Showtime at the Ministry of Lost Causes
Advance Praise for Showtime . . .
The poems in Showtime at the Ministry of Lost Causes are survival songs, the tunes you whistle while walking through the Valley of Shadows, to keep your fears at bay and your spirit awake. The shadows here are many—cancer, poverty, a lost love, famine, suicide, war, an ever-encroaching existential angst. But so are the saving graces—a drag queen waitress whose “painted-on eyebrows arched like a bridge / toward starlight,” “strawberries / grown fat around dimpled gold seeds,” Pink Floyd’s “‘On the Turning Away’ sent through my car / radio like the ghost voice of a beloved long dead,” black phoebes rattling “winter / thistles, swollen throats percussing: / this is this is this is . . . ” Showtime at the Ministry of Lost Causes reminds us that where there is shadow there must, necessarily, also be light.
“Dumesnil transforms the seemingly useless—the discarded, the broken off, what we keep in the kitchen drawer--into proof of our humanity, asserting that it’s to the things of this world, whether they be oil-slicked puddles, cathedrals, tampons or Pink Floyd, that our lives, and those we share it with, are anchored. These poems are as tactile as that kitchen junk drawer and just as rewarding to spend an afternoon rummaging through. Each poem practically begs to be picked up, turned over in the palm.”
“Dumesnil’s precise observations, vivid images, deft humor, and brave willingness to invite in the whole of life makes for a poetry that’s rich and meaningful. She shows us the grocery store shoppers edged in gold in the October light and the transitory moment when the newborn’s skin is like a sunset through/sooted glass as you rubbed/the vernix in. We see the sperm weave like drunken/mole rats, bumping into fallopian walls/while the egg sits on her barstool, sipping/a last-call vodka, checking her watch. This collection gives us the world with its beauty and love and the loss that always hovers close.”
“Dumesnil navigates the hallways of illness and childbirth with grit and grace. She offers us soaring birds, revolutions and plums. Odes to October, memoirs to tampons, sea snails and Tsunamis, air guitar with Eddie Van Halen, Ritalin and Pink Floyd and Facebook, a book hinged at the end of the last century and the beginning of this new bloody one. This is a book full of the love of women and sons, drag queens and last calls, and always the gospel of the body, and its constant prayer of falling. A kind of faith in falling, a performance against failure as a way to get us somewhere else, through words, or as Dumesnil urges us, ‘Say it again, say it again, as if your voice could rewrite the code.’”
—Sean Thomas Dougherty
“What the poet knows is this: there are no lost causes. There is loss, of course, but what the poet knows is that to love enough to take up a cause is to keep faith, to believe all the while in this / meaty green heart of survive another day, of be grateful for near misses, of roll with the punch while hammering / out of this moment so much more than what it is. Showtime at the Ministry of Lost Causes is the good fight in miserable times, is how we endure knowing that part of us always / stays back, while the rest marches on. This fabulous book is the part marching on.”
Library Journal Says . . .