Bodies that Hum is a Courageous Book

Our bodies are never mute: hormones, stimuli; a million impulses all steering the human being, some we recognize, some we don’t recognize. It is in this light Beth Gylys writes; her first full-length collection of poems, Bodies that Hum, will turn you on.

In an interview with Columbia Journal, Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello said: “When we start out, we tend to read the poetry that is most similar to what we strive for in our own work. We think that’s what poetry is. But once we learn to value styles outside of our comfort zone, I consider that a mark of growth. Our understanding of what poetry is expands and encompasses more than we thought possible.”  

We get so familiar with sweet streams and suddenly want to legislate over their flows, and so I ask a familiar question: what is the end of water? I do concur with Tom Andrews who, in the blurb of this book, said, “Forget your assumptions—good or ill”.

“Each word sounds the same. / I’m forgetting the meanings of things.” (p. 42). I remember Uche Nduka once asking, “What is the meaning of meaning?” See this line: “The leaves are turning, and it makes him itch / to change his name, hitchhike to Vermont.” (p. 31). Those things that make us change our minds, and then we suddenly decide to get new clothes, styles, new places.

Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello continued: “Poetry can hold so much, and can be quite powerful if we are aware of it, and the same poem resonates differently for each person, and even for ourselves at various moments in our lives, taking into account our experiences and the way our mind works. Because of that, I think our idea of what poetry is should be continuously evolving.”

Bodies that Hum is divided into five (5) parts. And, in a remarkable concert of her honesty, humor, sensuality, muse and music, Beth captures the truths of our bodies, and like mirrors, each poem in this book gives new feelings, revelations.

Secrets: “Everyone I know is crying” (p. 46). It wasn’t from Facebook first we started asking the question, what’s on your mind? We have always been there asking, and we will continue.

“Naked branches / aren’t full of ache; / they neither hover, nor point, / nor feign like open arms. / They are simply growing, / flecked with knots and ridges, / etched by different shades of line.” (p. 46).

Let me tease you with some titles of poems in Bodies that Hum: ‘The Trouble With Love Poems About Men,’ ‘The One I love,’ ‘Some Nights,’ ‘Marriage Song,’ ‘Easy Life,’ ‘My Father’s Nightmare,’ ‘Song Of An X,’ ‘Through The Glass,’ ‘Ghosts And Aspirations,’ among others.

Eros: “Close your eyes / and feel the truth of sex.” (p. 57). When it comes to private matters, it is seldom easy: communication gets to fail our desires, our needs. Our bodies have been taught to be guilty, to feel ashamed of our intrinsic personal parts.  Our bodies have also been taught to shame other bodies.

And so the poet person in the poem, ‘Personal,’ comes out open, brave and straight to the point: “I want a man whose body makes mine hum, / who when he looks my way the sky goes hazy.” (p. 58). “I love good jazz, dancing till I’m numb,” she adds.

What Beth Gylys has written about is the inevitable: “How can we stop ourselves / from wanting?” (p. 41). Both life and death; neither death nor life. From the book cover down to this line in the last poem: “let the spaces fill you,” (p. 71); Bodies that Hum is a courageous book.