Lizzy Fox’s debut Red List Blue is a book of thoughtful and passionate poetry with just the right amount of neurosis (which is how I like my poetry). Fox’s poems are like quiet meteors—because a meteor is a rock and also a streak of light, embodying multiple forms at once. Fox’s poems also embody more than one thing at a time: they are hard rocks and bright bursts of light.
In the poem “Impossibilities”—which is about magic, and love (it’s always about love), about fate and synchronicity, and also man-made elements versus the natural world—(see, I told you her poems were about many things at once)—this seemingly trivial line holds so much truth and weight for me, maybe because I feel it too:
“Look at that bird!” I say, struck and wishing /
I knew more Latin, more names to call the world by (p. 34).
Because isn’t that really what poetry is? Naming the world? Fox’s poetry names both the outer world and the inner world—poems on anxiety and depression alongside poems on extinction and pollution. Though they expose the turmoil within one’s psyche and the turmoil of a ravaged environment, Fox’s poems are ultimately hopeful. Even in a poem where we get a glimpse of a troubled childhood, she still makes it “sparkle.” This is in the poem “Glitter,” a prose poem about a sequined dancer, and what that triggers in the poet’s mind:
“…I remember flying. Tossed into the air by my father—/
how I wanted to sparkle so bright I’d become a little winged Cinderella” (p. 37).
It is a marvel to see such light infused into something dark—again, like a meteor, burning bright while hurtling through dark space. Fox’s poems leave us shining bright in whatever dark space we may be hurtling through. In the penultimate poem, “A minute to seven,” a meditation on waking and writing, Fox leaves us with these two couplet stanzas:
“I’ve sat here for more than an hour
and am quietly in love with the morning.
Whatever terror is in the world today,
may we meet it with a gentle rise” (p. 50).
It is a hopeful call to action, to not only combat the terror in the world, but the terror within ourselves: the harsh childhoods, the anxiety, the depression (we inevitably all have in these dark times). Fox shows us that the way through is naming. It is writing. And it is rising in a kind of prayer with the morning. I recommend taking an hour out of your morning to read this wonderful debut book to feel quietly in love with poetry, and the world.
Red List Blue by Lizzy Fox. Finishing Line Press, January 2021.
Samantha Kolber: Facebook.com/samantha.kolber, @samanthakolber
Lizzy Fox: Facebook.com/lizzy.fox.39 Twitter @LizzyFox1