What Is This Thing Called Love: Poems

by Kim Addonizio

Paperback, 2005






W. W. Norton & Company, (2005)


From the Publisher: A new collection of poetry from the author of Tell Me, a finalist for the National Book Award. From lilting lines about a love that "dizzies up the brain's back room" to haunting fragments betokening death and decline in a suffering world, Kim Addonizio articulates the ways that our connections-to the world, to self, and to others-endure and help make us whole.

User reviews

LibraryThing member abirdman
Kim Addonizio's newest book of poetry is filled with poems of loss and rebuilding. These poems present a nostalgia for past loves, past passions, past drugged euphorias, past youth, and search, heartbreakingly at times, for what has taken their place. And they're beautiful--pretty, stagey, perfectly shaped lyric poems that keep questioning right to the end. Poems I wish I'd said myself--poems that "say."

Chapter 1: All about love, but love past-- "Ex-Boyfriends", and "First Kiss." Several poems of old loves. What draws people to one another? And pain, there is pain. There's an overtone of regret in these poems, but it's not regret over behavior in the past, it's regret for the inevitable passage of time that places the present further and further from that past.

Chapter 2: Starts with "Death Poem," about the poet obsessed with death, at the end of which she asserts, in almost a question: "There is another subject, in a minute / I'll think of it. I will. And if you know it, help me. / Help me. Remind me why I'm here." And the poem "Dead Girl," about how a dead girl in a movie or a book or in real life can seem to be more logical and redeeming and fully realized than an actual living girl. "Eating Together," about taking a meal, possibly the last, with a friend who is dying. One, particularly moving, entitled "February 14th," is a list of the valentines Ms. Addonizio would send to the donor of her brother's transplanted liver, and the surgeon who attached it, saving thereby her brother's life. The rest of the chapter is poems about aging, dying pets, and one poignant poem about caring for an incapacitated parent.

Chapter 3: Drunks, Junkies, and the overwhelming power of the physical. Murderers, and their victims. "Missing Boy Blues." "Human Nature", where she wants the cruel serial killer to be not human, so he wouldn't be so evil. And yet, she balks at the possibility of the fiend as just an automaton, too, because an automaton would be under the direction of another, so to keep from positing an evil God, she ends, "better to believe / there's nothing; nothing, and the human." Addonizio won't let us shelter in the irrational here, but neither does she find comfort, besides this fatal, though perhaps dignified, rejection of the irrational. A clever theologian could probably flesh out a theological stance here: with "god" the overwhelming motivating chthonic force of life, against the blustering God of convenient morality.

Chapter 4: Desire. Drink. Drink and Recovery. The loss of innocence. Where we go and what we do.

Chapter 5: The best. Longer, more discursive poems. "Joy." "A Miracle Poem for Sharon Olds." A paean to a beloved and oft maligned 4-letter word.

Kim Addonizio is smart, passionate, level-headed, and knows herself in a way few of us can muster. She knows her strengths and weaknesses, her dishonesties and bugaboos. Reading her poetry is thrilling, the way a chance meeting with a brilliant, beautiful, and mouthy fellow-traveler is thrilling.
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LibraryThing member amyfaerie
Kim's poems get better with each collection. I love this collection--her work is touching and funny and heartbreaking.
LibraryThing member regularguy5mb
I had the good fortune of meeting Kim Addonizio when she visited UNCW for a reading. I was a Film Studies student at the time, minoring in Creative Writing, so her reading was an extra credit event for one of my classes. Of course, even if it hadn't been, I would have gone. I was interested in her work after our professor read us one of her poems.

This collection is so good. It includes some of my favorite modern poems, like "This Poem Wants To Be A Rock and Roll Song So Bad," "Blues for Robert Johnson," and "Fuck." Of course, hearing Kim read some of these that night is what really struck home with me. I picked up this and another of her books (of short stories) and got her to sign both. It was a good night.
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