The erotic impulse is embodied in Incarnate through a passionate wrestling with image and form. Juleta Severson-Baker wills memory and desire onto the page until “the seduction is complete”. The force of these poems is palpable. Readers witness the poet take a polluted river into her “belly like a snake takes a venomous toad”, experience orgasm as birth, and hike above tree line to ultimately “hear what I came to know”. The poetry in Incarnate is a sensuous plunging into the body. Readers will emerge grateful for the book’s manifestation of experience, and for the human body itself.
Incarnate is a brilliant collection of poems that capture the tension between the quotidian and the miraculous –“the hiccups-of-magic in the world” – recognizing that the two inform every moment of the day. Both intimate and wide ranging, sensuous and spiritual, sorrowful and ecstatically joyful, these poems celebrate everything that is human, and blend observation with secure craftsmanship. Juleta Severson-Baker observes the world with love and precision, and through her vision, enlarges our own. This is a book to be grateful for.
The sensuality of Juleta’s poems is obvious in the first word. That’s not easy to do: make words feel like moving lips. And the pleasure of them will be clear, too, when someone, feeling these poems, will not be content with an empty room, and say them out loud. I’ve known the mourning in this book, and I know that the words for that loss were waiting here all along. What delights me most, though, in reading all these poems together is the way they teach us that everything in life waits for the language to make it more than real.
Metaphor erupts in these poems, most evidently in the surreal “Leaving,” but once you see it in one or two poems, you see it in all of Juleta’s poetry. Poetry is the most that can be wrung from language, and the most vivid images in it are the ones that were never seen until made incarnate in art.
About the Author
Juleta Severson-Baker lives in Calgary, Alberta where she writes, teaches poetry and performance at the Mount Royal University Conservatory, works as a birth doula, and mothers two children. Her poetry has been previously published in All That Uneasy Spring (a Leaf Press chapbook ed. Patrick Lane), the journals NõD and Freefall, and online at Verse Daily and The House of Blue Skies. In 2010 her chapbook A Hundred Pelts won Freefall press’ 20th Anniversary contest for poetry.
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