hen & god
Poetry. Women's Studies. Tearing into our ugliness to find beauty, tearing open the "known" to find mystery, the new and muscular voice of poet Amber West exposes our contemporary madness and looks for the cure. First book Hen & God explores the world where poetry is God, where God's "cock crows lightning," and the poem itself declares, "I am God and my ears / are the wings of the world." The scope of suffering that West addresses will take the reader's breath away, but her linguistic skill makes this an exhilarating rather than a depressing experience. Again and again she reminds us that consciousness--that art--is larger than suffering, is our redemption. In persona poems from a dizzying array if characters, West's collection becomes a portrait of life in America now, unflinching and loving and bold. Themes of gender, poverty, and family enrich the collection but by no means sum up the depth of its contents.
Praise for Hen & God
"Characters farfetched and familiar populate these poems: they live by their wits and play at the edge of wit's end. From the 'crackle and breath' of voices, Amber West calls back and sings forth- making lifelines to cross the precipice."
-Phillis Levin, author of Mr. Memory & Other Poems
"The many voices of Hen & God sound out the broken-down reality that is these United States of America. West traces histories of America's misery across coasts and cultures towards a resistant present and future joy."
-Modesto Jimenez, author of Oye, Para Mi Querido Brooklyn (Listen, for My Dear Brooklyn)
"Amber West offers so many pleasures here: wise-ass speeches by the gods, feminist animal fables, pirate sonnets, and blues songs for the gorgeously gone-wrong. This poet hears Las Vegas speaking with the voice of a gangster-drunk craving water; she hears the sounds little boys don't make when their moms' boyfriends lock them out of the house; she's captured the theatrical rage of Black Friday crowds that can crush a man. Whip-smart, angry, and tender by turns, West's poems aren't afraid to call on some of the oldest traditions in English verse to electrify the dramas of 21st century urban life."
-V. Penelope Pelizzon, author of Nostos
"West is a kick-ass poet with a big heart. She has a tone you can’t teach, combining a sharp spark and a good mind. This is out of the ordinary writing and a secret code for success. There’s unlimited space beneath her lines because she’s re-creating the poem in layers. Peel it back the poem’s still game. There’s more meaning waiting."
-Grace Cavalieri, Washington Independent Review of Books
Reviews of Hen & God
"West’s poetic sensibility is able to subvert expectation through a singular mix of conceit and voice...Whether elegizing public and personal deaths or recalling previous relationships and friendships, West’s ambition to live up to the claim in 'Poem as God' that 'I am god and my ears / are the wings of the world' makes for compelling poetic moments throughout."
-Excerpted from "Review & Writing Prompt for Amber West’s Hen & God" by José Angel Araguz, published 4/6/18 in The Bind: a review site devoted to books by women and nonbinary authors.
"Pure jouissance. The poetry of Hen & God asks us to celebrate ordinary realities with a sense of cynicism and joy. The poems keep giving with each read."
-Excerpted from "Hen & God: Poems by Amber West: A Book Review" by Dr. Rachel Romero, Journal of Research on Women and Gender (Vol. 8, 2017)
Don't be a chicken! Time to EGG UP!
Hen & God can be purchased from me and is also available via Small Press Distribution, Amazon, and The Word Works. Egg Up! Hen & God Book Tour...West is available for readings, workshops, interviews, campus visits, and performances; see Events or Contact for more info. #eggup