A Filament Burns in Blue Degrees explores life’s strains and joys and the human compulsion to create something lasting despite certain entropy. Teardowns, remodels, sex, longing, joy; sometimes tender, sometimes humorous, these poems explore interpersonal relationships of all kinds and embrace the competing impulses of working hard at changing life’s course and fatalistic acceptance. Tanacea’s poems keep the light on in the darkest of places: “Come after midnight, your hand/on the door, and me, lit, humming.”
The passions and quiet violences that bind us and drive us apart fuel these poems. Tanacea writes with uncluttered immediacy and incandescent candor about domesticity, drugs, family, memory, divorce, sex as spirituality, fertility, horses and more. How can you resist a poet who employs “white-nightgowning” as a verb! Restraint and empathy undergird this collection, magnify the poems’ emotional power. Tanacea allows tangible things their uncanny ability to make the ineffable eloquent. Stirring, elegant and rueful, the poems are affective x-rays, illuminating the darkly erotic, the architecture of intimacy.
Kendra Tanacea’s A Filament Burns in Blue Degrees is a glorious paean to perseverance in the face of life’s passages. Sparse, irreverent, and ardent, these poems, with all of their poignant humor and fervid intelligence, are rooted in a belief that artful language heals and we survive because of a steady reaffirmation of the powers of song.
What a terrific collection! What I particularly like about these poems: their plain-speaking, their verbal economy. Tanacea’s subjects are not unusual—sex, family, domestica—but there are verbal surprises all the way through, and even the longer poems have an epigrammatic quality. A book of poems that has depth of feeling but is also fun to read.
About the Author
Kendra Tanacea, an attorney in San Francisco, holds a BA in English from Wellesley College and an MFA in writing and literature from Bennington College. A Filament Burns in Blue Degrees was a semifinalist for the Washington Prize and a finalist for the Idaho Prize for Poetry. Kendra’s poems have appeared in 5AM, Rattle, Moon City Review, The Coachella Review, Stickman Review, Juked, among others.
Have you ever seen a nine-iron,
smack a fleshy thigh? Angry
skin turns red, then darkens
from holding its breath then hides
in the folds of a spring dress.
What doesn’t turn black
is the deepest blue, the sky
just before dark.
Have you really seen the stars?
A closed fist against your temple,
the buzzing, the flares,
a spectacular rain of them.