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  • Writer's pictureKim Ports Parsons

"...on our tongues where the future twirls"

Sandy Yannone's poetry makes my synapses dance. So many examples to choose from, including the above line from her poem, "The Girl who Catches Everything," in her beautiful debut collection, Boats for Women, that it is hard to choose one to share. Her nimble syntax pirouettes and tumbles, takes me on a bobbing ride from one deeply felt phrase to another.

This was true the very first time we shared our work when we were graduate students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln decades ago, and it's true every time I listen to her read, or enjoy a new publication of hers in a journal. It's true when I re-read poems that I love dearly, such as "Honors Economics":

When she runs her tongue against my chipped front tooth

and wants to know its story, I want to blame the puck

for my tooth, for her question, for the break-up

about to crash into me like a hard check against the boards.

In the first stanza, in just one sentence, I have already taken a long ride through time and physical experience--from a sensuous moment between lovers to an intimation of an old sport injury to an imminent emotional loss. She deftly takes us back through the hockey game, "the day I forgot my mask and the boys let me play," and through her own maturation process: "I was the girl learning the business of saving."

The poem loops us deftly through the game, the play that chips the tooth, the speaker's pondering of her injury ("wobbled my tooth with my own bloodied tongue"), and back to the break-up that is foreshadowed. The last, loaded line, like so many of Sandy's, reverberates like a gong in my brain:

I tell her sometimes pain is a backhanded language.

I can't wait for Sandy's next book, coming out from Salmon Poetry in 2022: The Glass House. I consider it one of the great gifts of my life right now that I get to work with Sandy each week on Cultivating Voices LIVE Poetry. She inspires and delights and teaches. She is my friend, a generous, beautiful human, and a tremendous host each Sunday afternoon.

I encourage you to

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