Review #25: ‘proxy’ by r. erica doyle

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  • COLDFRONT RATING: five
  • PUBLISHED BY: Belladonna Books, 2013
  • REVIEW BY: Timothy Liu

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Straight jocks who chortle in the locker room, “huh huh, like what can two women actually do in bed,” might get some serious re-education for their hetero-normative naïveté by sinking their fingers into r. erica doyle’s proxy–her debut collection of prose poems as stand-in for an absent Beloved. Winner of this year’s Norma Farber First Book Award (chosen by Maggie Nelson), this book gets me hot and bothered with its ruthlessness: “‘Women are kind,’ says the virgin. ‘Women are sensitive and caring.’ Her hope is a virus. You say nothing. She makes good rum cake and wants to watch TV. You fuck her tiny cunt with three fingers while you patiently suck her clit. You are unceremonious. You disabuse.” The language is unsparing. The narrator, who refers to her unrequited self in the second person throughout, exacts a brutal price: “On the edge of grovel and granted, you sat astride her back and tied her hands. This tender captaincy, the grainy stash, this hardened fossiter under her eyes.” Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Disclosures: Though a married bi-curious Beloved might break your heart, there are no substitutes.

Favorites: Read the whole thing in one sitting, front to back, like the best shit you ever took.

Doyle is recognized for winning the 2014 Norma Farber First Book Award at Poetry Society of America (and have a look at the finalists while you’re at it).