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Chessy Normile’s Debut Poetry Collection, “Great Exodus, Great Wall, Great Party,” Will Make You Laugh, Cry, and Scream

by Amber Tamblyn

In each issue of BUST, Amber Tamblyn reviews a book of poetry. From our Fall 2021 issue, here’s her review of Great Exodus, Great Wall, Great Party. 

Chessy Normile’s Great Exodus, Great Wall, Great Party is a book so good from a voice so original, you won’t want to put it down. But you’ll inevitably have to—to wipe tears from your eyes, cover your mouth as you scream with laughter, and pace the room wondering how in the hell she came up with such damn good lines. These poems are tremendous feats, breaking the boundaries of emotional substance. Each one swings at the reader, not to harm (maybe just a little), but most definitely to connect. In the short poem “Feedback,” Normile writes: “We don’t get a lot of opportunities to give men feedback./Personally, I hated being raped.” And in “Like Poem” she writes: “I want to build a careful nest around your name./I want to pull a splinter out of your heel/and feel it coming up in my spine.” These poems are filled with omens, insights, and the dangerously funny and heartbreaking intuition of a young storyteller who knows how to wield language for all it’s worth. Not as a weapon, but as a word—or 60,000 of them—of warning: Maybe you weren’t for sale, dear reader, but this book owns you now.    

 Top Image: Great Exodus, Great Wall, Copper Canyon Press 2020 

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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