Claire Needell: Not A Balancing Act


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This remarkably intelligent and original first collection of poems is Not A Balancing Act because language can only supply an imaginary point, so that it must be delivered up with a sense of failure: a name which cannot reach its object. Images are so rapidly replaced that even the most concrete of them tremble as language draws the physical into the abstract or abandons the abstract to a richly musical, emotional immediacy.

The halting rhythm and fragmentary lines make for extreme tension as they push the female body toward violence. The feminine subject, intent on negating the dichotomies of self and other, male and female, subject and object, favors and involvement where self acts upon self, punishing, loving, and captured in language.

Needell lives in New York City. This is her first book.

“In Needell, it is the flesh that is the chief perfomer… she manages to fill this fragmented form with a fresh ecstasy, by perpetually creating new frictions between language and what seems to lie beyond it. In some cases, the beyond of the body is that same body aware of the past, present, and future of its own motions.”

–Leonard Schwartz, Poetry Flash