keepsake, by JH Grimes-Print Books-Bottlecap Press

keepsake, by JH Grimes

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JH Grimes
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Poetry, chapbook, 28 pages, from Bottlecap Features.

keepsake is a hypothesis of the self as a progression shaped by losses. It holds memories as keepsakes from lives not currently lived. Memories as the temporary and posthumous attempted living of older selves. Remnants of phrases and scenes come to the speaker in waves of far-off years—a childhood pastoral landscape unfolds in a city center; a parent’s outcry comes to mind during a dinner many years away. From Berlin to the Blue Ridge, memories establish themselves as keepsakes for the dead. Each of Grimes’ poems presents as if on a film reel moments of interpersonal joys and grievances overlaid with anxieties concerning class, land, and ancestral histories. Each in a world increasingly preoccupied with and hurtling through environmental disaster. These poems are, at their core, an unfolding of the desire to hold loves and losses in the same hand, with the same body.

Born out of a fascination with David Hume’s thoughts on private property—specifically the contrariety of our passions and individualized economies—this collection questions, through real-life exposures, what it means to “keep” a thing, as to possess it, and to “lose” a thing, as to find it dispossessed. Underlying each poem are scattered attempts to answer the following questions: Where do lives go when they are unkept? Beside whom, or beside what, do remnants of past selves linger? How does sociopolitical turmoil, paired with the dangers surrounding queer identity, shape both material losses and losses within the self? In keepsake, Grimes reckons with the ever-expanding realization: there are “so many lives to have / & not many at all to keep.”

JH Grimes is a trans poet from southern Appalachia. Their work appears or is forthcoming in Poetry Wales,, Devastation Baby, Meniscus, and others. They are the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize, the Norma Lowry Memorial Prize, and the Roger Conant Hatch Prize for Lyric Poetry. They live in Minneapolis by way of St. Louis, where they studied political theory at Washington University.