Kendra Grant Malone's Everything is Quiet

$12/ Scrambler Books

Most of the reviews of this book mention the "sincere" "confessional" "tone" and the "artless" "emotions" that this book reflects upon the reader, "the similarities in style" to "Bukowski," and so on. I'm reminded more of WC Williams's "no ideas but in things." Even the line lengths evoke Williams, to say nothing of the subject matter:

the third cup
i fill
using the same tea
bag is so
worthless that
i just watch it

Or take the book's shortest poem, "Faceless," a total of three lines: "he said he wanted to / destroy my face but / he did me no such favor."

Despite that last period (pun intended) Malone's poems go periodless. Perhaps they are post-period. See the dramatic situations of "Period Sex" and "Period Sex Part II."

In an interview with Noah Cicero on Bookslut, Malone says she wishes she could know where everyone who read her book was when they read it, and what they did afterwards. I lay in bed after having a fantastic dinner with my wife and my mother at this restaurant in Atlanta called Parish. My mom ordered the bottomless glass of wine and got loaded. She pissed me off by the time we got home--because she was complaining that I can't hear anything, after she and my dad spent thousands of dollars on my ears when I was a kid and I should respect my parents by continuing to go to the ENT and having fucking operations all the goddamn time and I said that we were not going to talk about it anymore is that clear? and I drove like a cop till we got to the apartment--and it was only like 9:30, but I went to bed and picked up Everything is Quiet by Kendra Grant Malone. I read the book. I put it down and had calmed considerably. I picked up John D'Agata's Halls of Fame and read an essay there. By then my wife came to bed. I turned off the light and fell asleep. I read the book two more times after that first reading.



Here are the lines/moments in this book where I was moved, sometimes almost to tears:

in "A Kicked Pigeon":

while you were
at work
i accidentally
kicked a pigeon
to death

In "Little Girls Are Women Somehow in Some Way":

i cried it
into my pillow
at age 13
when i understood
that a man once
broke my
mother's ribs
for sport

You have to read "My Father's Friends" to get to the click-closed end: "honestly, i look forward to dying again"

In "Hellfire Amongst Other Things": "yes, my cat's face / i would like it in my mouth"

In "Naked with Trish":

...i floated and looked
at the sky
i saw the big dipper
and the milky way
i once dated a
boy who showed me how
to recognize stars

Some readers/other poets might take issue with what another reviewer called these seemingly "artless" poems. Sure, the poet breaks lines somewhat irregularly, on words like "of" or "a." If you're that kind of reader/poet, well, I don't know. You probably won't allow yourself to like this book. You should try learning to take it easy. However, it would be nice to see the form of each poem work more intuitively with the dramatic situation or the speaker's voice a bit more. The poems are often contemplative, so I might expect long, meandering lines. Perhaps, though, what's happening here is that the short lined poems strike an ironic contrast to the speaker's point of view, underlying the violence of each poem, which is itself understated throughout this book.

I was perhaps most moved by "The Third Day," a poem that so accurately describes alcohol withdrawal (experiences I am all too unfortunately familiar with) that it's one I might continually go back to, something to remind myself of me:

you feel incredibly anxious
there is a
cloudiness
around you
it feels a little
like despair

...your limbs feel lucid
like you are swimming
but are not enjoying it
like someone is forcing you

When I finished with this book, I had a similar feeling as that expressed at the end of "The Third Day": "it's alright, it's okay"

It most certainly is not.