Took House is a disquieting book about intimate relationships and what is seen and hidden. In vulnerable poems of obsession, Camp places motivation deep in the background, following instead a chain reaction between pain and pleasure. Took House navigates a landscape of bone and ash, wine and circumstance. Boundaries shift between reality and allegory. The unknown appears and repeats, eerily echoing need. Blame, power and disorder hover, unsettling what we know of love.
Praise For Took House…
“Took House is a book of appetites: for language, for understanding, for the body, for the natural world. ‘There is such ungodliness / in what the tongue will feed on,’ Lauren Camp writes, considering the fine line between appetite’s bodily openness and the dissolution of the self, as she confronts the injurious effects of alcohol on a relationship. Camp’s poems, often synesthetic, often ekphrastic, present ways of looking through art to our outer and inner selves: ‘What else should we look at but fugitive color, / the shape that’s not empty?’ and later, ‘she must study the wall of her primitive self.’ Hers is a language you can taste in this dazzling collection: simultaneously rich and restrained. Lauren Camp is a singular, probing, precise poet, and I celebrate this book’s arrival.”
“In Lauren Camp’s Took House we are enveloped in a poetry both precise and mysterious, intimate and sublime. Reading through these poems, I was reminded of the tenet that poetry is not like the interior life, but is the interior life, the thing itself made flesh via language: ‘Give me your flowered ear,’ Camp writes in one poem, and in another, ‘I will speak / of the seams of desire, the practice / and even the ceiling.’ Here is a poet articulating her human existence (the tentacles of love, inebriation, visual art)—here is a particular heart and mind removing its shield in order to commune, to help us see the world again, more deeply and more strangely, and reader, I am grateful.”
—Allison Benis White
Praise for Lauren Camp’s earlier work:
“In her third collection, Camp (The Dailiness) looks closely at moments from the life of an Arab-American girl and her Jewish-Iraqi parent. With a delicate hand, she renders gustatory details of gatherings and the kitchen that present an engaging blend of those cultures that were once harmonious in the Baghdad of a father’s past, which is very different from his daughter’s childhood in America. Most of the book functions on long lines and short prose poems, but there is also some play with the stanzas, poetic form, and the line that avoid the tedium of one repeating imprint on white space. There are smaller surprises that intertwine with this larger narrative; as this migration story unfolds, the daughter’s burgeoning sexuality and the predatory dangers that come with it emerge in some of this book’s best poems, as “Her world entered nimble eternities.” Between the daughter’s and the father’s stories, the ideas of loss and forgetting become more evident with each poem. In “Why Dad Doesn’t Pay Attention to Iraq Anymore,” one of the collection’s more distinct poems, Camp writes, “The longest griefs are those we never look at.” Camp distills grief, loss, and transition, each becoming a kind of theft, and the poems strive to reclaim and recover what can be salvaged.”
— Publishers Weekly (review of One Hundred Hungers)
“I was impressed by the cohesiveness of this collection, by the ease with which it moved between its themes of exile, displacement, uneasy assimilation into North American culture, and its ability to tell a family history without resorting to autobiographical clichés…The book is inventively structured, mixing personal lyrics with a series of short, gnomic and haunting vignettes that seem to reside almost outside of time. And of course the particular diaspora which the book derives from—capturing the experience of an Iraqi-Jewish immigrant family—makes for a still more complicated stance, one of exile within exile, as it were.”
—David Wojahn, juror for The Dorset Prize
“Camp’s poems are concrete inventions that suggest bounty, boundlessness, the infinite regression into person, cultural, and familial histories, while also grounding readers in astonishingly evocative sensory experiences. Indeed, the beauty of Camp’s Dorset Prize-winning collection, One Hundred Hungers, is that in our experience of Camp’s poems of memory, geography, migration, space, spirituality, and family, we cannot help but find our own lives and experience there hovering in the ghostly foreground of her lines… it’s only a writer of Camp’s substantial talent who can simultaneously recount a personal history—a diasporic tale of an Iraqi-Jewish family in pre-sectarian Baghdad—while also re-drawing that history’s borders and making it inclusive and vivid and alive once more. In this way, Camp’s book is both an invitation to an unknown history and the gift of a perpetually unfolding one in which each of us finds some purchase, some handhold or footing that has us assenting as we read along…In Camp’s work, the description of a lost loved one summons his presence; the lyrical cataloging of a meal revives its scent and flavor; and a clear-eyed memory of pain somehow softens our own calluses. This, of course, is a kind of poetic alchemy, and a form of reincarnation.”
—Nate Brown, introduction at The George Washington University
Tupelo Press, 9781946482327, 78pp.
Publication Date: June 1, 2020
About the Author
Lauren is deeply involved in the poetry community. She teaches young students to understand and embody poems for Poetry Out Loud and offers community workshops and mentoring to elders who want to explore poetry as a means for self-expression.
As a visiting writer at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and keynote speaker at the New Mexico Alzheimer’s Caregiver Conference, she has brought an empathic, artistic perspective to doctors, patients and loved ones by sharing her poems on dementia and its effect on families.
Her poems have appeared in The Los Angeles Review, Pleiades, Poet Lore, Slice, DIAGRAM and elsewhere, and been translated into Arabic, Mandarin, Spanish and Turkish. She is an emeritus Black Earth Institute fellow and the recipient of numerous residencies.
For 15 years, she hosted a very popular public radio program, blending contemporary poetry with jazz and global music. Each week, her goal was to bring unexpected beauty to the airwaves. In her previous incarnation as a visual artist, Lauren made fiber portraits of her favorite musicians, and assembled a solo exhibit called “The Fabric of Jazz,” which traveled to museums in ten U.S. cities.
She lives in a cozy household in New Mexico with her husband of 25 years and their elderly cat, Ella.