YesYes Books. 2020. 110 pages.
Reviewed by Heather Myers
Kelly Grace Thomas, in her first full-length poetry collection, Boat Burned, writes, “She told me: pain needs a witness.” This line from “Storm Warning” lingered with me long after I finished the collection. After all, why do we write what hurts? Apart from personal trauma and pain, the collection looks expansively at racism, America, and the societal expectations imposed upon women. There is also love and tenderness to be found within this work. Boats, and the seas upon which they ride, shimmer and burn throughout the collection, taking on different meaning and tone such that the metaphors never become dull or overdone.
Thomas discusses Boat Burned in an interview with Hannah Lazar in The Penn Review, stating that “The Boat of My Body” came to her when she wondered, “’What if every woman took off her clothes and there was something that wasn’t human underneath?’ and then I thought ‘I’d be a boat.’” The idea of defamiliarizing the body, or the body taking the shape of something else more expansive, is a