Blood is Not the Water
by Mara Panich
Praise for Blood is Not the Water
The poems in Mara Panich’s debut collection, Blood is Not the Water, course with life, flooding the space between what’s secret and what’s hidden, what’s sensual and what’s spiritual, between salt and heat, fur and tears, grief and acrid longing. “Decay,” she writes, “does not frighten me.” Neither does hunger. Nor desire. Panich’s poetry is naked, fearless, stubborn, and beautiful in the most earthly way: made of bone and teeth, wine in bladders, discordant birds, breaking glass, a flutter of doves. Pick this book up and you will not put it down. Prepare to be astonished.
Ana Maria Spagna, author of At Mile Marker Six (Finishing Line Press, 2021)
Blood Is Not the Water is a remarkable book of poems. From the opening poem to the final lines this book requires attention. Mara Panich addresses issues of being a woman in this world. She exposes that accepted normative fiction compelling women to question themselves, apologize for their perceived body failures, and above all to stand aside when others, especially men, are present. Yet this is also a book where the poems whether outraged or broken hearted carry a softness in the burden. I highly recommend this book, and look forward to returning to it many times.
gary lundy, author of each room echoes absence (FootHills, 2018)
What is the calculus of the body when it is the site of ruin, a receptacle for pain and conditional pleasure? These intricacies are laid bare in Mara Panich’s debut collection “Blood is Not the Water,” with such fierce candor and raw intimacy, there is an instant human connection. Weaving a tapestry of vulnerability and personal truths, Panich chronicles the connective tissue of trauma, longing, ache, cruelty, exclusion––all orbiting, like many of us, marbled forms of love. “This body has become memorabilia of a disappearance, the flutter of a dove,/pulled from my heart/by a mediocre showman,” yet every alloy of devastation is rendered whole, not through the lens of lack or desolation, but with resilience and wisdom from lived experience by a transcendent soul. These poems bring to light that the smallest acts of self-love are radical and that beauty is truly only skin deep.
Su Hwang, author of Bodega (Milkweed Editions, 2019)
Mara Panich writes, “let me read your story / recite the poem of your curled toes,” invoking the many histories we carry on and within our flesh. In this searing debut, we find a collection of poems governed by the body, and like a prism held up to the light, Panich’s book reflects and refracts: the body’s heat, its desire, and the myriad ways it fails and betrays us. Blood Is Not the Water tells us of the losses the body carries, too, and the ways we survive them. These poems ultimately remind us that the body is a “memorabilia of a disappearance,” one that haunts each of these fierce and tender poems.
Keetje Kuipers, author of All Its Charms (BOA Editions, 2019)
In Mara Panich’s Blood is Not the Water, to be alive and in a body is an act of redemption. With a hard-won certainty, Panich’s steady voice leads us through desire and grief, wit and anger, and out the other side. These poems claim their space on the page. Even in domestic moments, there is something animal and brazen here: ‘I like to hold a warm cup and I like to stay unafraid.’ Reading Blood is Not the Water is like being told something important in a quiet room—not a secret, not a confession, but truth. Indeed, Panich makes even the hardest truths simple. ‘Light lightens burden,’ she writes. Let these poems share with you the weight of what you carry.”
—Alicia Mountain, author of High Ground Coward (University of Iowa Press, 2018)