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Poetry General

Bitter in the Belly

by (author) John Emil Vincent

McGill-Queen's University Press
Initial publish date
Nov 2021
General, Canadian
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Nov 2021
    List Price

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The past grabs back / what it lets us handle
Bitter in the Belly reckons with suicide’s wreckage. After John Emil Vincent’s best friend descends into depression and hangs himself, fluency and acuity lose their lustre.
Vincent sorts through and tries to arrange cosmologies, eloquence, narrative, insight, only to find fatal limitations. He tries to trick tragedy into revealing itself by means of costume, comedy, thought experiment, theatre of the absurd, and Punch and Judy. The poems progress steadily from the erotic and mythic to the lapidary and biblical, relentlessly constructing images, finding any way to bring the world into the light – what there is of light, when the light is on.
In his most personal book, Vincent moves from stark innocence through awful events and losses, to something like acceptance without wisdom – Jonah spit back onto the sand with little to report but that he’s home.

About the author

JOHN EMIL VINCENT is a Montreal-based poet, editor, and archivist. He's taught literature, queer theory, and poetry writing at Concordia and Queen's in Canada and at Wesleyan, Haverford, and University of Miami in the US. He and his partner, Luis Loya Garcia, emigrated to Montreal in 2010 to get married and escape anti-immigrant laws and sentiment in the US. Vincent earned his BA in Religion and Literary Studies (French) from Williams College where he worked with Louise Glück. We went on to earn an MFA from Warren Wilson College (in North Carolina) where he worked with Heather McHugh and Larry Levis among others. Toward the end of his MFA he started his PhD in English across the state at Duke University where he studied under Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and Michael Moon. He was among the earliest cohort to graduate specializing in Queer Theory. While at Duke he published an essay on Swinburne and whipping in Eve's collection Novel Gazing and co-authored an article on Latinamericanism and My Own Private Idaho with Josè Estaban Muñoz. He recently earned his Masters Degree in Library Science (Archives) from Simmons College (in Boston). He has worked doing preservation work for John Ashbery in his home in Hudson, New York, and has worked helping organize James Tate's papers and books after his recent death. He served as Editor-at-Large for the Massachusetts Review, where he edited a double 'especially queer issue' packed with queer literary luminaries and a special issue celebrating the 50th anniversary of the UMass-Amherst Program for Poets and Writers. He's served as poetry editor for the now-defunct Swink magazine and issue editor for tinywords (a web-based haiku journal). He has published poems in jubilat, Denver Quarterly, BlazeVOX, Slope, Spork, failbetter, Drunkenboat, and many other journals. A number of his poems appeared in an anthology of new gay poets, entitled This New Breed, edited by Rudy Kikel (Windstorm Creative 2003). He recently published a chapbook Cheshirization-- containing 9 poems from 'Excitement Tax' with Factory Hollow Press.

John Emil Vincent's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Bitter in the Belly is [Vincent’s] most personal poetry book to date, navigating one of his best friends’ suicide in a way that mixes tragedy with absurdity.” McGill Tribune

Bitter in the Belly is a devastating tour de force. Elegant and graceful, it is replete with loss and love – with the stillness that comes of wreckage.” Montreal Review of Books

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