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Publishers Weekly: Review of An Arrangement of Skin

“Reading these essays feels like stepping into a used bookstore crowded with cobwebs, kitsch, and stuffed owls, at once spooky and comfortingly predictable. With an air that’s equal parts Alfred Hitchcock and John Waters, poet Journey (The Atheist Wore Goat Silk) floats across the macabre, the literary, and the damaged: graveyards and mental asylums; L.A.’s Museum of Death and Richmond, Va.’s tattoo artists; Rilke and Coleridge; a broken relationship with boyfriend Carrick (Journey cheated on him); her mother’s more literally broken back. In her strongest essay, “Birds 101,” Journey describes with precision the art of stuffing a starling, learned in a taxidermy class. (She is best when she moves from herself to the wider world.) Taxidermy, a touchstone throughout, becomes her Grecian urn, a way to meditate on art’s relation to life and death, and on how we inhabit our skins. Journey has the poet’s eye for detail and knack for taut sentences, strong verbs, and arresting images. The essays sometimes repeat information, as if a group of standalone pieces were gathered with no attention to the whole, but all the same, this is a fine volume and well worth reading.”

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