Even Shorn takes its title from the Song of Solomon and that Book's equation of pastoral feminine beauty with the plenty of harvest. Isabel Duarte-Gray argues that material bounty no longer exists in the rural spaces where she was raised. Duarte-Gray's poetry mines local orature, family history, and folklore for the music of Western Kentucky, creating the sparse line breaks and the harsh syntax of the present. The poems describe quilt patterns with sinister shapes: "a snake's tongue is a trigger finger/Man's tongue pleases no one." Animals proliferate: "One cat became five/five became nine. /Then a flood and ebb/as each moon brought its tide/below the trailer floor..." A grandfather plays drunk, solitary Russian Roulette. A cousin lives in a closet. Duarte's poetry is shocking, whip smart, and truly unique.
Isabel Duarte-Gray was born in Oakland, California and raised in a trailer in Kuttawa, Kentucky. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University, where she studies Latinx Literature, Poetry, and Ecocriticism. She received her B.A. in English and Russian from Amherst College. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Colorado Review, Bat City Review, The South Carolina Review, and December magazine, among others.