Sway This Way | Fast Animal by Tim Seibles | Review

72 pages | Etruscan Press,
purchase here or here,
review by Meggie Royer.

Fast Animal is a collection of poems that lives and breeds desire through discovery. Tim Seibles’ sixth volume is sensual and sublime, all moonlight and jazz, the kind of writing that transports its readers back to adolescence and the subtle longings for another’s touch.

Seibles introduces us to his childhood friends, whom he dreamt of football and girls with, and then to the girls themselves, whether it’s Delores Jepps, whose warm and spicy mouth made him long to have slow-cooked to a slow song/in her sleek, toffee arms, or Allison Wolff, how they kissed and kissed inside her dark house.

Through recalling his litany of romantic encounters, Seibles unhesitatingly threads in race and the knowledge of his own youth, how he wore [his] seventeen years like a matador’s cape, how his relationships with white girls made him tremble at the memory of Emmett Till’s murder. This collection is astonishing in its blend of humor, self-awareness, political opinions (Seibles’ urge to punch the former president George W. Bush), and desire. This collection encapsulates the discovery of one’s self through sexuality, through knowledge of the world and its corruption, even through fantasy.

Seibles brings us to a different dimension with his series of poems about Blade, the son of a woman impregnated by a vampire, and how Blade kills the vampires whom with he shares half his bloodline.

        When I think of that
        one note     that breaks
        what’s left of what’s
        human in me, man
        I love     everything

Blade sings inside his poems.

And Blade’s hunt for revenge, his tenuous longing and confusion about his identity, makes us think of Seibles’ collection as a whole, sometimes dense and repetitive, but altogether a startling and beautiful picture of the “fast animal” of desire that lives inside us all as we grow from young to old. Makes us return to Seibles’ poem “Terry Moore,” which sums up his collection:

        We watched each other
        break slowly into men     which is what we are by now,
        which was always what we thought we wanted.

Tim Seibles is an American poet born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He earned his BA from Southern Methodist University and his MFA from Vermont College. Currently he teaches English and creative writing at Old Dominion University in Virginia. He also teaches in the Stonecoast MFA Program in Creative Writing, and at Cave Canem Foundation. Seibles received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, and was honored with the Open Voice Award. His poems have been published in literary journals and anthologies such as The Kenyon Review and Ploughshares, and New American Poets in the 90’s.

Author Page @ Etruscan Press.
Connect with Tim on Facebook.

Contributing Editor

Meggie Royer is a writer and photographer from the Midwest who is currently majoring in Psychology at Macalester College. Her poems have previously appeared in Words Dance Magazine, The Harpoon Review, Melancholy Hyperbole, and more. She has won national medals for her poetry and a writing portfolio in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and was the Macalester Honorable Mention recipient of the 2015 Academy of American Poets Student Poetry Prize.