Bottle the Bottles the Bottles the Bottles


Bottle the Bottles the Bottles the Bottles


Poems | Lee Upton | 2015
100 pgs

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* Winner of the 2014 CSU Poetry Center Open Book Competition, Selected by Erin Belieu *

“Bottle the Bottles the Bottles the Bottles, the fifth collection of poetry by Lee Upton, is a study in recursion. Think of it how you will: mise-en-abyme, the Droste effect, that thing that happens when you look at a box of Land O’Lakes butter and realize the cover girl is holding a box of Land O’Lakes butter (on which she herself (again L’O’L butter-bearing) is featured), Matroyshka dolls. Upton portrays recursion as akin to uncanny doubling, but scarier. When something is bottled, pressure builds. Air is eliminated. The contents are othered from their vessel.”
—Joanna Novak, American Microreviews

Praise for Bottle the Bottles the Bottles the Bottles

“Lee Upton is a poet of rare intelligence and craft. She has a cold eye and a warm heart, and her poems are well-made, moving, intellectually stimulating. Among my favorites in Bottle the Bottles the Bottles the Bottles, her admirable new collection, are poems that resemble an unconventional verse essay on a subject disclosed in the poem's title. Anyone who has spent dreary hours in time-consuming meetings will enjoy Upton's transmutation of the experience in 'The Committee.' A meditation on 'The Defeatists'—people whose reflexive mantra is 'we're not out of the woods yet'—includes the paradox that even their search for disappointment is bound to result in failure. In 'Modesty,' Scheherazade, the 'patron saint of suspense,' beguiles her tyrant with her tales, though 'At some level // she could do nothing for him.' This thought is capped off with the stunning couplet that ends the poem: 'Neither could have / Chekhov.' These are poems to read, reread, and ponder. The rich heritage of English poetry—Herrick, Keats, Poe, Dickinson, Wallace Stevens—hovers over Upton's labors and adds an extra layer of wit for the discerning reader.”
—David Lehman

“These poems have tensile strength and pleasurable intelligence. They're muscular and ironic. Some are tough minded and thistle-prickly (as Flannery O'Connor was tough and prickly, also with a dash of Plath). The swallowed violence in fairy tales and 'the romantic' is reimagined here. Female archetypes are one of Upton's touchstones: Pandora, Salome, mermaids, Lady Macbeth, Persephone. The poems interrogate ways we used to live versus what we're in the grip of now. And they question what beauty is, in a voice both droll and fierce. They give off a dark gleam.”
—Amy Gerstler

Lee Upton is the author of The Tao of Humiliation: Stories, the essay collection Swallowing the Sea: On Writing & Ambition, Boredom, Purity & Secrecy; the novella The Guide to the Flying Island; and a fifth collection of poetry, Undid in the Land of Undone. She is a professor of English and writer-in-residence at Lafayette College.

Selected Reviews

Publishers Weekly

American Microreviews

Literary Review

More Information

Lee Upton at Lafayette College