Cassie Pruyn's Lena asks new questions: why we love, why we grieve. We've read elegies before, but not like this. A lush and unsparing first book, Lena asks readers to understand love--crucially, a first love, an erotic love-in the context not of a love lost but instead of an identity gained: we must consider not only "was she worth it?," but also "who has she made me?" Pruyn lets us feel what lovers feel--the magnetism, the physicality, the tenderness, the rage, the wondering--with language both musical and visceral. In these poems, the landscape is a character in itself; the past is as tangible as the present. Pruyn takes us to the "Lost Love Lounge," we ride in a "car / red as a dragon," and we observe the beloved "stick herself in the belly with a needle" in the way "she used to attach her cufflinks." This is love and grief raised to the highest power; it is a debut not to be missed.
Cassie Pruyn is Advanced Seminar Professor and Head of the Writing Center at Bard Early College in New Orleans and author of the forthcoming Bayou St John: A Brief History.