Writer/Artist/Educator

Praise

“Lillian-Yvonne Bertram’s But a Storm is Blowing From Paradise is an offering to those of us for whom normalcy is the constant shift between a sense of location and dislocation. The shrewdness of these poems accumulates into a
critique of our American desires and failures. The precision of Bertram’s lyrical and agile language is born out of the specificity of her gaze on what subliminally feels like a road trip through the towns that make up this country. These unforgettable poems awaken images so masterfully that reading and seeing become one thing: ‘We are claimed by middle country/where the river is cooked to steam in the factory belly/& every quivering shadow is missing its father.’ This award winning collection is an American portrait in which the poems are themselves, in Bertram’s words, ‘the elliptical mystery or the grief that walks different on everyone…’ It’s exhilarating to read poetry that
pushes reading into the realm of experience.”


—Claudia Rankine, Final Judge, 2010 Benjamin Saltman Award

 

“The promise to ‘learn/ more about the cosmos then apply/ that knowledge to the arts’ could serve well as a maxim for these brilliant, adventuresome poems. Lillian-Yvonne Bertram is charting a wonderful new path through contemporary poetry. Touched but never bound by singular doctrines of narrative, lyric or experiment, her poems merge linguistic zeal with capacious imagination. But a Storm is Blowing From Paradise is a trailblazing debut, and Lillian-Yvonne Bertram is not simply a poet towatch, she is a poet to follow.”
—Terrance Hayes

 

"Lillian-Yvonne Bertram’s newest book, a slice from the cake made of air, cuts deep as a means to emphasize the binarity of the physical and the intellectual self. Her dismantled language both anticipates the body dismantled crops precepts of space and time.  She slashes mind from body, expectation from experience. This perpetual translation of language from one poem to another, or from one poem to another version of itself, serves to de-compartmentalize the physical world so that in repetition we find an orchestrated genesis. At the center of the poem(s), the matter of becoming, of thwarted birth, and of sexual animality, present as refrains pitting the possible against the articles of what’s cast off.  That which we know garners the same attention as what we may know. Here, interrogative and assertion occupy the same space. Her language is of the present and the not-present. This book calls the reader to a keen awareness beyond lyric performance while privileging the transformative authority of expression."

-Ruth Ellen Kocher

 

“Speaking from ‘where the lasso lashing / cuts the fig leaf,’ Lillian-Yvonne Bertram considers flesh, considers life, considers loving, considers the cock, and considers ‘the scissoring scheme.’ She asks ‘of what erase / do I remind myself.’ She asks ‘is heaven colored.’ She asks ‘is heaven without being able.’ And Bertram asks without the question mark—because she doesn’t need, or want, or anticipate, or believe in any answer we might give: she lives, brilliantly, with whole heart, whole mind, and whole body, in the contradictions. In the complexity. In the neverending paradox of a life. She shows us, let’s say, that Illusion is the Medium Which Allows Emptiness to Become Something Special, and I love this book beyond loving.”

-Sarah Vap

 

“And just as storms are beautiful from a distance, violent from within, and we never fully understand their magnitude until they have passed over, so the poetry of But a Storm is Blowing From Paradise leaves us in its wake to reveal what is, after all that has come, all that has been tossed in the wind.” —Lori A. May for Rattle

“But a Storm is Blowing From Paradise is a rich book with plenty of channels coming through loud and clear. There’s plenty of thinking (and imagining) happening on the page. Bravo, Bertram.”

—Rigoberto Gonzalez, Harriet