Poetry by Julia Bloch
“This huckster body, these
a red chair breathing.
Anybody can write the Californiad.
Just put one color after another.”
“Valley Fever continues the strange, unsettling pilgrimage Julia Bloch began in her first full-length book, the Lambda finalist Letters to Kelly Clarkson. It’s the Central Valley of Steinbeck and Cherríe Moraga, altered here by Bloch’s own quizzical, dreamy, poetic line and her vision of history as the thing that pins us down at all times, even when we feel most free. California landscape infects all who set foot in it: “Darkening stems / of the lower plants— / you’ll find me listening / for them to collapse in this heat.” Bloch’s “I” is intrepid, valiant even, but even she quails at the beauty that assails her, at the onset of a “fever” at once romantic and bleak, “because most people are not adults.” With her apothegms, her “place-based lie,” and her subject position (as skeptical as it is warm-hearted), Julia Bloch enacts the restless, guilty implicatee as well as, or better than, any American poet.” —Kevin Killian
“Valley Fever manages to infuse its language with political urgency in a manner that maintains subtlety and and avoids preaching. This is important poetry that both entertains and resonates with contemporary culture. I am eager to discover what Bloch will write next.” —Becky Peterson, The Rumpus
“In the procedure of Valley Fever, Bloch destablizes the center of many poems, a formal choice that enhances the tension between context and concepts.” —Heather Bowlan, make/shift
“Bloch’s poems refuse the possibility of comprehensive documentation.” —Davy Knittle, Iowa Review
Previous Praise for Julia Bloch’s Letters to Kelly Clarkson
Lambda Literary Award Finalist
“For all their complexity of diction, there’s a touching simplicity to Bloch’s poems. By taking Kelly seriously, on her own terms, Bloch moves beyond the safety of ‘camp’ into a realm of genuine tragedy and love. It’s a stunning collection.” —Dodie Bellamy
“The letters posit Clarkson as container in which a multitude of cultural neuroses about femininity, desire, and the characteristics of reality fit, leaving readers feeling anxious about their own complicity in a system which venerates Clarkson’s emptiness.” —Sarah Burghauser, Lambda Literary
“Bloch is an amazing young writer who could do just about anything, but she decided to write a cockeyed masterpiece instead.” —Kevin Killian
“In this book, ‘the battle isn’t outside’; rather, it is about the internal lives of women — and one woman in particular — struggling with the confines of ‘femininity’s dystopic embrace.’ ” —Chris McCreary, The Volta
“Bloch’s poems borrows text from a variety of sources — Wordsworth’s Prelude, Stoker’s Dracula, Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek's paper on The Matrix. This expands the scope of the book beyond the obvious questions of celebrity, and puts it in conversation with other works of poetry, fiction, politics, and philosophy. It is a testament to craft that Bloch weaves these multiple conversations seamlessly into a singular, intimate conversation with the first American Idol.” —Rachel Mangini, Bookslut
“And like other collections that follow a similar form (e.g. Spicer’s After Lorca or Wenderoth’s Letters to Wendy's), direct address to a cultural figure or entity infuses the book with a certain amount of levity. But the humor inherent in this imagined correspondence does not negate the more serious theoretical concerns of the book.” —Joshua Ware
“The blips divulged in Letters to Kelly Clarkson by Julia Bloch could almost make a reader blush with how personal and, at times, crushingly earnest they are.” —Charlotte Seley, Rediver
Cover art by Alex Roulette
Julia Bloch grew up in Northern California and Sydney, Australia, and studied at Carleton College, Mills College, and the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author most recently of the book Letters to Kelly Clarkson (Sidebrow Books), a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award, and the Little Red Leaves chapbook Hollywood Forever. Her poetry, reviews, and essays have appeared in Aufgabe, The Volta, Journal of Modern Literature, and elsewhere; she is the recipient of the San Francisco Foundation’s Joseph Henry Jackson Literary Award and the William Carlos Williams Prize for Poetry. For two years she taught literature at the Bard College MAT program in Delano, California, and now lives in Philadelphia, where she teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Pennsylvania and is an editor at Jacket2.