Body on the Wall (poems)
Released in 2014 from Saddle Road Press, Body on the Wall ranges from eroticism (“confusing my lips with her lips/ her lips with my lips/sus labios, mis labios….”) to domestic abuse (“It is my body on the wall, bruised and battered,/and nobody, nobody can say they don’t see….”), from self-mutilation to Zen, from coming out (“The Coming-Out Waltz”) to domestic love (“we merge our two histories,/create a third that is ours, both bound and free….”).
Untangling the many threads that make up a life, Wing writes about being a daughter, violence against women and girls, mental illness, her identity as a lesbian, her love for her wife, and the search for spiritual direction. Beyond this, in each poem, whether it is one of pleasure or pain, there is evident an underlying trust that language and the beauty of words can provide salvation.
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“These poems are like swallowed charcoal, purifying the toxins they’ve ingested. Brave, bracing, tender and true.”
“These deeply intense and personal pieces could possibly unhinge a whole web of emotions, except that they’re each so beautifully crafted and considerate in their plea for a collectively healed wisdom. With each section, a new breath of life is imbued in the reader, as well as the poet, by resurrecting past events and giving them a new space in which to transform. By fusing each of these poems together within each elemental section, they take on the strength of that element and eventually grow into one beautifully looming, yet grounded, body of work by the last page of the collection. These poems make up our world as we understand it—Wing’s world as she’s experienced it—and form an organic connection between the reader and poet. Like a closely-knit blanket, Wing has expertly covered us with her unabashed intimacy, where we find ourselves looking out through the different colors of yarn, at a world cloaked with heaviness, but flooded with light.”
— The California Journal of Women Writers
“I wish I could reach through the cover photograph of this book, rip off the layers of dry weathered paper hanging there and reveal the firm seasoned planks nailed underneath. Not to worry. Michelle Wing does this for us. She takes the reader through an intimate journey from hurt to hope, loathing to love, and from victim to heroine. Chapters are divided by the elements: wind and fire poems touch on painful issues— helplessness, anger and abuse, then transition to earth and cooling water peppered with love and good humor. She mixes her forms and is consistent with rich metaphors and telling vignettes. My favorite poem is “If you asked me” that describes a loved one who crawls under a dirty deck to retrieve a ring that has fallen through the cracks, and does it with laughter—without complaint. It summarizes a truly romantic act that feeds love in the long term. In the poem “The Fence” she describes encircling a Montana ranch rail by rail, and nail by nail, and when complete she had not only a fine fence, but ‘twenty acres of I am.’ Michelle’s collection gives us a hundred pages of I am: stripping down life experiences to express their essence, and revealing insights into the healing process. Eventually the useless layers of superficial paper covering the strong planks will be stripped away or they may fall off in their own given time. I can’t wait.”
–Kathy Myers, The Write Spot (see full review here)
“Wing’s work is strongest in this dark mode. She is a poet of advocacy for the downtrodden, the grieving. In the poem “Anthropomorphism,” Wing is unswayed by political or social correctness, and follows her own instincts. Why not by anthropomorphic, she asks, when you see a doe seeming to grieve over the body of her spotted fawn?”
–Zara Raab, reviewer, The Poets’ Quarterly (see full review here)