We're Doing Witchcraft
E. Kristin Anderson's We're Doing Witchcraft is an intelligent, adventurous and profound sensory ode to the stories that unfurl when we unearth the dark blood veins of our selves and see how they deepen the texture of our skins. The poems here are intimate, deep-hearted, wise and sometimes dangerous as they tell us that we owe something to the feral magic that tumbles inside our psyches, and remind us that we must know our tongues, and plunge them straight into our hearts.
To survive girlhood and womanhood is to practice and have practiced a kind of difficult and relentless witchcraft. It is exhausting even on the best of days. And yet, the poems in We’re Doing Witchcraft dazzle with their exuberance and compassion. Their strength in the face of our inhospitable world empowers, exhilarates, and secretly breaks our hearts. We need these poems.
—Lynn Melnick, author of If I Should Say I Have Hope and co-editor of Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation.
E. Kristin Anderson’s poems pop and pivot us into a new Zeitgeist asylum. Taylor Swift, Batman, Ouija boards, and iPhone interface are all fair game in Anderson’s dark, yet pithy manifesto. She proclaims: “If my body is a Tupperware party, I am not invited.” Though humorous at times, we also see our culture and humanity through Anderson’s dark looking glass. In “After the Ants Come,” Anderson heeds a warning: “I am a fever, slamming devil-like into your home. You still don’t lock the back door.” Anderson erases Dorothy’s yellow brick road only to put Sarah Silverman on the path. She plays with role reversal, not wanting to miss out on games other people play. In her poem “Because I can be Adam if you believe you have Eden” she writes: “If you are Eve, then I am shame. I am shoulders and hips and mascara and dress code violations.” We thrill to play these games with her, because she celebrates school art rooms, bare shoulders, and “heartbeats sticking to notebooks.” I read the last poem and went back to the beginning, ready to play again, realizing too late the rules had already been changed and I was detoured in the best possible way.
—Jennifer MacBain-Stephens, author of Your Best Asset is a White Lace Dress and The Messenger is Already Dead
I immediately was entranced by how fluidly Anderson weaves together pop culture and the bleakness of our real world, like reality TV for poetry. It’s a slow type of magic that grabs you, but then holds you so closely that you don’t want it to end while you also feel suffocated by it all. The gender and power swap, as well as the questions the collection poses for identity, are necessary to all readers right now. In particular, her poem “Because I can be Adam if you believe you have Eden” is spot on: “If you are Eve, than I am shame.” Anderson tells it like it is.
—Joanna C. Valente, author of Marys of the Sea, The Gods Are Dead, and Sirs & Madams
Listen: E. Kristin Anderson needs to tell you a few things. About black holes and Batman (a so-so kisser) and selkies. And about (importantly about) women’s bodies. “When the wings come, we cry,” she writes in this latest chapbook, We’re Doing Witchcraft, and those tears (of pain and fiery anger) fill these poems. With a Plath-like lyricism, Anderson takes us through the treacherous terrain of the contemporary woman, from the menace of dress codes to the mysterious planets called vaginas. And she refuses to pull any punches, musically or rhetorically. “Cass[iopeia], you bleed for children and I bleed for hope,” she writes in “Skip This One if You Have a Dick.” These poems bleed, too, for all the old myths and legends (and poems) that bind women. And for the new ones that maybe, hopefully, will set them (us) free.
—Anthony Frame, author of A Generation of Insomniacs and To Gain the Day
At that age when we girls become fairies
Fifteen is before the wings come—no,
that’s wrong. At fifteen we’ve begun to feel
the nubs of bone pushing at the muscle, the skin
of our backs. These bones aren’t right. We itch
until the skin burns red. Beg our mothers for a salve—
anything to make it how it was.
Fifteen is feet wishing for grass, wearing shoes
that bind our long toes. Fifteen is how our eyes
seem darker in harsher lights, how we squint
and feel the prick of tears and duck into our lockers
and hide with our books.
This is before anyone tells us anything.
Identities are secret and gym class is finished
with Bath and Body Works. Country Apple
is not so much a signature scent as it is a place
we remember being safe. A place it’s possible
to be safe again, if it turns out to be real.
When the wings come, we cry. We cry for ourselves,
mostly, but also for the others crumbled in the corners
of closets, telling their stories with dresses instead of words.
We fall out of our windows into grass and onto sidewalks.
We are fifteen and we have no time.
H E R M E N E U T I C C H A O S
By E. Kristin Anderson
E. Kristin Anderson is the author of seven chapbooks including A Guide For The Practical Abductee (Red Bird Chapbooks 2014) Pray, Pray, Pray: Poems I wrote to Prince in the middle of the night (Porkbelly Press, 2015), 17 Days (ELJ Publications) Acoustic Battery Life (ELJ 2016), Fire In the Sky (Grey Book Press 2016), She Witnesses (dancing girl press, 2016). Her nonfiction anthology, Dear Teen Me, based on the popular website of the same name, was published in October of 2012 by Zest Books (distributed by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) and her next anthology, Hysteria: Writing the Female Body, is forthcoming from Sable Press. She has worked at The New Yorker magazine, has a B.A. in Classics from Connecticut College and is currently a poetry editor for Found Poetry Review and the special project manager for ELJ Publications. She has published poetry in many magazines worldwide, including Nashville Review, Barrelhouse Online, [PANK], Asimov’s Science Fiction, and Cicada and has work forthcoming in The American Journal of Nursing and Quaint. She grew up in Maine, live in Austin, Texas, and blogs at EKristinAnderson.com.
A U T H O R
E. K R I S T I N A N D E R S O N
Cover Art: Olivia Edvalson
Publication date : October 2016
Pages : 38
Hand sewn, open edition
P R E S S
© 2017 HERMENEUTIC CHAOS PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.