Human Interest (Black Lawrence Press, 2017)
In Human Interest, Valerie Bandura hurls us through a landscape of birds falling from the sky, game shows and Kardashians. She shows us “a parched landscape / of strip malls, asphalt, and extended cab pickups / with wrap around decals.” Here is a place where “Nobody’s crazy. / And everyone is.” With a searing eye toward contemporary culture, Finn gives us a glimpse of America at its strangest. This is a wild and harrowing book for a wild and harrowing time.
Bandura’s poems make me cry. They reach into my pithy little heart and rip it out of my chest. She writes about Black Sabbath and guns and children and bad fathers and nutty sisters and Facebook and beautiful husbands and none of the language wants to pretend. She’s saying, “Come here. Come closer. I want to whisper something in your ear.” But, it’s the ear of the world, of humanity.
Valerie Bandura’s clean, crafted, headlong-into-the-breach poems are scary in their intensity. They are full of the violence of history, and Europe, and family, and motherhood, and bodies, and fate. Reader, there is a little of hell in them, and a ferocious desire for truth, which is to say, their speaker is engaged is the brave, sometimes appalling struggle to turn into a human being. Freak Show is a terrific book.
—Tony Hoagland, author of What Narcissism Means to Me
Bandura’s poems open out and out, their belief in the power of speech that would silence both the speaker and her beloveds. Pain and pleasure are in mortal combat, and ‘it’s hard now to tell / in the ecstatic hysteria between the two.’
— Catherine Barnett, author of The Game of Boxes
Staged in the space between utterance and mother tongue, Bandura’s poems recognize the limits of language while embracing it as recourse, offering us a boy “burning the hunger out of his mouth”and a girl “tasting each syllable with her spit.” Bandura’s Freak Show is a book of power and a book of movement.
— Beth Bachmann, author of Temper