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INTERPRETIVE WORK: Elizabeth Bradfield
About the Book
Natural history, work, queerness, and family collide in Interpretive Work. When they do, a deep stubborn will emerges, a belief in the unexpected beauty of the world—flaws and all. The poems of this collection foreground the role of the viewer—the interpreter "smudging self across what's seen."
From neighborhood kids cussing in the cul-de-sac to marbled murrelets calling in Southeast Alaska, the poems of this book reach toward a moment where one finds "this unsettlement, / this beauty applauded at last."
Interpretive Work won the 2009 Audre Lorde Award and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award.
Reviews of Interpretive Work
- "Bradfield's poems are stocked full of unfamiliar words, statistically-improbable phrases, sonorous lines, shapely stanzas, endearing arguments and compelling personalities. Her recurring subjects wear much better than her recurring tropes. I am partial to her senses of incongruity, outlaw difference, and sheer perverse terror and delight in bad language... She has a touch of that sublime regret we've required, since forever... we rely on critics to recommend writers ... I see something in this book. I hope Bradfield continues to develop and change. Nature certainly doesn't seem to be slowing down, and we're going to need poets like Bradfield to keep reminding us of that, and a lot else besides."
—from Jordan Davis's review in The Constant Critic, March, 2009
- "...the importance of the poems lies in their extraordinary awareness of so many different ways to engage the world. As the crises of the twenty-first century intensify, it is this kind of careful attention to environment, humans, culture and the interconnections between the three that will describe what it means to be human."
—from James Engelhardt's review in Octopus, Issue 11, 2009
- "This fascination with naming necessarily leads to one of the book's recurring thematic questions: what do we really mean when we say nature and natural?"
—from Nicky Beer's review in Diagram, Issue 8.5, 2008
- "Bradfield depicts scenes commonplace and extraordinary alike, and her poetry touches on a variety of topics, yet despite this, there is nonetheless a common concern that unites many of this collection's poems: the human inclination to overlook our environment."
—from Heather Duerre Humann's review in Black Warrior Review Fall 2008
- "Bradfield [has a] keen eye for intertwining the narrative of the natural world and her human narrative. This is what is breathtaking about Interpretive Work... here are the poems of an important new poet."
—from Julie Enszer's review in Lambda Literary Report, Spring/Summer 2008
- "Bradfield's poems guide us alertly into this treacherous territory pocked with political pitfalls and theoretical quagmires. One hardly notices the perils that abound because Bradfield is such a deft naturalist, with a keen eye"
—from Jon Christensen's review in The San Francisco Chronicle, June 8, 2008
- "Bradfield is much more than a naturalist with a pen. Her poetry crosses and redefines boundaries, illuminating the silent, isolating misconceptions in the human narrative."
—from Jennifer Garfield's review in Bookslut February, 2008
- "The use of such words as 'natural,' 'vulnerability,' and the outcry at the imposition of a dominant group over the well-being of another suddenly take on a more complicated resonance."
—from Rigoberto González on Harriet (the Poetry Foundation's blog) Februrary, 2008
- "You'll want to fall, headfirst, deeply in love with the world and with someone in it, knowing you'll get your heart broken time and time again, knowing it will be worth it."
—from Tom C. Hunley's review in Poemeleon Summer, 2008
- "In her marvelous debut collection, Elizabeth Bradfield probes the work of daily life, locating her speakers in family, intimate relationship, neighborhood, wilderness, and workplace. ... an important new voice among us."
—from Robin Becker's article in The Women's Reivew of Books