In this astonishing second collection by Taneum Bambrick, violence hides in the glint of the carving knife—every intimacy a shadow, every memory a maze to navigate. Set primarily in rural Southern Spain, Intimacies, Received moves through streets and fields, households and years, following a survivor of sexual assault as she painstakingly reassembles a narrative of self. A brilliant storyteller, Bambrick builds through palimpsest—layering vivid imagery to recall embodiment and dissociation, illness and isolation, queer female sexuality amidst acts of misogyny—utilizing varied forms including ekphrasis, persona, and a lyric essay. Ultimately, Intimacies, Received signals agency, as trauma is held to the light and finally named.
“In this visceral and tender outing, Bambrick explores the relationship between trauma, intimacy, and memory. . . Bambrick’s poems are lyric tightropes, walking the thin line between the real and the imaginary, and highlighting how trauma lives in a fragile present. They are equally brave in their honest exploration of sexuality and their frank admission of the struggle of such an exploration. —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“Bambrick is vivid and meticulous. The poems in this collection are set mainly in southern Spain—the poet’s memory of an assault in high school colliding with immediate details of the countryside, intimate gatherings, and sex as she travels through Spain years later. . . Bambrick masterfully portrays how moments of intimacy can represent moments of violence—and how difficult it can be to untangle the two from each other. —NPR
“Gorgeous imagery and careful diction, treading the lines between giving too much away and keeping too much hidden. Bambrick takes readers into a world where she grieves, crumbles, learns, grows, and ultimately triumphs. The storytelling and the abstract use of animals and the natural world as symbols pulls you in, as she speaks of sexuality, trauma, queerness, love, illness, and acceptance. . . . Bambrick’s book is a visceral, emotional triumph, encapsulating the feelings of all who have been through something that changed their body and being.” —Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine
“Intimacies, Received is sharp and breathtaking, a collection that glints like a gathering of knives. Bambrick’s unsparing voice runs like a dangerous current throughout the poems, a reminder of the violence lurking within the landscape of the ordinary. Moving between the vivid landscapes of past and present and through the fractured intimacies of human connection, the collection seizes the stigma associated with hidden trauma and at long last holds it to light.” —Eliza Browning, Adroit
“Intimacies, Received experiments with an array of forms—an untitled, 13-part and numbered sequence that is spread out consecutively from the first poem to the last, stichic poems, poems in couplets, tercets, prose poems, a lyric essay. There are ekphrastic poems, persona pieces. It is as though—perhaps like the experience and memory of rape itself, or in the fragmented kinesis of the two Picasso pieces explored in this collection, The Rape and Head of a Woman—the terrain that the book’s protagonist must traverse can only be understood through an array of approaches and an accumulation, a layering of myriad parts.”—Lisa Russ Spaar, Adroit
“Bambrick’s poems make me feel incredibly shy and brave at the same time. I say make me because I can’t look away from them. The poems are telling me to sit down and listen.” —Su Cho, Poetry Foundation
“It is in the writing where the meaning is for Bambrick and where the purpose is in being a part of the world. The intimacy of Intimacies, Received is getting close to the earth, the searing sun of rural Spain, or the skin—and not looking away. But we must not confuse closeness with catharsis or certainty. Rather, Bambrick returns to the liminal spaces of indeterminacy or contradiction, where violence can be named or identified at the individual or structural level, but where emotional burrs still snag us in an intricate web of contradictory registers.”—Brink