Jen Bervin’s collection Silk Poems makes up one component of her larger three-part project that explores the compatibility of silk and tissues of the body through biology, culture, and linguistic imaginings. Each of her poems appears in all caps, centered on the page, and with absent punctuation, which lends itself to a blurring between discrete words and a sense of fluidity with regard to their meaning. Silk Poems moves through complexities. There isn’t a single way to read Bervin’s collection. In one reading, the mother silkworm represents resilience: “SOSHE / SPITS // AND MOVES / HERWAYOUT // A BATTERING / RAMBREAKING // THREADSWITHTHETENSILE / STRENGTHOFSTEEL // ANDREMARKABLE / ELASTICITY” and in another, the book as a whole becomes a meditation on time. Each poem uses couplets, mirroring the duality of this work. The speaker of Bervin’s poem acts as both sage and comic, exploring the text and the textile, the sense of the union of the silkworm and the poet: "AREYOUSURPRISED / IQUOTEAPOET // DONTBE / WEINVENTEDLANGUAGE.” Reflecting Bervin’s project as an interdisciplinary one—where she consulted and researched across many fields—Silk Poems asks to be read through various lenses, so its reader can return to it again and again for a newly charmed and deeper understanding.

Nightboat Books.

—Review by Madeline Vardell