Chapbook of poems from dancing girl press (2022)
A collection of poems about real and imagined women and the threats they pose(d) to mankind.
- Review in The Poetry Cafe
- Review in Sarah Scribbles
- Review in Quail Bell Magazine
Aviary in its visceral appetite, but grounded in its feminal vision, Jesi Bender’s Dangerous Women is a bouquet of magnificent matriarchal specters, blooming from the lunar uterine vase of history, as they get primordially re-conceived and reborn for fertile autobiographical prosperity. Designed to alter your relationship beyond potato and birth, Bender’s zygotic poems, ectoplasmic and gravid, raw and nightshade-heightened, are capable of clipping your wings midflight and have the majestic power to end your one-way wingspan back to your nonexistent Florida home. Her work is unflinching like an “antediluvian lust spread outward like a plague of hares” and deftly undisguised and piercingly propagative and imaginative.
–VI KHI NAO, author of Swimming with Dead Stars and Waiting for God
Jesi Bender’s Dangerous Women is full of poems that are sometimes as beautifully sedate and “painted” as a mural; sometimes rendered as frenzied images seen while falling down the stairs. In one sequence, we’re in Baby Jane territory, with “The warm hazed lighting like the filter they use on aging television stars,” while “little girls in bathing suits that cling to the bellies they don’t notice yet, their hair starched and matted, disorienting heat, burnt feet” frolic as “the smell of coconut and grain alcohol” floats up around them. Later, Candy Darling will suddenly be enveloped by a black cloud (her own terminal cancer) while walking through a lush Technicolor valley of cherries. Deformities (or shapeshifting) abound, in this realm where “there’s an Oriental Brooch where [a] right eye used to be;” and Emmett Till’s mother, shockingly, can look down at her son in his coffin and show the world how “a face can become mud bubblin” and “gravel.” Bender’s poem for Linda Pugach, the 1959 NYC woman who was blinded when her lover had lye thrown in her face (and who married him upon his release from prison) is an unforgettable horror movie (in 9 lines) about Battered Women Syndrome and all things hellish. But there are playful poems here too, and celebratory ones. This collection will take you into many people (and places) quickly; like the dead (as the saying goes) its stories travel fast. Keep up, and you’ll catch more than one glimpse of the feminine beyond.
- Lisa A. Flowers, founder of Vulgar Marsala Press and author of diatomhero