A Review of Racing Hummingbirds by Jeanann Verlee

RacingHummingbirds_JeanannVerlee_final_FRONTJeanann Verlee’s newest book Racing Hummingbirds published by Write Bloody  is a collection of poems tackling life with brutal honesty. Every poem is piercing and heart-wrenching; not a single piece attempts to hide from the grit of life. This book is a woman unafraid.

Racing Hummingbirds is separated into five parts: “lullaby,” “metanoia,” “butcher,” “fireflies,” and “lullaby (reprise).” The poems in each part fit together while complementing the overarching tone of the book. Reflective of the book’s layout, many of Verlee’s poems are separated into sections. The divisions break the flow of the poem where the tone or subject changes.  In “Beautiful: A Legend,” the poem switches from first-person to third-person after the break.

“Lullaby” is a soft word with sleepy and comforting connotations. However, the poems in this section are far from gentle. Right from the start, the reader is caught by the imagery Verlee spins:

“I know a boy who called his girlfriend’s body a “crime scene.” Dad, my body is a crime scene. My body is lint and gasoline and matchstick. My body is a brush fire. It’s ticking, Dad, a slow alarm.”
– Communion

Many of Verlee’s poems are metaphor heavy; creating visceral images that engage readers in a tale of pain and regret. Throughout Racing Hummingbirds there are reoccurring themes of blood, gnawing, flesh, meat, tearing, and butchering. The dark imagery tells raw stories that cannot be ignored. Despite the dark tone, the poems are not all death and despair.

Though a dense read, Racing Hummingbirds is made of brilliance and knife-sharp precision. Every poem is packed with emotion and honesty. Racing Hummingbirds invites us to celebrate life in all of its glory and gore.

Check out Jeanann Verlee’s Racing Humingbirds and other awesome books at Write Bloody Publishing http://writebloody.com/shop/products/racing-hummingbirds/

Jeanann Verlee performs the first poem from her poetry collection Racing Hummingbirds, titled Communion.

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