If the face is a christening in flesh,
the boy of him is its opposite,
raising the tent of bones in which
he will harbor all the starry anomalies
that a knowledge of God cannot undo.
Y is Leslie Adrienne Miller’s book of the looming child, the son, the cipher, the letter for which a math problem seeks a solution. Collaging lyric investigation, personal reflection, and research into psychology and child development, Miller describes motherhood with a broad-ranging intelligence, a fierce humor, and an elegant, emotive poetic line.
“[Miller’s] searching sentences are a delight to read. Miller’s investment in strangeness—odd jumbles of quotes, disturbing images and wrenched sentences—remind us that a partner to strangeness is awe. What enthralls is never the familiar.”—Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
“[Y is] dense with image, crowded with sound, a book that is willing to puzzle over a lifetime of mysteries, regardless of size. ‘Voracious’ best describes the attention underpinning the collection, as it gobbles up everything from Roget to Rukeyser, feral children to Elmer Fudd. . . . Still, the choices Miller makes are not haphazard; they are instead brutally calculating. . . . As Miller knows, our lives are full of variables, and whatever answers we arrive at are at best conditional. Never formulaic, Miller’s latest is full of stunningly well-crafted propositions, theorems, and equations. Fitting then, that she leaves it up to the reader to solve for why.”—Rumpus
“Miller’s evocative questions probe knowledge itself, asking why and Y and why. . . . Y is a stunning rendering of children’s stories against the urban landscape, here and abroad, even as it reflects a desire to know this forest into which the mother poet has stumbled. The collection is written with lyric beauty, cadence, and resolve.”—Prairie Schooner
“The child is the hero in these poems by a watcher who apprehends the stuff of truth in mothering. . . . Miller’s concepts and connections are explorations of people, cities, scientific theories set in motion to better understand humankind.”—Washington Independent Review of Books
“In addition to collaging research, Miller’s work deftly combines poetic strategies—the lyrical, narrative, reflective, and the new, in mostly traditional shapes—with precision and comprehensive intelligence. The resulting work is thoughtful and visceral—readers will find both their minds and hearts engaged. Through the complex questions she articulates, Miller allows us to feel with the child and with his observer(s): ‘All fodder, fur, and fury, / he’s bound to roll the sturdy carcass / of imperative against even this, / his glittering box of tokens for the heart.’”—The Literary Review
“[Y‘s] poems explore the object boy-child from angles maternal, genetic, vocal, and neighborly, careful to leave nothing out, not even the gaps. . . . Y is erudite without distancing the reader any further than Miller’s characters are from each other. For them, ‘there’s no accounting for the loneliness / of a journey we expected to share.’ It is these clashing languages of these subjects and the silent spaces between them that allow the reader access into the personal.”—NewPagesPoetry, 120 Pages, 6 X 9, Paperback Original (978-1-55597-622-4), $15