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BOA Classics: Tell Me by Kim Addonizio

[caption id="attachment_1515" align="alignleft" width="144" caption="Kim Addonizio, photo by Joe Allen"]Kim Addonizio, photo by Joe Allen[/caption] Kim Addonizio released Tell Me in 2000. The title invites us to sit and let it all out... and that's exactly what Addonizio does. The poems in part 1, "The Singing," introduce us to Kim's" letting it out," night after night wondering who else is still awake in her neighborhood of bars and weary voices.  In "Target" Addonizio shoots a gun with so much satisfaction that we wonder when we'll get our chance to fire. Come to think of it, maybe it's about that time: It feels so good to shoot a gun, to stand with your legs apart holding a nine millimeter in both hands aiming at something that can't run. Over and over I rip holes Time and time again throughout Tell Me, Addonizio shows herself as a woman with as much control over her voice as she has over a handgun. In fact, Tell Me reveals a poet's voice so intimate, so close, you feel compelled to turn the book over to the cover and say "there she is, right there just like in the poem" and wonder if someone is about to come up and hit on her in that dingy bar. "Blue Door," "Last Call" and "Good Girl" are sections 2, 3 and 4 of the book. "Good Girl" contains the poem "'What Do Women Want?'" which has become an Addonizio classic many times reprinted: "What Do Women Want?" I want a red dress. I want it flimsy and cheap, I want it too tight, I want to wear it until someone tears it off me. I want it sleeveless and backless, this dress, so no one has to guess what's underneath. I want to walk down the street past Thrifty's and the hardware store with all those keys glittering in the window, past Mr. and Mrs. Wong selling day-old donuts in their café, past the Guerra brothers slinging pigs from the truck and onto the dolly, hoisting the slick snouts over their shoulders. I want to walk like I'm the only woman on earth and I can have my pick. I want that red dress bad. I want it to confirm your worst fears about me, to show you how little I care about you or anything except what I want. When I find it, I'll pull that garment from its hanger like I'm choosing a body to carry me into this world, through the birth-cries and the love-cries too, and I'll wear it like bones, like skin, it'll be the goddamned dress they bury me in. Tell Me was a 2000 finalist for the National Book Award for poetry. Kim Addonizio's writer profile and books can be found here. Tell Me is available in the BOA store here.


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