Slant Six is a wry commentary on contemporary American life, satirizing our frantic standards of beauty, success, and participatory consumerism. Somehow simultaneously, Erin Belieu critiques human folly with unabashed astringency and embraces the world’s asymmetrical, offbeat beauty. She recognizes an urgent need for compassion in a mechanized, violent world. Slant Six is a generous, unruly collection of poems that hinges on elegant phrasing, tight musicality, and hauntingly perceptive observations that shock and seduce.
“Belieu oscillates between dark humor, self-consciousness, and pointed satire in a fourth collection that’s equal-opportunity in its critique. In the world of these poems, no one is innocent; everyone is confined to the complexity, absurdity, and, above all, fallibility of their human condition…. Anchoring the work is a conversational, lyrical speaker willing to implicate herself as part of the political and social constructs she criticizes, as when she depicts a Southern American culture still reeling from its history of social injustice, and even the Civil War: “Don’t tell us/ history. Nobody hearts a cemetery/ like we do.” It’s a fantastic collection; Belieu desires not to dress issues up but confront them.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Her gifts—for clarity, consolidation, humor and moments of hard-earned feeling—are old-fashioned ones. She’s a comedian of the human spirit, in league with poets from Frank O’Hara through Deborah Garrison and Tony Hoagland. Sex and longing, too, are among this poet’s primal subjects. About these things Ms. Belieu is so blissfully conscious and verbal.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times
“Politics, pop culture, and parenthood appear here along with reflections on our collective moments of hypocrisy and hope. ’12-Step,’ one of the most resonant entries, begins innocuously with a meditation about lighthouses, then the speaker gathers speed and confidence and reaches a risky but profound one-word stanza—’myself’—before ending with a haunting inversion of the Serenity Prayer used by Alcoholics Anonymous. Amid the quips and the elegant observations about immortality, Belieu’s speakers never forget their responsibilities, or their possibilities.”—Booklist
“From poem to poem in the smart, savvy Slant Six, Belieu channels an updated American idiom, one of stubborn in-betweenhood. Like the plain-spoken poetry that plumbed the depths of American consciousness in the 20th century, Belieu trawls the shallows of today’s America and finds just as much caught in its oily reflections as in its murkier subcurrents. It’s ‘[b]etter,’ she suggests, ‘to forget perfection.'” —The Boston Globe
“I’ve never read a poem by Erin Belieu that I didn’t want to immediately rip from its bindings so I could fold it up and carry around in my pockets and read so many times that the paper turned back into pulp. She’s just that good. That honest and brave and beautiful and wise and funny. She writes poems we need. Poems that say who I am and who you are and how and why we got to be this way. Poems that wonder if we can ever change. Poems that know us and show us and grace us. Poems that remember us and forget us and leave us dazzled in their dust. In Slant Six, she’s outdone herself. It’s a spellbinding, heart-opening beauty of a book.”—Cheryl Strayed
“Erin Belieu . . . is always ready to surprise, to astonish, and, ultimately, to defy comparison.”—Boston Book Review
“[One] of America’s finest poets.”—Robert Olen Butler