door of thin skins
by Shira Dentz
door of thin skins is a perfect title for Shira Dentz’s latest work. In this fever dream of a book, Dentz’s language is like a spirit who can pass through the scrims of time and perspective, but not unscathed. These poems are the toll. She sings what fails to kill us. —Cornelius Eady
door of thin skins tracks the misuse of power in a patient/doctor relationship in shattering detail. A patient is cut off from her body and the doctor imposes his. Her senses have dispersed as if to escape the troubled site. In these poems, the experiences that tear the mind and the mind’s language must be recollected in language, which becomes a reenactment of the wounding. What the poet must do, and does, is let language be torn apart so that the senses (sense) may re-collect in beauty, in the body of the poem. —Eleni Sikelianos
Here is David as a 21-year-old confused girl in boyish clothes and Goliath as a golden-credentialed 60-year-old psychotherapist in orthopedic shoes who jeopardizes his career when he sexually crosses the line with his young patient, then continually questions the reality of her perceptions. Shira Dentz’s brilliant poetic amalgam of circumstance and the mind’s second-guessing, door of thin skins presents a contemporary David and Goliath tale that unfolds in a psychotherapist’s office, a state prosecutor’s office, and the crystalline mind of the poet regarding it all. Poetry itself becomes the slingshot in this face-off. The poet’s clever innovation of an edgy and oddball brand of avant-garde song-and-response tells this tale through a mix of thought, feeling, fact, history, and personal history and a riveting pastiche of rhythmical poetry, visual poetry and prose poetry. Dentz triumphs in her dazzling and fractured narrative; door of thin skins startles and astounds. —Molly Peacock
Shira Dentz’s door of thin skins is not only an intimate narrative of seduction and abuse, but a tour de force of assemblage. Each gallery-worthy page is meticulously arranged, prose overlain with lyric sequences, visual space with visual density. From every angle, door of thin skins is a chilling and exquisite document.
About the Book
door of thin skins, a hybrid collection of poetry and prose, deconstructs the nature of psychological power through the deconstruction of traditional narrative and language. The book, narrated by a woman in psychotherapy, does not unfold in chronological sequence, but uses recurring phrases, images, and events to unify and deepen the narrative as well as mirror the process of psychotherapy. As the relationship between patient and therapist becomes dependent and sexual, resulting in a precarious blurring of both patient and therapist’s boundaries, the book alternates between the straightforward and syntactically disjunctive. Visual poems comprise another nonlinear layer in this book, depicting one of its recurring themes, a fracturing of the narrator’s sight and simultaneous and conflicting perceptions of reality.
about the author
SHIRA DENTZ was born and raised in the New York City area, and has lived and taught during the last ten years in Iowa, Utah, and Florida. She is the author of black seeds on a white dish, a book of poems that was nominated for the PEN/Osterweil Award 2011, and a chapbook, Leaf Weather. Her writing has appeared in many journals including The American Poetry Review, The Iowa Review, New American Writing, and jubilat, and featured online at The Academy of American Poets, NPR, Poetry Daily, and Verse Daily. Her awards include an Academy of American Poets’ Prize, The Poetry Society of America’s Lyric Poem and Cecil Hemley Memorial Awards, Electronic Poetry Review’s Discovery Award, and Painted Bride Quarterly’s Poetry Prize. She holds an M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a Ph.D. in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Utah. Before leaving NYC for Iowa City and Salt Lake City, she worked for many years in NYC as a graphic artist designing ads for rock concerts, and taught English in a Brooklyn public high school as a New York City Teaching Fellow. She is Writer-in-Residence for Spring 2013 at The New College of Florida, and is Book Review Editor at Drunken Boat. In addition to writing and teaching, Dentz is a freelance graphic artist.