If the "unwanted sounds" in Lorraine Lupo's new collection of poems are implacable, they are also, and even more vividly, those odd orphans of daily life for which we feel a special affection and empathy. Acutely attuned to these, Lupo proposes a funny, beleaguered, bemused, and slightly haunted alter-ego who, while opining that it's "not the fate of words / to make sense," makes terrific sense out of words. Her observations are wry and often sneakily urgent in the matter of how to live. By definition never satisfied, in one poem she wants to "eat cookies and donuts, hump trees, drink coffee, sleep running"; in the next she roams through the riches of real and missed experiences, reminding us that "History isn't interesting / if you only remember one thing." These are sounds you may not know you want but will be oh so lucky to have.

— Jean Day


Fast, sharp, and unfathomably deep, wide open and utterly unpredictable, Lorraine Lupo’s poems always make perfect sense, though I often don’t know what that sense is. She’s way out in front of me, and what a pleasure to jog along after her giddily trying to catch up. That’s what makes me so sure she’s a genius. This poetry is where, for instance, “You put on your wetsuit / and get acquainted with the sublime,” and where “Weather takes the world / by its fingertips / and puts it somewhere else.” It’s the poetry of everyday existence in all its oddity and “nothingbutness,” in other words. It gives me joy.

— Barry Schwabsky


Now more than ever I look to poetry to offer another way of seeing into conditions, including the conditions of language. I want poems that help to unscramble the codes, that keep me vigilant and free of stasis, that keep the unwanted sounds at bay if you will. The poems in Lupo’s new collection perform this exact and generous gift. Like a waking dream, her lines move quickly down the page with electric precision, amassing into an active and mutable arc of thinking. Divided into three sections, Lupo modulates her pressures with the language of absence and presence, beginning with “I Wasn’t There” and ending with “Me As A Shape”, while “Other Things” plays the apt bridge in the middle. There is a deft interplay of lines sussing things out, sussing language itself out, against a backdrop of architecture and interiors. In Lupo’s world, doors, walls, buildings, mirrors, and windows all have something to show us. In “Yes Is Always The Answer”: “I like walls because they / Have no choice / We correspond to the wall as temporality / Or growing like a vine / Describing, describing / Changing the world with these additions / Never a bodily jump.” And in “Utility”: “The window makes sense of a view / the way the boat makes sense of water / the way the door chooses / who’s home when we knock.” Perhaps the unwanted sounds are actually the very places in language I’m so ferociously trying to get to. Language stripped of its numbing manipulations. The peeled back hard to reach various spaces between things. That’s what The Unwanted Sounds has on offer. The collection opens with a solid quote from Elizabeth Rangel — “Poetry, I’m used to it.” Indeed, Lupo’s poems are vital. Get used to it!

— Ann Stephenson

PAPERBACK. 104 pages.
ISBN: 978-1-950055-10-4