What Snakes Want by Kita Shantiris.
Slyly sexual, intense and funny, in What Snakes Want Kita Shantiris strips secrets of their power by telling them. Running away and returning, burying and unearthing, she—and a cast that includes abused siblings, desperate spinsters, and an army medic—struggle to escape their shadows. Throughout, startling metaphors and evocative images bring them to life.
A psychologist who runs a non-profit mental health center, Shantiris faces trauma, yearning, love and loss head on. What Snakes Want traverses a menacing, bleak landscape as its characters shed their ghosts. Full of word play and mischief, sensuous love poems follow; never have oranges, or the word "dictum," been racier. The haunting elegies in the final section breathe life into the dead.
Fearless and compassionate, in What Snakes Want Kita shines light in our dark places. You will return to these haunting poems again and again.
Advance praise for What Snakes Want
"Something edgy and intense haunts Kita Shantiris' poems, always threatening to flare up just outside their frames. Like a great auteur, she teases us with implication, with slow builds, the sneaky reveal, with what you can't yet see. Or, she'll give us a flash of aftermath, letting us glimpse "a tub of red water" where the violence has already taken place. Carefully orchestrating her pace, Shantiris lets things dawn on us, which contributes to the sense of delicious discovery one has in reading this collection. Wanderlust, an ode to coffee shops, an erotic poem set in a gaudy Laundromat, a child lying in bed hearing her abusive father come home…it's all here, articulate, compressed, suspenseful. "It takes brandy to center me/glowing alone here." The reader will likely find herself glowing along with these poems."
—Amy Gerstler, author of National Book Critics Award winner Bitter Angel and other collections
"One could spend a lifetime with Kita's new and powerfully personal book of poetry, What Snakes Want. The poems speak of a life replete with love, loss, pain, honesty, insight, longing, sensuality, and a deep unabashed unsentimental appreciation for the very gift of life itself. The poems are accessible yet abound with rich imagery, beautifully wrought observations of the natural world and of our very human behavior, and they do so with an intensity of feeling and care that ultimately resound with hope as they reach in and touch the soul."
– Ed Harris, actor, screenwriter, director