An Anatomy of Curiosity
Throughout time, curiosity has been tagged both a vice and springboard for wisdom. Be it curse or gift, it can unlatch the gates that restrict experience. The poems in An Anatomy of Curiosity fan out these gates that conceal our visions. On these pages, we witness the unfathomable, such as Jeff Bridges unpacking his parts at the El Royale Hotel and an uninvited murderer who finds entrance into the control room of our nightly dreams. By means of accretion and displacement, Bellen’s poems give rise to laughter, disorder, doubt, curiosity, and insight.
Martine Bellen begins this book by confessing, “I left my permission slip
in a past / dream and can’t remember / the pocket it’s in.” Her curiosity proceeds fleetly, alighting in unbridled freedom on whatever it encounters—whether movies, mothers, cats, or hems. These poems are capable of the most agile swerves, demonstrating that a serious inquiry can sail on music and play, through myth and dream: here are the malleable, chewy realms of metamorphosis.… poetry pushing forward with curiosity and back against delusion. This is—unexpectedly—wisdom literature. Unexpected because Bellen creates an uncanny overlap between spirit, inquiry, and human absurdity as she takes us into “a charged, changing circus / of beyonds.”
Martine Bellen has always been a remarkable writer and she just gets better. In An Anatomy of Curiosity we find “The doorjamb we peep through” into a magical world. With her exquisite mind and lyric imagination we are carried as though we are inside a charm and things are expanding around us. This book will take you there.
In An Anatomy of Curiosity’s vivid and musical dreamscapes, there’s a sublime blurring of mythic archetype and memory, cinema and life, animal and human, matter and light. Bellen writes poetry as if language itself were a living being, something between a sea creature and a compassionate ghost. Still, this isn’t purely otherworldly work: the lyric intensity is tempered by wise feminism and wit, and even the most magical and transcendent stays connected to the particulars of twenty-first-century life.