The Truth is Told Better This Way
by Liz Worth
BookThug Press, 2017
"My daughter is a ghost
speaking the silence
of the sick. It happened during
The End of Things."
These are the opening words to "Seeds of the Moon." This is just one example of the often harrowing worlds Liz Worth introduces us to through her work. Virtually all of her poems make one thing abundantly clear: the dark, challenging wit of Liz Worth's The Truth is Told Better This Way (BookThug Press, 2017)
is intense stuff, guys.
Even at just 88 pages, reading Worth's beautiful, painful collection of poetry can prove to be easier said than done. That isn't a comment on the quality of the works found here. Those remain consistent in their excellence, and in their ability to grip your heart and attention with monumental, soft-spoken skill. I'm simply talking about the subject matter, and how Worth constructs and executes a voice in each piece that is both poetic and aware of the fundamentals of good storytelling. To put it another way, The Truth is Told Better This Way
is a masterpiece of a weary, determined battle to survive circumstances and memories. It is far and away one of the best poetry collections of 2017.
Split into four parts, The Truth is Told Better This Way
is intensely autobiographical at times. We always claim to want to know more about what the people in our lives go through. Yet if your best friend told you in details as intensive and varied as Worth does here, you would be supremely uncomfortable. This is the good kind of discomfort. Good art has the potential to be brutal and unapologetic in equal amounts. Worth represents both of those essentials with impressive style, but never veers into an abundance of melancholy. Many of these stories are painful and sad, but they are told with a fascinating, low-key humor. We can't laugh our way out of everything, but there is no question that humor in some form or fashion is often essential to our survival. Examples of these thoughts can be found throughout the book, particularly in poems such as "Spit, Sister", "Carnivore", and "Ghost in the Hallway."
Another consistency throughout this collection comes down to Worth's relentless pursuit of understanding. In telling these stories, she isn't simply trying to connect us to some of her most personal stories, anxieties, and experiences. She is also trying to make us see the larger world that she and others have to navigate every moment of every day. This world is treacherous at best on a good day. More often than not, life is such that you can't help but be amazed you are even still around to be aware of whatever might be going on around you.
Liz Worth is bogged down in the same toxic cement quicksand that the rest of us have to deal with. The difference between her and a lot of other people is that she isn't going to sink quickly. For that matter, she may not sink at all. The Truth is Told Better This Way
is a stunning portrait of someone who has a better chance of coming out to the light at the end of the tunnel than most of us. Great art survives, and great artists give us encouragement and inspiration by allowing us in to their survival processes and coping tricks. This book is essential for anyone who could use some of that encouragement right now.
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