Belle's Ragged Army

 Joan Burt’s book is an intimate portrait of the memorable Belle and her eccentric, exceptional family. The poet’s language recreates the robust complexity of her Montana life. It is a poignant glimpse of Belle’s universe. The poems introduce us to a spectacle of vivid characters moving across this landscape. Burt’s language and intensely remembered observation brings us directly to this surreal, gorgeously evoked landscape. A debut collection of effervescent, unforgettable poems, awarded the Red Mountain Discovery Prize for a first book.

Joan Burt’s brilliant first book is filled with mementos, redolent with memories “freeing the sweetness of old ghosts.”  Here’s her mother, Belle, flamboyant and mean.  Joe with tattoos on his fingers, RENT   FOOD.  Howard’s “Living Landscape,” a “Hamm’s Beer waterfall for the kitchen.”  Aunt Mattie’s generous kitchen table, “only red zinnias on her walkways.” Steve, her gone brother.

And here’s the poet, whose language and unswerving nerve revive, with vigor and complexity, her life for the benefit of ours.  I love this book.

—Hilda Raz, author of All Odd and Splendid