Elizabeth Scanlon is a poet at once restless, mystic, and matter-of-fact. Her formidable debut collection, Lonesome Gnosis, offers a world wherein wisdom comes wrapped in irreverence, glamor tangoes with indignity, and heaven is a tempting hypothesis kept squarely in the back pocket. Her speakers are varied and variable, yet, among them, an undeniable coherence exists: whether at the laundromat, amid Irish ruins, or drinking martinis in the neighbor’s backyard, their inescapable task is to dig down to the root—whether it be physical, psychological, or epistemological. In such a world—a world populated by psychics, dybbuks, mothers, and teenage thumbsuckers—knowing is a form of indecision and escape; language itself is the substance of the sacred and profane, a body rooted and uprooted by chakras and stroop tests, as much as by its own etymological dalliances; and desire is an expression of indeterminacy, which is to say, willfulness and joie de vivre.
Praise for Scanlon
To read Elizabeth Scanlon's Lonesome Gnosis is to be reminded you are a 21st Century thinking animal, riding trains, riding love, riding the mind as it contemplates nation and person, "being stink alive" in muto cupido: our eternal state of dumb desire. Scanlon brings such a wry, clear, bemused eye to that contemplation—how we're "full of shit but marvelous anyway"—it wakes you up: it's a delight to travel with her. —Dana Levin