Practice, Restraint



Fence Books, 2005

Fence Books Alberta Prize Winner
Poets & Writers Debut Poets Feature

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“Get Practice, Restraint not because these are the brilliant lyrics of a great new talent—tho that is true enough—but because this is one of the most substantial books you will find in this or any other year.”
Ron Silliman, Silliman’s Blog

“This is a restrained, almost formal volume by a wild bank worker. Minimalism? A minimalism that shakes.”
Staff Pick, University of Arizona Poetry Center Library

“Sims reaches a steady hand down into the unknown and comes back with poems that gleam.”

“Sims makes her rhetorical remarks political, sensual, humorous, and ecstatic. As the title of the book suggests, the poems here balance at the edge of suggestion and denial.”
Rain Taxi

“Laura Sims’ poetry collection Practice, Restraint is exactly what the title says it is–a practice in restraint. The restraint is not a holding back but rather a restraint in the strictest sense of poetic discipline and craft. This stunning debut collection is challenging and full of gratification for readers not afraid to trust intense lyrical poetry, brave leaps, and sparse language.”
Mid-American Review

“Some, like former secretary of state Colin Powell, believe overwhelming force is the best way to be violent. Others, like insurgent Muslim boys, believe a tiny and almost hidden force is better. The sensibilities of Laura’s poems align with the latter; just because you’re not doing lots of things and taking up lots of space in plain sight doesn’t mean that you’re not powerful.”

“In Practice, Restraint, Laura Sims has achieved a poetry of minimalist poise…the strange elusive gravity is all [her] own, and well worth holding your hand out for.”
Stride Magazine

Practice, Restraint is an anthology of sparsely worded free-verse poems, steeped in the author’s quintessential talent to imply volumes from brief phrases. Touching upon complex situations through the minute illumination of instants, Practice, Restraint resembles a haiku collection in spirit, though it does not employ the haiku format specifically.”
Midwest Book Review

“The writing itself is lean, spare, plucked of fat. The manuscript opens with ‘Lost Book’ and one almost feels that this describes the present book, it’s been somehow lost, so that the poems continue, torn and tattered as Barbara Frietchie’s gray flag, but we are left to piece together the significance of what once happened from the remnants that stutter across each page.”
Kevin Killian

“Brilliantly spare, Laura Sims’s poems take huge leaps–always oblique, and always uncannily precise. Arranged in separate books that illuminate their subtle themes, these poems don’t speak about things as much as they speak the things themselves: the complex situations of human society become distilled into vivid instants–sometimes alarming, often gorgeous, and always rendered in a language refreshed by her frank intelligence. This book is a jewel, compressed and sparkling.”
Cole Swensen

“Laura Sims’s work engages the lyric critically on its own ground. This is especially true in the fascinating ‘Bank’ series, where the poet subtly tags the lyric’s chronic preoccupations with the tracking devices of financial institutions, so that we get, ‘the blue of withdrawal,’ or ‘A peacock/ . . . /refuting/what rifles report from her far-flung states.’ In these poems we move immediately beyond innocence. Sims gives us a sly, fast-paced, strangely resonant form of minimalism.”
Rae Armantrout

“Upon the terrible isolation of words, the poet builds a progression of critical songs for a critical time. The restraint is active, and the spaces, the silences, are freighted. Laura Sims’s tooled precision proposes a choice between friendship and drowning or between harmony and delusion. The poems shine on the cracks in the perfected appointments of armchair authorities. Time, in its bounty of tired truths and consequences, reminds us, ‘It can never be long, long ago.’ Practice, Restraint is a keen and coolly discerning debut collection.”
C. D. Wright

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