Temporary Beast

by Joanna Solfrian

What Critics Are Saying:

Interrogations, self-interrogations, examinations, cross-examinations, evocations—all these modes participate in these poems that actively refuse definition, since the poet, Joanna Solfrian, is in pursuit of her conscience, the one that asks about being alive, being dead, being a mother, being a tree. I could say, “You name it,” but she does in her distinctly marvelous, nodding-to-Lorca fashion, truly keeping the reader on metaphorical yet actual toes, reveling (perhaps the most crucial word) in the powers of imagination that adhere to genuine poetry.—Baron Wormser, author of The History Hotel


Joanna Solfrian’s Temporary Beast shows a high mastery of surprising images and insights in poem after poem. A sharp, enviable intelligence permeates all her lines; the poems push into the mysteries of earthly and mystical love, but adhere to a rubric of recognition: the self in the feminine, the self in the gravitational force of experience, and the self of possession and obsession. The speaker has an affectionate temperament in the book that is very generous, and as Allen Grossman said, these are poems about “something the way a cat is about the house.” Solfrian’s poems have an inherent strangeness and joy that demand multiple readings.

—Sean Singer, author of Today in the Taxi


Formally dexterous and subtly wise, Joanna Solfrian's Temporary Beast offers more than temporary pleasure for both the mind and the heart. “Buried in these words are instructions for weeping,” Solfrian writes, and yes, this is true, but this book also contains instructions for so much else: how to locate the divine; hold a flute; how to tend to a spouse, love a child, grieve a parent; how to delight in a lover’s armpit & run topless through a cornfield. I’m enamored with Solfrian’s dedication to the pen and her keen insight into how—by letting that pen move across the page—we gain access to a deeper, truer world.

—Nicole Callihan, author of This Strange Garment

Joanna Solfrian’s first book, Visible Heavens, was chosen by Naomi Shihab Nye for the 2009 Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize, a national first book award. Her second collection, The Mud Room, was published by MadHat Press, followed by the chap book The Second Perfect Number, published by Finishing Line Press. Her poems have appeared in journals such as The Harvard Review, Boulevard, Rattle, Margie, The Southern Review, Salamander, Pleiades, Image, and also in the internationally-touring art exhibit Speak Peace: American Voices Respond to Vietnamese Children’s Paintings. She is a MacDowell Fellow and a five-time Pushcart nominee. Joanna lives and works in New York City.