Louder Than Everything You Love–Nicole Ross Rollender

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In this haunted and searching debut, Nicole Rollender intones the music of the body and its bones. Bones ring out from these pages as bells ring out from a cathedral—beautiful, reliable, ominous—to mark the inexorable passage of time, which forms this collection’s central point of disquiet. Sometimes tender, sometimes fierce, always heart-wrenching, these poems are as much visitations from the dead as psalms for the living. Interrogating the impermanence of life, Rollender ultimately constructs a testimony to permanence through those very “bones, our bones, [which] will always shine in the dark earth.” Just as these poems shine.

~Cynthia Marie Hoffman, author of Sightseer, Her Human Costume and Paper Doll Fetus

Nicole Rollender’s poems balance on the uneasy boundary between third eye and communion wafer. Beside an “old woman shaking fish skeletons to conjure the dead,” the poet as body becomes a conduit for the generations in both directions, such that her “body is full of holes the dead / look in and out,” while of her daughter she says, “my ribs / were her scaffolding.” Rollender alternately glories and suffocates in her holy entanglement with her lineage, with her God. And when she comes up for air, she ululates a hauntingly familiar song.

~Jessica Goodfellow, author of Mendeleev’s Mandala

Nicole Rollender’s Louder Than Everything You Love resonates of love and loss—all the while clinging to the sublime world around it. These transformative, stirring, deeply personal and beautifully written poems are filled with tenderness and a fragile but keen awareness of the poet’s inner self and force: “this field that’s no more: to give up this earth is to sacrifice my body.” Rollender’s alluring language shimmers within this intimate collection, which reckons light and dark; reminds us why poetry is urgent and vital.

~Helen Vitoria, editor-in-chief of THRUSH Poetry Journal and author of Corn Exchange

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