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Cover for The Theory of Flesh

The Theory of Flesh

Francine Witte


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Francine Witte's The Theory of Flesh is just that, an accumulation of poetic evidence for the absurdity and heartbreak that accompanies our mortal costumes. She moves from pre-history and history into the present and personal with the same sharp and incisive sense of description, the same savvy toward the fickle cosmos. Anxiety, crop failure, sibling rivalry, and small-town affairs-each is another hand-drawn entry on the larger human scroll. Witte, as they say, knows the score, and she's willing to share it with us, to describe in no uncertain terms exactly what it means to be us-damned from the very get go and further doomed by folly and fate. Yet important enough in our trials to command the fine poet's attention.

-Justin Hamm, author of The Inheritance and American Ephemeral

Francine Witte's poems are full of a compassion for our frail, vulnerable selves, our frail, vulnerable earth, and they are implicit with a forgiveness for that frailty and stupidity, like a teacher who refuses to hold her students' foolhardiness or idiocy against them. As she writes in "Bravado" "Take away our medicines and guns, / and where are we, really? Not at the top / of the food chain, that's for sure. Our / teeth can barely tear a baguette, and forget / about breathing in the wrong stranger's / sneeze." In these poems, Witte goes straight for the elements that make up our lives, the love, the betrayal, the heartbreak; our weakness and our helplessness. Witte embraces our fallibilities. After all, "Maybe this is all a game. Maybe we are the players, / or the pieces, or the lookers-on who shake their / heads and bring us snacks."

-Charles Rammelkamp, author of Me and Sal Paradise

Francine Witte's literary voice is one of the strongest to emerge in the last few years. She combines sharp observations with a smart, biting sense of humor-her take on men and women in relationships is honest, and because of her intelligence, accurate. In The Theory of Flesh, she takes no prisoners

-Ron Kolm, author of Night Shift and Welcome to the Barbecue

Kelsay Books, 9781950462278, 78pp.

Publication Date: October 15, 2019