Candy in Our Brains by Anne Barngrover and Avni Vyas. Missoula: CutBank Books, 2014.

Anne Barngrover and Avni Vyas recently collaborated to co-author Candy in Our Brains, a humorous and raw take on life and relationships told through a collection of poems. Full of unlikely combinations, and using a series of poems following “the heroine,” Barngrover and Vyas take the reader through the struggles of love. In the poem titled, “It’s My Party and I’ll Implode If I Want To” the authors pair interesting combinations such as, “You show up with a cake and moths fly out when I slice it” with the gritty thread of thread of dissatisfaction, “For your birthday: / heavy petting and a cake with your name in purple, gouged as if by my nails.”

Barngrover and Vyas pursue turmoil in nature in “The Heroine Shamwows Her Way Through A Hurricane” where “The fissures in our youth show up in our faces…tiny mushrooms breaking out in a rash: this / could be the tumor in my happiness swelling. This is my joy split wide open.” In “Fossils,” the language of forest and animal combine: “We were together, a cawing / battalion” and later, “How could we / have foreseen how much to camouflage in bruise and how much to coddle?” A collection that is unified by startling and vivid language, the turmoil of our relationships seeping through metaphor and everyday reality, Candy in Our Brains makes for a powerful collaboration.

Teri Dederer, Mid-American Review