meaning, even as the poet herself tries to make meaning through language, acknowledging its limits as well as its freedoms along the way--and taking head-on the underlying fear of both the poet and the aggrieved that “this is something / I can’t turn into something else.”

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