Monday, July 11, 2016

The Couple Who Fell To Earth by Michelle Bitting - Review and {Giveaway}

My thoughts
This is a moving book of poetry. I found myself immersed in many of the poems. Although I couldn't much relate to the wife/love side of things (I've sort of renounced romance/true love over the past several years...cynical, I know), I very much related to the poems about family and motherhood.

This poem about the importance of family is one of my favorites...


The one with big and small diamonds
     on my left ring finger
          belonged to Grandma
     everybody comments on it
quite stunning
     and kind of ugly, too
          the way a grandma ring can be
     a bit clunky and overwrought
the gems have a story
     the grubby tiny ones
          from their original engagement
     on the California coast
north of Malibu
     that place where two giant rocks
          come to a head
     and the surf tumbles around
the gods inside
     at war with each other
          he said, I love you, Doll
     he said that
and how could she not answer?
     all they had
          this thing they were making up
     other stones came
from a wedding band
     one for each anniversary
          (their 25th, their 50th)
     the large "bling" jewels
you could say
     and all of it
          deconstructed, reconstructed 
     like marriage goes
bound up
     in one crazy sculpture
          when she died
     he gave it to me
we stood in the blue bedroom
     where she took the last terrible gasps
          sailed off
     on a sea of silent dreams
he opened the drawer and said
     Seventy five years, seventy-five years
          I don't know what I'll do
               without her
     and pressed the ring 
into my palm
     all that preciousness 
          my grandpa never talked much
     until she got sick
and then I visited regularly
     though she hardly knew me anymore
          he was glad for the company
     and the words tumbled out
now I come all the time
     we sit in his backyard
          talking about birds
     about his roses
he tends with such care
     and the bright red feeder
          swinging over our heads
     glitters in the sun
its perfect geometry
     sugar and water mixed
          for the hummingbirds
     the moment they sip
so sweet they can't resist
          coming back for more

Such a touching poem of familial legacy and love. Beautiful.

This next one speaks to me of motherhood, of wanting the best for your child, and your heart breaking over the rejection they might inevitably receive. We mothers with our unconditional love for them...sometimes we can't quite grasp the thought of everyone not loving them as we do. Side note: A holiday, Valentine's Day, which I hate, that can make someone painfully aware of their aloneness and of being rejected, especially for adolescents.


The ides of February are brutal,
Love's sticky sentiments 
gumming up the air
make it harder
to breathe. Gilded truffles
snug in their cellophane tombs
dare you to pluck them 
from underneath 
and eat. Hearts dangle
in pharmacy windows 
pretending to pump real red.
Brutal for a boy who feels
but won't say
what it is to be sixteen
and never one secret admirer,
never a glitter doily
or silver Hallmark
waxed with lipstick's 
smoky kisses. What ghost
can this mother conjure?
What diaphanous caress?
When in Rome
and if long ago, I could run
naked through alley ways,
my breasts swinging 
like fevered trolls,
like devil bells bared,
tolling resident evil. I could 
don a goat-skin cap,
carry my pot
of flames to the desert,
burn salted meal-cakes
with vestal virgins 
and raise them
to the stars,
to dead crows
and broken Caesars. But
it wouldn't change the fact 
of his incomplete beauty,
how girls turn away
when he opens his mouth to speak 
a sound less than smart.
Won't change the fact 
of his gawky bust 
and uncommon sense,
an art far too wild
and no longer cradled 
in the cave of a darkened living room,
where once we rocked
and he suckled, at times, stopped
to let glide 
the nipple from his mouth
and look up at me,
     just look at me...
his future,
his mother
and unconditional lover,
his only Valentine.

Here's a video of Lupercalia being read by the poet, Michelle Bitting...

Yup, this one had me in tears. Mothers will understand.

Moving, poignant, illuminating. Words I would use to describe this wonderful book of poetry.

About the book
These meditations, cosmic-toned, yet utterly visceral, demonstrate Michelle Bitting’s continuing growth and power as a poet of love, loss, the daily and deeply human experience, together with a maturing eye to understanding greater mythological tropes. Woven throughout her contemplation of the terrible beauty and struggle of family dynamics, corporeal desire, the injustices and revelations of life in the 21st century, thrums a vital connectivity to the mystic and mythological strains of the past, newfangled to the present in a way that ultimately sheds light on what it is to be alive and conscious of who we’re called to be.

To read Michelle’s poetry is to take a wild, passionate ride through the rubble of the quotidian, to be shocked by sensual discovery and awakened to a relentless curiosity for both the surreal and historical. These poems travel–an expansion in service of communion with the world, confrontation and acceptance of self.

Here’s what others are saying:
In a multi-directional “one shape” of voices, time, people, spaces Bitting takes us in and out of her all seeing third eye poetics. We go into an orb of family, love, then we swoop out into the delight of humanity. And, in a sense, these refractions are the “the self’s / shady daguerreotype coming to surface / through exposure to light.” In day-to-day terms we find enlightenment and paradox—“ of death and peppermint,” of “birth and strange beauty,” of “Elysium nothingness” and “mythmaking machinery.” I find Michelle’s cosmic mechanics fused with historical platforms akimbo and the “sheen” of personal meditations, a rare accomplishment. A unique treasure of visions and voice. –Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate of the United States

There’s delirious beauty tumbling down every page of The Couple Who Fell To Earth. Michelle Bitting’s poems deal with the domestic and the feral; I’m caught up in “Eden-scorched mouths,” and “a sea of furrowed manes and exoskeletons,” and I never want to leave. She confronts personal history, the familiar body, the spiritual world, and the human condition in rich, wildly original language. –Bianca Stone, Author ofSomeone Else’s Wedding Vows

Michelle Bitting is a poet of the natural world but in a completely Transcendental sense. Like Emerson, her poems seem to claim that, even in the face of all kinds of traumatic loss, “beauty breaks in everywhere.” The Couple Who Fell to Earth holds things of the world up to the eye in an effort to glimpse heaven, or as Bitting herself says, “Accept me. I love the dawn. / The sun is a sea / I throw myself into…” This book is all heart. –Jericho Brown, Author of The New Testament

About the poet
Michelle Bitting’s first collection, Good Friday Kiss (C & R, 2008) won the DeNovo First Book Award. Her second collection, Notes To The Beloved (SPC, 2011) won the Sacramento Poetry Center Book Award and received a starred review from Kirkus. Poems have been published in the American Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Narrative, The L.A. Weekly, diode, Linebreak, and The Paris-American, and have been nominated for the Pushcart and Best of the Net prizes. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific University and is currently a Ph.D candidate in Mythological Studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute. She grew up in Los Angeles near the ocean.

Add to GoodReads:

Available on Amazon.

Leave a comment below for a chance to win a paperback copy of The Couple Who Fell To Earth. Please be sure to include your email address so I can contact the winner. Open to U.S. entrants only. Last day to enter, July 25th at 11:59pm CDT. Good luck!


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  1. Thanks for this unique and beautiful giveaway which I would treasure. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  2. Thanks for the chance to win this book! kmichellec87(at)yahoo(dot)com

  3. Poetry has always been an outlet for the more serious pastoral writing I used to do. I am looking forward to this beautiful collection.

  4. I love poems, and would enjoy reading this book. Thanks for this chance.


  5. I don't qualify for the giveaway, living in the farthest reaches of the planet (Canada), but I had to comment on how beautiful these poems are. My heart is being squeezed.

  6. Okay, I sorta love that the cover of this book doesn't look like the cover of a book of poetry (whatever that means). And I sorta love those poems, too!

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