Winner of the Walt Whitman Award, this collection confronts the dark questions and menacing silences around gender, sexuality, and violence. Brute arises, from the dissolution of a relationship, showing how such endings necessitate self-discovery and reinvention.
Like the wolf depicted in the collection’s cover illustration, my mouth was open in anticipation. And like the small hand shown reaching into that wolf’s mouth, what I was reaching towards—even captivated by—was the experience of pain ... Reading Brute felt this way to me: like power spoken from woman to woman. This was the way in which I first read it: aloud, cover to cover, with one of the women in my life ... This is not to say that Skaja offers a cure, or a vision of perfect healing. She resists the sweet and clean conclusion, the body returned to wholeness, the bird to flight, the house to order ... it strikes me that the impulse to worship and crucify is the very essence of healing ... What a beautiful fall that is: not from grace but into power, not from home but into the habitation of the self.
... taut, ferocious ... In the midst of so much complication, certain poems may seem to end too easily, but others are riddled, deftly complex ... the poems’ furious compression feels carnal, and the intensity of feeling becomes almost mystic ... In the midst of so much complication, certain poems may seem to end too easily, but others are riddled, deftly complex ... This is a book about survival, and a welcome, confident debut.
[A] powerful debut collection ... In free verse and prose poems, Skaja divides phrases in an unsettling way ... This question of agency and transformation runs through Skaja’s poems without tripping up. Heart and mind move together fluidly. Her poetry takes risks and resonates with a strange beauty.