BROOKE ELLSWORTH is the author of the chapbooks Thrown (The New Megaphone, 2014) and Mud (dancing girl press, 2015). Recent work can be found in The Volta, jubilat, The Seattle Review, Spork Press, inter|rupture, among others. She currently lives in Peekskill, NY. Serenade is her first full-length collection.
Brooke Ellsworth’s first full-length collection takes on the question of what poetic expression— “where sentences come from”— looks like if we reject the sources of oppression that pre-exist it. Taking their cue sometimes from haibun, other times from ekphrasis, the poems in Serenade are formally restless and multi-modal–but sustained by a feminism that defines itself by rage that is collective and private, mythological and feral. Serenade is a book that arrives as though chewed out by the political and ecological “turnstile event of monstrosity,” and whose authority lies in its nuanced vulnerability: “My authority, reader, is that I am illegible like an oil shale mine spreading its shaky legs”.
Brooke Ellsworth grabs the detritus and heartache of our age and squeezes hard. Of course a lot escapes between her fingers, it’s the poems. Sometimes they feel like elegies for people who don’t know they’re dead: “the stupidest question you get / is if you’re lonely.” You wonder whether Serenade is coming from ghosts or the newsfeed or Mina Loy or punk rock or what – you don’t always know who’s singing, or if singing’s all it is, but there’s a cut-off ear listening in the grass.
Please stay still there in
the pool of light
Stay still there
This family isn’t