In the promotional copy for Pricks in the Tapestry, the queer poet Jameson Fitzpatrick forewarns his reader that he '[does] not always identify with the speakers of these poems, even as I recognize their speech (and sometimes, their desires) as my own.' Like many of the poems in this debut collection, the eloquence and candor of Fitzpatrick’s note works as a smokescreen. Which speech and desires does he claim, you might ask, and which does he reject? How often counts as not always? ... Fitzpatrick is at his harshest when he cuts through the smokescreen and addresses himself ... Fitzpatrick’s excesses feel authentic, his revelations glorious. Pricks in the Tapestry delivers few of the straightforward pleasures that the neoliberal queer movement asks of its writers. You might not understand Fitzpatrick’s intentions until the third or fourth read; his debut is heavy and rigorous and, yes, abrasive. But this summer, it’s a deeply urgent release. Smokescreens are barriers, of course, but Fitzpatrick happens to know the way out.
Fitzpatrick writes confessional, autobiographical work rooted in identity in part because the mode provides him with an interesting filter for looking at heritage. His poems brim with banal details that he uses to point toward the artificiality of referencing the hardships and culture of our gay forefathers ... For Fitzpatrick, the self is a sieve through which history is strained ... Fitzpatrick’s insights are often true-to-life, and drawn more from personal experience than historical conjecture. Plus, he delivers them in a lucid and honed poetic voice ... His style is colloquial, and precise without ever being precious. In fact, any instance of more formal syntax stands out ... I admire Fitzpatrick for transcending the formal hang-ups of past generations, a burden that other writers spend their careers sorting out. Still, I’m waiting to read what he feels bad about next, and also a more diverse look at what makes him feel good.
The experience of reading Jameson Fitzpatrick’s absorbing new poetry collection, Pricks in the Tapestry, feels like tracing a map of exquisite points—the parts of us that are most tender when pressed. Fitzpatrick’s poems regard the sites and sources of hurt, desire, and disturbance with evocative candor. The collection moves through intensely intimate scenes and themes: sex with various lovers in various stages of knowing, coming-of-age memories, discussions of mental health and trauma, emotional upheaval, personal and collective grief, immoderation of all kinds. The poems cast a revealing light onto these experiences—not to pathologize certain behaviors or situations, but to consider them with a wry and introspective sensitivity ... What particularly struck me about Pricks in the Tapestry is how Fitzpatrick’s speakers let everything happen to them—this life, in all its terror and beauty— and arrive here to tell us about it with aching precision. These poems pricked my own exquisite points, in the way that our deepest loves and most brutal hurts (sometimes one and the same) so often do.