We are very happy to introduce J.L. Schnabel of BloodMilk Jewels to our team of staff writers. Please welcome her here on Haute Macabre, in an especially communal post, as it features our own Sonya Vatomsky’s collection of poetry, Salt is for Curing, for the BloodMilk Book Club and two special giveaways.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a writer. Throughout high school and college I wanted to be a poet. This changed to wanting to be a short fiction writer and an MFA followed and then, I abandoned it all like a decaying house to write for art magazines & to work on my jewels. I’ve always stayed committed to being a reader however, and it was at AWP when it set up its circus in Minneapolis in 2015 when I found my way back to poetry in a big way. I spent much of my time there along the rows of mostly independent book press booths and picked up quite a bit of books I would have never come across otherwise. One of these books was ‘At Night’ by Lisa Ciccarello via Black Ocean, & as fortune had it, Lisa was at the table when I picked up her book. She signed my copy, ‘I hope this makes you the right kind of miserable’ & afterwards I carried the book around between my journal pages like a talisman and before bed, I would take small sips of its magic for months.
Reading poetry seems to more for niche readers; it can be difficult to discern and emotionally over wrought. Despite all this, poetry is one of my first literary loves. I discovered Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath when I attended a Christian boarding school, where any kind of ‘otherness’ was as unacceptable as wearing something against the dress code. The poems of these women, these tragic, self-obsessed, women saved me. I discovered what had felt like at the time, a fish hook piercing me and reeling me into my future.
Sonya Vatomsky’s book ‘Salt is for Curing’ feels like the sister to ‘At Night’ (the inscription to me read ‘I hope these poems bring you just the right kind of magic’ ) and seems to come from the linage of the ‘sister’ confessional poets, hell bent on confessing their transformations and their twin obsessions with death. Written in a feverish binge in the aftermath of a traumatic attack, Sonya has described the book as a ‘Grimoire.’ Featuring ‘recipes’ ( which feels reminiscent of another favorite book ‘Cure All’ by Kim Parko ), these confessional poems appear rooted in the rituals of witchcraft and the disassembly of the body. There is tender violence; the body, in some cases, becomes ingredients to be cooked and consumed. In form, the book reads as a personal, dark purging and a kind of macabre cookbook, an intimate slip of a book that is also the next BloodMilk bookclub pick. The BMBC will run from today until Nov 1st when I’ll randomly select a winner. To enter to win a jewel of your choice from my shop, pick up a copy of Sonya’s book here, & devour it whole or in sections ( I suggest a nightly ritual of small sips ). Afterwards, post an image of the book, open to your favorite poem, to your IG feed. In the caption, share why you were drawn to your chosen poem. The length of this response is up to you. Hashtag #bloodmilkbookclub. Optional but recommended: Find other readers and engage with them via the hashtag & explore previous BloodMilk bookclub picks.
Thank you for meeting me here.
In addition to the BloodMilk giveaway, Sonya is also offering a copy of Salt Is For Curing to one Haute Macabre reader. To enter to win, just leave a comment here on this post. You may of course enter both, and we are looking forward to seeing everyone’s entries.
Photo via our very own S.Elizabeth.
Congratulations to Ainslee on winning a copy of Salt is For Curing, and @AJPlouff for winning a piece of BloodMilk jewelry!