THE BEARABLE SLANT OF LIGHT
What can we bear and what can we lift when a beloved, when our world, is light-struck and mad? The Bearable Slant of Light documents a web of clinical assessments, medications, the terrible beauties of delusion and the fragile gifts of darkness. Poems that reach across the history of writers and artists who fought and sometimes lost their own battles against mental illness are set against the urgencies of our anxious world and the intimate struggle of one family.
Lynnell Edwards’s The Bearable Slant of Light is a complex, compassionate, harrowing, and lyrical exploration of mental illness. These poems have many voices buzzing inside them, sometimes roaring cicada-loud: the words of doctors and nurses, parents, patients, and support groups; the language of manuals, assessments, intake forms, and medical charts...
What if you were to write a book of poems expert in their formal invention and so varied in tone that the anger and helplessness and desperation of the poems were also shot through with a tough-minded, often darkly humorous intelligence sifting through possibility after possibility of solace and finding, after all that sifting, nothing but a pile of dust? No consolations, no moments of redemption, nothing but the hard and strange and always original perception of “it happened this way but never the way I expected.”
Lynnell Edwards’ most recent collection of poetry, The Bearable Slant of Light (Red Hen Press, 2023), documents the burden and beauty of mental illness in one family and across this history of writers and artists. Her other collections are: This Great Green Valley (Broadstone Books, 2020), a chapbook of documentary poetry based on revisionist narratives of Kentucky’s pioneer founding in the 18th century.
She holds the Ph.D in Rhetoric and Composition as well as the MA with Creative Writing Thesis, both from the University of Louisville. Her work often investigates the deep connections between a people and their place, including the natural, political, and family narratives in its history.
Photo: Julia Youngblood
MORE FROM LYNNELL
KINGS OF THE ROCK AND ROLL HOT SHOP
THE HIGHWAYMAN'S WIFE
THE FARMER'S DAUGHTER