Kim Addonizio's Tell Me

Tell Me - Kim Addonizio

Kim Addonizio knows how to write about desire--for sex, for drink, for the act of desiring itself. Billy Collins's blurb for Tell Me compares the poems to barroom ballads, and if bedroom ballads were a thing, that would be apt, too. I love reading about hunger, women's hunger in particular, and the strength and specificity of the hunger in these poems prevent them from feeling like wallowing. But if you're lonely, they'll still keep you company.


I found "'What Do Women Want?'" here and use it in class to help students think about word precision and tone. It's full of attitude and sensuality, like much of the book. It's from the last section, "Good Girl," which, along with the opening section, is my favorite. I was less engaged by the two middle sections, perhaps because I've never gone through a divorce, been a mother, or struggled with alcohol. Or perhaps the opening and closing sections have more attitude.


These poems are clear, longer-lined, mostly a page or less; they sprawl conversationally or punch like an outburst. There are no poetic games trying to hide the truth from you as a reader. They tell you things like a compulsion.