Poetry. In Bridgette Bates' WHAT IS NOT MISSING IS LIGHT, shards of history are sharpened against the imagined experience of various—crumbling, complex, disfigured, celebrated, striking—muses; some statues, some legend, some surfacing from memory. Part prose, part layering of the chiseled line, we are introduced to a gaze that includes all aspects of a relic's presence, and all aspects of the act of being present: "I will repair our damage," writes Bates, "by describing a heap of stones,/ the start of a wall." Bates' commitment to what (art, recollection, theft, and lie) survives is captured in a series of surprising and spirited vignettes.
"Bridgette Bates is a muse's dream-votary, the best possible and readiest visitor to the whole idea of the museum. Why? Because her visits there produce not the tedious descriptiveness of the camera, but spells of observation, recollection, invention, and wish. These poems unfold organically, gracefully—as though the thinking a sculpture might engender were itself a natural artform. But let it not be thought that Bates isn't attentive to the physical particulars of her museums—she most certainly is—it's just that she sees them not through a camera's but a human lens, drawing distinctions and forging associations that no machine can. WHAT IS NOT MISSING IS LIGHT restores our faith in the human by reminding us of our capacity to do just that."—Timothy Donnelly
"In Bridgette Bates' vitally intelligent debut, prose poems center around figures of women rendered in statuary, while the poems' speaker lives as flesh made word, an entwining of a curious mind and its body. These gorgeous histories of objects, nations, myths, and one watchful woman make clear that the museum and its inhabitants are not immune to the dangers of war, love, and other disasters. Reading this magnificent book feels like lifting weights and praying at the same time, in the company of a good but not overly kind trainer. I come away feeling at once stronger and unnerved."—Heather Christle
"Because inspiration is derived from inspirer, which means 'to breathe' I find myself inspired, or better, aware that I am alive, as I read Bridgette Bates' book full of statues. Searching for a muse that withholds, as thought withholds moving to the next thought, the poems in this beautiful debut collection exhibit what I can only call a moral intelligence as they straddle the ever fluid movement of perception in time: 'I am awaking inside the awakening inside the awoken.' With the help of her muse, and through the devotedness of her need, Bates achieves her waking: 'Here we welcome the heretofore and the hereafter into the now.' WHAT IS NOT MISSING IS LIGHT is a fiercely accomplished first book."—Claudia Keelan
Bridgette Bates' poems have appeared in the Boston Review, Fence, jubilat, VERSE, and elsewhere. A recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship and a "Discovery" Prize, she is a graduate of the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. Originally from Nashville, she lives in Los Angeles where she is the writer-in-residence at the Library Foundation of Los Angeles and a frequent features contributor to the Kirkus Reviews.
Author City: Los Angeles, CA USA