Notes To The Beloved

by Michelle Bitting


Notes to The Beloved is full of the physical world, illuminated by a dynamic narrative sensibility, a vision of down-to-earth love, an active yearning to understand the world, and plenty of kick-ass images, metaphors, and similes: You make a matchstick of your finger,/dunk the tip in Bombshell Red./Then your lips are two flickers,/in the shadows of your ears, smoldering/ flowers. You draw a smoky line/ between lid and lash and dash out./ After reading this book not only did I understand the physical world in a more intimate and immediate way but I felt more a part of it. And what’s more I wanted desperately to be the beloved, the other that an artist reaches for. Isn’t this what we want from poetry? At least, isn’t it one of the great desired experiences? To be turned around, made newer, have been blown up, by a collection of poems? To be like Johann Sebastian/on the banks of the Rhine, letting notes fill the rivers/of his hands, then turning back/to compose the world,/map the road/aright with song, so/we could keep time/like this, getting high?

Matthew Dickman from Tin House



Bitting is the rare poet who clearly understands that sublimity is never more than one over-wrought image away from absurdity. Though clearly capable of the sublime, she is careful to counterbalance the sacred with the profane and the transcendent with the commonplace in crafting what is, on the whole, a forcefully well-proportioned collection.

–Kirkus Reviews


Notes to the Beloved brims with the language of a fully lived life. A powerful female voice, body, spirit and sensibility inhabits this book and shakes it to the core. Bitting is at her best here: unbridled, open, aware.

–Dorianne Laux


Richly dense in both language and insight into the human heart, Michelle Bitting’s Notes to the Beloved is a stunning collection of poems. As a fiction writer I am thrilled particularly by her voice, by the yearning of her poetic persona for a self, for a place in the universe, that yearning being the deeply beating heart of narrative as well. She is one of my favorite poets and this book will abide in me for a long, long time to come.

–Robert Olen Butler


The poems of Michelle Bitting’s gorgeous new collection, Notes to the Beloved, feel like ex-quisite origami epistles that their recipients (and her readers) are asked to unfold the way the lovers of these poems have unfolded each other’s bodies. These eloquent reflections on love both found and lost echo with desire, humor, and a fierce sense of continued hope, reminding us that torn valentines are sometimes the most beautiful.

–David St. John