In this debut collection, Caroline Szpak is the grand ventriloquist, manipulating words and voices in strange and fantastical ways. Her phrases, her metaphors and similes, slam up against each other like strangers on the street. Apologies, changes in direction, barometric pressure, objects ping and ricochet, but some residual thing always clings after the parting. We acknowledge, we recognize, we nod knowingly, and not just from familiarity but because her words have snapped our head forward. And we realize the dummy on her lap — frozen and smiling — is us, and the jaw drops from laughter and dismay, but just as often it drops in awe.
Advance Praise for Slinky Naive:
“The urban, visceral, longing-infused poems in Slinky Naive are fast, dense, and laser-focused. And when the lines are funny, and they often are, it’s like laughing before the blade comes down. Caroline Szpak is doing exactly what poets should do: she is doing something no one else is doing.”
— Stuart Ross, author of Pockets and A Sparrow Came Down Resplendent
“Slinky Naive, Caroline Szpak’s debutante entrée of serious play, twists Duchamp’s medicalized Readymades with Polish geography and Latinate lexicons, feasting us deliciously rapturous lines like “big time/bruxers, their crux of light touch/evolves rapid as road salt slit” mashed against abruptly winking dicta such as “I am told it is all/about fulcrums and I/always do what I’m told.” In these magical, embrangled lyrics, umlauts sport knees, clouds can be shoveled tenderly, the sun dips like a tusk and staplers are atheists. O ‘shine, scrapheap, shine!’ Szpak’s every breath, it seems, a spell.”
— Catherine Owen, author of Dear Ghost, and The Day of the Dead