It’s an intimidating challenge for a performance poet to publish a collection. Our work doesn’t start with the page in mind. We haven’t been schooled in layout or how best to communicate meaning through line-break. It’s not our world, and it’s scary. The first poem in Jenny Linsday’s This Script admits as much
Cannae see the whites
of yer eyes—nor
while serving as a smart indicator that this is a very different kind of collection. This Script is an ebullient, honest, at times fiery and always generous conversation with us readers, and one I keep coming back to. It’s rare to feel this much room in a collection for one’s response.
And there is much to respond to, with Lindsay addressing some of the most controversial, knee-jerk topics of our time—gender, feminism, the increasingly narrow pigeon-holes we all find ourselves forced into—with as much empathy as fire. If there is a central theme it is of searching for unity in the face of so many ways we are incited to attack and divide each other.
This Script is also a stage show, and several pieces are film poems. It’s a strength how differently these poems come across on the page; to craft a single piece that exists across genres is impressive; the craft in this collection is consistently clever. The titular poem is written using only one vowel, an inspired example of formal constraints mimicking the limiting constraints of the scripts we are bound by in life. There is no form for form’s sake in this collection; there is neither pretension, nor dross, nor enemies, just vulnerability and honesty and a call to arms—arms that embrace as much as fight.
There are too many stand-out poems to mention, but ‘Lighter’ is worthy of mention, and it is hard, but crucial to read ‘The Heart of The House’:
Let them call us barren
husks flushed tombs
I read this while working in America, and that poem in this political moment—if we could only get it broadcast over Senate loudspeakers…
This collection is a challenging call to show up to the table, ready to hash this all out. It’s vulnerable, hopeful, heart wrenching, sometimes a gut punch. I don’t agree with all of its politics, but I don’t have to. It’s too open for that. Most of all, this collection is courageous. It’ll stay with you. You’ll bring This Script up in conversation. Pass it on, make your pals read it. We all should.