Jennifer Funk’s debut collection, Fantasy of Loving the Fantasy, is a sensuous investigation of the failings and thrills of trying to sate the insatiable. With stark emotive dynamism, Funk examines how domestication contends with wildness and what it costs the savage self to be cared for. There is no ironic posturing, no shy equivocating: these poems are bold, and they know it—claim it, reveling in sonic density and confessional bravado. In this collection, ambivalence, in all its uneasy glory, is king. Funk gnaws down on a question not for its answer, no, but for the pleasure of the effort of trying to get at something like the truth about what it might cost to share your body, your love, or your life with another person. Connection does not come easy or free here.
“‘I am at my desk pulling you up from the well / with both hands,’ writes Jennifer Funk— which is both metaphor for my thrill as a reader and how these poems conjure, drawing the indescribable toward the light. Funk navigates the blur between the self and the world—home, lover, flora, fauna—with such linguistic precision and dexterity that phrasing itself feels reinvented. ‘I say I want to be loved,’ Funk writes, ‘but what I mean is I want to understand power.’ Here the domestic edges into the divine, the self is nearly feral with yearning—‘an unfocused appetite with legs,’ ‘a sour-flecked June’—and love is both goalpost and threat. ‘Such appetites. / Ungovernable.’ Indeed. These are my favorite poems in a long, long time. Fantasy of Loving the Fantasy made me hover above my days, looking back at my own self like I was new.”
—Kerrin McCadden, author of American Wake
“Fantasy of Loving the Fantasy accommodates pleasure and terror in poems that are at once decadent benders and cautionary tales. Funk’s collection reminds us that our long- held desires might only be long-held because we are comfortable in that wanting. What we really long for scares us. Instead of philosophizing the panic, Funk runs headlong into it. Fantasy of Loving the Fantasy is a refreshing, perceptive, and seductive debut by a daring poet.”
—Katie Condon, author of Driving Naked
“Might a lyric poem sound bawdy and wise, bossy and meek, mischievous and lovely? I wouldn’t have thought so, or not before reading Jennifer Funk’s debut Fantasy of Loving the Fantasy. My point, of course, is not the contradiction, but the poet’s skill—sentence and image and sound—in wielding the world in all its variety. Fast and slow, old and new. A true invention. A feeling is ‘fat-tongued.’ The gin fizz ‘all sugar and foam, and it tastes dystonic and wrong.’ You may find it obvious, but not until you read this collection will you understand what I mean when I say: these poems feel like they are alive.”
—Sally Keith, author of River House