Black Box

Erin Belieu

According to Erin Belieu, Black Box “was channeled through Aimee Mann’s ‘Bachelor #2’ and the re-mastered reissue of AC/DC’s ‘Back in Black.’ I was trying to write a book that would make you weep and bang your head simultaneously.” The poems in this book, written in the aftermath of a destroyed marriage, are visceral, raw, and emotionally charged.

ISBN: 9781556592515

Format: Paperback

About the Author

Erin Belieu was born in Nebraska and educated at The Ohio State University and Boston University. She is the author of Infanta, chosen by Hayden Carruth for the National Poetry Series; One Above & One Below, winner of the Midland Authors Prize and Ohioana Poetry Award; Black Box, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist; Slant Six, a New York Times favorite book of 2014; and Come-Hither Honeycomb (2020), all published by Copper Canyon Press. Her poems have appeared in places such …

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“Titled after the flight-data recording devices analyzed in plane-crash investigations, Belieu’s forceful third collection examines the wreckage of interpersonal disaster, chiefly a nasty marital breakup… Here the poet imagines a broken marriage as a car crash you only half survive, unleashing a fury so spectacular it takes on the dimensions of myth.” —Publishers Weekly

“What is there not to love? …Think John Keats’s eloquence piping through the fury of Sylvia Plath… Belieu is not tepid… Belieu is no Lady MacBeth; her bitter rage [in these poems] is always subjunctive to clear betrayal, devastating disappointment, a fundamental empathy for life and a belief in decency and fair play… Belieu’s fury—like her love—carries her forward… Belieu is a worthwhile poet—not because she is sassy or subversive, though it is true that she is both. Belieu’s poems are courageous, smart and artful. This book places her among the best poets writing today.” —Coldfront Magazine

“Belieu has a sharp tongue and a quick mind. Black Box is a free-verse-lover’s dream—a virtual galaxy of open-form poems [and] Whitmanesque long lines, as well as traditional stanzas… The reader, like a roller-coaster passenger, grips the steel bar at the height of this collection’s steel frame. We are in for a wild ride… Black Box is an astonishing achievement for its consistency of tone and feral images. One is left feeling as if he or she has participated in a back alley fight—but in a good way.” —The Journal

“With echoes of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, the free verse and prose poems of [Black Box]… focus on love and death… The best work here is edgy, unsentimental, and unsparing. Alliteration-driven, these poems are lighthearted with a dark edge—conversational until Belieu pulls the rug out from under the line with acerbic but always right observation.” —Library Journal

“Antipathy is Belieu’s muse. Even her celebratory poems celebrate acts of defiance.” —Eric McHenry, The New York Times Book Review

“The seething vents of her elliptical, apostrophic lines are brought to a boil when performing in a red dress at your funeral, salt shaker holstered in her garter belt, rooting through your remains looking for the black box.” —Reno News & Review

“Most of the pieces here are infused with language so rich with sense imagery that your brain becomes a bit overwhelmed in all the right ways if you allow it… This entire book hooks you; it reels you in. It’s a rarity for me to read a book of poetry cover-to-cover in one sitting, but that’s exactly what happened. Why? Most of Belieu’s poems left me utterly stunned… “—Ohioana Quarterly


Finalist, Los Angeles Times Book Prize