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Objects of Hunger

Objects of Hunger

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E. C. Belli


E-book (Other formats: Paperback)


Crab Orchard Series in Poetry


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About the Book

By turns stoic and ravaged, but always with gutting honesty, E. C. Belli invites readers to consider the smallest rooms of the intimate in this first collection. With each poem pared down to an elemental language both slight and clear, Belli’s work exhibits a surprising muscularity in its poise.

Objects of Hunger explores in reflective, raw lyrics the dread and beauty of our inner worlds as expressed through our struggles against the self and the other. Each poem is a slender organism that speaks its own mind, unafraid of pathos; the emotions here have been tried on and lived in, and the work accrues, lyric after lyric, page after page. In the second section, World War I poems are broken down and dismantled, as the voices of that era’s poets meld with that of a postpartum mother, exposing a shared vernacular among these disparate experiences. Other poems in the collection explore the unraveling and entrapments of the domestic, but with tenacity in place of softness, using a lexicon gathered from Virginia Woolf’s The Waves and Djuna Barnes’s Nightwood, among others.

What emerges is a finely chiseled portrait of intimacy, one that takes seriously love and all discord, the fracas of reticence and familiarity. Belli gives this world to us by way of a throbbing asceticism, in an exploration of resignation, concession, persistence, and monstrosity. This collection tells what it is to need with abandon.


E.C. Belli is a bilingual poet and translator. Her translation of I, Little Asylum, a short novel by Emmanuelle Guattari, was published in 2014, and The Nothing Bird, selected poems by Pierre Peuchmaurd, appeared in 2013. She is the recipient of a 2010 Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. Her work has been published in Verse, AGNI, and FIELD, among others. Her work in French has appeared in Europe: revue littéraire mensuelle and PO&SIE.


“The short spiky-lined lyrics of E. C. Belli are compressed only on the surface of the page; in the ear they are resonant, in the mind they unfold rooms of thought. Belli’s forms are smart, her voice is sure. This is not a haunted world; it is a world that itself haunts: with dark wit and a tender touch.”—Kazim Ali, author of Inquisition
“In her strongest poems, Belli’s styptic precision amounts to a vigilance verging on a cosmogony. She is perhaps the purest (not to mention most fiercely feminist) heir of Wilfred Owen, Edward Thomas, and Siegfried Sassoon: where there is blood there is also the promise of intimacy, and a gauge by which to measure it, whether she’s speaking of war, romantic passion, or childbirth. These are stately poems that cut toward the reader, then offer themselves up as bandages.”—G. C. Waldrep, author of feast gently and Testament

“In these playful and ethereal poems that constitute E.C. Belli’s intimate debut collection, the poet seeks for Seamus Heaney’s ‘immortelles of perfect pitch,’ in which each word glows and hums a tune, an emotion, an observation, a (non)-narrative or lyrical detail . . . ‘My feet are short sentences,’ she muses. Of books and their lives, she thinks out loud, ‘I remember / going home, / letting their names / out into the fields.’ At once simple and complex, these polished verses feel like pebbles, other times strings. They also remind me of haikus, their art of seduction, distance, and understatement. Despite their hunger and deceivingly short breath, Belli's ‘poetic objects’ are fresh, intelligent, and sensitive to the presenceor absenceof an elusive ‘other’: an otherworldly existence and realm where one might be reticent to name the absolute, yet ready to embrace the unseen and unknown.”Fiona Sze-Lorrain, author of The Ruined Elegance, My Funeral Gondola, and Water the Moon