The Last Unkillable Thing
by Emily Pittinos
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 15 Apr 2021 | Archive Date 15 Apr 2021
University of Iowa Press, University Of Iowa Press
“To be alive in the natural world means to live with death, riding the wheel as it turns joy to sorrow to hope to pain to love and over again. Emily Pittinos stops each moment in its tracks, and delivers that moment to us in fullness, in the good, hard light of her heart and will. The world of this book is sparsely populated: love held close, loss held loosely as if it too could be lost. The speaker aches for another’s loss, and finds layers of compassion, loops of time travel, long miles of forgiveness, and her own ache to treasure and know. What an exquisite combination of wonder and wisdom Pittinos has: she knows that even the word ‘whole’ has a hole in it, and there’s her eye, looking through.”—Brenda Shaughnessy, judge, Iowa Poetry Prize
“The tender elegiac fragments that fill this book—the look of the earth, the echo of despair—coalesce into one immense question: How can it be, this thing called Death? That question gives rise to others: What is beauty, forgiveness, recklessness, instinct? To consider these irresolvable questions is to admit to this difficult truth: ‘doesn’t it hurt / to be human.’”—Mary Jo Bang, author, A Doll for Throwing
“Torn between an instinct to imagine the past as different (‘the wreck undone’) and the urge to construct a future, better self (‘hazy glow in which / I am brighter: kinder: unorphanable’), Emily Pittinos shows us how time is ultimately as untameable as the self, and that maybe that’s as it should be. ‘How much awe have I missed by looking away,’ she asks, training her eye squarely on the present’s ever-shifting mix of shame and clarity, beauty and regret, mystery and joy. In so doing, Pittinos finds not resolution but resolve, to make room for the self’s wilderness, to trust the wilderness: ‘I’d be lost / without my own bright footpath.’ The poems here flash with risk and grace, equally. The Last Unkillable Thing is a stirring, deeply felt debut.”—Carl Phillips, author, Pale Colors in a Tall Field
“The strongest love letters are written as elegies, and this has never been clearer than in The Last Unkillable Thing, where the reverie of loss is eclipsed by observing the beauty of what remains. The elegance of these poems reminds us that the sublime endures even through the most challenging times. Emily Pittinos writes with the passionate gaze of someone who has been here before, holding both the knowledge of what’s worth mourning and the strength to bring comfort. These poems have all the healing properties we need to soothe the pain with which we’ve been trying to live.”—A. Van Jordan, author, The Cineaste
“Early in this gorgeous book, shaped by loss and profound grief, Emily Pittinos writes, ‘I / can’t go along without / asking: beauty: its purpose: / to heal.’ It’s a statement of faith in her art and the process of it. There is tension, an intentional stuttering, in her syntax and lines, as if the poet is trying to convince herself. In the end, she convinces her readers; this beauty heals. This is a brave and ambitious collection, perhaps one of the best first books I’ve ever read.”—Keith Taylor, author, The Bird-while
Average rating from 11 members
A gorgeous collection of poems that have an almost nature element and feel to them. I had a great time immersing myself in this collection and would definitely recommend it for anyone who enjoys poetry. The sense of emotion and poetry of words, is just beautiful.
A gorgeous, aching collection of poetry from the winner of the 2020 Iowa Poetry Prize. An evocative and unflinching collection of grief and mourning, experienced in conjunction with nature. I really loved it. I was fascinated by the author's use of repetition. If you love nature, if you've ever experienced a loss so sudden and sharp that you were mad at the birds the trees the sun for staying the same, I would suggest this completely. I can see myself revisiting this book often. Favorite poems: After, Wanting a Child, With Key in the Door, It Is Not Animal to Forgive, Subnivean
In this collection of poems, Pattinos explores the loss of her father and the complexities this brings to her relationship with her mother. With its seamless shifts between anger, sorrow, humour, and tenderness, it encapsulates the breadth and complexity of emotion inherent to the grieving process, despite its relative brevity. Anchoring the collection is the recurring motif of the natural world. Pattinos evokes scenes with razor-sharp precision; its enduring beauty in the wake of her sadness as much a frustration as it is a comfort. Though subtly handled, the changing of the seasons can also be seen as reflective of her own journey towards healing. The collection arguably lacks standout pieces that I’ll be able to recall on their own, making it the kind I will remember more for its overall impression, but it was certainly a tight, focussed selection of work.
This was a very sad, very gentle collection of poetry centering around mourning and nature. The themes/ motifs around nature, specifically deer and birds were very consistent throughout the collection. Not gonna lie, I didn't *really* understand most of the collection, especially after the first section, but I liked the vibe if that makes sense. My favorites were: -After (all of them) -It Is Not Animal to Forgive -The Days Shorter, and Yet