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Take Two: Film Studies

Susan Terris


October 2017


Susan Terris’ Take Two: Film Studies is a series of dazzling poems about pairs who are heading in one way or another for trouble, disaster, or death. Each poem is a kind of filmic scene, which has a few movie terms embedded as parenthetical script directives. The text spins back and forth in time from the era of Beowulf to that of Jacqueline Kennedy. There are traditional couples like Abélard & Héloïse or Bonnie & Clyde. But many of the pairs are unexpected: Sancho Panza & his donkey Dapple, Mary Shelley & her monster, Picasso & a portrait of Dora Maar, or Lady Macbeth & King Duncan. Expect the unexpected in this volume. No matter what you think you know about a pair, you may be in for a dark surprise.

It takes two sticks to burn says the folk adage, and Susan Terris has found the incendiary potential in these stylistically inventive, wildly assorted and mostly disastrous duos—each pair of “takes” revealing the ways we are undone by one another. And if there’s an icy wind fanning these fires, it may be the passage of an unseen avenging angel, driving phrases like knife thrusts across the spaces ‘til: lights lit masks off champagne [it’s a wrap]

Eleanor Wilner

There seems to be no limit to the range of experience and empathy in the far-reaching poems of Susan Terris. Her wisdom, dazzle of language, and amazing appetite for risk and “dark surprise” make us treasure her work.

Shirley Kaufman

About the Author

Susan Terris’ most recent books are MEMOS (Omnidawn Publishing) and GHOST OF YESTERDAY: NEW & SELECTED POEMS (Marsh Hawk Press). She is the author of 6 books of poetry, 16 chapbooks, 3 artist’s books, and one play. Journal publications include The Southern Review, Colorado Review, and Ploughshares. A poem of hers from FIELD appeared in Pushcart Prize XXXI. A poem from MEMOS, first published in the Denver Quarterly, was selected for Best American Poetry 2015. She’s editor of Spillway Magazine and a poetry editor for Pedestal Magazine.

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Take Two: Tears

                                    I violate    self-satisfied

by the perfection of distortion    [abstract]    her three

breasts    round hole in a childless body    she is

butchered    crying    I love the blurred tracks from

eyes too close together    yes    a nose for an ear

a doormat    some women are    and the other Dora

thinks I left for Françoise    women are machines

for suffering    but the real Dora Maar    [alternate ending]

my muse    is here    the woman in tears    always

two-dimensionally mine    so each day    in one way

or another    I back her against a wall    gaze at those

bank-fish eyes    crazed body    [angle]    and hang her

then    boldly slash her with my name    Picasso

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