about the author

Staff Book Reviewer Spencer Dew is the author of the novel Here Is How It Happens (Ampersand Books, 2013), the short story collection Songs of Insurgency (Vagabond Press, 2008), the chapbook Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres (Another New Calligraphy, 2010), and the critical study Learning for Revolution: The Work of Kathy Acker (San Diego State University Press, 2011). His Web site is spencerdew.com.

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Go Because I Love You
A Review of Go Because I Love You
by Jared Harél

Spencer Dew

The book begins with a husband’s errand to the grocery—touching on his love of parmesan Popchips and “James Wright’s poem about football / and solitude and those suicidally- / beautiful, galloping sons who go at it.” But, as that chain of thought already demonstrates, it is less an errand to a grocery than an opportunity for reflection—on desire, on parenting, and on that role as a relation with the past as well as the future. An errand to the grocery becomes a contemplation of home and the goings out and comings back, the absences and presences, that constitute home in the heart far more than any geography.

These are poems about parenting as both an accumulation of toy blocks across an apartment floor and an altering relationship to one’s memories of one’s parents. Poems about parenting prove here, too, to be poems about nostalgia for other pasts—the single man hitchhiking with beers and books; the married father imagining each ex-girlfriend he ever had, their possible presents, those moments when he touched their pasts.

To be a parent is to craft a childhood, not just to aid, through some mechanism of biology, in the creation of a child. One poem considers that when one shows one’s child one’s own perspective on something, this is the sort of thing that builds a sense of self, a worldview. A sunset, for instance, reframed as something worth looking at, an “angelic grand gesture, braggadocio / of sky.” The narrator, offering such a vision to his daughter, observes to himself and we, his readers: “I say this crap, and it becomes // her childhood, the deep, impossible / knotting of her heart.”

To be a parent is to be “torn apart.” As one poem puts it, “I always figured I’d be the father / of daughters the way a zebra imagines // he must one day be a meal / of pulpy purple meat.”

To be a parent is to be suddenly aware of new dangers, new horrors, like the sound of a child choking or the proximity of a ceiling fan. To be a parent is to be drowning outside of water, to suddenly find all space and air and thought taken up with this new responsibility, new sensations and vocabularies. “Now that I’m a father,” the narrator of one poem writes, he knows the feel and smell of “rubber mulch flooring” from playgrounds, the mood of the benches that line such lots, “where beat, adoring // parents blink into their phones.” To be a parent is to be exhausted, to sit “dreaming / about Homeland once the kids go to bed.” To be denied solace, such that, as one hard-hitting piece here begins, “The day after the election, Leonard Cohen dies / and my eye gets infected, and my daughter / flies around the living room refusing to put on underwear.”

To be a parent means feeling like “an airport where everyone leaves” and pondering—maybe even just wallowing in guilt over—whether it is “wrong” to use the people of your like “as props / in a poem” preserved in “a pose held longer / than anyone should bear.”

To be a parent means to lie beside your spouse and feel the stark divide between your life with your wife and the life of “our neighbors upstairs, / all clamor and bedsprings, appetite bleated // into each heated beat.”

To be a parent, in these pages, means, finally, to be haunted by both a fear of loss and a sense of loss as a specter always already present, a suitcase that might be packed, a spouse’s moment of inattention as a sign of something more, her distraction a focus on something else. To be a parent, then, in these poems, is to find oneself suddenly alone, in the quietest moments of the night, next to a spouse that seems different, a lover transformed into a mother, negotiating her own nostalgia and doubt, her own anxiety and exhaustion. This play of extremes, from a day in which no second is alone to a night in which one’s partner rolls over and leaves one in utter solitude, listening to the frantic creak of bedsprings in the apartment above; this play of extremes between being a child and giving another human being a childhood, between living with parents utterly familiar yet always somewhat unknown and then becoming such a parent oneself—these are the extremes Harél harnesses in this worthwhile collection.

Official Jared Harél Web Site
Official Diode Editions Web Site

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