Between the Crackups is a frolicking romp through the abandoned factories, overcrowded highways, and forgotten rural landscapes of America. This provocatively voiced book explores themes of sexuality, gender, class, pop-culture, and aesthetics. Some of these poems are sonnets, some are multi-voiced elegies, others are meditations on loss. From the balmy swamps of Florida, to the snowed-in forests of northern Wisconsin, and back again, Rebecca Lehmann captures a feeling of cultural unease and personal panic in tight, smartly worded poems that banter casually with the tropes, traditions, and authors of the Western poetic canon. In the book, the Old English poem “The Dream of the Rood” is re-imagined as a two-part, modern-day fever dream, the classic pastoral landscape morphs into an apple orchard occupied by off-putting children, and the entire season of autumn goes missing. Part serious meditation and part carnival fun house, these poems will make the reader chortle, chuckle, snort, and maybe even blush.
‘Rebecca Lehmann is an advance scout in the war between the heart and the intellect. The heart wants peace, but the mind wants to blow us all to kingdom come, because we are working in factories, we are lost in Detroit and Memphis, we are driving South. What can save us? she seems to be asking. Not God with his wafers and hymns. Not sex with its tricky ambushes. Not anger that is setting the world on fire. Maybe it’s love, she says, or maybe words with their euphoric brew. Or maybe not.’ —Barbara Hamby, author of All-Night Lingo Tango, Lester Higata’s 20th Century, and other books.
‘These poems read like just-fashioned old-fashioned letters--not e-mails, not texts, not tweets--from one's neglected, slightly pissed-off subterranean self. They are bold, agitated, self- and other-mocking, artfully raw, nonchalantly inventive, infused with necessity, and altogether stunning.’ —Mark Levine, author of Enola Gay and The Wilds