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by Erica Wright

Poetry. INSTRUCTIONS FOR KILLING THE JACKAL reinvigorates the poetic tradition of myth-making using a combination of Southern folklore, urban legend, and Greek mythology. "The poems in Erica Wright's bold debut balance their investigations of danger, dysfunction and bad weather not merely with beauty and poise (although she is generous with both) but also with an imaginative counterforce all her own."—Timothy Donnelly
Download Instructions for Killing the Jackal epub
ISBN: 1936873109
ISBN13: 978-1936873104
Category: Literature
Subcategory: Poetry
Author: Erica Wright
Language: English
Publisher: Black Lawrence Press (November 8, 2011)
Pages: 60 pages
ePUB size: 1605 kb
FB2 size: 1606 kb
Rating: 4.5
Votes: 291
Other Formats: rtf lit lit lrf

After reading her first two novels, what a delightful surprise it was that Erica Wright's first publication for general consumption was this book of poetry, 'Instructions for Killing the Jackal." As another reviewer has said, "These are not easy poems." That is an understatement! These poems are full of gorgeous language and shocking imagery. I swear, as I read this book, I could feel Ms Wright's struggle to choose each word, to choose the RIGHT word, the perfect word when so many others might suffice.
This is a dark invitation to the very depths of Ms Wright's soul and the reader had best know this before suddenly realizing, halfway through the book, that s/he is bleeding profusely from wounds rendered by the scalpel-sharp language and bone-blade precision of her imagination. These are not poems for a sunny Sunday afternoon, to be read at some upper-class meeting of those who think they know what life is about. No, these are poems for those of us who have lived life in the raw, lived with sharp awareness of what is really going on around us.
I was taught what was called by my then Professor of Poetry in college, the proper way to read a poem. First, read it to yourself. Then, read it again, more slowly, considering each syllable as a tasty morsel to be rolled around in one's mouth. Then, stand up and read the poem aloud, as that is the true test of a poem's mettle. I did that with this book, which means it takes a lot longer to read than one would expect of a mere 58 page book. It was worth it, believe me. I suggest you do the same. You could start with this one, one of my favorites from Ms Wright's collection:

New Illness

I knew a woman who once rooked
some doctor for lollipop painkillers,

the cancer-patient kind,
though I couldn't see anything wrong

with her except her goodwill shrinking
as the suckers shrank, and I knew

the devil was getting his due,
asked him, Devil, is this all you've got?

He said kindly–I swear
it sounded kindly–it's enough.

If you like modern hard-edge, deeply mystical, meaning-filled modern poetry, I cannot recommend this book to you highly enough.
Wright provides a powerhouse sample of poems here in Instructions for Killing the Jackal. Every single line of each poem pounds out hard and gripping revelations (e.g. "how lovely our ashes would be." from Debris for Looters). Wright possesses some kind of enchantment that she wields in her writing. But these are not easy poems. They demand multiple readings. Wright composes with esoteric verses and never once in this compilation lets slip the key for decoding so readers will only succeed if they can forfeit control.
The Sinners from Mitar
Erica Wright new book of poems, INSTRUCTIONS FOR KILLING THE JACKAL from Black Lawrence Press captures attention immediately; the title begs investigation and the cover art by Alexis Anne MacKenzie draws it all out for us. But there are few overtures that would be completely appropriate to describe the poetry inside this volume. Erica Wright seems to penetrate the dark side of people, relationships, history - the many aspects that raise like palpable ghosts out of the earth defying explanation. Yet for all the forces of nature and human behavior she visits here she seems to have the strength of a Wonder Woman, so secure is her handling of the material at hand. While peering into mythology and legend she uncovers pathways for confronting the hoary beasts and bring them under control. Some examples will encourage the reader to enter the world of Erica Wright:

Instructions for Killing the Jackal

File the teeth first - no, shoot
the tranq. Then teeth, nails, testes.

Feed yourself Valium if faint of heart.
(Jackals may be faint-of-heart.)

This is necessary to kill the jackal.
but keep the man.

Embroider pillows, learn 'The Inferno',
learn Italian, then 'The Inferno' in Italian,

and for his return, recite passages
he'll not understand, though he's been there

and returned to you more man, less jackal.
Say, 'I'll take you furless and toothless,

take your gums and the nicks form the razor,
let you bleed on me if you return.

Purple-eyed and calloused,
rub your calluses against mine;

we could sand each other
until we got to the good parts.'

Wright's vulnerable humanity peeks out in certain poems, such as in the following:

New Illness

I knew a woman once who rooked
some doctors for lollipop painkillers,

the cancer-patient kind,
though I couldn't see anything wrong

with her except her goodwill shrinking
as the suckers shrank, and I knew

the devil was getting his due,
asked him, 'Devil, is this all you've got?'

He said kindly - I swear
it sounded kindly - 'it's enough.'

Not only does Erica Wright possess a mind fertile with imagination that seems to see into interstices few of us can, but she also has a gift of language so extraordinarily descriptive and fresh that each of her poems simply dazzles. Enter this book and be aware Wright may be addicting. Grady Harp, December 11