Gabrielle Bates’ “Judas Goat” Attests Poetry’s Alive & Well

In this frenetic age of ubiquitous electronic screens, often senseless social media and ever-divided attention, it’s tempting to believe we’ve stopped reading poetry. But that’s not true. The world of verse is alive and thriving. How else to explain the significance of Poet Laureate Ada Limón being selected by NASA to author a poem for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)’s Europa Clipper project? The poem will by engraved onto the spacecraft itself, which will travel 1.8 billion miles to the Jupiter system.

Poetry isn’t dead.

For more proof, look no further than Gabrielle Bates’ new Judas Goat collection of arresting and engaging poems. Crack the cover and you’ll see her talents and artistry on display from the very first piece, The Dog. The element so arresting within that first poem isn’t the dramatic event the poet recounts her partner sharing but the recognition of the critical bonds that would have been lost had he failed to share the corresponding emotional burden.

Numerous memorable observations pepper Judas Goat. Strawberries surfaces intriguing revelations from adolescence seemingly in adulthood, while The Mentor and The Lucky Ones explore poignant epiphanies. Lest the collection prove too heavy, or cumbersome, Bates’ writing is capable of playfulness, too, as demonstrated within The Greatest Show On Earth, a brief but tender and touching remembrance.

Do yourself a favor. Revisit some poetry this year. Limón, Bates and their compatriots—Patrycja Humienik and Maggie Millner immediately come to mind—are expressive and gifted poets with whom to begin. You’ll encounter a zest and energy you’ve likely forgotten possible with the written word, while also discovering lasting experiences that adhere and remain, teasing your consciousness periodically with their creative, uncanny and insistent natures.

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