Claire Schwartz, 2018.
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Claire Schwartz’s Bound, a winner of the 2016 Button Poetry Prize, investigates queerness, Jewish identity, and kinships through a consuming series of narrative and lyric. As the book unfolds, each poem is like a ballad engulfing readers in vulnerability, politics, love, and the body. Schwartz’s work is not only beautiful, it is like a flame―alive and captivating.
Praise for Bound:
“Oh, this little book broke me. The language here is staggering, the formal ambition and virtuosity obvious even at a glance, but what sets Claire Schwartz’s poems apart is their monumental compassion dealing with subjects—homelands, genealogies, taxonomies, and the violent histories and presents inherent to each—which, in their infinite complexity, defy all but the most earnest and searching poets. In a breathtaking longer piece, Schwartz writes, “I have a truth & a family—which do I serve?” It’s this sort of questioning, this sort of fearless interrogation of inheritance that elevates Bound to a higher plane of art—it’s not just an incredible book of poems, it’s an incredible feat of empathy. I am a grateful student of its grace.”
– Kaveh Akbar
“This is a wild-gorgeous dangerous howl of a book. The poems turn their unflinching gaze toward many of the embodied & external horrors and pleasures of the world with deft attention paid to line and music. In Bound, Claire Schwartz manages to bridge that difficult gap between reportage and ecstatic song.”
– Sam Sax
“Claire Schwartz’s debut chapbook collection, bound, is imbibed with tender beauty. Dissections of motherhood, the warmth and bitter earth of it, from the poem for Mrs. Halachmi, “i am whom you named for your name,” to the speaker’s own confessions of self-hood, “i think about how i am especially me and gag,” create a tapestry of this voice, a constellation of forms and embodiments of large, complex, and occasionally, deplorable humans. In this world of Schwartz’s creation, you will find Chagall, cups of tea, erasures, pleas, battlefields, and time collapsing in onto the land.”
– Aziza Barnes