Blessing the Exoskeleton

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Andrew Hemmert’s brilliant Blessing the Exoskeleton finds its pleasures in the margins of collapse. The news, the runaway climate—it’s all an onslaught. And yet, with ‘extinction hovering directly overhead,’ Hemmert writes, ‘we take whatever closeness we can get.’ Hemmert is a poet hellbent on the theory that love is, ultimately, resilient. He proves it again and again with remarkable images and unforgettable lines. -Keith Leonard, author of Ramshackle Ode

Blessing the Exoskeleton reveals a poet in conversation with the remnants of post-industrial America where scientific theory collides with mythos—a speaker navigating familiar towns and themes stretched from the Upper Peninsula to Florida and all that runs and rusts between. From its rivers and cars to its factories and churches, Hemmert’s poems are hymns to deliverance. They are landmarks on a map of a disappearing world. -Kerry James Evans, author of Bangalore

Andrew Hemmert’s Blessing the Exoskeleton comes to us from a speaker geographically uprooted from his home for the sake of love. It turns out that here, homesickness is good for poetry, hones the blade of perception, activates and opens exploratory pathways to the self and the body, mines its theories, and intensifies its hungers. ‘Barbeque restaurants should be illegal / or else they should be churches,’ he writes, one of many moments in the book that perform the friction between desire and its counterpart, suppression, where the glory hole cut into the stall divider in a library’s bathroom is covered over with sheet metal, where the speaker finally tells us directly: ‘I don’t know / exactly how to be good.’ And yet, in this light-leaning, love-aligned book of the potential for poetry to bless and renew, legitimate goodness shines. -Diane Seuss, author of frank: sonnets

There aren’t enough adjectives in the world to do justice to the emotional, psychic, and intellectual depth of Blessing the Exoskeleton. Andrew Hemmert’s poems open like Russian dolls, nestings of startlement, recognition, and illumination; turned toward landscapes both inner and outer, they pulse with tenderness and a fierce, often devastating, precision. How deeply these poems understand our predicament, ‘lost in all this noise so close to home.’ How grateful I am to have been found by them.” -Kasey Jueds, author of The Thicket