Rubbing Elbows by DeMisty D. Bellinger
Bellinger’s Rubbing Elbows brings disparate forms together to re-create the intimacy we feel, as listeners and as readers, with the iconic voices we love. From Stevie Wonder to Billie Holiday, Clara and Robert Schumann to George Sands and Chopin, Tina Turner, Janis Joplin, Whitney Houston, to name just a few of the re-imagined. These poems are like little rooms where we listen, in harmony and in dissonance, to the visceral imagery that plumbs and sometimes soothes the depths of our “too-violent” heart. These poems, against the events and experiences that silence us, ask, and ask again, in a kind of prayer to and with those who came before, that “happiness be tactile, kinetic, joining us like scales.”
— Arra Lynn Ross, author of Seedlip and Sweet Apple
“Listen. Just shhh,”’ writes DeMisty Bellinger as we enter her chapbook Rubbing Elbows: a literary room filled with iconic musical performers. Inside, Bellinger draws us near to hear poems that vibrate with the delicate music in her textured phrases and the powerful silences in what is left unsaid—we follow closely as she directs our attention to icons like Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Stevie Wonder. Bellinger pulls the stars down and with deft language holds them in her nimble hands for us to see. Bellinger’s poetic eye goes up close for “recreating the taste of salt on his skin” and then all the way out to “Southern Sundays spread out over summer.” And she fearlessly reveals with subtle lyricism what’s exposed when we, “…cast ourselves among these unattainable places.” Bellinger’s mix of what is shown and what is hidden, who we lift up and why, is filled with delight and utterly riveting.
— Noah Stetzer, author of Because I Can See Needing a Knife