A book-length meditation on courtship and the language of endearment, the social promise of marriage as a type of fulfillment, as well as the tension between a desire to be alone and a desire to not be lonely.
Guided by a poem assembled from “compliments” paid by a suitor to his girlfriend (which echo the endearments Anna Karenina’s Count Vronsky directs toward his racehorse, before she collapses under his weight and is shot), You Darling Thing investigates bridehood and the concept of the vow through the voices of a variety of brides, ex-brides, courtesans, and wives. The book is ultimately less about marriage than about potentiality and promise, an engagement with what seems possible before it stops being possible—embryos that stay unborn, youthful predictions for a life before it’s lived, and delight in the expressive possibilities afforded by language and art.
SAVAGE BRIDE from You Darling Thing
“Monica Ferrell’s second collection of poems You Darling Thing is a sly brilliant thing. Each poem is as precise and deadly as a pearl-handled pistol as she takes fantasies imposed on women and aims the gun back at us with devastating wit. The bride in these lavishly imagined fairy tales is a murderess, a voyeur; her heart is a ‘feral marble machine.’ The speaker role-plays in period lace and furs, re-imagining the voices of fallen heroines like Emma Bovary and Arachne so that they are alluring, alive, and superbly poisonous. I love this book.”-Cathy Park Hong
“Ferocious, smart, and sublime…This is terrifyingly brilliant. Ferrell’s techniques are revelatory: poems about sexual objectification are delivered in a tone of analytic authority–the poet reclaims subject-hood for her speaker, wields her power over the poem as object, turning the tables…Ferrell’s polymorphous, multitudinous gifts are singular.”-Brenda Shaughnessy
“The speakers in Monica Ferrell’s You Darling Thing are so effusively unreliable the experience of reading her poems is like walking through a cosmos of brilliant women describing themselves in exaggerated bravura even when danger looms. ‘I feel the feral marble machine of my heart leak mercury,’ says the Tourist Bride, who is only one of many variations of bride that populate this noir collection filled with persona poems spoken in the voice of Emma Bovary, a tiger ‘abandoned at the hunt’s end,’ and a fifteenth-century Italian princess who died in childbirth, among others. Ferrell’s poems are a force field of anachronism, lush irony, and an almost self-denying violent wit fueled by juxtaposition. Though the men in this collection are often dangerous, their blue eyes ‘malevolent as the circles of gas on a stove, as the blue kiss on the matchstick / That drags a house down,’ these are poems investigating love, where love is vexed, elusive, threatened by violence. ‘Love is a currency everyone wants,’ writes Ferrell, and we watch the shady transactions with guilty pleasure. Despite the eros and the sensuality in these gorgeous otherworldly poems, human touch is still a distant country and ‘what you so often think / Belongs to you does not belong to you at all.’ Brides and grooms in all their ventriloquy speak to and past each other while ‘Desire keeps rippling their transparent skin.’”-Catherine Barnett
“If you think a book about ‘courtship and marriage’ is about satin sheets and rose petals, you’re out of luck. If you want a smart piercing look at how women have been seared and stripped by love, this one wins the gold ring….” Read the full review.
“‘What’s conceivable and what’s happened lay side by side,’ reads one line from Monica Ferrell’s latest poetry collection, managing to capture the spirit of the entire book, which travels between fictive worlds and reality….” Read the full review.
“…Sardonic and erotic, Monica Ferrell’s second collection reads like a tête-à-tête gone rogue. Given voice, brides and beloveds come alive, unbraiding their limbs from Flaubert, Duchamp, and Tolstoy….” Read the full review.
“… The speakers in You Darling Thing may have begun by looking for love, finding that the other inhabitants of the dark bar are willing to join the ritual: ‘We circle each other the way flecks of dirt / together revolve towards a sink’s metal hole.’ And yet once they have acquired it, what is to be done with the results?…” Read the full review.