What It Doesn’t Have to Do With

Poems by Lindsay Bernal
Selected by Paul Guest

Poetry that explores, expands, and redefines notions of womanhood


“The humor of Lindsay Bernal is rife with allusion to the history of American poetic tradition and cut with merciless self-reflection . . . or as Bernal herself says, ‘Something there is that doesn’t love melodrama.’ But this is not a book of self-involvement or melodrama. These poems question what we take for granted about language and the ways our own words can bind us: ‘Darkness doesn’t descend suddenly at all.’”
—Jericho Brown, author of The New Testament

“Has there ever been a poet so wry and yet so generous of heart? I can only think of Lindsay Bernal, whose irreverent voice somehow harmonizes truth’s cacophony with the warm hum of doubt. In What It Doesn’t Have to Do With, she gives unsparing attention to the awkward, the ambivalent, and the tiny ecstasies of minor moments, asking always, “Tender or horrific?” That the answer is both betrays the uncanny feeling and intelligence of Bernal’s stunning first book.”
—Jennifer Chang, author of Some Say the Lark

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Lindsay Bernal’s What It Doesn’t Have to Do With explores—through sculpture, painting, pornography, and performance art—changing views on gender and sexuality. The elegiac meditations throughout this collection link the objectification of women in art and life to personal narratives of heartbreak, urban estrangement, and suicide. Haunted by the notions of femininity and domesticity, the protagonist struggles to define the self in shifting cultural landscapes. Ezra Pound, Louise Bourgeois, and Morrissey coexist within the unruly, feminist imagination of these poems. Through quick turns and juxtapositions, Lindsay Bernal navigates the paradoxical states of grief and love, alternating between vulnerability and irony, despair and humor. Her wry, contemporary voice confronts serious subjects with unpredictable wit.

Excerpt from "Venice Is Sinking"

how I wish I were a woman frescoed

in a loose dress, pulled by the hair
to heaven. Or Titian’s voluptuous Virgin

rising above everyone who tries to touch her.
Red gown, blue shawl, her gaze always God-ward

she can’t bear to look down.

The National Poetry Series

Page count: 80 pp.
Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5


List price: $19.95

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LINDSAY BERNAL holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Maryland, where she has coordinated the creative writing program and taught as a lecturer for over a decade. Her poems have appeared in Blackbird, Gulf Coast, OVERSOUND, Tikkun, and other journals.