Bullies in Love by Jendi Reiter
Jendi Reiter and Little Red Tree Publishing are pleased to offer Bullies in Love, Reiter's fourth poetry book and second full-length collection, with illustrations by fine art photographer and Massachusetts Cultural Council award winner Toni Pepe. Bullies in Love is on sale at Little Red Tree and Amazon.
Little Red Tree publishes books of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and art that "delight, entertain, and educate". Visit their website at littleredtree.com.
Jendi Reiter is the author of Barbie at 50 (Cervena Barva Press, 2010), Swallow (Amsterdam Press, 2009), and A Talent for Sadness (Turning Point Books, 2003). Awards include a 2010 Massachusetts Cultural Council Artists' Grant for Poetry, the 2013 Little Red Tree International Poetry Prize, the 2012 Betsy Colquitt Award for Poetry from Descant magazine, the 2011 James Knudsen Editor's Prize in Fiction from Bayou Magazine, the 2011 OSA Enizagam Award for Fiction, the 2010 Anderbo Poetry Prize, and second prize in the 2010 Iowa Review Awards for Fiction. She is the editor of WinningWriters.com, an online resource site for creative writers. Visit her blog at jendireiter.com and follow her on Twitter at @JendiReiter.
Toni Pepe teaches at Boston University. She has shown her work at New England Photography Biennial, Art Basel, Photo L.A., the Center for Photography in Woodstock, NY, the University of Notre Dame, and numerous other venues in the US and internationally. Her photographs and installation work address the construction of identity and the performativity of narrative, gender, and memory. Visit her website at tonipepe.com.
Praise for Bullies in Love
"An outstanding, impressive collection from a multiple award winner...The writing dazzles, surprises, and beguiles the reader with its unexpected vistas."
—Carol Smallwood, author, Divining the Prime Meridian (Wordtech Editions, 2015)
"How can one voice be so raw and so refined? How can a poet so fiercely female speak more universally than those who deny our differences? The electrifying paradoxes of art and life snap from every page here as Reiter names the driving forces of her life—our lives."
—Nancy White, administrator of The Word Works Washington Prize, author of Detour (Tamarack Editions, 2010)
"Bitter, tender, contained, full of pain and hilarity, this fiercely intelligent collection begins with one of the most beautiful poems I have ever read. 'Inconsolable joy,' Reiter writes to her newborn son. 'Motherless, I mother.' Within this grace all questions resolve: 'Each glinting wavelet a day of my history,/washing my hands as I lose it.' The history to be known and released includes childhood abuse, and cruelties both familial and social...In these poems, theology becomes concrete and passionate."
—Ruth Thompson, author of Woman with Crows (Saddle Road Press, 2013), A Room of Her Own Foundation "To the Lighthouse" Prize Finalist
"Jendi Reiter's astute observations of the complex nature of love reveal not only its beauty but also its damning consequences. From the child to the adult, the home to the wider world, this collection of affirming yet disturbing tight-knit poetry in various forms kaleidoscopes vivid images, framing the struggle to free oneself from parental and societal expectations from start to finish. These poems span the coming-of-age search for self-respect and love; the ideologies of marketing and religion; teachers' censorship of children's literature; and political crimes against sexual minorities."
—Suzanne Covich, child rights activist and educator, author of When We Remember They Call Us Liars (Fremantle Press, 2012)
"Lyric, narrative, prose poem...in all her work Jendi Reiter is constantly innovating, injecting her lines with fresh, sharp language and taut, piercing images which yes, surprise, exhilarate, and delight, but also force the reader to rethink their relationships to social forces. The nature of love and desire are here, but so are family, faith, the body, the natural world, pop culture...even a few stray cats. Jendi explores these as both priestess and stand-up comedian, deploying reverence and humor (sometimes at the same time), and gazing upon whimsy and atrocity with equal scrutiny."
—Charlie Bondhus, author of All the Heat We Could Carry (Main Street Rag, 2013), 2014 Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry
"Beyond her impressive verbal pyrotechnics, there's an invigorating way of making unexpected connections, as in this from one of my favorite poems, 'What Dora Said to Agnes': 'When a man undresses a woman/he is unfolding a letter/he expected would be addressed to him…' and in the same poem: 'When a woman undresses a man/she is promising to wash him,/she is offering the hand that will close his eyes.' Reiter's uncommon insights into love, partnering, sorrow, death and new ways of living, together and apart, will inspire and comfort the fellow traveler, the reader, you."
—Robert McDowell, author of Poetry as Spiritual Practice and The World Next to This One; robertmcdowell.net
"In her remarkable collection of poems, Bullies in Love, Jendi Reiter has created a complex odditorium of characters with unique and often disturbing voices: poems peopled with bullies, the disenfranchised, monsters, prostitutes, criminals, the abused and forgotten, all searching for meaning, for faith and love in a postmodern, often cynical world."
—Pamela Uschuk, author of Crazy Love, 2010 American Book Award Winner, and Blood Flower (Wings Press)
Please enjoy this poem from Bullies in Love.
after Amy Hwang, New Yorker Sept. 19, 2011
A cat in a turtleneck regards a poster of himself,
thinking, I'm not lost,
I moved on to better things.
This is a New Yorker cartoon,
so the cat has probably been in therapy
where he learned to reframe his four-legged past
like an ex-wife snipping one face from her photos.
We can assume he holds the correct views.
Republicans rarely wear turtlenecks.
Little girls have been known to lose their faith
when their cat runs away.
Some break down glimpsing the garbage truck
that maybe crushed the love from their limp friend,
God muscling the wheel
in the high cab, rolling on.
For others it's the priest or aunt
fortressed in starched lace,
duty-bound to insist
there's no pet heaven.
No wonder the cat put on shoes.
What if he wanted to walk into a bar?
What if he needed a new punchline
at the Pearly Gates?
The devils in funny-hell are just working stiffs.
One cat more or less in the inbox
is nothing to them.
They pass eternity one panel at a time
with sarcastic remarks,
like aunts only with beards and no clothes.
A game can be lost, and a key,
a race and a chance.
What was once called maidenhead.
The point of a joke.
The priests and the aunts plaster up
this label though they know exactly
where those so-called are headed:
worse than a hump of desert island
with a desperate man and one coconut palm.
Someplace not funny at all.
Do you know Jesus?
If found, call.
The girl in the turtleneck
in the city doesn't believe
she's going to the same heaven
as those subscribers. She is lost
like a phone call,
a signal, virginity, the cat
who, she still hopes,
missed her too.