In BEAST, Frances Justine Post explores the destruction and eventual reclaiming of the self following loss. Many of the poems make up a series of “self-portraits” that explore the psychological core of intimacy with its inherent devotion and betrayal, reward and punishment. In one, she is a wolf; in another, an equestrian and her horse; then a tornado, the dropped crumbs of a beloved, a pack of hounds, and finally a cannibal. The self changes form and species and switches from one voice to multiple voices. Each poem attempts to reinvent the self and alter it as a way of trying to understand what remains after devastation.
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Frances Justine Post’s BEAST is an intimate and startling exploration of a many-faceted, unmoored self. Here, the speaker prepares for disaster in the shadow of a volcano; crawls deep inside an enormous whale, lying down “on the bed of its liver”; finds herself transformed into a pack of hounds or, later, into a cannibal consuming the body of the beloved whose loss colors these poems. With ventriloquistic energy, musical innovation, and fascinating intelligence, Post examines the shifting psyche’s relationship with a world of natural beauty, grief, joy, and chaos. This is a terrific debut collection of poems.”
—Kevin Prufer, author of In A Beautiful Country
“There is plenty of Circe, and plenty of Caliban, too, in the poems of Frances Justine Post’s book BEAST. Carl Jung would have nodded in affirmation at the way in which myth and archetype pulse and flow under the surface of her poems—wolf, whale, cannibal, fire, doll. Her monologues cast the speaker’s self into these tableaux, and it’s hard to convey the detailed viscerality with which Post renders the human psyche —in all its needy, vengeful, rueful, generous and knowing configurations. ‘What have you been killing, my dear? / Let me wipe your chin.’ Post’s theme is hopeless love, but there is so much bravado, courage, insight, and self-knowledge in the poems that BEAST feels like a weird, wild, somewhat frightening party. Not to mention the sensuous, acrobatic flamboyance of Post’s remarkable writing, which carries this psychic carnival all proudly into Art.”
—Tony Hoagland, author of What Narcissism Means to Me
“Post is a poet who begins her first book with the line ‘I put on my face.’ I put on my face feels like the opening line of an honest monologue. A dark stage with one light from that light a voice. I put on my face is a pleading, an opening for a listener. Here in lies the complexity and sophistication of BEAST. I put on my face means Post has a past. We have much to gain from Post because she has much to give. BEAST is a book to fight off mediocrity and middle of the road culture. These are poems that stick to your bones.”
“I forgot the human heart was a beast, or maybe I didn’t ever know, until I read Frances Justine Post’s debut collection of poems. In Beast, a woman finds love, loses it, and calls it back again like a wild animal reclaiming its territory. The collection is laid out into four sections, “four tough little mouths, / inhaling, exhaling with a liquid / mechanical flap,” and with each section, we get to experience depth after depth of human beastliness (19). Post’s twelve persona poems—Self Portrait as a Pack of Hounds, as a Witch, as the Shadow of a Volcano, as Antarctica, and others—describe what it is like to feel animal with heartache, so much so that the heartache has become a long-term disaster, a threat to the natural environment.”
—Review by Analicia Sotelo, American Microreviews and Interviews
“Though [Beast’s] narrative arc is familiar… the phrasing Post uses to convey it is dazzling, dangerous, visceral, and new… The poems dismantle the binaries of you and me, then and now, self and other, and singular and plural as they investigate, almost obsessively, how experience uproots and shapes us.”
—Micro-review by Kay Cosgrove, Boston Review
Justine Post stopped by the online reading series, The Casserole, to read from BEAST and talk with series runner Chelsea Kurnick about the imagery of the book, its narrative arc, and writing “creepy poetry.”