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82 pages
5” x 8” perfect-bound trade paperback
First Edition
ISBN 978-0988201347
Review Copy: PDF
MG Press
Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
Available HERE
Review by Julia Hy

I wish you could place an ear to a shell
inside an ocean that never spills
and hear me.
(“Being Right,” p. 18)

Julie Babcock delivers an intense range of depth throughout her poetry collection, Autoplay. You feel the need to revisit each poem as it seems like there is always another meaning hidden in its pauses and punctuation that you may have missed. In poems such as “Music Lesson Ohio,” she relates the state to a young girl practicing for her first violin recital. You can read this either as an homage to Ohio itself and her experiences growing up there, or as the tenseness and perseverance of a young girl. You may even read further into it and find yourself focusing on the theme of discipline and strength found in femininity. Each poem offers so much more than what you see at your first glance.

In poems such as “Being Right,” we see an outright focus on Babcock’s inner emotions, her longing to be heard and recognized, a common product of life in the Midwest. It seems that her shorter poems in this collection carry even more weight than her lengthy ones.

“Trust me,”
Mother whispers to her daughter

as she positions the plastic comb teeth.
A tug, an ouch.

Her daughter.
There are more.

Mother throws a mangled tail on the floor,
goes back to the soft, pink flesh.

A twitch, a claw.
Another squealing nest.
(“Rats,” p. 12)

This intimate moment between a mother and a daughter not only describes a daily scene of combing the knots and snarls out of her daughter’s hair, but goes deeper to reveal the complicated relationship between them. The mother removing the unwanted “vermin” from her daughter, combing out the parts of her she doesn’t approve of; the daughter sitting patiently and accepting her mother’s actions against her. Being the complacent daughter and allowing these parts of herself to be removed. Nate Pritts was not wrong in his review of her work when he said, “Julie Babcock writes with a compass and a diary close at hand, expertly guiding us to emotional ground again and again.”

From “Replacement” to the titular poem, “Autoplay,” Babcock’s depth of her themes and eloquence in the execution of her writing make you yearn for more. She expertly tugs your emotions and maneuvers them along a path that covers her childhood through adulthood. Whether depicting this outright or using Ohio as a means to convey her messages, this collection leaves you, in that good, sorrowful way, with a craving that cannot be filled, a hunger for closure, much the way the Midwest leaves you when you pass through it.

Julia Hy is Alternating Current’s Customer Relations Director and a Staff Book Reviewer for The Volt. She lives in Buffalo, New York, in a small house with two large dogs and a mischievous kitten. Returning to school to complete a major in Creative Writing and Illustration, she fills her time with painting and arts of all sorts, writing, editing, and reviewing fantastic works of literature.

• This book was sent to Alternating Current by the publisher. The reviewer does not know the author or publisher and received the book from Alternating Current at random. • Permalink • Tag: The Volt •

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