There's movement in Bohince's poems, but it's gradual and subtle—an eye passing like Ken Burns's camera over a still image, discovering new details. "The Peacock," about a depressed father who seems destined to leave his young family, mixes sentences and fragments to painterly effect.
—Eric McHenry, The New York Times Book Review
Like her darkly beautiful and riveting first collection, Incident at the Edge of Bayonet Woods,
winner of Sarabande's inaugural Aleda Shirley Prize, this second book delivers, in poems of precise, anvil-stroke
clarity, worlds suffused by a mix of pre-Lapsarian astonishment and the difficult knowledge of adulthood…Each poem evinces a belief that even the smallest word, like the larger worlds these poems conjure, possesses the germ of a ravishing power both wondrous and violent.
—Lisa Russ Spaar, The Los Angeles Review of Books
The unexpected bravery of the book in its seeing of the world and our small place in it, and the breathtaking beauty of images in poem after poem suggests, after all, we do not need to fear the dark and its pain.
—Lynnell Edwards, Pleiades
solidifies Bohince's reputation as an important emerging voice whose images and wordplay energize the modern pastoral….An agile pairing of eye and ear provides the core strength of Bohince's craft.…The Children
is strange progeny, equal parts decay and dogwood….Wherever Bohince wants to go from here, I am intrigued to follow.
—Sandra Beasley, Blackbird
Paula Bohince's poems delight and hurt. In spite of, or perhaps because of, the complex and palpable struggle informing this collection, The Children
is an intricate and distinct pleasure. The intellect and the heart are inextricable in this writing that promises to be enduring and influential.
—Emily Pulfer-Terino, Numero Cinq
The plosive thrills and quietly mournful tenor of the finely-wrought poems Paula Bohince's The Children
reward enormously upon first encounter, and only more so upon subsequent reads.. a masterful command of syntax and line.
—Virginia Konchan, The Rumpus
Paula Bohince follows her award-winning and critically acclaimed debut Incident at the Edge of Bayonet Woods
with the beautifully wrought and technically dazzling The Children
…. [A] kind of psychological depth permeates much of Bohince's writing, allowing for the creation of fully realized characters, and, although many of the narratives are fragmentary, her ability to create tension and believable resolution through stunning turns of language and imagery marks her as one of the most important poets of her generation.
—Todd Fleming Davis, West Branch
Like Elizabeth Bishop before her, Paula Bohince is a visionary poet of the subtlest kind. "Any / place lacking
emotion is called natural," she suggests, and her poems, like Bishop's, seem most natural when they are in fact most fantastic,
most deeply felt. The acuity of Bohince's observations is not only matched but fueled by imaginative fervor, and, as a result,
nothing in these quietly uncanny poems is merely natural. They are as ravaged as they are composed. They are ravaged
because they are composed. The Children
is a beautiful, challenging book.
The lines in Paula Bohince's collection of poems sound out the rich ambivalence in the poet's vision, where
the homeless owl can be "moonstruck" and the natural world feigns innocence. The book throughout gives us a look at poetry's
real charm-glints of beauty, the hard truth, and a unique sense of how these elements reconcile. In every good sense
the poems avoid art's perfections. They tilt. They tilt and create their own gravity. An excellent collection.
Entering the Ouse
Another writer with Paula Bohince's gift for the ravishing image—and such writers are very few—would
have us on our guard. We are wary of beauty; we have seen too often what beauty leaves out. But Bohince, in her
magical capture of the material world, scorns all euphemizing edits; "the condom listing against milk-/weed" is
registered as scrupulously in these pages as are the combs of the abandoned hive. Which makes these poems
transformative in the true and difficult sense: they bestow on the world the blessing of the having-been-seen.
And beauty too: "Something to recall/as beautiful, in the future. As the sewer was/in summer. Little childhood river."
First the bad boots
give up their strength, then the toes lift
their anchors. The ankle
bones are broken,
and so on, until the bladder lets go, without
shame, and the genital
organ washes away, the ovum
and her fertile signals. A proxy pain
stands in for the larger
Has nothing to do
with tufts of snow blown upon
the unforgiving surface,
but how I mistook the beauty of those particle
deaths, their of-the-world
stardom, as a kind of metaphysical river,
that if I looked long enough,
with enough reverence…
Let my waist, bled numb, stand in
for that miscalculation. And the severed
friendships in the current's wake, the bloom
blown off the stricken
self. I saw formal water,
knowing my body wanted to go there.
My only child. How
I've betrayed you.
(first appeared in POETRY
In the copse
of her mind, a fluster
of quail, tonic
of quail, each her own
boozy and flushed
from briar by a panic
gripped from kin
so they hover—
mother and daughter
Cloud of quail, eying
her covey backlit
and looming, huge
when it balloons down,
with its landings.
They tell a tranquil-
days of luckless
labor and sadnesses
too frail to utter.
Shoulder to shoulder,
the quail of her
actual and the quail
of her oblivion.
(first appeared in The New Yorker