“In these surreal lyrics, romantic love is a repository for emotions sweet, bitter, and blazing. Brandel’s language— rich with visual and tactile imagery—delivers us into a world where domestic objects transform into amorous talismans.” —Kiki Petrosino, author of Hymn for the Black Terrific and Witch Wife
Brandel’s formally structured lyrics, as carefully arranged as a chest packed with tissue paper and clove oranges, lure and invite the reader with beauty and craft, then hiss and coil and buzz with needled wit and blade flashes of human insight. These are poems Emily Dickinson would have delighted in and sent daringly to friends. This is a collection where six lines and twelve words in a poem about a teakettle sear and brand so hot, the reader finds relief in the white space on the page. Domestic objects are both weapons of war and charms of love, often simultaneously, and the cycle of poems circling around each presented object — kettle, snapshot, penknife, coins, silence, book, and skeleton key — work both as a dance and the creeping threat of a predator pack.
A Wife Is a Hope Chest demonstrates brilliant facility with form and capacious understanding of the capabilities of plain-language verse. This is a poet’s poetry collection, even as it is a volume that invites any reader to become infected with its unforgettable imagery, pointed humor, and dark charm.