THE BOOK: UNRULY
PUBLISHED IN: 2017
THE AUTHOR: Elysia Lucinda Smith
THE EDITOR: This book came about with the help of my mentors, Jill McDonough and Lloyd Schwartz. I’m also grateful to Geoffrey Gatza for laying out the text and designing the book.
THE PUBLISHER: BlazeVOX [books] publishes innovative fictions and wide ranging fields of contemporary poetry. Our books push at the frontiers of what is possible for poetry, fiction and select non-fiction and literary criticism. Our fundamental mission is to disseminate poetry, through print and digital media, both within academic spheres and to society at large. We seek to publish the innovative works of the greatest minds writing poetry today, from the most respected senior poets to extraordinarily promising young writers.
SUMMARY: This book ticks. It’s a slick walk around a mall in 2010. You’re 16. You’re at prom. You’re learning words like blow job. You’re executing. You’re cute. You’re tired. You’re living. Then you’re 19 & your slick walk happens late night, tired still. The moon is made of Mad Dog 20/20 & menthols & sometimes you remember the corn fields at your back, your mother, the black plastic shrapnel your feelings become when you just can’t deal. Mostly you sit under a sheet with a bottle of wine between your knees writing these poems. At least, that’s what you do when you’re 24 & ready to get it all out. These poems are confessional but this isn’t a diary. It’s me handing you the purse I just threw up in.
THE BACK STORY: This book wrote me.
WHY THIS TITLE?: This book got its title because the author has eyes that can’t sit still.
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? This book is pink but it’s not just for girls. It’s rude. If you’re a voyeur, you’ll like it. If you want to rail against something and come to blows, you’ll like it. If you like sex, you’ll like it. If you are confused a lot, you’ll like it. This book is different than other books because it’s presenting its asshole to you right now, openly. This book is an asshole.
“Starting with its terrific title, UNRULY gives us fierce and funny images, invites the reader in for matter-of-fact lines like “maybe you’ve been taking it/up the ass this whole time,” “and/then we high-fived or made out;/I don’t remember,” making you part of a conversation you are thrilled to overhear, about “how being a woman/means sometimes being pressed//into corners or blindness/or laughter.” There’s a lot of laughter. And we need it. These poems remind us to “want as much/as possible,” “because I am again and again aroused/to be alive.” —Jill McDonough
“Elysia Smith sits her younger self beneath a ghost light and pulls the most arcane questions out from her chest. She looks back on the origins of her own sexual identity, surfacing the candid ugliness that flickers in all instances of coming of age and sex itself. Gritty detail and exquisite retelling crash together to disrupt the orderliness of simplified femininity that comes from a small-town upbringing.” — Laura Knicklebine of Maudlin House.
“Unruly is not only one of the liveliest and most inviting titles I know for a collection of poems, it’s also one of the most accurate. Elysia Smith’s poems are utterly uninhibited, whatever their subject—Joan of Arc, Calamity Jane, and especially sex. But you’d be dead wrong to miss the underlying artistry. These unruly poems are completely finished down to their consistently unforgettable—hilarious, beautiful, scary—last lines. To quote Smith herself, this book is “the real, hairy thing”! —Lloyd Schwartz
AUTHOR PROFILE: I live in Indiana. I write for a content marketing company by day and bike around the city at night. I find great joy in being inappropriate at all the right moments, like chasing you through a grocery store with a baguette or telling a dirty joke to your grandmother. My MFA is from the University of Massachusetts-Boston, but no, I don’t think you should get an MFA. Every night, I fill a tub with blood and bathe in my student loan debt.
AUTHOR COMMENTS: Despite this irreverence, my book does address sexuality in a way that I hope you will find charged and interesting. It’s timely because I talk openly about sexual assault throughout. But, I also take time to illustrate the nuance of how young women have little control over how we come of age. Sexuality isn’t something we’re instructed in or encouraged to have [the way it rolls in waves off smelly little boys in PE, and penises are drawn on every bus window]. When women come of age, it’s often because someone, either a boy our age or an older man has noticed us. We feel the eyes and the noticing, we ask ourselves what it is about us. Sexuality isn’t something women are allowed to take and try on. In this book, I try on everything.
I was culling the hood
of Chad’s stout penis. I let him
rub me all over and perched
like a slutty cat on the arm
of any sofa that would hold.
He’s the first boy
I opened willing for. I remember
the few hairs growing. Sloppy,
sloppy but good enough
because he found the clit
I’d found myself
a year earlier
but this was the half life
of teenage desire, the point in which
I didn’t go down but let boys
finger me, but never sex, not sex
or blowjobs because they
are for Jesus, the pure
body of Christ flexing
in white taffeta
before a fountain of wine.
My sober self bent
over Paulie’s damask draped bed.
I saw in third person: green goddess,
triangle of sweat, a blowjob.
I geeked out to My Friend,
Stephanie because I made him
look me in my eyes.
Paulie pumped and pumped
and it hurt because something
inside me is slightly crooked
but I loved it and
took it and five dollars
for cab fare back to my hotel—which
I also told Stephanie, and
then we high-fived or made-out;
I don’t remember.
Dimitri bought me a guitar
for your birthday, he said; when
I said, I can’t accept this—it was
four hundred dollars at least—
he threatened to smash it.
The night before, I’d picked
out the red dress and I
let him tell me, no,
the purple one, even though
we didn’t know each other.
I drank a gin and tonic on top
of half a bottle of wine and
blacked out in our back yard
and maybe I asked him to fuck me
but when I woke up in his bed
and everything hurt I decided
not to cross the hall to my own
but to pull him inside me
which is funny now
that I think about it and was funny
last weekend, when I gave my brother
“The Whore Guitar,” still unstrung.
PRICE: $16.00 or your immortal soul (as long as I can exchange it for currency because I’m trying to buy a house).
CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Contact me on my personal website! Also, read my blog if you’re curious or even if you’re bored at a hair salon or little league game or whatevs: https://www.elysialucinda.com/