A collection that explores spaces in order to probe the fraught interplay of matter and spirit, desire and monstrosity, the created and the uncreated.
The title Blood Labors is a double entendre: labors as both the thing and the action. Split into four sections, which act as musical movements more than section breaks, there are poems about space and matter, the human impulse to create, and the artist’s work.
XI. Fecundity (in “Downstream”) from Blood Labors
“Blood Labors is an ebullient and ecclesiastical wonder, capturing more of creation, the uncreated, and recreated than any dozen books on a poetry shelf. Tobin weaves the deep-world-time of Charles Olson with the Irish Catholic lyricism of Seamus Heaney, resulting in poems as startling—and essential—as water. Of the abundance to praise in this book, let me single out the twelve poems in “Downstream”—a reverie, an origin myth, a surreal awakening—written with uncanny, terrifying beauty. All told, Blood Labors dazzles with its brilliance.” — Barbara Ras, author of The Last Skin